#TravelTuesday: Solo in the City

by Haven Lindsey on March 10, 2020 in Travels, San Antonio,
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No, not that city. Although, it wouldn’t take long for Manhattan’s Carrie Bradshaw to trade her Cosmopolitan for a margarita, her Manolos for a pair of Tecovas, and fall in love with the wonders of San Antonio.

Many planning to drive to San Antonio will travel I-35, the busiest section of highway in Texas. Once you arrive, you’ll be in the most visited city in the state and home to the Alamo, the most visited attraction in the state. Let’s assume, based on the math, that the odds are good if you’re reading this you’ve either visited San Antonio once or, you’ve visited it many times. But, have you experienced it ‘solo style?’

A sign once posted on the road leading to what is now the Hyatt Regency Hill Country property read, ‘Welcome to God’s country, don’t drive through it like hell.’ Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa

Staying at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, if you didn’t know you were in the city, you’d likely be convinced you were on a ranch in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. You wouldn’t be all that wrong. The 300-acre property sits on what was once a cattle ranch that spanned thousands of acres. Throughout the hotel and grounds, the history of the property is described and family names are honored, such as Papa Ed’s Pool, Henry’s Hollow and Aunt Mary’s Porch.

The property offers an authenticity that can’t be duplicated. After all, that’s what authenticity is all about. The lobby is massive and its oversized fireplaces are made with fossil-filled limestone from the shallow seas that once covered central Texas. You can easily see and touch the authentic fossils dating back to the Mesozoic era – fragments and imprints of bivalves and gastropods (clams and snails).

Windflower Spa’s reception area and gift shop were built with items picked and pulled from Texas. Ceiling rafters came from an old whiskey distillery, the counter was once the center of a pharmacy, and the floor came from a peanut factory. Photo Kathryn Soltas

Having traveled on the busiest highway to the most visited city in all of Texas, I settled in for dinner at Antler’s Restaurant, where I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Deer antlers were seemingly used to decorate every possible space and the restaurant had a dark and heavy feel, which made me wonder if the meal would be the same. As I sat flanked by antlers and dim lighting, I proceeded to have one of the finest prepared meals I’ve ever eaten – this, from a world traveler who has eaten everything from street food in India to double-digit course French meals. The Texas-spiced rubbed elk with mushroom risotto and cherry compote was filling but not heavy – the meal, like the surroundings, was as authentic as you’ll find anywhere.

Located on property that has a palpable peacefulness, Windflower Spa at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country offers an experience to savor. Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa

Surrounding yourself with city hustle and bustle can be great fun for a solo traveler – and so can whiling the time away in a spa. If you’re craving a get-away in a quiet, exclusive-yet-inclusive setting, the Windflower Spa ticks every box. There’s ample space to be alone and to mingle. Don’t rush this place – patrons often come and go surprisingly quickly from spas, this natural setting offers more than most.

Once you’ve allowed the ambience of the Hill Country to rekindle your spirit, San Antonio is a delight for an enterprising solo traveler. Yes, attractions including the Alamo, museums, SeaWorld and El Mercado, the largest Mexican market in the U.S., are all there at your fingertips. The popular River Walk is always full of tourists yet solos often seek the roads (and rivers) less traveled.

At La Villita Historic Arts Village, artisan shops including Chocollazo, Villa Tesoros and Capistrano are locally owned and operated. Photo Richard Nowitz

Go Rio offers the popular narrated cruises yet also offers unique cruises and river shuttles that showcase much more than the hit list of attractions and provides a ‘less traveled’ option. Somewhat off the beaten path on the south bank of the river but no less discovered, is the quaint La Villita Historic Arts Village. For the solo traveler who wants to sit and savor the flavor of handmade chocolate, buy a piece of local art or a handcrafted leather belt – artisan shops dot the area, all housed in historic homes, some of which, rumor has it, are haunted.

An evening on the River Walk is popular with all visitors to the Alamo City. Photo courtesy Visit San Antonio

San Antonio, with its history and size, can provide the unique experiences and savory moments that solo travelers crave. A lovely discovery was lunch on the patio overlooking the river at Tre Trattoria, an Italian restaurant tucked behind the Museum of Art – a virtual hideaway in the heart of the city. The Hyatt Regency San Antonio River Walk is a great place to stay on the water and perfectly positioned to head into, or away from, the center of it all. With so many options to stay on the River Walk, hotels must compete with amenities and customer service and this location has some of the most accommodating and helpful staff I’ve met.

Solo travel is the fastest growing segment of the industry. When you solo, flexibility and spontaneity become your companions. San Antonio and solo travelers share a common bond. Only when you’ve spent time alone in the city to listen to her quiet resolve will you truly get to know or appreciate the depth of San Antonio. And as solos know, it’s only when you venture out on your own in a new place and get to know your quiet resolve, will you truly appreciate your gifts.

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Cover photo courtesy Visit San Antonio

Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. This article is part of an ongoing solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine.