San Antonio is more than just the ‘Alamo City.’ Oftentimes, our favorite places in the city are not on the radar for visiting tourists. Several of those who comprise our community at Overland have relocated, planting roots in our Texas city. We asked some of these designers and architects that are not originally from the area to tell us about their favorite local places.

1. La Gloria Mexican Restaurant

For me, choosing a single favorite place in San Antonio is difficult because a place can only be as good as the memories made there. While I have discovered some pretty sweet spots, my favorites are the ones where I have a group of people that matter most in my life hanging with me. Since coming to San Antonio, I have been drug around (very willingly) to various events at all the favorite spots in town. The Friday of Fiesta was an especially memorable evening for me. After a whole day of festivities, our crew migrated to La Gloria for a round of margaritas. I was eager to explore yet another new venue in the city. I immediately loved the atmosphere at La Gloria. The grassy yard overlooking the Riverwalk gave me the sense that we weren’t in the city; we were in a little-hidden park. It’s a great little niche with plenty of space, shade and diverse groups of individuals hanging out. This particular Friday in April was my favorite because of the great conversation, laughing and dancing with some of my finest fellow Pheasants! – Brody Cornwell, Architectural Designer, Hometown: Deer Park, Washington

2. Landa Park

Comal Springs in Landa Park, New Braunfels is my absolute favorite place to visit in the area. There are many reasons this place makes the top of my list, but I’ll explain the most important reason. I grew up in South Louisiana where the bayous are muddy and cloudy and the edge of land is hard to define. Cypress trees grow to epic sizes and wildlife and fish always found a home under them. There is a peace and real connection that I feel when sitting on the water’s edge of Comal Springs that reminds me of my roots on the bayou. The first time I discovered Comal Springs, I was amazed at how crystal clear the water was. The purity and sanctity of the water are filled and surrounded by life and is easily observable to visitors. I’ve watched schools of fish, flocks of ducks, squirrels, and a herd of deer drink from the water just feet away even while the park is filled with people. This is the place I go to unplug and unwind and find my connection to my roots and to nature. It has become a natural sanctuary for my wife and I and we are thankful to have found it. – Steve Bellanger, Architect, Hometown: Lockport, Louisiana

3. Alamo Candy Co.

I find Alamo Candy Company a very special place because the tamarind and chile candies they sell reminds me of my childhood back in Pakistan. Growing up I was different from other kids. While other kids  ate chocolate and caramel candies, I would find myself a bag of tamarind candies and completely devour it in a day. It’s been a unique way for me to relate to a different culture and find my place in it through food. Plus it is totally like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… sorry ‘Chile Factory’. – Raheel Ahmad, Architectural Designer, Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan

4. McNay Art Museum

The McNay is my favorite place in San Antonio because it is a very unique building. The interior courtyard, the house, everything about the space is unique. I really like the art that they have there. I am very excited for the Yayoi Kusama exhibit which is a very cool light installation that I am excited to see. It’s in the middle of the city, but because of the nature that surrounds it, it makes me feel like I am somewhere else which I really like. To me, it feels like an oasis. – Diego Gonzalez, Architectural Intern, Hometown: Chihuahua, Mexico

5. Yanaguana Garden

I have always had a passion for green space amenities within large cities and the power of urban parks on development. It had recently been on my mind when I made my first visit to the Yanaguana Garden in San Antonio on a recommendation from a friend. I took a Saturday afternoon to tour the area on my bike where I found a pathway that drew me to the garden, vibrant with activity of all sorts. Couples were dancing to salsa, children were racing around intriguing play structures, and families were in conversation under the shade of enormous heritage trees. A coffee shop in the colorful garden was hosting live music from the porch while people gathered to listen and peruse an array of taco trucks and paleta carts. I had discovered a place of refuse in the middle of downtown which has become one of my favorite locations to spend a weekend afternoon enjoying the great weather and community of San Antonio. The thoughtful integration of art and landscape with diverse-use spaces at the Yanaguana Garden creates an activated park that echoes the vibrancy of the city I have come to love. It is a treasure to find a place where public space is being cherished and utilized, children are active and outdoors, and the company of family and friends is celebrated. San Antonio is working to integrate more parks and gardens into the city, building upon its many diverse and beautiful outdoor recreational areas (Confluence Park, the Botanical Garden, Phil Hardberger Park to name a few). While Yanaguana Garden may be my personal favorite, I am excited by San Antonio’s diverse and interesting precedents of public outdoor spaces to be active and/or restful within the bustle of a large city. – Alisha Burkman, Architectural Designer, Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma

