4 Spring Break Destinations Without the Crowds

If you aren’t thinking about where to go for spring break yet, you should be. It’s almost time to embark on a little post-winter, pre-spring getaway. Even I’m going somewhere this year! My trip will be a drive down to Missouri to visit family but it will still be a nice little escape from everyday life. Being someone who doesn’t particularly like crowds, I can understand why most people avoid spring break. There are drunk, obnoxious, college kids everywhere and what you’re looking for is much more relaxing. With that in mind, I’ve put together a couple of destinations so that you can get in a memorable spring break without the insanity of...well...spring break!

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5 Things to Know About San Antonio

Visiting San Antonio for the first time was a trip of opportunity. My Noni (grandmother) and I had a wedding to attend and we decided to make a vacation out of it. I did a little bit of research, not as much as I normally do, but enough to fill our time there. I didn’t have any expectations for San Antonio because it never crossed my mind before this opportunity came up. We landed very late and saw nothing on the drive to our hotel but when we woke up in the morning, the views outside our window were a welcome sight. If you’re heading to San Antonio for the first time or maybe, like me, never considered traveling there...these 5 things might convince you it should be at the top of your travel list…

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Boudro's on the River | San Antonio Dining

One sunny Friday afternoon in San Antonio when the weather was warm but not too hot, two ladies went to lunch. They grabbed a table for two right next to the water shaded with an over-sized umbrella and began to browse the menu. Those two ladies were my Noni and I and it didn’t take very long to decide what we’d be eating for lunch that day. Boudro’s on the River is a Texas bistro that feels more like a French bistro. Like most restaurants along the riverwalk, there’s indoor and outdoor seating to cater to all weather and it has an almost upscale feeling to it. The cafe tables are elegant, like the nice cafes on the streets of Paris, and the waiters wear classic outfits and treat you as if you’re eating at the best fine dining establishment…

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5 Places For a Quick Fall Getaway

Before diving head first into the holiday season, plan a quick getaway to relax and enjoy the final weeks of the season. It seems that most of the US had a somewhat late summer this year which means the fall leaves are appearing and sticking around later than usual. Thanksgiving is a month away and it starts the insanity that is the holiday season, but not if you start preparing now! In the meantime, give yourself a break by taking a quick trip away from everyday life. These five destinations have a mix of warmer and colder fall weather but each is a strong contender in its own right. From New England to California, whether you have a regular weekend or a long weekend, these are worth a fall getaway…

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San Antonio Dining: Supper at Emma

San Antonio has plenty of spots to grab a bite. My favorite part of traveling is all the research and preparation before a trip. There were an endless number of restaurants that I wanted to visit while in the Southwestern city but there’s only so much a stomach can handle. Once the list has narrowed a bit, it’s easier to decide which restaurants fit best into your plans. Supper at Emma in the Pearl District just so happened to be the perfect spot for breakfast the day of my cousin’s wedding. Towards the end of the riverwalk where the river taxi turns back around is the Pearl District, one of my favorite parts of San Antonio. This is where the gorgeous and unparalleled Hotel Emma is located and likewise, Supper.

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Supper at Emma is an “American Eatery” by Chef John Brand featuring a “straightforward and creative approach guided by flavor, what’s in season and what feels good in the center of a table shared by friends.” The restaurant offers an experience that is part farm-to-table, part bistro. The flavors of south Texas are at the forefront of the menu as well as local, seasonal ingredients. Quite honestly, it was one of my favorite San Antonio dining experiences and very unexpected as well. Supper is an American Eatery but the food is so unique and original, it doesn’t deserve to be in a classic American category. I would fly back to San Antonio for the chance to have breakfast at Supper one more time.

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Breakfast was the meal of choice for us at Supper and what a great one it came to be! With an affordable menu and versatile options, it was difficult making a decision on what to eat. My Noni decided to go with the Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon and Blueberries (now listed with raspberries on their website). I decided to go outside of my usual comfort zone and ordered the Green Chorizo Scotch Egg with Cornbread, Creme Fraiche, and Salad. To finish, we split the famous Beignets that called to me while doing restaurant research. While neither of us had a traditional breakfast compared to our usual standards, we were both blown away by the experience.

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The Ricotta Pancakes are made with chickpea flour making them much lighter than the typical heavy pancake. It was the first time I ever saw my Noni clean her plate for breakfast. The Scotch Egg was something I’ve never had before and an interesting, complex dish. For starters, I’d love to know how Scotch Eggs are made because they seem like witchcraft to me. The green chorizo was inside the scotch egg, acting sort of like a barrier between the actual egg and the crisp breading. It was so flavorful and satisfying. The combination of textures from the smooth egg and crunchy breading worked in sync with the spiciness of the chorizo, creaminess of the egg and savory notes from the crust. The cornbread could win an award too. Moist and sweet yet still savory...I can’t say one bad thing about this dish. Finally, the beignets were exactly as you’d want them. Crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth fluffy on the inside. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with preserves, nothing will complete your morning better.

