It was July of 2006, and I stepped out of the San Antonio International airport wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Immediately, I was hit by a blast of air reminiscent of a blow dryer set to high. My jeans stuck to my legs and sweat rolled down my forehead. I glared at my then-husband, wondering what I had done to make him hate me enough to move to this godforsaken hot plate. It’s been 15 years since that move, and not only have I grown to love San Antonio, but I love it so much that I chose to move back here over Fort Worth post-divorce. If you, too, moved here against your will and are miserable, here are some aspects of the city that I’ve grown to love, as well as my best tips to fit in.
- Give it time.
Just like falling in love with a spouse or anything else, it takes time to find things about the city that you enjoy and appreciate. Most people say to give it at least a year. In the meantime, try not to play the comparison game where you constantly think about your hometown and how it fares better. Yes, it’s hot in the summer. Constantly dwelling on how hot and miserable you are will not help you adapt (also: buy some cute sundresses and find a local pool).
2. Learn to love the people.
I grew up in the Northeast, and while I won’t go so far as to say people are unfriendly there, I will say that when I go back for a visit and walk or run, people will intentionally avoid eye contact so they don’t have to say hi (and by “people” I mean “literally everyone”). Also, if you are crossing a crosswalk anywhere in the Baltimore metro area, you better make 100% sure there are no cars within a ten-mile radius because they are sure as heck not going to stop for you. In San Antonio, not only are people friendly, but they’re actually polite. It’s been 15 years and I still get a smile on my face when a kid calls me “ma’am.” Also, I love the fact that because of our many military bases, there are many other “transplants.” I’ve spent many Thanksgivings with other transplants who couldn’t afford to fly home for the holidays. Together we form our own little transplant family.
3. The outdoor scene is great!
State and city parks are abundant in the city itself. Besides that, we are within driving distance to many other parks and beaches. If you somehow exhaust yourself of all the parks, rivers, lakes, and trails in San Antonio, we are 30 minutes from New Braunfels and about an hour from Austin, where you can find countless more. More about all of our outdoor fun can be found here.
4. You can’t beat the schools.
I’ve never lived in a city that has such an abundance of quality schools—public, private, and charter. Speaking as a teacher as well as a parent, the quality of education that students receive here in terms of the rigor and courses offered exceed those in any other city I’ve lived in. While school is abnormal right now, during non-pandemic times the schools here can’t be beat. You can read more about our great schools in this post.
5. We party so hard the entire city takes a whole week just to celebrate!
I will confess—the only Fiesta event I’ve ever participated in was the drive-thru at La Gloria at the peak of the pandemic. However, I love all the decor, the shoebox parades, and all of the general merriment that comes with Fiesta. It’s such a fun time of year, and it comes near the end of the school year when we need a break. To confess further, I do not completely understand the history of each Fiesta event, but lucky for me, someone smarter at ACM does and compiled a list for you here.
6. The holiday season is beautiful.
I’m a sucker for Christmas lights, and in my opinion, there are few places more beautiful than the River Walk covered in lights. Our theme parks (Did I mention we have three: Sea World, Fiesta Texas, and Morgan’s Wonderland?) also light up at Christmastime. There are so many beautiful places, in fact, that you could spend the entire month of December celebrating!
7. There is so much for your kids to do.
If you get bored here, all you have to do is drive down the road to find something new to do. Indoor play? We’ve got it. Libraries? Plenty. What else do your kids like—waterparks? Ice cream? Splash pads? Legos? Spas? We’ve got all that and more.
8. The arts community is vibrant.
From the many museums to the theaters, there is so much to see and do in the arts world. Do you like dinosaurs? Check out the Witte Museum. Prefer to explore hands-on? We have the DoSeum. There is the San Antonio Museum of Art if you prefer visual art. On the theater front, we have the gorgeous Majestic Theatre, which is hosting the Lion King at the end of the year! Both kids and adults love the Magik Theatre for children’s plays, and don’t forget about the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
9. Love sports? So do we.
I grew up in the Northeast, where sports are fine but not life. It took some adjustment now that I’m here in Texas, where I’m told that my rising 7th grader will have to be at school by 6:00 a.m. for athletics. (Why?! How?!) Not only do we have a vibrant youth sports scene, but adults have plenty of options to get their sportiness on too, ranging from gyms to running trails to kickball teams. On the professional side, we love us some Spurs, and it’s hard not to get caught up in Spurs fever during the NBA season.
10. There’s plenty for adults to do sans kids.
We have plenty of great options for date nights as well as girls’ nights out. There is always something going on at the Pearl or one of many happy hour hot spots. Whether your idea of a good time without your kids is going dancing or going for a hike, San Antonio has you covered.
I haven’t really scratched the surface of the many things to do or why I love it here so much. Moving is hard, and missing home is hard, but I hope this brings you some optimism and a sense of excitement about our great city!