A Husky Travel Guide To San Antonio – Part I

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I will be in San Diego right after Christmas, so I was secretly hoping the Huskies would be in the Holiday Bowl so I could attend the game. But, I am excited about the chance for the Huskies to play in San Antonio in the Alamo Bowl for several reasons. First of all, the Huskies have never had a chance to play in the Alamo Bowl before, so there is always the mystique associated with something novel. Secondly, as the #2 bowl in the Pac-12 pecking order, there is an aura of prestige to being selected (even if it came in a manner similar to how they got to the Holiday Bowl last year). While Baylor in general doesn’t excite me, you have to embrace the idea of playing the possible Heisman winner in Robert Griffin III. While I fear him passing for 500 yards and 7 TDs against our secondary, if you are in a bowl game you really want it to be interesting.

But, perhaps the most important reason to be excited about this bowl game is that San Antonio is a fun city to spend a few days in. While Texas in general is not my cup of tea (literally and figuratively), the Texas Hill Country that stretches from Austin to San Antonio is one of the nicest parts of that state. Hills covered in juniper and live oaks provide a break for the senses after the monotony of flat brown grasslands for hours around.

My best friend from high school, who also graduated from UW with a degree in Computer Engineering, has lived and worked in the computer industry in Austin, TX for the better part of the last 15 years. So, since he moved to Texas, I have visited him four different times and spent a lot of time traveling all across Texas, including San Antonio.

San Antonio is a great town. The downtown core and River Walk are, of course, must see places. While it may seem a bit kitschy, it is really worth taking one of those San Antonio River boat rides. Obviously the river is completely channeled through downtown, but it is an amazing site to see skyscrapers rising directly up above the waters edge. It gives a great overview of the city, you get a sense of the history of the place from the pilot, and then can see the various bars, restaurants, and shops you may want to head back to for dinner.

Of course, everyone has to stop at the Alamo. Located literally downtown, this little church mission is absolutely dwarfed by the skyscrapers around it. While the Alamo itself is pretty small, there is a nice museum there to get a sense of the history of the San Antonio area from the early Spanish and Mexican citizens, to the German immigration influx, to the American takeover of Texas.

If you like colonial history, then you must make a trip over to the San Antonio Missions National Historic Site. This series of old Spanish missions is administered by the National Park Service and gives you a really great sense of the history of this area dating back to the early 1700’s.

The missions are just a couple of miles south of downtown and are reachable by bus, car, or even biking down the San Antonio River Bike Trail. The architecture of among the oldest and best preserved Spanish-style buildings in the United States.

Espada Mission

If you are into hiking and exploring the outdoors, there are a number of interesting areas to check out. Just north of the city are caves containing some of the largest colonies of bats in North America. A number of these caves have public tours. In the zone just between Austin and San Antonio are several beautiful state parks and reserves. One I’d recommend checking out is the Pendernales Falls State Park.

In the next post on the Texas Hill Country, I’ll discuss some places to check out if you decide to get a rental car and explore the area including several nice hikes, the Lyndon Johnson National Historic Site in Johnson City, and things to do in Austin, just 80 miles to the north.

Check out this link if you want a sneak preview:

 http://www.hikemasters.com/2010/12/hamilton-pool-preserve-texas-hill.html