A weekend guide to San Antonio Hill Country, Texas

Winning, dining and those Central Texas sunsets that stain the sky in bright pink.

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IIf the thought of Texas calls to mind nothing more than endless stretches of flat highway, you haven’t heard of the Hill Country. Covering nearly 31,000 square miles of central Texas between US-83 and I-35, Texas Hill Country is all limestone and granite hills, scenic views, junipers and cacti, thriving German culture and charming towns.

A popular trip to the region involves a stay in Austin and a day trip to Fredericksburg’s many wineries, but it’s just as fun to stay closer to San Antonio and check out lesser-known treasures within an hour’s drive of that. city. There is so much to do in Hill Country, you can only scratch the surface in one weekend, but here’s a path to get you started.

With 550 acres and a 25,000-square-foot spa, La Cantera is less of a resort and more of a relaxation village.

Where to sleep: La Cantera Resort & Spa

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At the southern end of Hill Country, La Cantera Resort & Spa feels more like a relaxation village than a hotel. Deer roam the 550 acres which includes a golf course, 496 rooms (including an adults-only floor with a daily happy hour in the private lounge), 34 private villas, infinity pools, a spa, and enough restaurants to make eating unnecessary off the property.

For a Hill Country adventure, La Cantera offers the perfect location. Eleven miles from San Antonio Airport and 17 miles from downtown San Antonio, the property is a short drive from everything: antiques, wineries, world-class restaurants, a million Mexican dining options. Austin, too, is only 84 miles away, yet it’s a remote retreat, with scenic views and those Central Texas sunsets that stain the sky a bright pink.

On-site activities include the new monthly “Women + Whiskey” program, which hosts local distilleries on the property to offer guests tastings, live music and whiskey education; and the upscale Signature restaurant, where an array of copper pots adjoins the show kitchen, a sommelier will appraise your palate for wine pairings, and the chef’s vegetable garden supplies the herbs and spices. The French Texan menu changes seasonally and may include mussels served unshelled, accompanied by crusty bread and a white wine cream that the waiter pours at the table.

La Cantera’s crown jewel is the 25,000-square-foot Loma de Vida Spa, a tranquil sanctuary of heated pools, saunas, steam rooms, and comfortable lounge furniture that overlooks glass walls for spectacular views of the Hill Country. Treatments include local honey and lavender.

Enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset at Thompson Hotel The Moon's Daughters rooftop bar.

Where to eat and drink

One thing you won’t miss in Texas, especially near San Antonio, is Tex-Mex. Check out the 25 year old San Marcos based Casa Maria or Compadres Hill Country Cocina owned and operated by veterans in Boerne (pronounced “Bernie”).

For the most spectacular 360-degree views of San Antonio, put on your party clothes and take the Thompson Hotel elevator to the 20th floor rooftop. The Moon’s Daughters is the perfect place to watch the sunset and enjoy a cocktail with a few Mediterranean bites: feta burrata with pesto, grilled octopus skewers, fried calamari with Greek olives.

Ten years ago, 17-year-old Ty Langston went into business with his father, opening what is now a locally famous pizzeria, Comfort Pizza. Father and son built everything from the ground up, renovating a 1920s gas station for the space, building an Old World-style wood stove, even inventing Bluetooth-powered remote-controlled table umbrellas for the outdoor seating area. They grow their own sourdough and “Ty The Pizza Guy” cooks each cake himself.

Bending Branch, a Hill Country winery loved by locals, offers wine produced in a technique called cryomaceration. It’s wine nerd stuff that involves freezing and thawing grapes, but whatever the details, the proof is in the product: his wines are delicious and the estate and tasting room make for a nice stop.

Things to do in Hill Country

There are plenty of things to do within an hour’s drive of San Antonio:

Visit Luckenbach for country music

Check out Luckenbach, population three. OK, the population is zero these days and the “town” is a country music venue and a few food trucks and beer stalls, but it’s a kitschy good time. As Waylon Jennings sang, “In Luckenbach, Texas, nobody feels pain.”

Go to antiques in Comfort and Boerne

These two cities are filled with curio shops where you’ll find everything from cowhide rugs to vintage Coca-Cola signs to one-of-a-kind mirrors. A couple not to miss: sift through the treasures at 8th Street Market in Comfort, where antiques collections from 35 vendors converge in a repurposed Ford dealership with a grain silo ceiling and span a large courtyard; and Carousel Antiques & Fickle Pickles, a Boern shop that’s all pickles in the front, antiques in the back. (Fickle Pickles has several locations throughout the Hill Country, and its pickles are spicy, sweet, and totally addicting.)

Spend a morning at the San Antonio Weekend Market

While you may not want to spend a lot of time in the city when you’re here to see the countryside, if you’re traveling for a weekend, the weekend market in San Antonio’s Pearl District is a delightful outdoor stroll. At the Saturday farmer’s market, you’ll find free-range eggs and honey straight from the beehives, while at the Sunday artisan market you can buy handmade soaps, jewelry and pottery made by local designers.

How to get there

Fly to San Antonio and rent a car because one of the best things to do in Hill Country is to drive through the beautiful scenery. The Hill Country spans 31,000 square miles and 25 counties, so pick your first destination and connect it to Google Maps.

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