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Supper is located within Hotel Emma in the Pearl District of San Antonio. The restaurant features both indoor seating and an outdoor patio. Reservations are available and encouraged. After dining at Supper, walk around the property for gorgeous views of the riverwalk. I also encourage you to take a personal tour through Hotel Emma. It’s like walking back in time. The decor is rustic and sophisticated and makes for fantastic photos. Most notably, the hotel has a 3,700-volume library any bookworm would drool over. Visit their gift shop, grocery store or club room for a cocktail and enjoy all the intricate details that make this hotel something truly special.

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10 Spots To Grab A Bite In San Antonio

If San Antonio lacks anything, restaurants are not it. The southwestern Texas city has got a place to grab a bite almost every step along the riverwalk and every other step off of it. From umbrella lined patios, to white tablecloth restaurants, San Antonio has a wide variety of cuisines and dining experiences to suit anyone who visits, even the pickiest of eaters. It would take weeks to share all of the restaurant and dining options in San Antonio, so I can’t do that but I can share ten of my recommendations for your next trip. Bon appetit!

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Bakery Lorraine | 306 Pearl Parkway #110
If you’re as obsessed with French macarons as I am, you need to visit Bakery Lorraine. Located in the Pearl District, one of my favorite places in San Antonio, Bakery Lorraine serves up a large number of pastries as well as bites to eat. They have enormous sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfast items and more. I, of course, came for no other reason than the macarons. The flavors change often but the ones I ordered included the Fruity Pebbles, Earl Grey, and Strawberry. Délicieux!

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Bella on the River | 106 River Walk
A common denominator among many of these restaurants is their location...the riverwalk. The riverwalk in San Antonio is the mecca of entertainment and while I do encourage you to break off, I also encourage you to take advantage of the convenience it offers as well. Bella on the River is a white tablecloth restaurant but not a pretentious one. Bella is a local and independent restaurant with a strong Mediterranean menu. It’s a smaller restaurant with European style but still cozy and welcoming. Try their Gazpacho on a particularly warm day or the Kale Salad with fresh strawberries for a refreshing start to the meal. The Rigatoni sounds divine and the Pork Tenderloin features a sweet and savory flavor profile that has my mouth watering. Dietary restrictions? No problem! Bella has a vegetarian and gluten-free menu. And don’t miss out on their vast wine list boasting bottles from California to Bordeaux.

Boudro’s on the River | 421 East Commerce Street
Boudro's is a “Texas bistro” but feels like a French bistro. With indoor seating and outdoor seating along the river, Boudro’s is a casual restaurant with an upscale vibe. My Noni and I went to Boudro’s for lunch where we dined right near the river. We both had salads and split a side of French Fries because why not. The service was incredible, honestly one of the best restaurant experiences I had. There were many things on the menu I wanted to order and had to live with the disappointment of only ordering one. I’ll have a full review of Boudro’s up later this month.

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Guenther House | 205 East Guenther Street
Guenther House is a breakfast or lunch restaurant located in an old historic home that currently serves as a museum. It was the previous home of C.H. Guenther who owned C.H. Guenther & Son, a company over 160 years old that produces flour, grain, and other products. The Guenther House sells many of them from pancake mix to coffee. The restaurant is a favorite breakfast and brunch spot to both locals and visitors. The property alone is worth it to visit but if you come hungry, you’ll leave with a full belly. Try the Pioneer Pancake Platter, the Buttermilk Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, or take it back in time with the 1851 Breakfast Platter featuring a Pioneer biscuit with country gravy and crumbled sausage, bacon, a sausage patty, breakfast potatoes and eggs. Still hungry? I’d be remiss not to mention all their pastries and desserts!

Hard Rock Cafe | 111 West Crockett Street
Normally, I don’t like to include chain restaurants in my posts but the Hard Rock Cafe in San Antonio has a great location on the riverwalk and it’s a comforting spot to those who don’t like to go out of their comfort zone. My Noni is very much a “regular” at the places she dines so I think she enjoyed being able to go to a restaurant with a name she was familiar with. If nothing else, they play great music. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe with dessert in mind but if you have a larger appetite that needs to be fed, I’d recommend the Margherita Flatbread as a starter and any of their legendary burgers because...when on vacation!

