Annual Meeting

Things to do when you’re in San Antonio

Trinity University ASBMB Student Chapter
By Trinity University ASBMB Student Chapter
March 14, 2024

With all the talks, symposia, poster sessions and workshops, you’ll have lots to do at Discover BMB 2024. But, don’t forget to step outside the meeting to see the beautiful city of San Antonio.

From the Henry B. González Convention Center, you have immediate access to the San Antonio River Walk with plenty of options for food and drink. If the area around the conference center gets too busy, or if you are just feeling adventurous and have some free time, you may want to explore further. You can find restaurants, shops, and historical sites in the Pearl District, Blue Star Arts Complex, Historic Market Square and Hemisfair Park. All are near the San Antonio River and most are within two miles of the convention center.

Historic Market Square

Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States. It is a three-block outdoor plaza featuring shops, restaurants and live music; it’s a super cute place to take pictures and a good place to bring the family. The El Mercado section has 32 specialty shops, and the Farmer's Market Plaza section has 80. If you’re looking for souvenirs and Tex Mex curios, this is the place. If you are looking for time-tested Tex Mex food, Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia opened here in 1941! (About 1 mile west of the convention center.)

Left: Trinity student Corey Chung outside one of the many eateries at Historic Market Square. Center: Chung and Cole McGuire flank an example of indigenous Mexican skull art.  Right: McGuire in front of a colorful display of cut-paper banners at the market.
Corey Chung & Cole McGuire
Left: Trinity student Corey Chung outside one of the many eateries at Historic Market Square. Center: Chung and Cole McGuire flank an example of indigenous Mexican skull art.  Right: McGuire in front of a colorful display of cut-paper banners at the market.

The Tower of the Americas and Hemisfair Park

This is the site of the 1968 World’s Fair for which the Tower of the Americas was built. It is now a walkable park with a playground, coffee shops, restaurants, a wine tasting room and artisanal ice cream and ice pops. This area is in the process of revival and has some interesting new spots. (About 0.5 miles from the convention center.)

The Alamo and Mission trails

You can visit five 300-year-old Spanish Colonial missions along the San Antonio River on a 13.9-mile loop trail. The Mission Trails hike-and-bike system provides walking, bicycle and vehicular routes that extend south from downtown connecting the missions (from north to south): San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo), Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan and Espada. Each mission is unique, with lots of history. Visitors can rent bikes at the Blue Star Bike Shop in the Blue Star Arts complex. It’s an easy ride, and you can explore as much of the trail as you have time for. Lala’s Gortitas is a fantastic stop for lunch, just off the trail from Mission Concepcion.

The Mission Conception is one of five missions along the San Antonio River.
The Mission Conception is one of five missions along the San Antonio River.

Blue Star Arts Complex

Blue Star is a contemporary art space that includes a collection of venues, shops and studios along with a coffee shop, restaurants and bars. This is a great place to sit down and grab a cup of coffee at Halcyon or engage with local San Antonio artists at Brick. We recommend grabbing a bite to eat (and a pint!) at the historic Blue Star Brewing Company. If you’re looking for some eclectic nighttime fun, this is a great place to go. You can also rent bikes here to explore the missions and other destinations. (About 1.2 miles south of the convention center or a 1.8-mile walk along the river.)

Trinity student Anirudan Sivaprakash outside the closed Blue Star Bicycling Company. Center: Bikes for rent and sale at the shop. Right: Sivaprakash and fellow Trinity student Ashleigh Reese outside Brick at Blue Star, an art and event space.
Anirudan Sivaprakash & Ashleigh Reese
Left: Trinity student Anirudan Sivaprakash outside the closed Blue Star Bicycling Company. Center: Bikes for rent and sale at the shop. Right: Sivaprakash and fellow Trinity student Ashleigh Reese outside Brick at Blue Star, an art and event space.

The Pearl District

The Pearl is a collection of restaurants surrounding the historic Hotel Emma and Pearl Brewery. It hosts a weekend farmers market (both Saturday and Sunday) with local produce, meat and cheese producers and live music. If you’re celebrating, this a great place to stop by; the variety of fun activities includes a jazz club, food hall, dessert shops and bookstores. The Pearl is a personal favorite location of San Antonio locals. Go to the Pearl at any time of day and you will find people studying, sunbathing, reading novels, playing in the fountain or having a nice picnic. At night, the Pearl glows with a variety of multicolored lights; it is the perfect place for group pictures. (About 1.2 miles north of the convention center or 2.5 miles walking along the river or by boat taxi.)

