Back in October I learned of a shoot-out that would be taking place in San Antonio with some of my photography idols. I knew I had to be there! For those of you who don't know, a shoot-out is a collaborative shooting event with multiple photographers and models. It's a full day shooting with models in amazing outfits at some of the most beautiful locations. It's a dream! Since I would be traveling for the shoot-out, I decided to make a trip of it, and see more of what San Antonio has to offer.
If you read about my trip to Savannah then you know that I love brightly colored hotels, so when I found El Tropicano I knew it was the place for me!
Day 1: After driving straight through from Louisville to San Antonio (17 hours) and a good nights rest, it was time to start exploring.
We started the morning off with breakfast at LuLu's bakery. LuLu's is home to the famous 3 lb cinnamon roll! It was literally the size of my head! It was delicious, and needless to say we had leftovers for days.
After that we headed into downtown to catch a glimpse of the Alamo and just to get a feel for downtown. We were surprised to find the Alamo in the middle of downtown. San Antonio was built around the Alamo, so there are tall modern looking buildings right next to it. It was a bizarre sight, and not how we had pictured it, but still very cool to see in person nonetheless.
We walked to a few shops and found a few cute souvenirs to bring back home before deciding to take a break from sightseeing and head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
A pink building?!? Love it!
For dinner we headed to Two Bros BBQ, for some real texas bbq. When we pulled up there were no other cars in the parking lot, we were slightly concerned that we were at the wrong place, but we went on it. If you are ever in San Antonio, GO HERE! It was the best bbq I have ever had, and for the price we got a lot of food.
After dinner we headed over to the Tower of the Americas downtown to see the city lights from a whole new perspective. The tower is 750 ft. tall with a restaurant , bar, and observation deck all inside. After riding the elevator to the top we stepped out to see the city lights. We were unable to stay for too long because the wind was intense, and it was cold. (20ish degrees)
Day 2: Shoot-out day!! Whoohoo! Started off with breakfast in the hotel and then got ready to head over to the shootout.
For the shoot we would be in a part of town know as Pearl. Pearl is a neighborhood that was once an old brewery, "The Pearl Brewery." After it shut down the complex was abandoned for some time, until it was turned into this really cool part of town filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and apartments.
It was about 40 degrees the day of the shoot, which really shouldn't be too bad, but after standing outside for 5+ hours, it tends to get cold quickly. Luckily for us photographers, our models were such good sports and we were able to shoot until sunset.
Here are some of my favorite shots taken during the shoot-out, just click on the photo and it will appear larger.
That evening we had reservations to eat at one of the oldest taverns on the river walk, Esquire. This place was way cool. It looked like what I imagined it looked like when it opened in 1933. It had a very rustic feel with real oil lamps on each of the table.
Day 3: Since day 1 was pretty cold and day 2 was spent shooting, we had some major ground to cover on day 3.
We started our day by heading to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. Have you ever seen those videos on youtube of the people who have animals sticking their heads into their cars? Well this is the kind of place you go to have that happen to you! lol
For $22 a person you get to drive through the park at your own pace and feed the animals at the ranch. There were zebras, elk, buffalo, long-horn cattle, giraffe's, and lots more to see once inside the park. It was really neat to see these animals up close and personal. The Zebra's were probably the most feisty of all of the animals in the park, but the ostriches' were a close second.
By lunch time we were getting pretty hungry, and since the ranch is about 45 minutes outside of town, we just decided to eat lunch at the park. After lunch we headed over to the walk-about and saw some other, smaller animals, and then headed back into town.
Once we were back in town we headed over the Pearl to check out some of the shops and to sight see. I really wanted to find a cute post card to add to my photo album, and I found the perfect one at the cutest little store called "The Tiny Finch." Look at these vintage cowboy boots we found, because Texas!
After exploring for a bit we headed to Hotel Emma. Hotel Emma is in the center of the Pearl Brewery area and has been awarded one of the top hotels in the world. It is stunning!
