Brittany and Mom at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

Brittany and Mom at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

December. It’s my favorite month of the year. Christmas decorations go up, people take the time to wish each other well, kitchen tables fill with good food, family and friends come together, and new year resolutions are made. Additionally, my mother’s birthday is celebrated, which translates to another opportunity to travel, dine out, try something new and get pampered. No complaints here. I’m all in.

Brittany inside lobby of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk.

Brittany inside lobby of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

Some months ago I had come across an article that listed some of the best places to view Christmas lights. In the article was a picture of San Antonio’s Riverwalk illuminated with twinkling green, red, and blue lights. It all looked so magical. So I begin researching what there was to do in San Antonio, TX during the Christmas season. Come to find out, there’s plenty. It was then I knew I would gift my mother a weekend trip to The Lone Star State for her birthday.

After using TripAdvisor to help me plan our San Antonio trip, it was evident the best place to stay was near the Riverwalk, San Antonio’s most popular attraction. So I planned for us to stay at the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk because of its ideal location and riverview rooms.

View  of Riverwalk from the 10th floor at Hotel Valencia Riverwalk.

View of Riverwalk from the 10th floor at Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

Brittany Inside lounge area of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk.

Brittany Inside lounge area of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is a luxury boutique hotel, which means visitors can expect quality, unique decor, and delightful extras that really make a stay more enjoyable. Expectations were certainly met the moment I arrived. The doormen were quick to greet us with smiles, helped us with our luggage, and opened the hotel doors as they directed us to the reservation desk. The lobby and hallways were lightly fragranced with the hotel’s signature scented candle and fragrance spray. Upon check-in my mother and I were welcomed with a complimentary glass of sangria and our room keys. We had a room on the 10th floor which offered a great view of the Riverwalk and downtown San Antonio. However, the room features I enjoyed most were the ample lighting, plush pillows, spaciousness and great shower. These features will win me over every time.

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk double queen room with Riverwalk view

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk double queen room with Riverwalk view

Although the hotel was inviting, we were anxious to check out the Riverwalk. Just around the corner from the hotel was one of the entry points to the Riverwalk. At dusk we could begin to see the Christmas lights in the overhanging cypress trees come alive. Every year 2,500 strings of light are turned on nightly the day after Thanksgiving until after the first of the year. Even though the nightly temperatures were cold, so many people, locals and visitors alike, were out walking the banks of the San Antonio River. My mom enjoyed ducking into all the shops, people watching from some of the small bridges, checking out the restaurants and watching the Christmas carolers cruise by, but most of all the boat ride we did with Go Rio Cruises.

There was no convincing my mom to do the narrated boat tour. She was up for it just like everyone else lined up to get tickets. The rides are about 30 minutes long and can be done during the day or night. Boats depart about every 15 minutes and there are plenty of them so the wait is never long. During the holiday season I suggest doing a nighttime tour. The lights are best enjoyed from the water.

Go Rio Cruises boats at the San Antonio Riverwalk.

Go Rio Cruises boats at the San Antonio Riverwalk

There are a number of Tex-Mex restaurants to choose from along the Riverwalk and in the nearby area. However, there are only so many times you can eat heavy Tex-Mex food before your body is crying for a change. So one of the nights we opted to eat dinner at Dorrego’s, the restaurant in our hotel. And to my surprise it was packed. Reservations were full on the night we dined. It is the only Argentinian-inspired restaurant in the city. I opted for the Grilled Whole Branzino with orange marmalade and thyme, my mom ordered the 14 oz Certified Angus Ribeye with grilled jalapeno and onion. Dishes are served a la carte, so we decided to share a side of the Grilled Street Corn with chimi-mayo, harissa spice and cotija cheese. Oh My Goodness! And to top if off we were served hot bread with butter and chimichurri and washed it all down with a cold glass of sangria.

Dorrego's Restaurant

Dorrego’s Restaurant

The hotel serves up good fare, but as seasoned travelers my mother and I know there is more that lies outside any hotel and must be experienced, which led us to finding a spot a few blocks away from Hotel Valencia called Schilo’s (pronounced shee-low’s). It is the place to go to for an inexpensive, filling, and flavorful breakfast. The place feels like home- warm and familiar. No wonder it is now the oldest restaurant in San Antonio. My mother and I would both agree they are definitely doing something right.

We rounded out my mother’s birthday trip with a visit to the Alamo, a Spanish mission turned fortress and now Texas’ most visited landmark.

Brittany and Mom at the Alamo in San Antonio, TX.

Brittany and Mom at the Alamo in San Antonio, TX

One night we walked down to the Main Plaza to catch The Saga, a video art projection on the facade of San Fernando Cathedral. The event takes place Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and is free to the public.

The Saga at Main Plaza in San Antonio, TX

The Saga at Main Plaza in San Antonio, TX

We even visited Pearl, a mixed-use space featuring retail, dining, and beautifully manicured green spaces. There we had one of the best damn patty melts from Fletcher’s Hamburgers and a fried apple hand pie from Maybelle’s Donuts inside the Food Hall (Don’t judge us! We were on vacation and we were celebrating a birthday). But the real hidden gem at Pearl is Hiatus Spa and Retreat.

Hiatus Spa & Retreat at Pearl in San Antionio, TX.

Hiatus Spa & Retreat at Pearl in San Antionio, TX

Inside Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Inside Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Hiatus is tucked away from the action at Pearl providing visitors with the peace they expect from a soothing spa. I planned for my mother and I to both receive a one-hour signature massage, a mix of Swedish techniques and customized aromatherapy. Prior to our one-hour massages my mother and I were provided with a hot cup of tea, escorted to an amenity-filled locker room, and given a neck warmer while we waited for our message therapists. Needless to say, the massage was ahhhh-mazing. Our feet and back profusely thanked us relieved from all the walking around town. Our time at Hiatus  was the perfect end to our stay in San Antonio.

Brittany and Mom at Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Brittany and Mom at Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Our San Antonio trip marked another great birthday celebration for my mom. Her birthday has come and gone and the trip is now over, but the memories created will always remain.

Happy birthday, Mom! It’s always a pleasure traveling with you.

Brittany and Mom at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

Brittany and Mom at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

This post has been sponsored by Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, Hiatus Spa & Retreat, and Go Rio Cruises.