San Antonio is perhaps best known as the home of the Alamo, the heroic last stand of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and a collection of Texans who desperately fought off General Santa Anna and the Mexican Army. “Remember the Alamo” holds a permanent place in American lore.
But San Antonio is far from just a symbol of Texas independence. It’s one of the biggest, and fastest-growing cities in the United States, not to mention a popular destination for business travelers.
Here’s how to make the most of a business trip to San Antonio.
Where to Go:
Here are three activities to consider if you have time to spare at the airport:
|How to Get to Downtown San Antonio|
Make the most of your business trip to the Alamo City by keeping these six tips at the top of your mind.
Of cities with more than 1 million people in the United States, San Antonio is the fourth largest in terms of area. It’s big. Really big. The good news is you’ll likely be confined to the city’s business district. Here are five tips to help you get around:
Ask people about the public transportation in their hometowns, and you’ll likely receive lukewarm endorsements...at best. San Antonio is no different, although the VIA has upgraded in recent years, adding modern features like trip planners, and more routes to popular destinations.
San Antonio has a reputation as a cyclist-friendly city. Environmentally conscious business travelers, or those looking for an excuse to exercise, should consider renting a bike for short trips, especially if temperatures are cool.
There are some cities where you should skip renting a car altogether. San Antonio isn’t necessarily one of them. There’s actually a good amount of parking spaces, even in urban areas, and the city is so spread out that getting from one destination to another sometimes requires a longish trip. Having said that, pay attention to the interstate signs, as the exits can sneak up on you.
Speaking of cars, the rental tax is 16% at the airport and 11% elsewhere in town. That’s something to think about as you plan your trip.
In some cities—New York and Philadelphia to name two—the availability of cabs makes them a more convenient transportation choice than rideshares. That’s not the case in San Antonio, where you often have to call ahead to secure a cab. The less-expensive rideshare is the way to go.
The Alamo City is both a sprawling urban center and understated. San Antonio's music reflects the mix of culture that defines South Central Texas.
There’s no shortage of lodging in Downtown San Antonio. When picking a headquarters for your business trip, consider these six:
The Fairmount has the distinction of being the largest structure ever transported on wheels when it completed a cross-town move in 1986. Today, the four-star hotel is fit with plush rooms and retains its historic feel, while offering modern amenities like a business center and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Attached to the Henry B. González Convention Center, the Grand Hyatt San Antonio welcomes thousands of business travelers and conventioneers every year. The hotel houses 24-hour fitness and business centers, and offers complimentary Wi-Fi. One of the Grand Hyatt’s neat perks, beyond its ideal location, is an in-room yoga program visitors can pull up on their TVs.
This four-star hotel serves as headquarters and getaway for weary business travelers. Work up a sweat in the fitness center or relax in the outdoor pool. All rooms come with private balconies, as well. Request one on the river side for a proper San Antonio experience.
You can splurge for a luxurious River Walk hotel, or you can opt for a budget option that delivers a comfortable business experience. There are three La Quinta Inn & Suites within close proximity of the convention center in downtown San Antonio. All have complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi, and full fitness centers.
If work gets you down and you need a reminder that you’re in historic San Antonio, then the Menger Hotel is the place for you. Opened in 1859, the Menger is the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi. The decor is delightfully old-fashioned; the Wi-Fi and 24-hour business center, thankfully, are not. Try the celebrated mango ice cream to really make your stay a treat.
The Westin Riverwalk delivers an element of pleasure in a location befitting tourists and business people alike. There’s a heated pool. Rooms have private balconies. There’s also a 24-hour fitness center, business amenities, and a short walk to both the convention center and iconic stops on the River Walk. In other words, work and play are okay to mix here.
Sometimes you need to escape your hotel room or the convention center to be productive. San Antonio has coworking spaces and coffee shops to ensure that happens.
Located in Hemisfair Park across from the convention center, CommonWealth Coffeehouse is an ideal space to set up near the action without being in the action. The cafe provides free Wi-Fi and plenty of work areas. And, if you need to step away from your screen, there are attractions in the vicinity, such as Yanaguana Garden and the Mexican Cultural Institute.
Transport to the Old Southwest by visiting the Landa Library. The public library is at the center of the Landa Gardens Conservancy, a lush, green oasis three and a half miles from Downtown. Currently undergoing renovations, the building is set to reopen in April 2020.
Just north of Downtown in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, The Impact Guild is a coworking space that delivers all the basics to get work done. A day pass costs $18 and gives you access to a common desk space, Wi-Fi, coffee, and free parking.
Well, the name is ironic. The coffee roasters have nothing to do with shotguns, and the building itself peddled a more peaceful profession: Warehouse 5 was a sewing factory. Having said that, you’ll have a blast at the original location or the new spot in Southtown, sipping delicious coffee while staying productive.
Venture Point separates itself from other coworking spaces by offering flexible rates. Instead of purchasing a day pass, you can rent a desk at one of Venture Point’s two locations for $5 an hour.
At some point during a long day on the road, someone will suggest happy hour. Thanks to this list, you’ll have quality recommendations.
