San Antonio

While the city is known for its Hispanic heritage, San Antonio is permeated by African-American culture, too. An enslaved African was first brought here in 1528 during the early period of Spanish exploration in the Americas, according to Prairie View A&M University. As a result, many Black Texans, including me (thanks to five generations of my father’s family calling the area home), are connected to the city on a historical level that spans centuries. Even if you don’t have personal ties to San Antonio, you’ll appreciate the city’s commitment to celebrating its Black community year-round.

What to do

There’s far more to do in San Antonio than just hanging out on the River Walk. Martin Luther King Park is home to a new statue (“Spheres of Reflection”) designed by local artist Kaldric Dow that you’ll want to check out, as it highlights words used repeatedly by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Witte Museum, the oldest museum in Texas, has an exhibit that features artifacts spotlighting the all-too-often hidden Black faces of the Wild West. There’s also the Carver Community Cultural Center, which celebrates the diverse cultures of the world by emphasizing African and African American heritage through artistic presentations, community outreach activities and educational programs.

Where to Stay

San Antonio is home to a variety of chain, independent and boutique hotels. One of the newest is the Thompson San Antonio, which is away from the main River Walk area but is still easily accessible. Historic Hotel Emma at The Pearl, a strong culinary and cultural community near downtown, is another solid option, especially if you prefer boutique properties with special details you might not find elsewhere, such as welcome margaritas and in-room “ice boxes” (minifridges) stocked with locally made snacks and drinks, some complimentary and some with an added charge.

Related: Great hospitality deep in the heart of Texas: What we loved about the Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk

What to eat and drink

As a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, San Antonio sees all cultures playing out in its restaurants. Go to Tony G’s Soul Food on the east side of the city to indulge in a hearty breakfast or lunch of Southern staples. Or, make your way to Biga on the Banks by the River Walk for new American dishes like chicken-fried oysters and Axis venison covered in a blend of 11 spices. For French food that will have you feeling like you’ve somehow made your way to Paris, go to Brasserie Mon Chou Chou in The Pearl and order the raclette appetizer and Le Steak, a New York Strip cooked to perfection and served with frites.

Related: A chef’s mission to revolutionize San Antonio’s food scene