Whether moving to San Antonio or just planning on hanging out there for a while, it’s key to know where you’re going. This San Antonio Neighborhood Guide breaks down the main neighborhoods of this vibrant city, offering up the basics on each one.
Several of these neighborhoods also boast lively destinations for entertainment of every ilk. To get the details on each of the listed hotspots for each neighborhood, visit our San Antonio nightlife section. Many of the listed restaurants in the sections also feature descriptions on our San Antonio restaurants page.
Reputation: Pretty, upscale suburb with a pulse. Main Drag: Broadway. Lowdown: Not technically a San Antonio neighborhood, the incorporated City of Alamo Heights is one of the most appealing places to live in San Antonio. Snazzy boutiques, antique stores, great restaurants and mom-and-pop shops line the pretty streets in the thriving business district, setting a stage that everyone from fashionistas to families can enjoy. The majority of the homes in Alamo Heights are worth going green with envy over. Hotspots: Rebar, Revolution Room, Club 50/50, Hangar, Dixies, Thirsty Turtle, Posh Ultra Lounge, Red Eye.
Reputation: The Crossroads of San Antonio. Main Drag: Fredericksburg Road. Lowdown: A small, pear-shaped city at the intersection of Loop 410 and Interstate 10, Balcones Heights is considered the by many to be the crossroads of San Antonio. It’s a lively destination that’s home to the aptly named Crossroads Mall, the Norris Conference Center, the massive Super Target, TexSan Heart Hospital and a variety of other new, large businesses. The jazz festival that takes place here annually is not to be missed, as is the annual Cowboy Breakfast, a one-day event that draws over 60,000 people. Another great thing about Balcones Heights is that it has its fair share of nightspots for after-dark enthusiasts. Hotspots: Dave & Busters, Bunratty Pub, Graham Central Station, I Don’t Know Yet Lounge, Whiskey Smith, Bogey’s Club, Club Antro.
Reputation: Calm, quaint and residential. Main Drags: Lockhill Selma Road and West Avenue. Lowdown: Incorporated in 1951, Castle Hills began as and still remains a largely residential area. There is an array of private schools in the area, making it a very family-centric neighborhood. Other organizations and associations that contribute to the small-town vibe include the Women’s Club, the Garden Club, the Castle Hills HOA and other committees attracting active community members. There isn’t much in the way of nightlife or things to do in this nice San Antonio neighborhood, but its location on 410 affords easy access to the rest of San Antonio and there is a nice selection of unique restaurants. Restaurants: Pappasito’s Mexican Grill, La Scala, The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, La Fogata.
Reputation: Retro district for shopping and dining. Main Drag: Fredericksburg Road. Lowdown: The Deco District is a vibrant San Antonio neighborhood on Fredericksburg Road in the heart of the Old Spanish Trail. Thousands cruise this historic strip on a daily basis by virtue of its thoroughfare location, so recent years have seen major efforts to revitalize the once empty and boarded up buildings that defined the district. New businesses and a bright, lively style ala the 50s revival are putting the commercial-only Deco District on the map as more than just a pass-through on the way to Balcones Heights or the Medical Center. Destinations: Woodlawn Theater, Cool Crest Miniature Golf Course, Tabooze.
Reputation: Where the fun is at in San Antonio. Main Drags: East Houston, East Commerce and West Market streets (all are stumbling distance from one another). Lowdown: This is the beating heart of San Antonio. The downtown/River Walk neighborhood in San Antonio is where are the famous sites are, including the Alamo, the San Fernando Cathedral and the missions of the San Antonio Mission Trail, not to mention some of the city’s best shops, nightlife spots and restaurants. As a result of the massive amount of tourist-appeal in this area, most locals opt to live outside of downtown’s high-rise apartments and lofts, coming into the area only for dining and late night revelry. Favorite dining spots in downtown include Oro, Houston Street Bistro, La Reve and the Chart House. After dining, visit Sip for coffee and tortes that are worth craving at any given moment. Hotspots: Howl at the Moon, Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub, V Bar, Zen Bar, Zinc.
Far Northwest – La Cantera & The Dominion
Reputation: Big money, beautiful estates and world-class golf. Lowdown: Located in the Far Northwest area of San Antonio is the city’s first Master Planned Community, La Cantera (Spanish for "the quarry"). A prime growth area, it's a mix of housing, parks, shopping, dining, schools and community services. La Cantera's higher than average home prices are offset by the plentiful amenities and gorgeous hill country views. A notable enclave is The Dominion, a wealthy, exclusive golf course community where wrestler Steve Austin, singer George Strait and a few San Antonio Spurs basketball players own sprawling estates. New construction abounds outside Loop 1604, making many housing options available. A short commute links La Cantera and the surrounding area to the city's center. Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Sea World amusement parks are part of the landscape. Destinations: The Shops at La Cantera (a to-die-for open-air mall), Leon Springs Dance Hall.
Reputation: Small town charm and an historic live music destination. Main Drag: Old Bandera Road. Lowdown: A family-oriented San Antonio suburb, Helotes is settled at the very beginning of Hill Country. Abundant parklands combine with the historic charm of this incorporated city to provide a warm and scenic setting. The community here remains active, with holiday celebrations, outdoor art and farmers markets in Old Town Helotes, and festivals like the wildly popular, annual Cornyval. The city’s residents also feel great affection for the historic Floore Country Store, a live music venue where live music carries on regularly as it has for over 60 years. The Store also boasts a great café serving up excellent barbecue. Hotspots: Floore Country Store, Grey Moss Inn Restaurant, Tryst.