In the 1930s, mythical blues figure Robert Johnson recorded an album in the building that Bar 414 calls home (in room 414, hence the name). That anecdote could serve as an ice breaker when you invite clients to join you for a drink there. Old Fashioneds and crab cakes go for $5 each Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A growing city isn’t complete without a few quality craft breweries. Blue Star Brewery has been pouring some of the best beer in San Antonio since 1996. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., you can get $1 off drafts. Try out their beer cocktails—like the Texarita, a lager with margarita mix—for a different take on suds.
If you’re craving a burger, then Bombay Bicycle Club is your spot, especially on Wednesday nights. You can grab an All-American meal, burger and fries, for just $5. Otherwise, score food and drink specials all day Sunday and Monday, and Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
It’s common for establishments to up-charge when they’re in prime locations. That’s not the case with the Chart House Restaurant at Tower of the Americas. Head there for happy hour (4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday) to enjoy $6 well drinks, $4 truffle fries, and the best view of San Antonio.
This is a classic happy hour in an ideal location. The Esquire Tavern is just down the River Walk from the convention center. Enjoy $3 cocktails to go with small plates like deviled eggs, jalapeños rellenitos (stuffed jalapeños), and nachos, all of which cost $3 as well. Happy Hour runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m, Monday through Friday.
San Antonio has plenty of top-notch Mexican restaurants, and Paloma Blanca has a reputation as one of the city’s best. Paloma Blanca’s happy hour is a big reason why. Treat yourself to typical Mexican bites (queso, guacamole, tacos) and $3.50 margaritas from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., every weekday.
It’s Texas. Bring your appetite, and ignore your caloric intake.
Alamo BBQ Company is two miles from downtown, but well worth the ride. It’s a typical Texas barbeque joint—which is to say it’s big on brisket—that features patio seating. Escape the bustle and unwind for a meal.
The Good Kind is set up at two locations, with each offering fun perks. The Pearl restaurant has outdoor seating and an adjacent event space that hosts free fitness classes. The Southtown spot, on the other hand, features San Antonio skyline views. You’ll find healthy and delectable options either way.
Mixtli stands out for its authenticity, in decor and taste. The menu doubles as a culinary tour of Mexico and changes with the seasons (which also makes it a social media star). Mixtli is a 10-minute drive from downtown, close enough for convenience, yet hidden enough from the main tourist attractions to prove you’re in the know.
You really can’t go on a Texas business trip without getting a steak, can you? The meat is the (lone) star at Range, with a variety of cut options and a savory mix of toppings to choose from. If steak isn’t your thing, Range also has the surf part of surf-and-turf down, with lobster, red snapper, and salmon on the menu.
The hotel fitness center is a fine place to work out, but if you want to see the city while staying fit, make note of these five options:
An award-winning initiative from San Antonio Parks and Recreation, Fitness in the Park provides free workout programs in various public spaces around the city. Try your hand at common activities like yoga or aerobics, or see what piloxing is all about. (Hint: It combines pilates, boxing, and dance elements.)
Aqua zumba is a low-impact, cardio-heavy class that continues to grow in popularity. The San Antonio Natatorium hosts classes on Saturdays with no registration necessary. (Check out the calendar here.)
Get a sweat in while supporting a good cause. Another offering from San Antonio Parks and Recreation, Troops for Fitness features intense workout courses, like CrossFit and zumba, taught by veterans of the American Armed Forces.
Maintaining your mental and spiritual health is crucial to succeeding in the stressful world of business travel. That’s where Gentle Wellness can help you. The program features free mind-and-body classes in tai chi, qigong, dao-in, and yoga. The schedule is available here.
Given the distance from downtown (about a half-hour drive) and the sometimes suffocating heat of San Antonio, this is definitely an early morning, up-and-at-’em endeavor. Then again, those often produce the most satisfying results. The 4.7-mile Lytle’s Loop takes you through the rugged hills and canyon landscape of Government Canyon State Natural Area.
You could go to Six Flags. You could go to the zoo. You could check the schedule of the five-time NBA champion Spurs. Or you could set up a tour of the city that celebrates its history and present. Let’s go with that.
In a Tex-Mex city, breakfast tacos are never a bad decision to start the day. But we’ll include this stop at the historic Guenther House, the spiritual home of the celebrated C.H. Guenther & Son company that has cooked up baked goods and more since 1851. Get the biscuits and gravy for just $6.50.
Did you know the San Antonio missions comprise the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas? The five complexes fall on an 8-mile stretch south of the city. Notable stops include Mission Concepción (the oldest unrestored stone church in America) and Mission San José (the largest colonial mission in Texas).
Once you explore the remnants (although not entirely—the missions still host Mass) of San Antonio’s colonial history, stop by Nicha’s Comida Mexicana for street tacos and Mexican bites.
Museums. Shops. Happy hours. Boat rides. The River Walk loops through San Antonio and serves as the main road of transportation for visitors on leisurely afternoons and evenings.
If you visit the Alamo during the day, you’ll likely find long lines and crowds. While you can take neat history tours at a reasonable price, the lasting symbol of Texas independence illuminated at night is truly a sight to see.
Described as the “swankiest live music club” in San Antonio, Luna is the perfect end to a bleisure day. Bring your dancing shoes, or simply settle down for a drink and take in live music across genres, from soul, funk, and reggae to swing, oldies, and jazz.