AOL PICK from our Editors
San Antonio is a shopping mecca with visitors coming from all over the state and south of the border to purchase anything from custom-made cowboy boots to Mexican imports. Newer, open-air malls have become more popular in recent years, but traditional malls—such as North Star Mall, near the airport, with its 40-foot tall cowboy boots—can still be found in various neighborhoods. Popular souvenirs from San Antonio include cowboy hats and boots, Texas cookbooks, hot sauces, antiques and ceramics.
Neighborhood: North Central/Alamo Heights
If you’re looking for traditional Texas souvenirs that you can enjoy long after your trip has ended, visit Alamo Quarry Market, where you’ll find Texas institutions like Lucchese Boots and James Avery Jewelers. Take Hwy. 281 and look for the enormous smokestacks (each over 200-feet tall). The local landmarks—which were once part of Alamo Cement Company—fortunately were left standing by the planners of the Quarry, as it’s called by locals. Those and other original architectural elements give the open-air mall the unique feel of an industrial complex. Stop by Lucchese Boot Company, which opened its first store in San Antonio in 1883, and take home a pair of Texas-made boots or drop by James Avery Craftsman; Mr. Avery, now 90, still lives and works in the Texas Hill Country, the site of his first shop in 1954, creating new designs for his eponymous stores.
More Details on Alamo Quarry Market
Covering three-square blocks, El Mercado embodies San Antonio’s rich Spanish and Mexican heritage and, in fact, is said to be the largest Mexican market outside Mexico. You’ll find historic buildings, shops with handcrafted goods, and restaurants, including the legendary Mi Tierra’s. Most months, the Primer Sabado (First Saturday) street party is held with arts and crafts, music, food, and more. Afterward, go next door to the Museo Alamedaand continue your celebration of Latino culture.
More Details on El Mercado-Market Square
Neighborhood: Downtown/River Walk
The site of the former Pearl Brewery, now a mixed-use development, is home to the Center for Food of the Americas, a branch of the renowned Culinary Institute of America. While you can drive to Pearl, it’s more fun to take a water taxi along the Museum Reach, the 1.3-mile segment of the River Walk completed in May 2009. Be aware that Pearl is not a shopping destination, per se, although the few shops it has are worth seeing and no doubt there will be more to come. At Melissa Guerra’s eponymous store you will find every culinary gadget imaginable as well as Mexican curios and Latin American chocolates and wine. Take home a book about Texas or by a Texas writer from The Twig Book Shop, an independent bookstore and San Antonio institution.
More Details on Pearl
If you’re staying at one of the hotels near SeaWorld or Six Flags Fiesta Texas, you’ll want to do some shopping at this relatively new open-air mall (Phase I opened in 2005 followed by Phase 2 in 2008). Set in a scenic area off Loop 1604 with rolling hills as its backdrop, La Cantera is fairly upscale with department stores Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, and Macy’s as its zone anchor stores. High-end boutiques abound: Cole Haan, Betsey Johnson, Kenneth Cole, and Lilly Pulitzer are among the 150+ shops. It’s family-friendly, too, with a children’s play area, strollers for rent, and top brand children’s clothing stores like Baby Gap and Gymboree. Or keep the kids busy at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Barnes & Noble, opened in April 2010, is a great place to catch readings and book signings by well-known national and local authors. Or just enjoy an evening stroll in the beautifully landscaped surroundings.
More Details on The Shops at La Cantera
Neighborhood: Downtown/River Walk
If you like your shopping experience to be infused with history, head for San Antonio’s oldest neighborhood. La Villita fell into disrepair in the early 1900s, only to be resurrected by the city when the River Walk development first began to take shape in the late 1930s. Now, it is a vibrant arts community that is an integral part of the River Walk. Take the walking tour (maps are available throughout La Villita) and see how the historic buildings have been repurposed as specialty shops offering pottery, handwoven rugs and tapestries, handcrafted copper, stained glass, and other unique works,by local artisans and craftsmen. Between the galleries, shops, and restaurants, you can make a day of it.
More Details on Shops at La Villita
Best in San Antonio Travel