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San Antonio makes great gay winter escape spot

Tex Mex food, biodiversity and thriving nightlife among features

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Alamo, gay news, Washington Blade
The Alamo is a must-see attraction in San Antonio. (Photo by Bill Malcolm)

San Antonio makes for a perfect winter get away. Temperatures stay mild, the historic city offers plenty to do complete with a great LGBTQ nightlife scene with all the bars except one located close together on Main Street. The historic city is a mix of Mexican, German, Spanish and native cultures and of course features the River Walk.

Getting there: I paid just $200 on Southwest Airlines round trip to SAT (the airport code for the city airport). Once there, catch the VIA no. 5 bus Yto downtown for just $1.30. You can take VIA all around the city and they have two cultural buses to all the attractions. An all-day pass is just $2.75. Plan your trip at viainfo.net

Where to stay: I stayed at the Grand Hyatt one night and the Marriott River Center the other four. Both were great. Bargain hunters will want to stay at the LaQuinta or TRU by Hilton. All are near the famous RiverWalk area downtown.

What to do: Make your first stop to the Alamo, site of the famous battle against Mexico which resulted in the creation of the Republic of Texas. The building was constructed in 1724.

Walk north on the RiverWalk to the Art Museum which is located in an old Brewery. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. on Fridays. 

Take the 11B VIA bus to the Botanical Gardens which features three different areas of Texas botany. The region is unusual as plants from the east meet plants from the Southwest. They also have endemic species unique to the limestone-covered Hill Country. Palms, oaks, cacti, pines and Mexican species make for an interesting biogeography.

Take the VIA 11A bus to The Witte Museum to learn about Texas culture, history and biogeography. The museum is free and open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Learn about the regions of the state and its colorful history. Don’t mess with Texas. It still has an independent streak.

Don’t miss the Pearl District just north of downtown. The former brewery has interesting shops and restaurants.

The food everywhere is excellent and features great Tex Mex and Mexican as well as German. 

The San Antonio Gayborhood may be found on Main Street just north of downtown. Make your fist stop Pegasus Bar (1402 Main St.) which features great drink specials and a friendly crowd. Fierce Fridays features $2 wells and $2 beers. Try the Shiner Bock or Lone Star beer.

Nearby is Heat, a dance bar at 1500 N. Main. 

You can pick up new clothes or leather gear at Ouch Apparel and Hard Core Leather. Knockout Pizza is good for a bite. 

Across the street on Main is Luther’s Café and Bar which features Wigstock Karaoke on Fridays. 

Dance the night away at the Bonham Exchange. The two-story building is located in an old German meeting hall. The mixed crowd allows minors and can be found at 411 Bonham downtown. On Saturdays, they have strippers plus a great dance area on two floors. They were having a Studio 54 birthday party the night I was there.

Travel tips: Out in San Antonio is its LGBTQ publication (outinsa.com) and has bar ads to help you plan your visit. The Current is the city’s weekly paper, which also has great ideas. 

Visitsanantonio.com is your one stop shop for information on all the attractions and upcoming events. Thanks to Eva Alvallotis for the help.

San Antonio makes for a great winter get away and is a big city with a small town feel without the attitude of Austin or the big city hassles of Dallas and Houston. Plus a great gay scene

Bill Malcolm is an Indianapolis-based traveler whose syndicated LGBTQ value travel column appears in publications around the country. He does this as a hobby.

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