Photo by Bob Howen, VisitSanAntonio.com
Ready to explore San Antonio? Great! Saddle up; we’re talking Texas while hopefully blazing a happy trail of scintillating conversation along the way …
So everyone remembers the Alamo, right? But who outside of Texas remembers San Antonio de Béxar Presidio—the Spanish fort that was built near the San Antonio River three centuries ago?
This is where San Antonio’s long and storied history began when a group of Canary Islanders, who ventured some 5,000 miles over the course of a year to get there via Cuba and Mexico, reached what is now known as San Antonio’s Main Plaza. Those long-distance commuters eventually spread their wings when they got to San Antonio and received the city’s first charter.
The five frontier missions that were formed at the time are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a marker in front of San Antonio’s Bexar County Courthouse, shown above, recognizes that first government set up by those Canary Islanders in the early 18th century.
Today, San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States with an estimated population of 1.5 million, and, with a median age of 33.1 years for its residents, it’s no surprise that this city in the heart of Texas is both vibrant and a whole lot of fun. That’s why it’s the perfect place for Sphera to host inspire San Antonio, which takes place May 6-9, 2019. As a bonus, the average high temperature in San Antonio is 85 degrees in May with a low of about 65 degrees, so the weather will likely be fantastic.
With Derby Day scheduled for a couple of days before the conference and the Cinco de Mayo celebration to commence the day after a winner crosses the finish line in Kentucky, the Alamo City will be the place to be! And the conference itself promises more to explore than ever before.
While those two pre-conference events don’t fall on the exact same day like they did in 2018, that shouldn’t damper the party atmosphere in May 2019. If you’re looking to experience the Kentucky Derby while in San Antonio—and maybe place a legal wager or two as well—you might want to visit the Retama Park race track, which is about a 30-minute ride from the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa where inspire San Antonio will take place.
During the 2018 Derby, a woman turned an $18 bet into a $1.2 million payout at that San Antonio race track by correctly picking the finishing order of the first five horses to cross the finish line. We can’t guarantee the same outcome for the 2019 race, but perhaps we can offer a suggestion that picking another strong mudder like Justify wouldn’t be an utterly bad idea if it’s raining on the track that day.
Photo courtesy of VisitSanAntonio.com
If betting the “ponies” isn’t your thing and you prefer to ride one instead, then Westcreek Trail Rides is only about 4 miles from the hotel. A one-hour trail ride costs $40, but if you can get a group of six together, then the price drops to $30 for each rider. Giddyup!
Food, Glorious Food
Photo courtesy of VisitSanAntonio.com
As we mentioned, San Antonio is also a good place to be to celebrate the anniversary of a key date in Mexican history. We suggest circling Market Square on your to-do list if you’ll be in town for Cinco de Mayo. Listed as the “largest Mexican marketplace north of Rio Grande,” Market Square helped celebrate San Antonio’s tricentennial in 2018 with a big celebration that included various types of music from blues to country to Tejano as well as a plethora of food, drink and shopping options. We expect a similar fun-filled fiesta next year as well.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say margaritas might be a popular choice on May 5, so for those about to salt, we salute you. You might want to pay a visit to Margaritaville; the Jimmy Buffett chain has several margaritas on the menu from the Who’s to Blame to the Last Mango in Paris. Pro tip: There’s even a “$5 off your purchase of $25 or more” coupon you can use through the end of May 2019 in the official San Antonio visitor’s guide. Tell ’em p. 11 sent you.
However, if restaurant chains aren’t your scene or if you’d prefer to find your lost shaker of salt elsewhere, La Fogata Mexican Cuisine is highly rated on TripAdvisor. Talk about flower power—their drinks even come spruced up with an orchid. One real estate website listed La Fogata as the best place to get a margarita in San Antonio, but take that with a grain of salt (or a whole rim’s worth) if you prefer.
Of course, if you’re headed to San Antonio, you don’t want to miss a chance to glance at a menu filled with Tex-Mex food choices—basically Mexican cuisine with a European influence including ingredients with wheat flour and yellow cheese. According to the Texas Hill Country website: “Though Tex-Mex was the food of the Tejanos for decades, San Antonio was where this cuisine came to the masses. In the 1880s, rail lines brought more people into San Antonio, and the town’s chili queens kept them fed. Not only did they help to spread chili to the rest of the United States, [but] they also helped to popularize other Tejano home cooking meals that almost 80 years later came to be known as Tex-Mex.”
