The American Southwest is filled with thriving capitals, time-capsule small towns, and rural community enclaves. While a city mini-moon may not feel overtly romantic, you'd be surprised by how much there is to see and do in a mid-sized metropolis like San Antonio, Texas. The Southwestern city, which celebrates its tricentennial this year, has equal parts entertainment and exclusivity, refinement and laid-back cool—the perfect combination for a pre- or post-nuptial retreat. If you're looking to plan the ultimate romantic getaway, follow this tried-and-tested 48-hour itinerary.
Whether you're within driving distance or choose to fly into San Antonio International Airport, it's easy to make your way to the heart of the city. If being in the center of the action is your thing, book a stay at Hotel Emma, a 146-room hotel in the city's historic Pearl Brewery complex. For a more secluded stay, try La Cantera Resort & Spa, a Destination Hotel, set on a 550-acre estate just minutes from San Antonio's top shopping, dining, and entertainment. The 496-room property, which recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation, overlooks Texas Hill Country and is outfitted with two championship golf courses, nine different restaurants, five pools (one is adults-only), plus exclusive club-level accommodations and villas.
Hang out and relax, or, if you're hungry, head straight to La Cantera's flagship restaurant, Signature. There, top chef Andrew Weissman has re-conceived traditional Southwestern cuisine using fresher, brighter, more seasonal ingredients. And you'll get a true taste of Hill Country with proteins like venison, dove, and quail.
If you're up to venturing off-property, get to know the flavors of the Southwest even more intimately with a cooking class at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which recently underwent an eight-acre expansion. Chef Dave Terrazas hosts cooking demonstrations, interactive classes, food-paired film screenings, and more.
Rise early to be among the first visitors at Texas' only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Spanish Colonial Missions. While The Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero) is the most well-known site, the four additional missions—Concepcion, San José, San Juan Capistrano, and Espada—offer 300 years of rich history and culture. San José, in particular, is not to be missed: The "Queen of the Missions" was built in the early 1700s, when missions weren't actual churches, but rather entire communities, with the church as its epicenter—a visit here is like stepping back in time.
Continue your cultural immersion with a tour of the San Antonio Museum of Art. The summer exhibition, "Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Painting from the Museums of Madrid," provides a thoughtful retrospective on Spanish masters such as Picasso, El Greco, Goya, and Velásquez, which holds even greater appeal and historic context in this former Spanish colony.
If all that mental exertion leaves you looking for a good meal, you're in luck: You don't even have to leave the premises for lunch. Nationally recognized Chef Jason Dady recently opened Tre Trattoria at SAMA's Historic Beretta Hops House. Dining amid centuries-old art with views of the San Antonio River elevates the crowd-pleasing menu of house-made pastas, cast-iron flatbread pizzas, and a variety of antipasti. Dady has even created a selection of dishes specially paired with the Spanish summer exhibition.
Walk off the meal with a stroll along the San Antonio River Walk, an iconic meandering path that hugs the San Antonio River. It's lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and live entertainment giving you a true taste of this Southwestern city. Arrive just before sunset to watch as the sorbet-hued sky fades and hanging lights start to illuminate the picturesque bridges along the route.
Cap your night at Jazz, TX, an intimate jazz club located in the cellar of the Bottling House at the historic Pearl Brewery. As you listen to the live beats of local bandleader Doc Watkins while sipping bespoke cocktails, you'll see how Jazz, TX, brilliantly merges the grit of a traditional Texas dance hall with the upscale vibes of a rocking jazz club.
Texas Hill Country is home to more than 45 wineries and vineyards, and they're all just a short drive from San Antonio's city center. If you've got a rental car (and one of you selflessly offers to D.D.), head out on your own. Otherwise, tour operators such as Gray Line and San Antonio Detours offer day trips to Fredericksburg, the heart of wine country, where wine production dates back to the original settlers who used the native mustang grape to produce wines.
After a day sipping superb local vintages, it's time to relax at the hotel. Loma de Vida Spa & Wellness is the ultimate R&R enclave, housing 15 treatments rooms fronting lush fairways and wooded bluffs. The extensive spa menu focuses on holistic, meditative, and restorative treatments. While there's no wrong choice, the ultimate indulgence is surely the Linda Meredith Oxygen Infusing Facial or the signature two-hour service, called "Absolute Texas." The treatment takes place in a Sky Loft, a private room overlooking the mountains, and includes an exfoliating scrub, a detoxifying wrap, and a full-body massage. What better setting to relax and appreciate that big Texas sky?