To visitors from all over the world, the city of San Antonio is a salsa-infused melting pot of Texas history, art and culture. To the delight of my three daughters, however, it is so much more. In fact, they could do without the history, art and culture altogether as long as they’re within walking distance of a Starbucks, a fashion retail center and an appropriate backdrop for a cute selfie. Luckily for them, San Antonio has it all, and all of it accepts my credit cards.
On past trips, my family toured famous sites like the River Walk and the Alamo, where we supported the industry responsible for those fake coonskin caps that wind up in yard sales across the country. So this summer, we wanted to get off the beaten path and find new ways to deepen our debt.
We arrived in The Alamo City just in time to check in to our hotel, overwhelm the porter with the magnitude of our luggage, and make it to our first attraction — an outdoor light show called “The Saga.” This captivating presentation displays an animated history of San Antonio, projected onto the towering façade of the San Fernando Cathedral while you view it from the crowded plaza, seated in a puddle of (mostly) your own sweat. As with any event of educational or cultural value, my youngest daughter’s enthusiastic reaction consisted of her repeatedly asking either, “Is it almost over?” or “How much longer?” Although the show was beautiful, the summer heat and the unforgiving paving stones in the plaza made sitting there a truly punishing experience for those of us who lack sufficient junk in the trunk.
On day two of the trip, my wife had a business meeting so my daughters sweet-talked me into renting electric scooters to ride from our hotel to the Pearl District, a trendy shopping area on the grounds of the former Pearl brewery complex. While the girls thoroughly enjoyed navigating the city streets and several dangerous construction zones on their scooters, I felt like an inebriated walrus on a balance beam. Fortunately, the Pearl District is a scooter-free zone, so I could try to regain my dignity once we were on the property and my daughters had turned their attention to spending. Their primary object was an upscale bakery/café full of hipsters wearing skinny jeans and excessively groomed facial hair. Although I enjoyed the air conditioning, I suddenly found myself bankrolling a rather extravagant snack of Parisian macarons and designer waters in glass bottles that my daughters assured me were “really cool.”
Our final day in San Antonio culminated in a nocturnal tour aboard the one and only “Ghost Bus,” a tricked-out passenger shuttle promising to take us on a fascinating jaunt through some of the most haunted parts of the city — for about the price of a new set of tires for the Ghost Bus. The tour was led by a vivacious young lady in Victorian dress who handed us all a mini flashlight and a battery-powered “ghost meter” that looked suspiciously like something sold in the electrical department at Home Depot. Along with the interesting narration aboard the Ghost Bus, we were encouraged to disembark and explore a few sites with our ghost meters while the bus driver laughed at us. We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did enjoy ourselves and learned some interesting facts about the city, like how to make a killing by taking a party bus full of vacationers on a ghost tour.
Regardless of how often we travel to San Antonio, the city never disappoints. We always manage to have fun, learn something new and visit at least two shopping malls. And we still can’t resist taking a few photos out in front of the Alamo, where legendary heroes of Texas fought for our right to live in the Lone Star State and max out our plastic on Parisian macarons, ghost meters and coonskin caps.