USA Today recently surveyed its readers on Tex-Mex food in Texas as part of its 10Best series, and the highest-ranking restaurant in San Antonio was Rosario’s, which has north and south locations, each of which is about a 20-minute trip from the conference hotel. It’s nice to see so many gluten-free options on the menu as well as quite a few vegetarian choices for the noncarnivores in the crowd.
But if Tex-Mex isn’t your thing and you just want a good—or perhaps a great—burger, you might want to try San Antonio’s Burger Boy restaurant. Voters on the website Inside Coup named Burger Boy the home of the “Best Place to Get a Burger” in the nation for 2018. For just $6.99, you can indulge in a Triple Boy burger, or, if you want something a bit smaller, you can order a single Burger Boy for only $3.79. There are two locations, but the new Potranco restaurant is a quick 10-minute Uber, Lyft or taxi from the hotel. Be warned that Burger Boy has limited seating.
Walk This Way
Speaking of best in the nation, the famed San Antonio River Walk was named “Best Vacation Spot” in that same Inside Coup poll. As VisitSanAntonio.com so eloquently puts it, “The San Antonio River Walk is a verdant oasis of cypress-lined paved paths, arched stone bridges and lush landscapes. It gently winds through the city center, providing millions of visitors each year with easy access to the city’s cultural hot spots, historic sites and other attractions.”
In all, the River Walk stretches 15 miles, about five of which are located in downtown San Antonio. If you want dining, entertainment and fun in San Antonio, you’ll find it here. Attractions include Ripley’s Haunted Adventure for people who aren’t afraid of scare tactics and The Witte Museum where dinosaurs and artifacts from San Antonio’s history are dug up and housed in these digs.
And fans of the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who Jennifer Lopez portrayed in the 1997 film “Selena,” can find lots of memorable Selena places to visit in San Antonio. Those include walking over the “Selena Bridge” on the River Walk where Selena and her husband spent a romantic night and paying a visit to the bright umbrellas along the water where part of the video for her song “No Me Queda Mas” was filmed.
Also, remember San Antonio de Béxar Presidio? Well, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, which was constructed in 1749 and is the last remaining part of the San Antonio de Béxar, is close to the River Walk.
Photo courtesy of VisitSanAntonio.com
We’d like to float an idea now: How about taking a narrated cruise on the river for only $12? They leave about every 15 minutes, and the cruise lasts about 35 minutes. Serenity now for sure! Keep an eye out for the sunfish artwork (pictured at the top of this blog) from New York-based artist Donald Lipski that have hung under the I-35 Overpass near Camden Street since 2009.
But if a River Walk walk is more your speed, your visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at The Alamo. The famous battleground location played a pivotal role in rallying Texans around a common cause that would eventually lead to The Lone Star State becoming the 28th state in the nation in 1845.
Alamo photo by Richard Nowitz, VisitSanAntonio.com
Finally, remember San Antonio’s 300th anniversary, which was celebrated on May 5, 2018? Well, that day also saw the opening of the new San Pedro Creek Culture Park, which is not far from the River Walk. Along with numerous aesthetic and cultural features like the addition of 2,400 perennials and four tile murals, it was designed to help sustainability efforts in San Antonio by improving water quality as well as flood migration.
Explore Some More
Speaking of exploring, you won’t want to miss underwater explorer Robert Ballard’s keynote address at inspire San Antonio where, among other things, he will be taking a deep dive on taking—and mitigating—risks when making new discoveries. Ballard is credited with finding many long-lost ships, but he has one titanic discovery on his résumé. In 1985, Ballard, now a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, and his team found the long-lost RMS Titanic wreckage 2½ miles below the ocean’s surface. Thanks to Ballard and his team, a lot has been learned about that tragic day in 1912, but we’re sure Ballard has more than a few tales to tell that might surprise you.
Of course, what would inspire be without training opportunities? Sphera has a record 20 sessions planned for San Antonio from SpheraCloud analytics to calculating analysis and “what if” scenarios in opsInfo and many others!
There will be so much more in store for you to explore at inspire, so keep checking our website for more exciting announcements.