Just north of the Mexican border, San Antonio, Texas is a colorful cultural oasis rich with spirit and tradition, award winning Mexican food, and plenty of block parties turned full-on festivals. These festivals – usually all day events – are some of the best ways to spend your time in San Antonio and experience everything the city has to offer.
First things first: On the first Friday of every month, locals and tourists alike are drawn to the streets of the historic King William district in downtown San Antonio for a traditional celebration known only as First Friday. What started in the 90s as a humble neighborhood gathering grew into a full-blown, downtown party complete with an Art Walk and frozen margaritas by the bucket.
The Art Walk, which changes theme depending on the month, showcases a little bit of everything from fire jugglers and local artists to fortunetellers in drag.
Keep it coming: In April, San Antonio celebrates a traditional city-wide festival called Fiesta. The 10-day party – which was created to commemorate the historic Battle of the Alamo – involves over 100 events to choose from including the main Battle of the Flowers parade and a wild party-night called NIOSA (Night in Old San Antonio).
The Battle of the Flowers parade, held on the second Friday of Fiesta, is regarded as a city holiday and many locals (especially downtown locals) will host all-day block parties with food, drinks and dancing and take turns attending the parade with neighbors. Parties usually feature all kinds of food but traditional Fiesta foods include tamales, oysters, and margaritas.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed: San Antonio’s brightest (and gayest) party is the King William Fair. It’s an annual parade that benefits local theater and performing arts centers. The fair is celebrated as part of Fiesta on April 28th and features many neon colored performers and local representatives. Though the event is technically a parade, marchers tend to become disinterested (or drunk) before the end of the march and the parade turns into more of a block party than anything else.
It is customary for people to bring brightly colored versions of their pets along… which makes about as much sense as the guy who dresses up as a stick of butter every year.
But when you’re not partying with the locals, there are plenty of things you need to check out while you’re in the Alamo City. Here are some choice options:
BY FAR the best Mexican restaurant in town: Rosario’s Restaurant y Cantina – located in the heart of the historic King William district, they make the most delicious fajitas you’ll ever have.
Best shopping: The Shops at La Cantera – the 45 minute drive away from the city is SOOOO worth it. La Cantera is one of the best outdoor shopping malls in the country!
Coolest tourist attraction: The River Walk – absolutely take a boat tour of the San Antonio River! It’s only $8 and it gives you the best view of all the historic, downtown San Antonio landmarks.
The best and most authentic Texas barbecue: Rudy’s Country Store – Self described as the “worst Bar-B-Q in Texas,” Rudy’s is located in the Hill Country right off of Highway 151. Be sure to get the brisket and enough slices of white bread to soak up all the sauce!