Pearl District San Antonio

Pearl: San Antonio’s Best Surprise


Pearl District San Antonio
Pearl District San Antonio

We’ve been to San Antonio many times, but Pearl was the best surprise recently! This trip to San Antonio was a ‘cousins trip’. Big Dog’s cousin has moved to Spring Branch just north of San Antonio and invited his brother and other cousins for a few days. We were very excited to go back to San Antonio and the hill country area! I have family there also, so it wss a cousins trip for both of us!

From where we are in East Texas, it’s about a 6 hour or so road trip. It’s always longer for us because we stop and play along the way. As usual, we stopped in Waco again to eat and explore. Check out our Waco blog post here.

Magnolia Market Silos Waco, TX
Magnolia Market Silos Waco, TX

In San Antonio, we ended up staying just south of Loop 1604 at Hwy 281 which was in between both sides of our family. Other than some construction and traffic, it was an easy drive to Spring Branch. I mention the construction and traffic just to give you an idea of what a booming corridor that is straight up 281. One of the fastest growing areas right now. In the immediate area around our hotel were popular restaurants, a grocery store, movie theater etc. We really didn’t have time to visit those since we were so busy elsewhere during our stay. We did like the convenience and security of the location though.

We were impressed with the Spring Branch area as it had a calm and ‘in touch with nature’ sort of feel. Then as we were driven around and shown even more of it, we were in love. Imagine beautiful rustic homes on small acreage tracts (3-5) backing up to a scenic river with wildlife, especially herds of deer, in a friendly neighborhood. That’s what we discovered here. The 1st day we all trickled in and then went to a local restaurant, Richter’s Antler cafe, for dinner. The food was wonderful, home cooking style, and the service was great. That evening we enjoyed some relaxing patio time back at the house with plenty of homemade snacks and drinks. They are amazing hosts! And it continued, Big Dog’s cousin had a fabulous fish fry the next evening and we all had the best time stuffing ourselves and catching up with each other including with some more cousins that came in from nearby Shertz.

Herd of deer Spring Branch
Herd of deer at feeder
Guadalupe River Spring Branch TX near San Antonio
Guadalupe River Spring Branch TX
Guadalupe River Spring Branch TX near San Antonio
River Wading Cousins
Guadalupe River Spring Branch TX near San Antonio
Guadalupe River

While we were in the area, Big Dog and I decided to go visit the town of Beorne. This is a great little main street town with lots of shops and restaurants. It reminds me of a smaller Fredericksburg. There is a variety of antique stores, boutiques and gift shops. We had a wonderful experience at The Dienger Trading Co when we stopped in for lunch. You can read about our trip to Beorne here.

Main Street Beorne, TX
Main Street Beorne, TX
The Dienger Trading Co Beorne, TX
The Dienger Trading Co Beorne, TX

Another fun thing we did on this trip was check out some cool murals in San Antonio. In different parts of the city, you’ll find murals on many streets. I really want to scope out more next time. If you only have a limited block of time like we did, there’s actually an area of San Antonio with a collection of murals painted by some really talented artists. I learned about the Essex Modern City on Essex Street from some fellow bloggers. It’s basically an outdoor art exhibit, but they have live art, music, food, etc at certain times. We went when nothing was going on, and the gate was still open. That worked out well as we were able to get good pics without a bunch of people blocking the artwork. Haha I’m glad we got to fit this in to our trip, maybe you can too.

Art Mural Essex Street San Antonio
Art Mural Essex Modern City
Art Mural Essex Street San Antonio
Art Mural Essex Street San Antonio
Art Mural Essex Street San Antonio
Essex Modern City Mural

The downtown area is one of the most popular areas for visitors. And it’s a fun area too! We have stayed right on the river and walked almost everywhere before. We highly recommend this. You can take a riverboat ride and take in the area while learning some history. Speaking of history, what is a visit to SA without seeing The Alamo, so be sure to check it out. For a 360 view of the city, not to mention lots of history and info, go to the observation deck of the Tower Of The Americas. This is a 750 foot tower in Hemisfair Park in downtown that also has a restaurant and a 4D film experience. Pretty cool! While walking along the river, besides all of the tempting restaurants and enticing entertainment possibly going on at the amphitheater, you may also see a sign for La Villita, follow it! This is one of the first and oldest neighborhoods here. Now the adobe houses have been transformed into 25 or so artsy little shops.

River Walk San Antonio
River Walk San Antonio
The Alamo San Antonio TX
The Alamo
Tower Of The Americas San Antonio TX
Tower Of The Americas
La Villita San Antonio River Walk
La Villita San Antonio River Walk

A few blocks from the river, towards I35, is the Historic Market Square housing the largest Mexican Market in the US and a restaurant we like called Mi Tierra Cafe. This is where we met my aunt, uncle and cousins for some shopping and dinner. We don’t get to see them enough and had the best time laughing and catching up with this sweet family. The Mexican Market is an indoor outdoor space with booth after booth of festive, brightly colored treasures. Two of my youngest little cousins had not been here before and we enjoyed watching them take it all in. The Mi Tierra Cafe is really a large, fun and yummy Mexican restaurant. I hear La Margarita Mexican Restaurant & Oyster Bar, at the Market Square, is also good. We will have to confirm that for ourselves next time!

