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15 hidden gems on San Antonio’s South Side

Explore the outdoors or shop for local fare at these places

Here are some cool spots on the Southside of San Antonio worth checking out. (Live From the Southside Magazine)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and Live From the Southside, a new local- and Latina-owned magazine that works to improve & expand community relationships through promoting events, stories and businesses.

The City of San Antonio was established in May 1718, when Father Antonio de Olivares and a group of Payaya Indians, built The Alamo Mission (originally known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero) and the Spanish fort known as Presidio San Antonio de Bexar.

During the mid-1880s, the King William District was developed by German immigrants. It is the first historic district in Texas and the first residential suburb in San Antonio.

South Side San Antonio was promoted as a township in 1916. In 1917, Kelly Air Force Base was established. In 1918, Brooks Air Force Base was established. In 1941, Lackland Air Force Base was established.

And with decades of new developments and plans for more in the future, the South Side and its residents will be building on its rich history for years to come.

With that in mind, we’re sharing some of our favorite things to do, places to go and see on the South Side of San Antonio.

Blue Star Arts Complex

  • A 160,000-square-foot mixed-use development that is home to an array of art galleries, art studios, bars (Bar 1919, Joe Blue’s), brewpub (Blue Star Brewing Company), residential apartments, restaurants and specialty shops.

Confluence Park

  • A 3.2-acre landscaped pathway, opened in March 2018, that connects the 4 San Antonio Missions and also features a site-wide water catchment system. The park also serves as a gateway to biking and hiking trails, which begin near the Blue Star Arts Complex and end near the Mission Espada.
Hot Wells image. (SABJ)

Hot Wells of Bexar County

  • A 4-acre park that is the former site of Hot Wells bathhouse and hotel. Opened to the public on April 30, 2019, the restored ruins, located across the river from Mission San Jose, are connected to the Riverwalk Mission Reach section.
Medina River Natural Area (San Antonio Parks & Recreation)

Medina River Natural Area

  • A 511-acre nature preserve, with amazing opportunities for birding, camping (Cottonwood Campground), canoeing/kayaking, fishing, geocaching, picnicking and wildlife watching. The main attractions at the natural area are the hiking/biking/running trails, which travel along the Medina River.

Mission Marquee Plaza

  • Opened in 2014, the Mission Marquee Plaza was formerly known as the Mission Drive-In Theatre, which was open from 1948-2000. Today, the plaza hosts several arts and culture events, festivals, film screenings and open-air markets throughout the year.

Mission Open Air Market

  • A jumbo flea market (50+ acres) with 2000+ vendors selling an array of items including antiques, collectibles, crafts, jewelry, tools and western wear. The market is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 6:00 AM-5:00 PM.

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

  • A 1,200-acre nature sanctuary, which consists of the 600-acre Mitchell Lake, as well as 385 acres of upland habitat and 215 acres of wetlands. They are known for their beautiful bird haven. Currently, 342 bird species have been spotted onsite, including American White Pelicans, Monk Parakeets, Sandhill Cranes and Western Meadowlarks. (The only wetland on the Southside of San Antonio.)

Pica Pica Plaza

  • A Latin American-style retail, service and retail mall that features 100+ unique shops, as well as an entertainment schedule, event center, food court and trampoline park.

Mission Reach

  • An 8-mile biking and walking stretch and an 8-mile paddling trail, along the San Antonio Riverwalk, featuring grand art projects and a riparian woodland ecosystem. The Mission Reach connects to Confluence Park, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, as well as several city and county parks.

Salt Cave

  • Located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa at Brooks, the Salt Cave at Eforea Spa is San Antonio’s only salt cave. Each 30-45 minute session can help with conditions, diseases and disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gastritis, general exhaustion, hypertension/hypotension and stress reduction.
Mission Concepción closes its doors beginning Sunday, January 5 for a restoration project. (KSAT 12)

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

  • The park is made up of 4 Spanish frontier missions (along the San Antonio River), which were set up by Catholic religious orders, with the goal of spreading the word about Christianity to the native Coahuiltecan tribes, each one resembling a mini city. Mission Espada was established in East Texas in 1690, Mission Concepcion and Mission San Juan were both set up in East Texas in 1716 and Mission San Jose was set up in San Antonio in 1720. In 1731, the three East Texas missions were moved to San Antonio. (One of the biggest tourist attractions on the Southside of San Antonio.)

Southtown

  • Southtown is well-known for 2 of San Antonio’s longest-running art walks- First Friday, established in 1994 and Second Saturday, established in 1995. Also popular is their annual community event- A Day in Southtown. Southtown features an array of art galleries, art studios, B&B’s/Inns, bars, boutiques, restaurants, retail shops and street art.

Texas Air Museum (Stinson)

  • Established in 1999, by John Tosh (a veteran of WW2, as well as the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars), the Texas Air Museum is located on the ground of the Stinson Municipal Airport. The museum boasts a collection of historical and unique exhibits, including aircraft, artifacts, transport vehicles, uniforms and weapons.
Brooks public art (livebrooks.com)

The Greenline at Brooks

  • A 43-acre linear, urban park, located at Brooks (former home of Brooks Air Force Base), a 1,300-acre community. Established in April 2018, the park features fitness stations, food truck court (with picnic tables), outdoor game area (chess, gaga, foosball and ping pong), pavilions (1 large and 3 small), playground, public art displays and trails (for biking, hiking, jogging and walking).

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas

  • A 2.2 million square foot, state-of-the-art automobile assembly and manufacturing plant (a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation), where all models of both the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra pickup trucks are built. Opened in November 2006, the facility was built on the land of the former JLC Cattle Ranch.

This article initially appeared on Live from the Southside.

Do you know of someone or something on the South Side that deserves some news coverage? Let us know in the prompt below.

Read more content by Live From The South Side Magazine here.

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