From left to right: Trinity students Anna King, Erin Jiang and Lauren Dotson visit the Pearl District in San Antonio.
Anna King
From left to right: Trinity students Anna King, Erin Jiang and Lauren Dotson visit the Pearl District in San Antonio.

Broadway or St. Mary’s north of the Pearl

Here are more shops and restaurants if you want to get away from the river for a time. This is a great place for a night of clubbing, drinking and having fun. Head to Little Death for some fine wine then to Brass Monkey for dancing. St. Mary’s is always super vibrant at night so you can have fun bar-hopping the whole street. If you want to hear live music in a proper venue head over to Paper Tiger.

Breakfast/brunch on the River Walk

The River Walk is often overwhelming in the evening, busy with tourists and conference goers. Breakfast or brunch, on the other hand, can be very peaceful and laid back. Many restaurants right on the River Walk, a short jaunt from the conference center, offer breakfast on the riverside.

Other attractions

Museums (March is Contemporary Art Month in San Antonio)

Brisco Art Museum - 0.3 miles
San Antonio Fire Museum - 0.5 miles
Maverick Carter House (historic 1893 home with grounds and observatory) - 0.7 miles
San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) - 1.5 miles
Witte Museum (nature, science and culture) - 3.2 miles
U.S. Army Medical Hospital Museum - 4.6 miles
McNay Art Museum - 5 miles

Gardens and zoos

Japanese Tea Garden - 3.3 miles
San Antonio Zoo - 3.3 miles
San Antonio Botanical Garden - 3.4 miles

Music venues

El Honky Tonk - 1 mile
Sam’s Burger Joint - 1.8 miles
The Cove - 1.8 miles
Lonesome Rose - 2 miles
Paper Tiger - 2.3 miles

Guided tours

River Walk Boat Rides (Go RIO cruises)
Haunted San Antonio (ghost city tours)
Hop on Hop off bus rides (city sightseeing San Antonio)

Shopping attractions

Rivercenter mall - near the convention center on the River Walk

Fitness

Armadillo Boulders - 1.5 miles

Sports

Alamodome
San Antonio FC - San Antonio Soccer Club
San Antonio Spurs

Food

Asian/fusion

Mings
Best Quality Daughter
Shiro Japanese Bistro
Tokyo Inn
Kimura
Singhs Vietnamese

Tex Mex

Carriqui
La Gloria
Rio Cantina and Naked Iguana Lounge
Rosarios
La Fonda on Main
Lala’s Gorditas
Velvet Taco
The Original Taco Cabana
Mi Tierra

Italian

Pesanos
NONNA
Zocca
Arrosta

Other

The Magpie
Brasserie Mon Chou
Southerly
Supper
Liberty Bar
Pearl Food Court
The Hayden
Chicken N Pickle
Demos
Burger Boy
The Good Kind
Down on Grayson
Mr. Juicy (burgers)

Breakfast/brunch/sandwiches

Guenther House
La Panaderia
Candlelight Pourhouse

Rooftop restaurants/bars

Paramour at The Phipps
The Moon’s Daughter
1Watson
Fairmont Rooftop Oyster Bar
Havana Bar

 

Bars off the Riverwalk

Liberty Bar
Battalion
Alamo Beer Company
Bombay Bicycle Club
Tycoon Flats
The Cove

Night life

Esquire Tavern - Oldest Bar in San Antonio
Pat O'brien's - late-night Irish Pub
Elsewhere Garden and Bar
1902 Nightclub
Bonham Exchange Nightclub
The Modernist Cocktail Bar

Restaurants with cult status - SA Current

Maria’s Cafe (tacos)
Pharm Table Apothecary Kitchen
Bakery Lorraine
Delia’s (tamales)
Chris Madrid’s (burgers)
Bobbie’s Cafe (brunch - Tex Mex)
M.K. Davis Restaurant & Bar
Chatman’s Chicken
Ray's Drive Inn (original puffy taco)

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Trinity University ASBMB Student Chapter
Trinity University ASBMB Student Chapter

This article was written by the student members of the Trinity University ASBMB Student Chapter in San Antonio with their adviser Bethany Strunk, an assistant professor of biology.

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