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San Antonio NightlifeWhen it's time to let loose during your vacation in San Antone, there's little need to look much further than the River Walk. Offering access to a variety of clubs, casual watering holes and late-night restaurants, winding pathways along the banks of the San Antonio River are the liveliest means of traversing downtown after dark.

Fun Things to Do With Friends Along the River Loop

Most River Walk action is centered on the U-shaped channel (some call it “Horseshoe Bend” or the “River Loop”) that shoots off the river's main north-south artery. With bass-thumping spots concentrated between Presa and Commerce streets, barkers poised by bar entrances try their best to entice passersby, though their shouts are muffled by the roar of raucous twentysomethings already partying inside. Drifting from Howl at the Moon , 111 W. Crockett St., the dynamic sounds of dueling pianos lure those seeking high-energy nighttime entertainment; phone (210) 212-4770. Next door, Hard Rock Cafe draws a more laid-back clientele with its rock 'n' roll memorabilia and juicy burgers; phone (210) 224-7625.

The Paseo del Alamo, an extension of the River Walk built in 1981, flows through the atrium of the Hyatt Regency San Antonio River Walk and allows access to the Alamo. And, when the stars come out deep in the heart of Texas, thirsty revelers also use this shortcut to reach the Menger Bar , 204 Alamo Plaza. At the onset of the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt recruited many of his Rough Riders in this London-style pub, an 1887 addition to the Menger Hotel adorned with cherrywood paneling and beveled mirrors. During your trip, peruse the inn's well-kept collection of historical photographs and relics, then sip some cognac in the dimly lit bar. Of course, with the hotel rumored to be haunted, the fainthearted may want to settle their tabs before the witching hour strikes; phone (210) 223-4361.

Nearby, you'll find a 19th-century building that served as a USO center during World War II. The revamped edifice now houses Bonham Exchange , 411 Bonham St., where youthful club goers shake their booties through a maze of packed dance floors Wednesday through Saturday nights. Popular with gay San Antonians, the cavernous nightclub attracts a diverse crowd with cheap drinks, weekly dance contests and special celeb guests—from RuPaul to Charles Barkley; phone (210) 224-9219.

For a few laughs, add the Improv Comedy Club–San Antonio Rivercenter , on the third level of the Rivercenter at 849 E. Commerce St., to your evening agenda; phone (210) 229-1420 for show times.

For effortless planning, simply seek out your beverage of choice. Zinc Bistro & Bar is just off the River Walk at 207 N. Presa St. This sophisticated but mellow haunt keeps choosy patrons happy with a menu that, in addition to wine, includes food, cigars and cocktails; phone (210) 224-2900. Meanwhile, at Naked Iguana Tequila Bar , you'll find a blender working overtime to dole out more than 20 variations of San Antonio's favorite tequila-infused concoction, the margarita. Located at 421 E. Commerce St. on the River Walk, the small contemporary hangout features several flat-screen TVs and balcony seating that's perfect for people watching; phone (210) 226-8462.

Beyond the River Walk

If you've officially added the River Walk to your been-there-done-that list, here are a few options.

Just a few miles north of the River Walk is The Pearl, San Antonio's newest destination for entertainment and shopping. Step into Jazz TX , 312 Pearl Pkwy., and do some two-stepping on the dance floor while a live band plays. Don't let the name fool you though; depending on the night, you can also twirl to Texas swing, blues, salsa, Americana, conjunto or big band sounds. Phone (210) 332-9386. The Pearl is also home to High Street Wine Co. , a wine bar and shop, and Blue Box Bar , which features handcrafted cocktails, including some inexplicably named after David Bowie songs; phone (210) 908-9144 or (210) 227-2583, respectively.

Those who adore craft beers and homemade sodas and are looking for fun things to do in San Antonio should hit up the Blue Star Brewing Co. , 1414 S. Alamo St. in the Blue Star Arts Complex. (The arts complex is in the Southtown district on the south channel of the River Walk, but unless you're lodging nearby, it's easiest to drive or take a taxi there.) On select nights, jazz musicians jam at the funky brewery, but any day of the week newcomers can sample ales and lagers alongside the usual clientele of artisans and undergrads. Tickle your tongue with a preservative-free, sugar cane-sweetened orange cream soft drink, or choose from the plentitude of beers on tap, including the Texican, Blue Star's homage to Mexican-style lagers; phone (210) 212-5506.

Bohemian Southtown encompasses residential neighborhoods as well as the commercial corridors of S. Alamo, S. St. Mary's and S. Presa streets. While several nearby restaurants offer live entertainment and after-dinner dancing, the hip set practice their salsa and merengue moves at spicy establishments like Azúca Nuevo Latino , 709 S. Alamo St., and Rosario's , 910 S. Alamo St. Phone (210) 225-5550 for Azúca Nuevo Latino or (210) 223-1806 for Rosario's.

Outside the city, two music venues are especially worth the trip: Gruene Hall , about 40 minutes northeast of San Antonio in New Braunfels at 1281 Gruene Rd., and the John T. Floore Country Store , about 30 minutes northwest of town in Helotes at 14492 Old Bandera Rd. Cowboy boots still stomp weathered wood floors at the former, the state's oldest dance hall, while at the latter, a traditional Texas honky-tonk opened in 1942, audiences have swooned over the likes of Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and the King of Rock ‘n' Roll. Phone (830) 606-1281 for Gruene Hall or (210) 695-8827 for the John T. Floore Country Store.

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San Antonio, TX

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Travel Information

City Population

1,296,682

Elevation

650 ft.

Sales Tax

Municipalities may impose additional rates of up to 2 percent on the statewide 6.25 percent sales tax. Sales tax in the city of San Antonio is 8.25 percent; rates vary in the suburbs. The hotel occupancy tax is 16.75 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(210) 207-7273

Fire (non-emergency)

(210) 207-7744

Time

(210) 226-3232

Temperature

(830) 609-2029

Hospitals

Baptist Medical Center, (210) 297-7000; Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, (210) 757-2200; Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, (210) 297-3000; Northeast Baptist Hospital, (210) 297-2000; University Hospital, (210) 358-4000.

Visitor Information

317 Alamo Plaza San Antonio, TX 78205. Phone:(210)244-2000 or (800)447-3372

Air Travel

San Antonio International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz, (210) 841-8800 or (800) 654-3131, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

The Amtrak station is at 350 Hoefgen Ave.; for train schedule and ticket information phone (210) 223-3226 or (800) 872-7245.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus terminal is at 500 N. St. Mary's St.; phone (210) 270-5868 or (800) 231-2222.

Taxis

San Antonio taxis are metered. The average fare is $2.50 when you enter the cab plus $2.60 for each mile. A $1 surcharge is added for trips between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Four passengers can ride for a single fare. The major company is Yellow Cab, (210) 222-2222. Boat taxis travel the river's downtown loop daily 9-9 (weather permitting). A one-way fare is $10, an all-day fare is $12, and a 3-day fare is $25. Phone (210) 244-5700 or (800) 417-4139.

Public Transportation

VIA Metropolitan Transit provides public transportation consisting of buses and streetcars. Buses are routed through all sections of town; one bus even whisks shoppers from mall to mall on I-410. Express buses run daily from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. Vintage streetcars travel three main city routes daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or later, swinging by attractions, shopping areas and other key locations about every 10 minutes.

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