San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
Travelers arriving at San Antonio International Airport see some of the latest improvements immediately upon arrival. The newer, 1.8 million-square-foot Consolidated Rental Car Facility, located just steps from the terminals, offers convenient car rental service from 11 companies in one location. The CONRAC welcomes visitors with an expansive mural by local artists Suzy Gonzales and Michael Menchaca depicting the details of the aviation history of San Antonio.
The Henry B. González Convention Center experienced a $325 million overhaul. With an eco-friendly and energy-efficient design, state-of-the-art technology, 70 meeting spaces and one of the biggest ballrooms in the country (54,000 square feet), the HBGCC is ready to host conferences and events of all sizes when that business returns to the city post-pandemic and is prepared to meet the needs of generations to come.
In addition to the artwork on display at the CONRAC and HBGCC, public art flourishes all over the city. A visit to the Witte Museum on the banks of the San Antonio River proves a great way to unwind and enjoy some of the local culture, thanks to a $100 million renovation and expansion project that included numerous artistic, historical and health-related exhibitions.
The San Pedro Creek area is developing into a first-rate park. Here visitors and locals will also be able to enjoy public art. With the first half-mile of the revitalization complete, art complements the landscape. The Rain from the Heavens art installation depicts the night of the city’s founding in 1718. Murals throughout the park highlight the rich culture of San Antonio. Public art installations and murals additionally line the World Heritage Trail in the Mission Reach neighborhood.
Hemisfair, the site of the 1968 World’s Fair, is currently in its second of three phases to become the city’s Central Park. An installation, Alas de México (Wings of Mexico) commemorates the tricentennial. A popular spot for Instagram photos, the area also proves family-friendly, with its Yanaguana Garden boasting a water jet section and children’s games with ropes and slides.
Nicknamed River City, San Antonio is ideally situated along the San Antonio River and home to River Walk, a winding path of hotels, businesses, shops and eateries along the beautifully landscaped riverbanks. With its centralized location, River Walk offers a convenient way for visitors to get to know the city’s personality by enjoying lunch at a riverside café or by partaking in the local nightlife. Explore the waterway while on the river with GO RIO. The narrated tours take place on a new fleet of eco-friendly, electrically powered boats.
Learn more about the importance of the San Antonio River at the newly opened Confluence Park, established to teach about the river’s vitality to the region. The park sits on the pathway connecting San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage site and functions almost as an outdoor classroom for the region, offering education, ecology, recreation and entertainment.
With more than 31 million visitors to San Antonio each year, quality hotel accommodations abound. In May 2020 the River Walk area welcomed Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk.
Hotel Valencia, also along the picturesque River Walk, debuted a $10 million renovation that pays homage to San Antonio’s Spanish Colonial heritage.
Find one of the city’s top culinary and cultural destinations north of downtown at Pearl, a mixed- use space with retail, dining, green space, an amphitheater and the third Culinary Institute of America. A brewery from 1883–2001, Pearl combines culture and modernity, and with the CIA located there, it’s no wonder its culinary outposts shine. Aside from the year-round Pearl Farmers Market, restaurants include Hotel Emma’s Supper; CIA’s Savor; and The Bottling Department, San Antonio’s first food hall.
The city’s ongoing improvements embody the essence of San Antonio — a diverse population with a strong sense of history and culture that takes pride in its city. As the seventh-largest city in the nation, San Antonio is perfectly poised for an upsurge in business and tourism.
To get out of the city for a while, head into Hill Country for breathtaking scenic drives. If you are short on time, drive about an hour and a half north on U.S. Highway 87 to Fredericksburg and take State Road 16 toward Willow City. There you’ll find the 13-mile Willow City Loop on Ranch Road 1323, a two-lane trail through rolling meadows of wildflowers, meandering creeks and rocky cliffs. The loop, open year-round, is best visited in spring or fall. Take this trip on a weekday, as it gets crowded with tourists on the weekends.
If you’ve got more time for exploring, head deeper into Hill Country to view the Texas Swiss Alps in Leakey. From Bandera, about 50 miles out of San Antonio on State Road 16, this beautiful drive through verdant mountains and several Hill Country towns can run anywhere from 80 to 130 miles, depending on your route. The best path heads south from Bandera to Hondo, then over to Concan before turning north to Leakey for some of the best vistas. From there turn back to Bandera along Highway 337, and be sure to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way.
The Hamilton Hotel, located steps from the White House, was the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway. Upon arrival, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful with a quick check-in process. The lobby was immaculate with shining marble flooring, velvet couches and an arched ceiling design that brought a sense of sophistication. For added security, the elevators are only accessible to those who have a key card to a guestroom.
Luxury destinations around the country partnered with Bryte to introduce The Restorative Bed and enhanced sleep programming at their hotels. The revolutionary, AI-powered Restorative Bed uses real-time technology to intuitively adjust based on the individual’s needs and preferences. An embedded sensory network detects biometrics, like heart rate and breathing patterns, when a sleeper enters the first stage of sleep, triggering cooling features and lulling sleepers into deep sleep. Computer-controlled air cushions alleviate pressure points, and the technology also leads sleepers naturally out of sleep.
Tauck announced plans to fully restart its U.S. tours by July 1. Departures of the Southern Charms: Savannah, Hilton Head and Charleston tour have already begun, with other popular tours across the country relaunching in the coming months. Check the Open for Travel page for information on specific tour departures.
Turkish Airlines resumed its premium onboard dining and hot meal service on all business- and economy-class flights longer than two hours and 15 minutes. The resumption of service is in accordance with all health and hygiene applications.
Denver’s The Source Hotel offers its new Passport Program. Overnight guests receive The Source Passport at check-in and from there can enjoy restaurants and retail establishments across The Source Hotel + Market Hall with exclusive discounts. Exclusive discounts are available at The Woods, Safta, Reunion Bread, Beet & Yarrow, Melted and more.
With the vaccine rolling out and U.S. air travel expected to pick up in the upcoming months, the personal finance website WalletHub released a report on 2021’s Best Frequent-Flyer Programs, to help travelers make the best decision for their wallets.
TAP Air Portugal now offers all passengers COVID-19 testing service at Lisbon Airport at a discount. Depending on a destination’s various restrictions, the Rapid Antigen Test is €21; the PCR test is €85; and a PCR Test plus Rapid Antigen Test is €106. TAP customers enjoy priority access to this service.