27 San Antonio

PopulationMetro: 2,473,974
Rich in distinctly Texan attractions, San Antonio is a place for all seasons (and reasons).

The genius of San Antonio is that ever since 1941, it has sagely leveraged, grown and enhanced its greatest asset and attraction: the River Walk.

The idyllic pedestrian promenade along the San Antonio River, extended from three to 15 miles in 2013, is a scenic urban lifeline that connects visitors to everywhere they want to be and anchors the city’s #8 ranking for Attractions among America’s large cities. On one end of the RiverWalk, there’s the UNESCO World Heritage Alamo site and the five colonial missions, key players in a #22 finish for Culture.

On the other, the San Antonio Zoo, and in between, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Texas Golf Walk of Fame, and dozens of other curiosities, eclectic stops and riverside cafés.

Place 44
Product 19
Programming 17
People 44
Prosperity 37
Promotion 15

Increasingly, Pearl is a destination within the destination: a mixed-use space in a former brewery, it’s a beguiling blend of retail, dining, offices, a riverside amphitheatre, events and a campus of the Culinary Institute of America. Around the esteemed school, a host of grads and chefs have clustered, creating a smorgasbord of choices from Italian to ’cue to bakery to vegetarian cuisine.

There’s the year-round Farmers’ market, the Hotel Emma, the modern reincarnation of a 19th-century brewhouse, and its restaurants, arbiters of local taste. San Antonio ranks an impressive #8 in our Restaurants subcategory and #24 for Nightlife, a tribute to the wealth of nocturnal options and to the city’s #11 finish for Weather.

Hotel Emma Scott Martin