There is a library inside of the hotel that I really wanted to check out. The best way I can describe this library was that it was straight out of Beauty and the Beast. You need to see it for yourself. It was truly impressive.
Next we headed to see San Fernando Cathedral. It was built in 1750 and is one of the oldest active cathedrals in America. I am learning that I have a thing for old buildings and pretty interiors.
Around 4pm we decided to take a margarita and queso break, because when in San Antonio drink margaritas and eat queso right?! We decided to stop at Ocho, a hidden little restaurant attached to Hotel Havana. I had seen pictures online of the restaurant , and knew it was somewhere I needed to check out. Our margaritas and queso were delicious of course, but the icing on the cake was the atmosphere of Ocho. It was the perfect spot to chill on our busy afternoon, and just look at decor! I'm obsessed!
For the rest of the evening we headed to the more commercial part of town and browsed at Target, and T.J. Maxx, because those of you who truly know me, know that I can't pass up either of these two stores! lol We decided to just eat dinner at our hotel restaurant and call it a night.
Day 4: I hope you are enjoying reading what I was up to in SA, because day 4 was BUSY!
We got up early and headed to the Alamo. We wanted to try to beat the crowds, and it worked! We toured the Alamo and the grounds and saw some very interesting displays at the Alamo museum. They discourage photography once inside of the Alamo, so I don't have much to show from our time there.
Once we finished touring the Alamo we were ready for breakfast. About 10 minutes from the Alamo is a little place called " The Original Donut shop." They specialize in breakfast tacos and donuts, I couldn't think of a more perfect combo if I tried. The breakfast tacos were some of the best food we ate while in San Antonio and they were only $1.50 each. If you are ever in town and looking for a great breakfast stop, I 100% recommend, just make sure to have cash on you, as they don't take cards.
Above: Street art about a block from "The Original Donut shop"
After we ate we headed next to the 4 other missions that are still standing in San Antonio (Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Mission Espada). What I found most fascinating about these missions is that they are all still in use as churches. Two of the missions still had original parsonage homes that are in use today by the current priests.
The missions were all different and unique in their own way. Mission San Jose was the largest of the 4 missions and was still very intact. While the other mission chapels were still in great shape, their surrounding structures had not worn as well as the buildings as San Jose.
After we had explored each of the missions it was time for lunch, and in the true spirit of San Antonio we went to find some tacos. Near Pearl Brewery we stopped at Viva Taco Land. Like many of the restaurants in SA it has a large amount of outdoor seating, and since it was almost 80 degrees, we gladly sat out in the sun. We had pulled pork tacos, with chips and queso, and corn in a cup, which I had never had, but now love.
After filling up on some deliciousness we headed over to Market Square. This is San Antonio's market full of authentic Mexican foods and goods. It was really neat to see all of the colorful arts and crafts authentic to SA and to Mexico. We browsed the shops and booths for a bit while enjoying the sunshine.
Last but not least on our agenda for our last day in SA was to visit the river walk. The river walk is a 14 mile pathway along the San Antonio River. While most of the shops and restaurants are within a few miles, you can walk on the path from one end of the city to the next. It sits one level below the streets of downtown so if you didn't know where to look you would miss it.
We decided to do the most touristy thing possible and to a river boat cruise. It is a 40ish minute boat ride along the most popular part of the river walk and shows you all of the hot spots and historic points along the river walk. It was absolutely worth the $10 we paid to ride the boat, and we learned some interesting things about the buildings, shops, and restaurants that line the river.
We ended the night at Casa Rio, the oldest restaurant on the river walk for some authentic mexican cuisine.
By the end of day 4 I was sooo ready for bed, so we hit the hay and got up early the next morning to head back home. We headed out and drove straight back like a couple of lunatics, because I had a cute puppy at home waiting on me.
Visiting San Antonio was a great, and I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had traveling, making new friends, and learning new things along the way. Thanks so much for taking the time to read about my journey, I hope I have inspired you to do something new and fun, or at the very least to eat a taco!
Until next time,