Living in Austin, I have visited San Antonio several times, but we usually go to North San Antonio and downtown. To get the word out about all of the fun things Southside San Antonio has to offer, the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and Life From the Southside invited some travel bloggers to check out the area.
Before that weekend, I really did not know much about South San Antonio. Honestly, when I told people I was going there, they asked why.
The South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
Since 1982, The South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has been developing initiatives to transform the Southside. Their mission is to facilitate growth and raise awareness of South Bexar County. They do this by working fostering and encouraging partnerships between the community and businesses.
Watch this video to learn more about Al Arreola, Jr. President/CEO and how he and the chamber are helping Southside San Antonio.
A Weekend with Travel Bloggers in South San Antonio
A few weekends ago, April from Live from the Southside and Al from the chamber took five of us travel bloggers (including some San Antonio food bloggers) around the south part of San Antonio to learn more about how the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has been transforming the Southside and all of the fun things to do there. Before this trip, I had no idea there were so many parks, events, and great food in this part of San Antonio.
Fun Things to Do In Southside San Antonio
Our weekend was packed with good food, fun, and Southside San Antonio education. Al drove us around in a minivan and in between (bad) dad jokes, we learned quite a lot about everything the southside has to offer.
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Brooks Hotel & Spa
We stayed at the Embassy Suites Brooks Hotel and Spa right across from Brooks City Base. It was a great location and home base for all of our Southside fun.
The hotel had a free breakfast and free happy hour each day in addition to lots of other great amenities.
On our first night there we got to experience the Salt Cave at Pure Sol Spa. For about an hour, we enjoyed the salt-filled room intended to create a microclimate rich in ions, minerals, and other microelements. It is thought to relieve stress, treat ailments and diseases, and improve concentration. We were all pretty relaxed and satisfied after our session.
Garcia Art Glass
Since 1998, Garcia Art Glass has been creating one-of-a-kind hand-blown art in the Southtown Arts District of San Antonio, Texas. In the studio, you can find everything from functional to whimsical pieces. While we were there, we got a tour of the studio and a glass-blowing demonstration. We were mesmerized by the twirling glass and beautiful colors.
B & B Smokehouse
For lunch, we feasted on delicious barbeque and sides from B & B Smokehouse. The current owner, Bruce Finley was friendly and helpful. We learned all about the history of the restaurant, dating back to when his father operated Hal’s Drive-In and Bar-B-Que at the same location in 1958.
My family was jealous when I sent them pictures of the food I was eating. I will definitely be going back with the family soon.
The San Antonio River Foundation provides amenities and enhancements along the San Antonio River with the mission to provide opportunities for both residents and tourists to enjoy the river’s natural beauty.
One of the parks along the river is Confluence Park. In addition to hiking, biking, and paddling trails this park offers programmed events catering to a variety of interests. It is a beautiful, convenient park, located less than half a mile from Mission Concepcion. The park is open daily from sunrise to 11 pm.
The San Antonio Missions
When I’m speaking of the San Antonio Missions, I’m not talking about Minor League Baseball team. Although that would be a fun event for my family, we did not get a chance to do that on this trip.
One of the things I learned in the minivan, is that four separate missions are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and are connected by beautiful trails. Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada are nearly 300 years old and still contain active Catholic parishes. Conveniently located, The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is only 10 minutes south of downtown San Antonio.
Because we only had a weekend to see a lot of the Southside sites, we only spent a brief time at Mission Espada and Mission San Jose. My goal is to come back with the family and ride our bikes between all of the missions.
Southside Craft Soda
On Saturday afternoon, we met Andrew Anguiano, one of the founders of Southside Craft Soda. He talked to us about how they created a San Antonio soda to help celebrate South Texas greatness. Southside Craft Soda is sweetened with pure cane sugar, infused with honey, and has hints of South Texas citrus. The soda had just the right amount of fizz and a nice combination of sweet and sour flavors.
You can find Southside Craft Soda at various locations in San Antonio, Austin, and surrounding areas including some H-E-Bs, restaurants, and coffee shops.
