High Tea to Tai Chi: A Look at San Antonio’s Burgeoning Cultural Scene

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San Antonio Botanical Gardens, San AntonioA dizzying array of developments has been unfolding in San Antonio.

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center unveiled a $325 million expansion and the largest ballroom in the state, boosting the center’s meeting space to 1.6 million-sf and solidifying its position along the beautified historic River Walk—within walking distance to the Alamo, La Villita Historic Arts Village, Pearl Brewery, museums, local restaurants and thousands of hotel rooms—as a top destination for meetings and incentives groups.

San Antonio’s five missions, built by Franciscan missionaries and Coahuiltecan Native Americans, were given UNESCO World Heritage status. Groups of up to 130 can dine in the Alamo’s hall, one of San Antonio’s first firehouses, and the South Gardens and Calvary Courtyard, accented by tall oaks, Texas pecan trees and canons used in the historic Battle of the Alamo, can hold 300 attendees. Tyler Orwig, director of sales for Visit San Antonio, says wine and dine at the Alamo, but keep moving; there’s more to see. “After you’ve seen the Alamo, the Pearl is the next stop.”

Wine and dine at the Alamo, but keep moving; there’s more to see.

The sustainable complex is also big on preserving culinary, conservation and cultural traditions. The Nature Conservancy and Culinary Institute of America are on-site, offering unique experiences to groups, not to mention the mixed bag of shopportunities and repurposed event venues. And as if all of this wasn’t enough to raise an eyebrow or two, the Alamodome just received major upgrades, the Lone Star Brewery, positioned as “The Pearl of the South Side,” will soon undergo a $300 million redevelopment and another Pearl-like development, Essex Modern City (EMC), will soon sprout up in the city’s Denver Heights neighborhood with vertical farming, self-driving vehicles and rock-climbing walls in the plaza.

Next year marks San Antonio’s 300th anniversary and loads of celebratory programming therein, but currently, a wellness-focused expansion at the San Antonio Botanical Garden is stealing the show. Groups will now enter through a live oak-lined avenue that leads to a state-of-the-art culinary playground for architecting wellness experiences that includes a 34-bed Culinary Garden, outdoor solar-powered CHEF Teaching Kitchen and new pavilion for interactive garden-to-table educational experiences. Chef Dave Terrazas, the culinary and wellness program specialist who is spearheading the program, says the garden will also include “kinesthetic components of fitness such as yoga and tai chi, as well as mediation and mindfulness, which also applies to the culinary arts and sciences.”

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