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Casandra MatejCasandra Matej is the executive director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau (SACVB).

San Antonio’s rich culture flourishes with arts and culture, historic legacies, and culinary delights that will tempt travelers of all tastes. From the River Walk to Hill Country vineyards and golf courses, San Antonio embodies the charm of an authentic American city. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the 2013 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition and share some of the city’s wonderful offerings with you.

Pearl Brewery

Once the birthplace of Pearl Beer, this long-time staple of the San Antonio economy has been redeveloped into an urban village next to the River Walk. A few highlights include the Culinary Institute of America’s newest campus, restaurants by some of San Antonio’s top chefs, unique retailers, and the largest farmers’ market in San Antonio. Dining options at Pearl are interesting and abundant, making it hard to choose! For an alternative mode of transportation, hop on a river barge taxi and view public art installations on the way over.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

The Briscoe Western Art Museum is the newest addition to San Antonio’s dynamic art scene, right in the heart of downtown on the River Walk. This one-of-a-kind museum is devoted to celebrating the art, people, and history of the great American West with an emphasis on the Western art of San Antonio and the South Texas region.

South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum

The South Texas Heritage Center debuted last year at the Witte Museum, San Antonio’s science and history museum. Collections and archives trace the legendary history of South Texas with collections of saddles, spurs, and art of South Texans including Texas Indians, Spanish settlers, Tejanos, ranchers, and more.

Mission Reach—River Walk

San Antonio has just completed a $358.3 million project to lengthen the River Walk from three to fifteen miles. The Mission Reach will join the original River Walk to four of the city’s Spanish colonial missions in south San Antonio. Take in the natural beauty of the river on hike-and-bike trails. It’s easy to rent a bicycle: Bcycle, the city’s bike sharing program, has stations along the way.

The Alamo

We all know the famous line, “Remember the Alamo!” No visit to San Antonio is complete without including this iconic site. Named San Antonio de Valero, a Spanish Mission, in 1718, its establishment played a crucial role in the settlement of Texas and the Southwest.

Spanish Colonial Missions

Explore Spanish colonial architecture at San Antonio’s five 18th century missions. The best known among them is The Alamo. Four other Spanish colonial missions were founded in the early 1700s, including San Antonio Missions National Historical Park—a marvelous place to explore the city’s roots and Spain’s influence on the southwestern part of the United States.

Market Square

Dating to 1840, Market Square (El Mercado), the largest Mexican marketplace north of the Rio Grande, is a festive combination of Tex-Mex cuisine, music, entertainment, and products ranging from pearls to piñatas. Explore the extensive Mexican bakery at Mi Tierra Café for delicious pan dulce or sweet breads.

La Villita Historic Arts Village

La Villita (“the little village”) was one of San Antonio’s original settlements in the mid-to-late 18th century. Today, La Villita is a National Historic District and a haven for artists and craftsmen. Shop for blown glass, jewelry, and other handcrafts, as well as fashions from Mexico and Guatemala.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

The San Antonio Botanical Garden is especially beautiful during this time of year, where acres of beautiful, lush vegetation replicate three distinct landscapes of Texas on the Texas Native Trail.

Southtown

On the southern tip of downtown, Southtown is a trendy arts community with converted warehouses, artists’ lofts, shops, galleries, and restaurants. Head to Southtown for art shops at Blue Star Arts Complex or for many options of eclectic dining—small plates at ultra-modern Feast, authentic Mexican at The Fruteria, or Texas-inspired fare at Liberty Bar.