San Antonio Builds on Its Historic Charms With Major New Developments
San Antonio skyline. Credit: Visit San Antonio.
San Antonio has always been the pride of Texas, with that monumental last stand at the Alamo forever notching its place in history books and popular lore.
But this South Texas metro—the seventh largest in the U.S.—is blazing new trails with major new attractions and improvements to its already prodigious tourism offering.
“Public and private development is expanding our neighborhoods in almost every direction, including new and reimagined venues, hotels and restaurants,” said Tyler Orwig, vice president of association and tradeshow sales for Visit San Antonio. “There are so many new and exciting things happening in San Antonio. It is truly a unique, cutting-edge, modern meetings destination that has evolved amid a city of unforgettable attractions, history and culture.”
According to Visit San Antonio, the city has welcomed 12 new hotels since 2020, with more than a dozen more in the pipeline. Additionally, approximately 100 restaurants have opened in the same time frame.
San Antonio development highlights that will impact the meetings and events industry include the following.
[Related Podcast: Visit San Antonio's Tyler Orwig on Southern Texas' Surging City]
Hemisfair, the home of the 1968 World’s Fair and located steps from Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, is undergoing a major three-phase redevelopment that will include the new nine-acre Civic Park, featuring an expansive event lawn that will be able to host 10,000-15,000 people for large events and also include a 347-room Kimpton Hotel.
Already attracting visitors in Hemisfair is Yanaguana Garden, which opened in 2015 and features a more than four-acre play environment and casual restaurants. A third park, Tower Park, is in the works with an opening date not yet announced.
San Antonio’s most-famous draw, the Alamo, is in the midst of a major expansion that will include the 24,000-square-foot Alamo Collections Center, housing historic artifacts and the first building to be constructed on the hallowed grounds in 70 years, and the Alamo Visitor Center and Museum, set for a 2026 opening.
All the new development will surely bring an influx of visitors, both vacationers and meetings and event attendees. San Antonio International Airport, located only eight miles from downtown, is up to the challenge with a $2.5 billion expansion that will result in a new Terminal C and the lengthening of runways to accommodate larger aircraft.
Completion of the project, part of a 20-year Strategic Development Plan launched in late 2021, is scheduled for 2028.
San Antonio Neighborhoods
The Alamo City’s many colorful neighborhoods showcase what has always been its biggest attribute, the diversity of its population and the melding of its cultures.
“One of the things that not everyone realizes about San Antonio is how culturally diverse and progressive this community is,” Orwig said. “Our population here in San Antonio includes Mexican, Tejano, German, Irish, Czechoslovakian and more. It just shows the appreciation of the diversity that makes our city shine. Our neighborhoods are very eclectic, full of amazing art galleries and museums, rich history, global culture, world-class entertainment, and amazing food. There's no shortage of things to do here in San Antonio.”
Four neighborhoods in particular appeal to both leisure visitors and meetings and conventions attendees, and also showcase a growing culinary scene that resulted in San Antonio being named the second UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in the U.S.:
- Pearl: Originally home to the 1883 Brewery Complex, the Pearl is a prime example of a charming historic district being repurposed to serve visitors with a variety of restaurants, event venues and shopping.
- Historic Market Square: Noted as the largest Mexican market in the country, this three-block outdoor plaza near city center is lined with more than 100 locally owned businesses such as shops, produce stands, and restaurants serving prime examples of the destination’s signature Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.
- Southtown: Located at the southern tip of San Antonio’s historic downtown, the eclectic Southtown arts district mingles 1800s German architecture with art galleries, repurposed warehouses, trendy restaurants, cafes and bars, and three breweries at last count.
- La Villita: Perched on the southern bank of the San Antonio River Walk, La Villita is a prime district for receptions and other events near the convention center. The first neighborhood in San Antonio, this artisan and entrepreneur district charms with its blend of architectural styles ranging from Mexican adobe structures to early Victorian and Texas limestone buildings. Set in the heart of San Antonio near its top visitor attractions, La Villita offers more than 25 shops and galleries selling local handmade goods and hosts over 200 events a year.
But even with the influx of major new developments, the prime draw of San Antonio will remain its authentic blend of cultures and a festive atmosphere that invites all visitors to celebrate together.
“Even though San Antonio is bursting with new and renovated facilities and a booming economy, it will always have a welcoming and hospitable feel,” Orwig said. “San Antonio’s rich history, culture and inclusivity is part of the fabric of our city.”
This article was produced in collaboration with Visit San Antonio.