Seersucker Gin Distillery
In Southside San Antonio, Seersucker Gin Distillery has a tasting room, tours, a relaxing outdoor patio, and lawn games. On our tour, we learned about how gin is made and then got a refreshing mixed drink at the end. I chose the Seersucker Eastside with Seersucker Limeade, lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber, and mint. Yum!
The tasting room is open Friday and Saturday 12pm to 7pm.
Pica Pica Plaza
I’m not quite sure how to describe this place. It’s sort of like an indoor mall with a Latin American style. You can find all types of things to buy and do. You can savor a fruit cup while listening to live music and shopping for a quinceanera dress. Or, shop for movies, games, and boots, and then get some semi-permanent makeup and eyebrow shaping. What a variety!
Have you heard of chamoy? It’s a sweet, salty, sour, and spicy condiment from Mexico that is typically served with fresh fruit. Sounds a little strange, right?
But, it was surprisingly good! I had my first mangonada from Chamoy Dreams and loved it.
I started out easy and got just the frozen mango with chamoy, but my friend was more adventurous and got El Guzano Mango with a cucumber worm on top.
Although Chamoy Dreams sells mostly desserts and sweet snacks, they also offer savory snacks such as corn and nachos.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Also on the south side of San Antonio is an education and conservation center that is one of the best spots for birding in San Antonio. This center offers all types of programs including birding tours, student programs, community events, and more.
I really enjoyed the hiking and driving trails and listening to the peaceful sounds of all of the different birds.
Hot Wells of Bexar County
One of our stops was the Hot Wells of Bexar County, Texas. Between 1894 to the early 1920s it was a spa, hotel, bathhouse, and health resort. This just re-opened to the public. You can now walk around the historic grounds and enjoy the park. I found it so fascinating looking at the ruins and trying to imagine what it was like during that time period.
During the summer, the Hot Wells park is open from 9 am to 9 pm and during the winter the hours are 9 am to 6 pm.
Casa Azul de Andrea
For brunch, we sampled delicious dishes at Casa Azul de Andrea, a cute restaurant decorated with portraits of Frida Kahlo. My favorite dish was barbacoa enchiladas.
The restaurant also has a full bar and a beautiful shaded patio in front of the restaurant.
I will be sure to stop by again and get some more of those barbacoa enchiladas in addition to some of their other dishes and drinks.
Big Red and Barbacoa Festival
According to MySa, we were able to experience one of San Antonio’s most-popular foodie festivals. This year, the Barbacoa & Big Red Festival was in Greenline park. There were four stages for live music, entertainment, and of course barbacoa and Big Red. H-E-B was there serving a Big Red cake!
Although this event happens just once a year, you can still go to Greenline park year-round to enjoy this scenic park. Greenline park has 43 acres that connect to 15 miles of trails that will take you all the way downtown. I especially loved the statue of the boy holding the moon on a string.
Visit Southside San Antonio
I highly recommend you visit Southside San Antonio. This would be a great place for a girls’ getaway or a family vacation. If you have other recommendations of places to visit and things to do on the southside, let me know, and I’ll share them.
Rachel K. Belkin, M.Ed, is a journalist and writer with over 15 years of expertise in travel, business and marketing education, health, and local Austin, Texas events.
With a Master's degree in education from Texas State University and a Business Foundations Certification from The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, Rachel's extensive background is highlighted by her published works and contributions to prestigious publications, including HuffPost, Hometalk, Matador Network, AP News, and MSN.com, as well as on her own platforms, Rachel K. Belkin, Elkin Bay, and Probe the Globe.
Beyond her accomplishments in writing, Rachel is a sought-after educator, teaching businesses effective marketing strategies and content creation techniques. Notably, she successfully built a blog from scratch in 2008, ultimately selling it for six figures in 2021.
Rachel's commitment to advocacy is exemplified by her role on the Breast Cancer Resource Center Advisory Council, particularly contributing to the success of the Young Survivor Project. Rachel is also an experienced public speaker with appearances on TV segments for Fox 7 Austin, KXAN, and CBS Austin and as a speaker at conferences and professional networking meetings for business owners and cancer survivors.