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Ocho | 1015 Navarro Street
If you love Latin flavors like I do, Ocho should be on your list. Serving up primarily Cuban cuisine with a touch of Mexican and Texan thrown in, Ocho knows how to deliver on flavor. Kick things off with a cocktail inspired by Ernest Hemingway and the Salsa Platter. For the main, enjoy one of their tortas like the classic Cubano or one of their plates like the Crispy Snapper in Coconut Sauce. Indulge your sweet tooth before leaving with their Fresh Fried Churros which make my mouth water as I write this.

Rebelle | 300 East Travis Street
Rebelle is a farm-to-table restaurant in the St. Anthony Hotel. My Noni and I went to brunch here with my cousin and it was pretty darn good. The menu is a little slim so if you or anyone you’ll be dining with is a picky eater, I’d recommend checking out the menu beforehand to make sure you’ll find something you like. A few recommendations include The Southerner, The Parisian (duh), and the Jamaican. Rebelle has a lot of interesting, unique condiments to go alongside the main dishes like the raspberry coulis with the Parisian ad the green tomato jam with the Southerner.

Restaurant Gwendolyn | 152 East Pecan #100
For a more upscale dining option, Restaurant Gwendolyn is your spot. It’s also one-of-a-kind in that they use old-school cooking. I mean, really old school. They cook their food without any electronics reverting back to the cooking methods of the early 1800s. There are no machines in the kitchen at Restaurant Gwendolyn and the food is locally sourced in a 150-mile radius. Everything is done in house from the butchering of animals to the mixing of jam. Because of the high quality that Restaurant Gwendolyn serves and the amount of labor put into each dish (at least that’s what I’m guessing), prices are a little higher. So if she’s not in your budget for dinner, consider stopping by for lunch where menu items are much more affordable and, with that said, simpler.

Rita’s on the River | 245 East Commerce, Suite 100
Rita’s on the River, I’ve learned, is the place that everyone takes company from out of town. I can understand why considering it’s a friendly, fun place with a huge outdoor patio and fantastic food. It was the first restaurant my Noni and I went to for dinner while visiting San Antonio and I consider it a huge hit because my Noni loved it. She’s not a huge fan of Mexican food, because I think she hasn’t had the good stuff, but she loved her Taco Salad at Rita’s. I also had her try guacamole for the first time which she wasn’t a fan of but I got it all to myself so you won’t hear me complain! Rita’s was in our Dining on the Riverwalk post not too long ago so head over and check it out!

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Supper at Emma | 136 East Grayson
Supper at Emma is in Hotel Emma in the Pearl District. This restaurant was one of my favorite that we visited in San Antonio. Supper serves Modern American cuisine in a beautiful restaurant that has all the charm of Hotel Emma. There is a ton of light throughout the restaurant, the staff is super friendly and the food is delightful. We (luckily) dined at Supper for breakfast and each had very different dishes: one of us went savory, the other went sweet. We couldn’t leave without ordering the Beignets either, which were out of this world. Supper was such a phenomenal experience that you’ll see a full featuring on her in the future as well.

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Have you visited San Antonio? What were some places you dined at? Tell me in the comments below.

Dining on the Riverwalk | San Antonio, TX

There are dozens of restaurants to dine along the riverwalk in San Antonio. Almost all of them have outdoor patios to take advantage of the gorgeous south Texas weather and views of the river. The riverwalk in general is colorful, it’s lively and it’s bustling. People walk through the dining patios getting to their destinations. Birds are fluttering around everywhere you look. The riverwalk is full of life and energy making it a perfect spot to take a seat and enjoy a meal. My Noni and I ate at three different restaurants, two of which I’m spotlighting today!

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Rita’s on the River is a must-visit restaurant in San Antonio according to plenty of food round-ups. They serve up Tex-Mex and Mexican food including margaritas and fajitas featuring homemade tortillas. They have gluten free and vegetarian options so even those with dietary restrictions can enjoy a local favorite. Rita’s is also fur-friendly! They welcome friendly pups in case you’re traveling with a four-legged friend or visiting friends or family with one. Overall, Rita’s on the River has a fun, welcoming environment for a great experience and the food is fantastic as well.

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My Noni order the Taco Salad: a large taco shell filled with your choice of chicken or beef, fresh lettuce, topped with diced tomatoes, cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Her eyes were way bigger than her stomach and she took half of it home but she loved it. I actually haven’t seen her eat as much as she ate while we were in San Antonio. It was hilarious. Not usually one for Mexican or Tex Mex either, she was really impressed with Rita’s. We loved being able to sit on the patio and people watch. She also tried guacamole for the first time! I was so proud of her for getting out of her comfort zone during our first dinner in Texas.

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I had the Chicken Flautas: three crispy rolled tortillas, stuffed with shredded chicken and a hint of cheese, fried to perfection and served with sour cream. They came with refried beans and fiesta rice. There’s nothing mind blowing about flautas, they’re pretty standard when it comes to Tex Mex but it doesn’t mean they weren’t delicious. It was exactly what I wanted and that Fiesta Rice was amazing! I love rice but am not the best at making it myself so it’s a treat when I have it at restaurants.