Historic Market Square San Antonio
Mexican Market
Mi Tierra San Antonio
Mi Tierra
Mi Tierra San Antonio
Mi Tierra

The best surprise of the trip, was discovering the Pearl district! I kept seeing this wonderful old building from HWY 281 every time we were headed towards downtown. I knew there was a big Pearl Beer can close and so I told Big Dog I wanted to go see what that building was. Oh my! We found the building and so much more. The building was the San Antonio Brewing Association home of Pearl Beer. This whole 22 acre complex, formerly Pearl Brewery, has been revitalized into restaurants, bars, shops, apartments, etc. The Culinary Institute of America SA campus, a lawn and water feature for the kids, and Hotel Emma are all a part of this master planned and thriving hot spot. The history is fascinating and I love how they incorporated in so much of the old brewery and bottling equipment. Pieces have been scattered all over the complex as planters, water collection containers and art. There are great industrial pieces installed in the Emma Hotel lobby as well. Even if you don’t stay at this hotel, go check out the lobby and notice they have a library room on one side. Can you imagine the gems in there?! I really want to stay there one day.

Pearl Brewery San Antonio
The building I loved from 281
The lawn with water feature at Pearl San Antonio
The lawn with water feature at Pearl
Emma Hotel at Pearl San Antonio
Emma Hotel and Industrial Art
Industrial Art Pearl San Antonio
Industrial Art Pearl

Since we had already eaten dinner, and thought we were just making a detour to see a lovely old building, we didn’t get a chance to experience any of the restaurants. We did go to Bakery Lorraine for some dessert though. We shared a Chocolate Mousseline Cake and it was wonderful. Can’t wait to go back here and spend a day shopping, eating and maybe even visiting a spa. Make sure you carve out some time for the Pearl district when you go to SA!

Bakery Lorraine Pearl San Antonio
Bakery Lorraine Pearl
Chocolate Mousseline Cake Bakery Lorraine Pearl San Antonio
Chocolate Mousseline Cake

Big Dog’s Review: San Antonio is one of mine and Lulu’s Texas favorites. We both have family in the area, so we have visited many times. The old town of San Antonio has much to offer for a great family vacation destination. The San Antonio Zoo, Fiesta Texas, Sea World, The River Walk, and of course the historic Alamo. Those stops are all well worth a visit. But, on our last trip we discovered a new favorite place that we can’t wait to return to and further explore. That place is the old Pearl brewery located right off Hwy 281 north of downtown San Antonio. The Pearl District has been refurbished with shops, eateries, a Culinary Institute and the fabulous Emma Hotel, each of these encase elements of the old brewery. Old exposed machines and even a train car can be found here. The lobby of the Hotel Emma is a must see! So saddle up and head on down to the Historic and family friendly Texas town of San Antonio!

This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

53 thoughts on “Pearl: San Antonio’s Best Surprise”

  1. Great post! We’re about 8 hrs from San Antonio, and I haven’t been since I was little! Would love to visit once everything has calmed down with the pandemic. I love your pics too!

  2. What a wonderful and yummy looking trip! I have a good friend that lives in San Antonio that I’m hoping to go visit one year and hope we can visit many of the places you shared.

  3. I’ve never been to San Antonio, this looks an amazing place to visit. Great pictures!

  4. San Antonio is on my list and hoping to visit once the pandemic is over. You have given me some great places I need to see. Thanks

  5. I’ve always wanted to visit this city. And now I have…well, virtually anyway. Thanks for taking me along!

  6. San Antonio is definitely on the bucket list now. I love all the photos, especially the waffle!

  7. I love San Antonio!!!! I have only been to the Alamo and the area around it, because I was on a business trip. But, thank you for all of the other ideas on where to go when I return with my family.

  8. San Antonio is so beautiful and the Pearl District is amazing! I lived in San Antonio for almost a year and miss it every day!! Thank you for sharing.

  9. I have family in San Antonio and have visited once. It was such a fun trip, but I didn’t make it the Pearl District. I did love Mi Tierra Cafe and the riverwalk though!

  10. I’ve never been to Texas but that Emma hotel looks beautiful! I really want to visit Waco and see everything Joana Gains oriented!

  11. I really hope I make it to the Silos someday. I love Chip and Jo and would love to visit. The waffle shaped like TX is hysterical! What a cool idea.

  12. Sounds like you guys had an amazing trip! I think the Mexican Market looks like what I would enjoy most. Also, hotel Emma looks beautiful. Would love to stay there if we ever make it to a Texas.

  13. I love that texas shaped waffle! All the food looks amazing … what a great trip.

  14. Wow, what great photos! I have a friend who lives near San Antonio — Falls City, I think. I was supposed to go down there for a visit before Covid-19 happened. I would love to see all these places in your photos, especially Bakery Lorraine! I love that they have gluten-free muffins! I did visit the River Walk and Alamo many moons ago when I was in college, so now I’d like to see the different sort of things like the Japanese Tea Gardens and the brewery. 😀

  15. I lived in San Antonio for awhile and I love everything about it! The Pearl district is a must see.. a huge surprise, everyone goes to the riverwalk, and yes I love that too but I agree the Pearl district is amazing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *