What you should know
San Antonio is a pedestrian-friendly city that’s both laid-back and festive. The River Walk (or Paseo del Rio) is the city’s central dining, shopping, nightlife and convention corridor. Planners can shuttle attendees to venues or meals by water taxi or arrange catering on a river barge. Facilities are available in River Walk restaurants, historic venues, museums, guest ranches and amusement parks. It’s an incredibly fun, diverse destination with top-notch service and style. San Antonio is not all Wild West history and Mexican flair. It has luxury properties and some of the state’s best restaurants. Unlike some cities, San Antonio’s river is real with a silt bottom that some locals still fish. For more information or planning assistance, contact Travel Texas.
- 1.3 million square feet in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
- 33,000-plus guest rooms citywide
- 12,000 guest rooms downtown
- Average group size: Less than 200
- Best values: Early January and mid-August-September
Where to meet
Pearl Brewery, a converted 1883 brewhouse, is a 22-acre live-work-play development on the San Antonio River. It’s home to the elegantly restored Pearl Stable event space, which has a state-of-the-art video projection system, wireless mics and a wireless communication system. The facility holds up to 500 guests indoors and has two 10,000-sq. ft. courtyards. Pearl Studio is a modern event venue with an industrial warehouse flavor. It holds up to 150 attendees indoors and can be combined with covered breezeways to hold a total of 500. The Breezeway also is an eco-friendly pre-function space or a stand-alone event space with free parking, comfortable chairs, tables and podium included. McNay Art Museum features modern art in a Spanish Colonial Revival-style facility on 23 landscaped acres. Event space includes the octagonal entryway, a garden courtyard and an auditorium/ballroom. Venues at the Blue Star Arts Complex include a theater, beer garden, gallery space and banquet halls. The massive San Antonio Museum of Art includes collections of Asian, Islamic, ancient Mediterranean and Oceanic art, among others. Destination San Antonio can organize group activities, transportation, green meetings and more.
Where to meet on the River Walk
The 213-room Hotel Valencia has 7,000 square feet of meeting space, including the historic Empire Theater (capacity: 250) and an elegant courtyard. The boutique hotel made Condé Nast’s 2014 Gold List of “World’s Best Places to Stay.” Meeting options at Mokara Hotel & Spa include a 1,692-sq. ft. ballroom (capacity: 100), a boardroom (capacity: 16) and an 800-sq. ft. space for up to 80 attendees plus a rooftop meeting room and terrace. The 410-room Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk is walking distance to the convention center and has 37,000 square feet of meeting space. The all-suite Hotel Contessa offers a dedicated learning environment on more than 10,000 square feet. It has a 2,300-sq. ft. ballroom, a 10-seat executive boardroom, seven conference rooms and three outdoor terraces.
Where to meet green
The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has green initiatives (recycling, energy conservation). The RK Group, the center’s caterer, doesn’t use paper coffee filters and encourages using china, cloth napkins and silverware over disposable goods. It also donates leftover food. Freeman Decorating recycles aisle carpet, steel metal waste and aluminum exhibit components and uses propane lifts and carts to reduce emissions. AlliedPRA San Antonio can organize transportation, themed events and group activities.
Where to stay by the airport
The Crowne Plaza San Antonio Airport has 5,000 square feet of meeting space, including five meeting rooms (largest room capacity: 350) and a VIP boardroom (capacity: 14). Crowne Plaza promises a two-hour “response guarantee” to all space and date availability inquiries. A designated meeting director can assist with advance planning, last-minute changes and will help planners stay on budget with a daily debriefing. Crowne Plaza also has discounts and bonuses through its Priority Club Meeting Rewards loyalty program.
Where to eat
Boudro’s Texas Bistro on the River Walk has banquet and reception space in a garden courtyard, wine-themed dining rooms, the Zinc Wine & Spirits Bar, river barges and a private banquet hall in the former Alamo National Bank building. The Little Rhein Steak House in La Villita is in a historic building on the River Walk (seating 30-85); meeting/banquet rooms and riverside event spaces are available at Little Rhein’s Dashiell House (capacity: 250). Sister restaurant The Fig Tree is a DiRoNa Award-winning restaurant with more than 200 wines and champagnes. Las Canarias at the Omni La Mansion del Rio, a AAA Four-Diamond restaurant, serves upscale Tex-Mex food along the River Walk and is known for its champagne Sunday brunch. Rosario’s Restaurant y Cantina is a neighborhood haunt in the King William District with Mexican food, a Latin art collection and live music.
Where to team-build
San Antonio has one of three SeaWorld parks in the United States. Along with in-house catering and a design staff, event venues at SeaWorld San Antonio range from 5,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet and accommodate meetings, picnics, night events and team-building year-round. Volleyball and other group activities are available in multiple open-air and covered dedicated event space on 1.5 acres. Dave & Buster’s has several team-building programs including special-agent missions, problem-solving quests and scavenger hunts; meeting space, arcade games and a dinner theater also are available. Two championship golf courses, an award-winning Four-Diamond restaurant and full-service health club and spa are among the amenities at La Cantera Hill Country Resort. Accommodations range from more than 500 luxury hotel rooms and suites to multi-bedroom casitas (“little houses”). It has more than 39,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space, including a 17,000-sq. ft. ballroom, 6,500 square feet of pre-function space and a 3,100-sq. ft. pavilion with a view of San Antonio, 20 miles away. La Cantera Golf Club can create tournaments and group outings for as many as 280 players. Other options include hunting/fishing excursions and river rafting or tubing trips down the Guadalupe River. Don Strange Ranch‘s Adventure Challenge Course is one of the few in the country that’s handicap-accessible. Capers DMC can create scavenger hunts and group activities.
Where to find history
The Witte Museum has venues for groups of 10 to 1,500 along the San Antonio River, including the H-E-B Science Treehouse and a 200-person auditorium. The Spanish Governor’s Palace is the last standing example of the government that once ruled San Antonio; the 1749 house and grounds are available for private functions. The Alamo is a popular reception venue. La Villita was San Antonio’s first neighborhood; today it’s an arts and crafts community with shops and restaurants. Historic Sunset Station has four buildings with a total of 100,000 square feet (capacity: 20,000).
When to celebrate
Don’t miss the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in February. April is Fiesta San Antonio! In May, the city celebrates food and wine as well as Tejano Conjunto music. During Fiesta Noche Del Rio from May to August, the Arneson River Theatre presents music and dance from Mexico, Argentina, Spain and Texas on Friday and Saturday nights. Fotoseptiembre USA, an international photography festival takes over September. The arts come to light during November’s Luminaria. Every day (and night) at Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia is a fiesta. The 24-hour Market Square cantina never closes, and its Christmas-light festooned interior has two private banquet rooms: a mural-lined dining room (capacity: 200) and a patio (capacity: 50). Don’t forget to book strolling mariachi for entertainment.