The Southside of San Antonio has been my home for most of my life. It has many hidden gems and I never get tired of visiting them. Ever been to the Southside of San Antonio? If not, here is a little about my community.
The City of San Antonio was established in May of 1718, when Father Antonio de Olivares and a group of Payaya Indians built the Alamo Mission (originally known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero) and the Spanish fort known as Presidio San Antonio de Bexar.
Southside San Antonio was promoted as a township in 1916. During the mid-1880s, the King William District was developed by German immigrants. It is the first historic district in Texas and the first residential suburb in San Antonio. In 1917, Kelly Air Force Base was established. In 1918, Brooks Air Force Base was established. In 1941, Lackland Air Force Base was established.
Why should you visit the Southside of San Antonio? Here are 15 reasons:
Blue Star Arts Complex
A 160,000 square foot mixed-use development that is home to an array of art galleries, art studios, bars (Bar 1919, Joe Blue’s), brewpub (Blue Star Brewing Company), residential apartments, restaurants, and specialty shops.
A 3.2-acre landscaped pathway, opened in March 2018, that connects the four San Antonio Missions and features a site-wide water catchment system. The park also serves as a gateway to biking and hiking trails, which begin near the Blue Star Arts Complex and end near the Mission Espada.
Hot Wells of Bexar County
A 4-acre park that is the former site of Hot Wells bathhouse and hotel. Opened to the public on April 30, 2019, the restored ruins, located across the river from Mission San Jose, are connected to the River Walk’s Mission Reach section.
Medina River Natural Area
A 511-acre nature preserve, with amazing opportunities for birding, camping (Cottonwood Campground), canoeing/kayaking, fishing, geocaching, picnicking, and wildlife watching. The main attractions at the natural area are the hiking/biking/running trails, which travel along the Medina River.
Mission Marquee Plaza
Opened in 2014, the Mission Marquee Plaza was formerly known as the Mission Drive-In Theatre, which was open from 1948-2000. Today, the plaza hosts several arts and culture events, festivals, film screenings, and open-air markets throughout the year.
Mission Open Air Market
A jumbo flea market (50+ acres) with 2000+ vendors selling an array of items including antiques, collectibles, crafts, jewelry, tools, and western wear. The market is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 6:00 AM-5:00 PM.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
A 1,200-acre nature sanctuary, which consists of the 600-acre Mitchell Lake, as well as 385 acres of upland habitat and 215 acres of wetlands. They are known for their beautiful bird haven. Currently, 342 bird species have been spotted on site, including American White Pelicans, Monk Parakeets, Sandhill Cranes, and Western Meadowlarks.
Pica Pica Plaza
A Latin American-style service and retail mall that features 100+ unique shops, as well as an entertainment schedule, event center, food court, and trampoline park. A few of the popular stores include the Alpha Omega Gift Store, Angelina’s Western Wear, Mia Ceramic & Party Supplies, and Sara’s Handcrafted Jewelry.
River Walk Mission Reach
An 8-mile biking and walking stretch and an 8-mile paddling trail, along the San Antonio River Walk, featuring grand art projects and a riparian woodland ecosystem. The Mission Reach connects to Confluence Park, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, as well as several city and county parks.
The Salt Cave at eforea Spa
Located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa at Brooks, the Salt Cave at eforea Spa is San Antonio’s only salt cave. Each 30-45-minute session can help with conditions, diseases, and disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gastritis, general exhaustion, hypertension/hypotension, and stress reduction.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
The park is made up of 4 Spanish frontier missions (along the San Antonio River), which were set up by Catholic religious orders, with the goal of spreading the word about Christianity to the native Coahuiltecan tribes, each one resembling a mini-city. Mission Espada was established in East Texas in 1690, Mission Concepción and Mission San Juan were both set up in East Texas in 1716 and Mission San José were set up in San Antonio in 1720. In 1731, the three East Texas missions were moved to San Antonio.
Southtown is well-known for two of San Antonio’s longest-running art walks––First Friday, established in 1994, and Second Saturday, established in 1995. Also popular is their annual community event, A Day in Southtown. Southtown features an array of art galleries, art studios, B&B’s/Inns, bars, boutiques, restaurants, retail shops, and street art.
Texas Air Museum (Stinson)
Established in 1999, by John Tosh (a veteran of WW2, as well as the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars), the Texas Air Museum is located on the ground of the Stinson Municipal Airport. The museum boasts a collection of historical and unique exhibits, including aircraft, artifacts, transport vehicles, uniforms, and weapons.
A 43-acre linear, urban park, located at Brooks (former home of Brooks Air Force Base), a 1,300-acre community. Established in April 2018, the park features fitness stations, food truck court (with picnic tables), outdoor game area (chess, gaga, foosball, and ping pong), pavilions (1 large and 3 small), playground, public art displays, and trails (for biking, hiking, jogging, and walking).
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas
A 2.2 million square foot, state-of-the-art automobile assembly and manufacturing plant (a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation), where all models of both the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra pickup trucks are built. Opened in November 2006, the facility was built on the land of the former JLC Cattle Ranch.
With 15 ideas to spend time in the Southside of San Antonio, I guarantee you’ll be amazed at all the history, culture, and picturesque places we have on my side of town.
April Monterrosa is a writer, entrepreneur, and tourism ambassador for the Southside of San Antonio, Texas. She owns “Live From The Southside” a media business partnered with the South SA Chamber of Commerce, that helps San Antonio residents and visitors find things to do in the Southside of San Antonio and throughout Texas. April is also an ambassador for the South SA Chamber, serves on the Palo Alto Cosmetology Advisory Board, and is a Texas Auto Writer. Follow April on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and on her site Southside San Antonio