San Antonio sometimes feels as if it is Texas’ punching bag. It’s been dubbed “The Most Boring City” by so many so many times over the years that its devotees have become more defensive than Mel Gibson around Ricky Gervais.
Charles Barkley turned mocking the city of San Antonio into nightly theater during the Spurs’ playoff runs — and no one blinked, nationally. Because it’s San Antonio.
But the Alamo City is finally having a moment. A big one. It’s been named the Second Best Travel Destination in the world. That’s right, the world. Because when you think of international dream cities … OK, San Antonio’s taken enough grief. The new rankings come from Budget Travel, but they are not measured on a strictly budget basis. Iceland — an infamously expensive country to visit — took the No. 1 spot.
Cuba, Los Angeles and Greece round out the top five, and there’s nothing particularly budget about this trio, either. No, San Antonio’s not lauded for being cheap (even though it has to be the least expensive option in a Top 10 that also includes the Galapagos Islands). Instead, its “bold public art” and “foodie-approved Texas seafood” is singled out. Unfortunately, the phrase “this is not yo’ mama’s River Walk” also gets employed in the glowing writeup.
Still, even with that and the requisite Alamo mention, there is little doubt that San Antonio is being seen in a new, hipper light. Legitimate buzz swirls around the new Emma Hotel. This boutique retreat in a 19th-century building is unlike anything the touristy, family-filled River Walk area’s really seen before — right down to its New York-based design team, Roman and Williams.
It’s also noteworthy that San Antonio is one of only three U.S. cities on Budget Travel‘s Best Travel Destinations of 2016 — despite the fact the list runs dozens deep. Los Angeles and, surprisingly, Cincinnati, are the other American cities deemed worthy of a special visit.
OK, having San Antonio flanked by Iceland and Cuba may seem a little strange. Which “exotic” destination appears out of place? Then again, if you live in Iceland, maybe San Antonio seems magical from afar.
There’s no doubt the Alamo City’s under a new spotlight now. Ready or not, the hipsters are coming.