7. Explore the missions by bike or kayak.
Not many 20-mile bike routes give you the opportunity to stop and explore 18th-century Franciscan missions along the way, but you can do just that in San Antonio thanks to the 2013 River Walk expansion. Rent a bike from the San Antonio Bike Share (210-281-0101)—the first of its kind in Texas—and pedal your way down the paved paths on either side of the San Antonio River. The four missions designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site—Concepción, San José (pictured above), San Juan, and Espada—are all within 7 miles of one another on relatively flat terrain. Since the 2013 expansion, which included kayak-friendly paddling chutes along the river, you can kayak the 8-mile stretch of the Mission Reach. Kayak and bike rentals and organized trips are available through Mission Adventure Tours (210-383-0872). This park area of San Antonio is peaceful and lush, with herons that fish from the river and flowers growing wild along the path.
8. See what’s growing.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden (210-536-1400) expanded by 8 acres in 2018. New spaces included a welcome building, expanded garden areas, and high-tech learning spaces. Visitors can check out the Goldsbury Foundation Pavilion and CHEF (Culinary Health Education for Families) Teaching Kitchen. The kitchen features cooking demonstrations and chef-led culinary classes such as “Sprouts and Spritzers,” which uses ingredients harvested from the 1-acre Culinary Garden. In March 2018, the Family Adventure Garden sprang to life with 2-1/2 acres of creeks, fairy huts, and a Prickly Pear Peak for children to explore.
9. Explore the Pearl.
Set among the more than 100-year-old industrial brick buildings that once housed Pearl Brewery, this buzzy 22-acre neighborhood is home to innovative restaurants, hip boutiques, a Culinary Institute of America campus, and the spectacular Hotel Emma. Stroll the car-free paths and you’ll find budding chefs hurrying to class in smart white coats, kids playing on the lawn, twice-weekly farmers markets, and plenty of locals shopping and dining—all just 2 miles from downtown.