As I mentioned last week, our tour of dog friendly Texas Hill Country was inspired by an impromptu getaway to San Antonio. Rod and I met there a tad more than thirteen years ago, so it’s a sentimental place for us and we’ve been there several times. For reasons I cannot explain, not once during those previous visits did we venture beyond the River Walk. Don’t get me wrong – the River Walk is absolutely lovely, completely pet friendly, and in many places quite peaceful – but on this trip we vowed to expand our horizons and explore some of the city’s other offerings. We were not disappointed …
For two people who live in an RV, we are alarmingly attracted to residential architecture – so it’s no surprise that a walking tour of the historic mansions in the King William district jumped right to the top of our list of things to do. Just south of downtown and easy walking distance from our hotel, this area was settled by successful German merchants in the late 1800s. Brochures with a map and a paragraph or two about each of the 46 homes on the tour can be found at the Anton Wulff House (pictured above) at 107 King William Street.
We spent all morning strolling the quiet streets, admiring all the different design styles, and learning a bit about the area’s history. If your pup gets thirsty, there is a doggy water fountain in King William Park near the bandstand. On this particular day, the doggy fountain barely produced a trickle, so Buster tried the people fountain – Ty was too appalled to watch.
The Carl H. Guenther House and Pioneer Flower Mills, which overlook the River Walk as it winds south, are conveniently located about half way through the tour. The grounds are not pet friendly, but there is a restaurant where you can pick up something to go. We took turns waiting with the boys while the other one went inside to look around the open areas of the house and place our order. (Note: the peach tea and strudel are killer.)
After three hours out and about, the dogs were getting close to the overstimulation threshold and needed a break, so we started back toward the hotel to decompress.
On the way, we wandered through La Vallita (The Little Village), which is one of the original settlements of San Antonio. Surrounded by a thick protective wall, the adobe houses have been restored and now contain shops, galleries, and small restaurants. The open plazas and narrow streets make it easy to imagine what living here might have been like for the pioneers.
Cathedrals don’t usually make appearances on Take Paws – because they’re rarely pet friendly – but the gorgeous piazza in front of San Fernando Cathedral deserves a mention. It’s the perfect place to settle in with a cup of coffe and do a little people watching. Or you could read the intriguing history of the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the U.S. as you rest in the shadow of its spires.
The 750-foot Tower of the Americas makes HemisFair Park a cinch to spot from anywhere in the city. The 92-acre park was created for the 1968 world’s fair, and I imagine the views from the tower’s observation deck and restaurant are spectacular. We enjoyed this green oasis in the middle of the city from the ground – admiring the tower’s underside and the fountain gardens around it’s base.
The pet friendly Drury Plaza Hotel was our choice for this trip. Not only do they welcome Ty and Buster without weight restrictions or additional fees, their prices are reasonable, they’re located right on the River Walk, and that nighttime photo of the cathedral above was taken from our terrace! Throw in the free breakfast, evening appetizers and drinks, and wifi and you understand why Drury is one of our favorite hotel chains.
Converted from an old bank, this hotel has all kinds of character. However, incorporating the old with the new often complicates the logistics and that is the source of our one and only complaint. The new rooms (with the terraces) are located in an addition to the old building, which means the trip to your room involves one elevator ride, followed by a trek down a winding hallway, followed by another elevator ride. If your pooch has a weak bladder, you might be better off requesting accommodations in the original part of the hotel.
Now that we’ve taken a peek at some of the other sites in San Antonio, I think I’m ready to head back to the River Walk. That shot looking south from the Pioneer Flour Mills has me interested in getting away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and experiencing some of the quiet stretches and neighborhoods along the path. I’d also like to get out to Brackenridge Park – it looks like it might be similar to Forest Park in St. Louis, which we loved.
If you know of a pet friendly place in the area that we missed, please leave your tips below so other pet travelers can find it!
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