6. Pearl

I had my first lunch in San Antonio at The Pearl. I had driven from Austin to San Antonio one morning with friends and we were looking for a place to have lunch. It was so vibrant, diverse, and walkable. It was shabby chic with character. I like that it has a lot of different and fun activities and a little bit of everything: cool shops, good restaurants, and a farmer’s market. I feel like there is always a sense of community when I am there. The Pearl’s scale, walkability, and the sense of community inspire me to think about how I can translate those features whenever I work on an Urban Design project. – Zhe Fu, Architectural Designer, Hometown: Tieling, China

I first heard about the Pearl Farmer’s Market in 2013 when I was searching for apartments. It was a really vital marketplace with a lot of unique characteristics. Back then, the rest of the Pearl was under development, but the farmer’s market had already become really popular. It was the densest area I had seen in San Antonio. Not only with humans, but with dogs as well! At that time, it was more of a place to go and dine. But when I came back in 2017, I was amazed by how vital it had become. People were now staying all day long. Kids and families began visiting and living in the area. More diverse people had begun visiting. Now, on an average weekday, I can grab a quick lunch in the food court. The farmer’s market even expanded to two days – Saturday and Sunday – with longer hours and more vendors to choose from. It’s exciting to see how the Pearl has evolved during the past few years, cultivating the area and forming a community. San Antonio is a city with profound culture and history. This is definitely a place I show friends when they are visiting from out of town.  The Pearl is an example that shows that this city is not frozen in time, and its culture and history is worth celebrating, sustaining, and carrying forward. – Sijie Dai, Architectural Designer, Hometown: Nanjing China

7. The University of Texas at San Antonio

I first learned about UTSA because a friend of mine worked there. A lot of my friends live around the UTSA campus, so it became a great place for us to just get together to play badminton. In addition to that, the library on the campus is a great place for them to study and for me to meditate. It’s always a good space to be in. – Rui Xiong, Architectural Designer, Hometown: Leshan, China

8. San Antonio Botanical Garden

I enjoy going to the San Antonio Botanical Garden because I like spending time in nature and because I always find a diverse types of plants there. They have a section of the garden that is dedicated to native plant life which is really cool to see and learn about. There is also another portion of the garden that is climate controlled to simulate different ecosystems, so you get to chance to see different types of plants and how they would grow different parts of the world. – Helena Zambrano, Architect/Sustainability Coordinator, Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico

9. Algarita Lakeside Apartments

The balcony highlighted in red (in the photo) is really top notch. I love to sit out there with my daughter as she plays in her jumper. She loves to feel the wind coming off the pond and watch the rain. It is a large porch, so you can go out during a storm and stay dry.  It happens to be the balcony of my apartment, but I would welcome any new pheasants to come and experience it at any time. My door is open! – Ben Parker, Architect, Hometown: Lake Jackson, TX

10. Mi Tierra Mexican Restaurant

One of my favorite places in San Antonio is Mi Tierra because when you step inside it feels so magical – every time! I love taking friends and family who visit from out of town so I can watch their faces light up in amazement when they see the lights, decorations, and incredible pastries at the super long case at the front door. Samantha Schwarze, Associate Principal, Hometown: Staten Island, New York

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