New York City isn’t the only town that boasts a street named Broadway. Okay, so our Broadway may not feature world renown musical theatre, but sites along or just off of San Antonio’s Broadway include the San Antonio Museum of Art; the recently renovated Pearl Brewery complex; the San Antonio Botanical Garden; Brackenridge Park; the San Antonio Zoo; the Witte Museum; and the University of the Incarnate Word, to name a few.
I’ll write about all of these places in due time, but today I want to focus on Central Market, Half Price Books, Kiddie Park, and Taco Cabana, some of my favorite San Antonio stomping grounds.
For those of you who feel tethered to the Alamo and/or the River Walk, hop onto a number 9, 10 or 14 VIA bus <www.viainfo.net> on the corner of Broadway at 3rd Ave. FYI: Broadway turns into Losoya at Houston Street. (Who knows why?) If you can find Houston Street, which is near the Alamo, you can find Broadway. Walk north down Broadway to 3rd Ave. Wait for a VIA bus. They run often. Adult fare is $1.10 plus 15 cents for a transfer, which you’ll want to get. Children ages 5-11 cost 55 cents plus 7 cents for a transfer. Children ages 4 and under are free. Have exact change unless you don’t mind making a donation to our city’s public transportation fund.
I suggest leaving downtown around 11 a.m. so that you’ll make it to Central Market, 4821 Broadway, in time for lunch. The bus ride will take about 15 minutes. Just ask the driver to please let you off at the closest stop. VIA drivers are very friendly and knowledgeable.
Central Market <www.centralmarket.com> is the HEB grocery store chain’s gift to San Antonio’s citizens and visitors. Just walking into Central Market makes me happy. Buying a bar of dark chocolate from Ghana makes me even happier. Taking in the abundance of fresh-cut flowers and stunning variety of fruits and vegetables practically makes me swoon.
A wonderful thing about Central Market is that you can snack your way across continents for free. The last time I was there, I had a toothsome piece of swordfish drizzled with raspberry chipotle sauce, a tasty bit of sirloin fajita grilled with some summer vegetables, a couple of bites of sourdough bread, and a sampler cup of hazelnut coffee. What’s not to like about that?!
For those who need more than a snack, everyone in your party will be sure to find something wonderful to eat and drink. Choosing will be the problem. The selection is tremendous. The store also features chef-prepared dinners for two that are packaged to go for $9.99. How great is that? While you’re in the store, pick up something to bring home that’ll remind you of your fabulous trip to San Antonio: a package or two of flour tortillas, Texas BBQ sauce, pecan-flavored coffee called “Taste of San Antonio,” or Aunt Aggie De’s pralines, for example.
After you’ve enjoyed Central Market, which is open daily from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., jump back onto a 9, 10 or 14 VIA bus, but this time head south back toward downtown. (The transfer you purchased is good for a two-hour layover, so make sure you jump on before your time is up. If not, you’ll have to pay full fare again.) Ask the driver to please let you off at Half Price Books.
I have friends from out of town who plan their San Antonio vacations around Half Price Books <www.halfpricebooks.com>, which has four Alamo City locations. If you’re a bookophile, you’ll be in heaven. Where else can you buy a coffee table book of the Taj Mahal for $1? A book of cowboy songs sheet music for $2? A two-CD “Best of Scott Joplin” collection for $3? Granted, all of these items were on clearance, but…you’ll still find great deals at Half Price. (Yes, the most books are sold for is half of the list price, unless it’s a rare book.) HPB also sports a nice-sized vinyl record collection. The children’s book section and the young adult fiction section are particular favorites of mine. Don’t miss going upstairs, though, where you’ll find travel books, art books, foreign language books, and more. Half Price’s Broadway location is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
From Half Price Books, those with children may want to stroll south down the back street, Avenue B, to Kiddie Park <www.kiddiepark.com>, open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. (Careful, though! Don’t get run over.)
The park, which opened in 1925, features nine rides (carousel, ferris wheel, planes, boats, trains, flying saucers, etc.) that will thrill the toddler to elementary school-aged set. Tickets for rides are $2 each or $12 for an unlimited wristband. Recently renovated, Kiddie Park is a happy place that’s perfect for family photos. Snack on cotton candy, popcorn or ice cream while you’re there.
From Kiddie Park, which is on Broadway at Mulberry, cross over Broadway and walk south toward downtown to Taco Cabana <www.tacocabana.com>. If you time it just right, you will get there between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. during the week (Mondays through Fridays) for their Happy Hour. Half-priced nachos and $1.50 margaritas await you! Nacho choices include bean and cheese ($1.45), beef ($1.60), super ($1.95) or fajita (steak or chicken for $2). Yes, you read that right…you can treat yourself to an order of nachos and a margarita for $3. Is San Antonio great or what?! For those of you who don’t make it during HH, the prices at Taco Cabana are still very reasonable, and the food is very good. If you’ve never had a bean and cheese taco, what are you waiting on?
After your stop at TC, it’s time to walk back across Broadway to catch a number 9, 10 or 14 bus back to downtown. Ask the driver to please let you off at the stop nearest your hotel. Have your exact change ready to go.
I hope this respite from the River Walk pleases you! Don’t get me wrong, I love the River Walk. It’s one of our beautiful city’s shining stars. But, who knew you could have so much fun just 15 minutes from downtown?