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One of the last restaurants we ate at while in San Antonio was the Hard Rock Cafe. Just a tad farther down the river than Rita’s the Hard Rock Cafe is like any you’d find anywhere else in the world. We weren’t looking for much, just a snack and dessert. We were under the impression that there would be a river parade that night which was the whole reason we chose this particular spot. Spoiler alert: there was no river parade. We still had a great time though! We had a visit from a friendly family of ducks that my Noni just loved.

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For our “snack,” we ordered the Margherita Flatbread: crispy flatbread with sliced Roma tomatoes, basil and herb sauce, roasted garlic, romano and mozzarella cheeses, fresh basil and a drizzle of garlic aioli. It was enough for the two of us and quite tasty I might say. But let’s be honest. We really came for the dessert. We split the Homemade Apple Cobbler: thick, juicy apples are mixed with the finest spices and baked until golden brown. Served warm with vanilla ice cream, topped with walnuts and Ghirardelli caramel sauce. And we also split a Molten Fudge Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream that doesn’t look to be on their menu anymore. They do have a Brownie a la Mode type of treat though which is similar. Both were AMAZING. I don’t prefer caramel sauce so I went for the cake more but it was a nice balance of fruitiness and decadent chocolate. It’s a great thing both desserts come with vanilla ice cream because it helps with the sweetness. Let’s just say, we both left with a very satisfied sweet tooth.

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With the amount of options there are to dine on the riverwalk, it can be a bit intimidating to choose where to eat. I would suggest going with your taste buds and your budget. Some restaurants are much more affordable than others like every other city in the world. Some are more casual, some are more adventurous. It just depends on your persona taste. There’s one more riverwalk restaurant I’ll be sharing and a fourth restaurant not on the riverwalk but by far my favorite from this particular visit to San Antonio. Stay tuned!

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Walking Back In Time At Hotel Emma | San Antonio

Normally I save hotel reviews for hotels that I personally stay at but I made an exception for Hotel Emma in San Antonio. Located in San Antonio’s Pearl District, Hotel Emma feels like it was built in another time and it certainly was with a history dating back to 1894. After dining at Supper, my Noni and I meandered through the hotel to pass a little time and boy am I glad that we did. Little did I know there was so much to discover in this time machine of a building from small shops to enormous libraries. If I find myself back in San Antonio anytime soon, I will most likely be staying at Hotel Emma.

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The History
Here’s a tidbit of information I found surprising while doing some research - Hotel Emma has ties to Chicago! Who knew?! Originally Pearl’s Brewhouse, the hotel was built in 1894 by Chicago architect August Martizen who specialized in breweries creating more than 80 in his career. By 1916, Pearl Brewery was the largest brewery in Texas and the only one in San Antonio to survive prohibition. The brewery’s CEO, Emma Koehler, who the hotel is named after, came up with creative alternate services for the brewery to put out to keep her entire staff employed including dry cleaning, auto repair, and the production of near beer, ice cream and soda. These services kept the brewery in business until prohibition ended allowing beer to become their main product once again. The brewery closed in 2001 before becoming part of a renovation program which turned into today’s Pearl District.

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Becoming Hotel Emma
With the establishment of the Pearl District, Hotel Emma has become one of the many community pillars. With 146 rooms and several suites, the hotel features a design that mixes historical elements with a modern touch in a comfortable and unconventional way. What’s most impressive is the 3,700-volume library. Any book worm’s dream, this collection is one-of-a-kind donated from a San Antonio icon. As if that wasn’t enough, the library allows guests to check out books using a vintage card system. Talk about nostalgia gone wild. Inside Hotel Emma, you’ll find Curio, a boutique gift shop with interesting finds from near and far; Larder Fine Groceries and Prepared Food; Supper, a restaurant where American cuisine meets European bistro; and Sternewirth, a tavern and club room for cocktails and conversation.

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The Experience
Walking through Hotel Emma, you’re pulled into a different time. Everything is distressed, everything has character. For those who are always looking for the perfect Instagram photo, Hotel Emma is a treasure chest. From the mismatched furniture that works seamlessly to the bookshelves and the friendly staff, it’s an exceptional experience that is unique and not found anywhere else. Even if you’re not staying at Hotel Emma while in San Antonio, make a point to stop by and take a walk through their main areas. If you’re looking for a spot to grab a bite, Supper is amazing. We went there for brunch and believe me when I say I’ve never been more impressed by a restaurant. I’ll have a full review coming soon.

I’ll stop there and let the photos speak for themselves.