Weekend Itinerary: San Antonio

Cool off with a welcome escape, and fall in love with a city that was made for walking.

Les Thomas
Salsa Through San Antonio
A stroll to the treasures of downtown San Antonio feels as nice as a walk in a garden.
Art Meripol

Walk This Way
Get up early to experience the beauty of the River Walk at its best, before it gets crowded. Have coffee and a warm pastry from the bakery at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel or stroll down to Schilo's for a filling German deli breakfast of eggs, bratwurst, biscuits, and coffee ($6.25).

Out on the river, beneath towering cypress trees, families of mallards cruise. Sunlight paints mellowed limestone walls and bridges in golden hues. To get oriented, hop aboard a boat for a narrated tour with Rio San Antonio Cruises. Tickets cost $7.75 adults, $2 ages 1-5; www.riosanantonio.com or 1-800-417-4139.

After the ride, step inside Aztec On The River to see a dazzling sound and light show that spotlights the movie palace built in the style of a Mayan temple; www.aztecontheriver.com or 1-877-432-9832. Beneath the theater, you'll find a treasure trove of shops. It's a Glow sells handcrafted wine racks, candleholders, and sculptures made from honeycomb calcite. Oro de Monte Alban specializes in jewelry reproduced from finds at Monte Alban and other pre-Columbian ruins in Mexico. Prices range from $5 to $1,800.

Salsa next door to the splashy Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Bar to have a spicy chile relleno ($10.95) and vegetable-loaded tortilla soup ($4.95). Don't miss the fresh guacamole made at your table; www.ironcactus.com or (210) 224-9835.

In early afternoon, head to La Villita. Shops and galleries fill the vintage buildings, where glassblowers and other artisans work. You might see a wedding party waiting at the elegant Little Church of La Villita, built in 1879. Outfit yourself with a stylish Texas wardrobe, including handmade leather handbags, silver and turquoise jewelry, and other accessories at Angelita, owned by Jean Pace, from the family that originated the famed Pace Picante Sauce.

Catch one of the best sunsets in Texas from the 750-foot-high Tower of the Americas, and then enjoy a memorable dinner at the new Eyes Over Texas restaurant. Visitors often skip the tower even though it's the city's tallest landmark. Give it a try--you'll be pleasantly surprised. The restaurant is all spruced up by new owner Landry's and a chef who loads the menu with fresh Texas specialties. Don't miss the tasty appetizers, spicy maple-glazed Wharton County quail ($16.50) and Gulf Coast jumbo lump crab cake ($14); (210) 223-3101.