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Fragile Bird

Let's Have Fun in San Antonio - What to Do?

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Last year before WorldCom started in Chicago, we had a thread on getting together and doing things. I arrived on a Thursday which didn't give me much time to see sights, I didn't realize how packed a WorldCom agenda was, or what kind of toll drinking every night would take on me. :)

This year I know better, so I get into town on the Tuesday. I definitely want to see the Alamo and spend a few hours on the Riverwalk.

Here is the San Antonio web site. http://visitsananton...tonio/The-Alamo

Who wants to do what, when? Let's get organized!

Any how about you locals - what suggestions do you have for restaurants and bars? What parts of town should we avoid? How about sports? Is there anything to see? How about art galleries, museums, bus tours to parks or natural wonders?

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When I first started looking at things to do in San Antonio, I was taken with the out-doors-y stuff (The Alamo, The Riverwalk, Botanical Garden). And while I still want to see those things, the more I hear about the heat the more the idea of never leaving the air conditioning appeals. LacyinTx sent me a picture of a temperature gauge reading 108 degrees the other day, and I almost melted at the thought of it! Lol.

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Air conditioned coach FTW! Or outings only to places with A/C--restaurants, museums, etc. :-P

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I would recommend NOT going tubing. We went this past weekend and HowdyPhillip and I almost murdered each other :P Lost my favorite pair of flip flops, saw an 8 foot water moccasin http://donavanlakes.org/water%20moccasin.JPG (OMGWTFBBW!!!!`1111) and am STILL bandaging the abrasions on my ASS from hitting the shallow areas. He had a great time though, apparently.

I would instead recommend the pool :P

San Antonio does have a Sea World, a Six Flags called Fiesta Texas, and there was a Ripley's Believe It or Not near the Alamo last time I checked...

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I've been to SA once or twice a year for the last few decades, so I can at least make some informed suggestions. The Alamo, of course. It's about two blocks from the hotel. Then pop across the street and have a drink in the bar in the Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt reportedly recruited many of the Rough Riders. The hotel is supposed to be haunted -- your own mileage there. You can spend a day or so just walking the Riverwalk and enjoying the commercial establishments. Heading farther afield there are a couple of major waterparks (Sea World and Schlitterbahn) and a Six Flags. A bit farther to the Bridge Caverns and Game Park up north. The Game Park is just OK (unless you enjoy ostriches and such coming after you for handouts like squeegee bums in a New York City intersection) but the caverns are pretty awesome. There's some good museums, including the Witte which is small but decent, not too far from downtown on Broadway. It's also close to book row and the antique shops. They have a decent zoo. A must-catch at least once for sheer Texas kitsch is the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, which has food, booze, and plenty of fun stuff to look at, and it's just a few blocks from the hotels. HEAT: Well, yeah, Texas around Labor Day is hot. But it tends to be a dry heat (I know, I know). But it also tends to be about ten degrees COOLER than it is up in the central Plains to the north. Expect mid-90s during the day, but a VERY walkable Riverwalk after the sun heads down.

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Thanks, Tully! That was very helpful! Good grief, I didn't realize the Alamo was so close to the hotel. No air conditioned coaches needed, I guess we can walk there first thing in the morning before it gets too hot.

The hotel does have a pool, doesn't it? (It better, she said, darkly)

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Tully--thanks for the insider info! That is all very useful. Ironically, I read something about the caverns just the other day and was thinking they sounded like an idea (if nothing else it has to be a lot cooler there, lol). Fragile Bird--I thought I read that the hotel has both an indoor and an outdoor pool. I could have imagined that part, however. :-P

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Austin City Limits, the PBS show, has a taping on Wednesday, August 28th. It isn't possible to order tickets - you submit your name and you win a draw for 2 passes if you are lucky. The guest that night is The Black Angels. If interested, start checking the website about a week before, fill out the form when they are released and submit your name, on the website: http://acltv.com/upcoming-tapings/. I have never done this, so since they say "about a week before", I would start looking maybe 9 or 10 days before. Maybe if we all submit our names some of us will get passes. :)

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Regina--the caverns are 70F all year 'round. They're also ALWAYS 99% humidity. Good grippy shoes recommended. :) If you can be sure of arrival time I believe you can buy time-specific tickets online. It can be crowded on holiday weekends with an hour or more wait for a not-sold-out tour.

