Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To San Antonio

June 23, 2012 6:00 AM

The heat of summer is bearing down and the traffic gridlock seems to have no end. It’s time for an escape, even if only for a couple of days. Beyond the hundreds of vehicles on I-10, about a three-hour drive away, San Antonio provides a great oasis for a weekend — or weekday — getaway. Even in the heat of summer, the Riverwalk winds through the downtown area, shaded by the trees and towering buildings that create a man-made breezeway to can refresh even the weariest Houstonian. Restaurants, bars, theaters, malls and even historical Texas landmarks also provide opportunities to take your mind off of the temperatures at home.

Getting There

Getting there is easy. A flight is less than an hour’s air time, but with the travel time to the airport lot and checking in, it’s better to make your way to I-10 and just drive west. Once you get into San Antonio’s city limits, a short jaunt north on U.S. 281 drops you right into the heart of downtown San Antonio and a weekend full of fun.

Stop Along the Way

Frank’s Restaurant
11 N. Kessler Ave.
Schulenburg, TX 78956
(979) 743-3555

Schulenburg is almost exactly halfway between Houston and San Antonio, which makes it a perfect stopping point to stretch, and Frank’s phenomenal food makes it ideal for grabbing a bite along the way. Frank’s is no slave to technology, so watch for the billboards along the highway to find it. Just off I-10, this popular diner has been in business since the 1940s and is something of a local institution. Chicken fried steak, fried and broiled fish, and even some dishes that reflect the area’s German heritage highlight the menu. Save room for a slice of Frank’s famous pie and pick up a postcard or trinket in the gift shop before heading back onto the road.

The Main Event

the alamo Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To San Antonio

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The Alamo
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 207-3677 
Price: free

Even though it is now surrounded by the downtown tourist district of the city, the Alamo still evokes a sense of awe for Texans interested in learning more about the roots of the state’s history. Reminders of historical giants such as William Travis, Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie are on display, and a walk through the grounds conjures up images of these men’s final days and the first days of the new republic.

el mercado Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To San Antonio

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El Mercado (Market Square)
514 W. Commerce St.
San Antonio, TX 78207
(210) 207-8600

Weekends walking around this collection of shops, galleries and restaurants feature live entertainment in the courtyard, as well as arts and crafts for any kids along for the getaway. Frequented by locals since the 1800s, this market place was once famous for its chili and the chili girls who served it. Ever-popular restaurants La Margarita and Mi Tierra offer the tastes and ambience of the area, or grab some sweets from Mi Tierra’s bakery for a late-night snack.

Where to Play

sams luv shack Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To San Antonio

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Acapulco Sam’s Luv Shack / Havana Ultra Lounge / Kremlin
212 College St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 220-1972

Three bars in one, this spot covers the spectrum of nightlife activities for little a getaway party. Kremlin is the upscale site, so dress to impress. Dance to Latin fusion and current dance hits in the South Beach-inspired Havana, or if you prefer to amble in for some fun after walking the Riverwalk in your jeans and sneakers, hit the Luv Shack to groove to hits from the ’70s and ’80s. With bottle service and the funkiest feel of any area restaurant, expect a bit of an adventure here.

Related: Best Dude Ranches in Texas for Vacation

Where to Stay

westin riverwalk Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To San Antonio

Photo Credit: Westin Riverwalk Hotel/Facebook

Westin Riverwalk Hotel
420 W. Market St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 224-6500

Price: $250 to $320 per night/$30 per day parking

Located on the Riverwalk, but nestled away from the bustling bar/restaurant area, the Westin is one of the area’s best weekend hideaways. Enjoy dinner right on river, or take a dip in the pool three stories above the walk. Rooms on the upper floors offer walk-on balconies that overlook the riverboats meandering by. Be prepared to pay for parking, but keep the car tucked in the lot, as all the downtown-area hotspots are within walking distance or easily accessed by the streetcar-style buses that stop nearby.

red roof inn san antonio Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To San Antonio

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Red Roof Inn – Downtown Riverwalk
1011 E. Houston St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 229-9973

Price: $129 to $139 per night/$7 per day parking fee

This hotel offers a budget-friendly accommodation option that still keeps you in the heart of the downtown district. Downtown streetcar bus routes are a short walk away, leading to the Riverwalk, Rivercenter Mall, La Villita and Hemisfair Plaza. Enjoy a complimentary grab-and-go breakfasts and WiFi for an easy morning planning stops on your San Antonio adventure.

Related: Spring Break Staycations in Houston

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Lonnie King is a freelance writer living in Houston. His work can be found at

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