Both hotels are next to the convention center AND the mall, for you shopaholics. For the obligatory tourist Tex Mex (which is actually pretty bland) Casa Rio on the Riverwalk has been around since 1946. Nothing fancy, but last time I was there it was still OK. Tough to recommend any restaurant offhand after not being there for a year but Casa Rio never seems to change. And there's some of everything on or near the Riverwalk. Some more touri$ty than others.

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One more note: RIVER TAXI. If like me your legs as not as young as they used to be, you can buy a one-day unlimited river taxi pass for $10 or three-day for $25. You get to see a lot more of the Riverwalk without getting all tired and grouchy from the slogging.

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Mr. ES and I will be there Thursday after lunch, so count us in on some fun stuff. Like spa visits and lounging by the pool. :)

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I plan on visiting the missions. I don't arrive until Friday, however, so I probably won't get to them until Sunday - Tuesday.

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What we're doing is renting a car and driving up to Lockhart on a barbecue crawl to Blacks, Smitty's and Kreutz' Market. I'm a huge fan of Texas-style brisket and can smoke up a good'n on my deck, but I want to try the best there is! If we could, I'd spend another day going to Franklin's up in Austin but that won't be happening this trip.

If the pool area is the same as it was in '97, it's a combination indoor/outdoor with several jacuzzis in each area. Back then two of the jacuzzis had what we called the SpineMelter2000 jets that oscillate up and down your spine in rapid motion. I spent many a wonderful hour in there. Also IIRC from '97, the pool area offered child-free hours during the day for when you don't want to listen to other people's little darlings screeching at the tops of their lungs for hours on end. I'm hoping none of that has changed.

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So I had to do some research. :)

The top 10 San Antonio Highlights

1. River Walk (El Paseo del Rio) - A walk that was created after flooding control was built in the 20s and 30s, fell into disuse in the 50s, and revitalized in the 60s and is now a major attraction of San Antonio, a bustling tree-shaded pathway along the San Antonio river lined with outdoor cafes, popular nightspots and hotels. Sadly, we just miss the bat tours run by Texas Parks and Wildlife, but there will be a Labor Day weekend arts and crafts show.

2. The Alamo - One of the most visited historical sites in America, The Alamo stands as a symbol of heroic Texas independence. The Chapel and the Long Barracks are all that remain today. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

3. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - There are 6 missions established by the Spanish in the 1700s, and they offer a fascinating glimpse into the confluence of Spanish and Native cultures at the time. It offers an opportunity to explore old courtyards and serene churchyards. There is a 12 mile Mission walk (19 km). Mission San Jose is one of the leading ones to see.

4. The McNay Art Museum - An exquisite Spanish Colonial mansion houses a comprehensive collection of 19th to 21st century paintings and prints by notable artists such as Rodin, Cezanne, Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse, O'Keefe and Hopper. Their current exhibits include Norman Rockwell, Behind the Camera (to Sept. 1), and The America of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton (to Sept. 8).

5. San Fernando Cathedral - The oldest cathedral in the USA, where Mexican General Santa Anna flew the red flag, signalling "no mercy". The gift shop (not open on Mondays) sells a self-guided tour pamphlet or there are 45 minute tours led by a docent.

6. La Villita Historical District - Historic district of boutiques, craft shops, galleries and restaurants, located above the south bank of the River Walk. There is a historic walking tour, with maps available throughout the district.

7. King William Cultural Arts District - This beautiful residential neighborhood is lined with opulent mansions built by merchants in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The elegant Steves Homestead is now a museum. As with many of the other places in this list, there is a facebook page as well as a web site.

8. Sea World San Antonio - SeaWorld's San Antonio Texas theme park offers roller coasters, rides, shows, tours, attractions & family-friendly activities for thrill seekers & animal lovers.. There is a web booking saving of $15 for a single-day web booking for SeaWorld, $47.00, but if you want to book both SeaWorld and Aquatica (water slides, rivers, lagoons, beaches) you save $20, the combined one-day adult ticket is $67.00.

9. San Antonio Botanical Garden and Lucile Halsell Conservatory - Founded in 1980, there are 38 acres of gardens, buildings and walks in the center of San Antonio. There's a Texas trail with three ecosystems, a desert pavilion, a tropical conservatory, a palm house, an orangerie, and the Halsell conservatory containing orchids and bromeliads. Admission is $8.00.

10. Brackenridge Park - A 343 acre park, started with 199 acres of land donated by an oil man, that includes the San Antonio Zoo. The zoo has a bear den, a gibbon forest, a cat grotto, an Amazonia exhibit area, African and Australian areas, a bird house, and a crane area (they participate in the whooping crane recovery program).

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