Reputation: Comfortable, mostly residential. Lowdown: What began as an escape destination for residents of the King William District and other wealthy areas that were tired of the big city vibes encroaching on their lives is now a fairly blossomed residential community. Highland park is one of the older neighborhoods in San Antonio, with many of the old houses from the ‘20s still standing. This is also where one will find the majority of San Antonio apartment communities for the elderly. A few family-friendly restaurants give residents comfortable dining options near home. Restaurants: Little Red Barn, Browns Mexican food, J Anthony’s Seafood Café.
Reputation: 14,000 square miles of beautiful hills, fields, tumbling streams, unique towns and old-school Southern charm. Lowdown: Hill Country is held dearly in the hearts of many Texans. The rolling hills and rocky terrain provide a tranquil alternative to the sprawling cities and lonely flatlands of Texas. North of San Antonio, this beautiful area is home to several smaller towns and cities. Hill Country Village is an incorporated city in Hill Country with a quaint, country-residential feel and large lots of land. Just outside of Hill Country Village is a popular destination known as Artisans’ Alley, which boasts boutiques, antique stores, jewelry stores, small galleries and restaurants. Also in Hill Country is Fredericksburg, one of the most visited destinations in all of Texas. Other highly noteworthy small towns in Hill Country include Bandera, Gruene (pronounced “green”) and New Braunfels.
King William Historic District/Southtown
Reputation: San Antonio’s funky, yet fun, neighborhood. Main Drag: South Alamo Street. Lowdown: San Antonio’s King William District, a part of Southtown, wears many hats; old, new and hip are just a few of them. It began as an elegant residential area in the late 1800’s, then it was ignored and allowed to decay, then it became Texas’ first Historic Neighborhood District in 1967. In recent years, the King William Historic District has seen an influx of new business owners who are bringing galleries, restaurants and museums, and urban types who are into refurbishing the historical homes. Now a more hip and unique destination for locals, King William/Southtown art galleries, boutiques and restaurants play host to a fun (and exceedingly popular), bohemian monthly evening event known as (and hosted on the) First Friday. Hotspots: Blue Star Brewing Company, Rosario’s, La Tuna.
Reputation: Historic homes left and right. Lowdown: A neighborhood that that technically resides in the King William District, Lavaca is the oldest neighborhood in San Antonio. Many of the city’s historic homes exist in this little enclave in Southtown, though many of them are still abandoned. For quite some time, Lavaca’s abundance of abandoned and crumbling homes made it a hotbed of crime. But reclamation efforts have revitalized this area in many ways, improving the homes, creating museums and building numerous galleries. Destinations: Sosa Galleries, Guenther House.
Reputation: Elegant and moneyed. Main Drag: North Saint Mary’s Street. Lowdown: Monte Vista Historic District is filled with striking mansion estates that were built between 1890 and 1930 by oilmen and cattle barons. Viewing of the homes alone, many of which boast Victorian, Tudor, Neoclassical or Italian Renaissance architecture, is worth the drive through this neighborhood, although it’s likely to make many green with envy (roads with great home-viewing potential include East Gramercy, West Agarita and East French). Located just slightly north of downtown San Antonio, this neighborhood is more family-centric, with community-wide annual events like Easter egg hunts and Fourth of July celebrations among others. Many of the area’s most renowned bed & breakfasts are located here, as well as an array of excellent restaurants. Hotspots: Salute International Bar, Limelight, White Rabbit, Casbeers, Joey’s, Demo’s Greek Restaurant.
North East/North Central
Reputation: Predictable and simple. Lowdown: The North East/North Central area of San Antonio growing rapidly with that cookie cutter predictability of urban sprawl. Brand new, similarly styled strip malls filled with chain stores and chain restaurants provide the influx of residents, who occupy modern housing developments, with all their basic shopping and dining needs, and the excellent school district serving the neighborhoods within this area is responsible for a large population of families. The San Antonio neighborhoods most often lumped into the North East/North Central zone include Cibolo, Northwood and Oak Park. Destinations: Cibolo Nature Center.
Reputation: Where doctors, students and tourists find common ground. Main Drag: No small-town type of main drag to speak of, but the main artery is Interstate 10. Lowdown: With Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the University of Texas San Antonio and the South Texas Medical Center all located in this area, Northwest San Antonio is a unique setting where many aspects of life collide. This area is centrally located within roughly a 20-minute drive of almost anywhere in the city limits, making its abundant selection of townhomes, condos, duplexes and four-plexes a comfortable choice for families, students and Medical Center employees. Abundant restaurants yield an array of cuisine types for neighborhood residents to enjoy whether they’re on a college budget or a doctor’s paycheck, and there are several options for entertainment in the surrounding area. Hotspots: Fox & Hound Pub & Grill, The Irish Pub San Antonio, O’Malley’s Sports & Spirits, Hooligan’s Bar & Grill, Flying Saucer, Nice Rack San Antonio.
Reputation: Pretty and posh. Main Drags: McCullough Avenue and Olmos Drive. Lowdown: A stylish incorporated city in San Antonio, Olmos Park is a haven for those in search of boutiques, galleries, high-end restaurants and upscale living environs. The homes in Olmos Park range from quaint and moderately priced to upwards of $1 million, with one apartment district of about 250 units providing the least expensive housing. There are several private and public schools serving the area. Four parks offer lush settings for afternoon strolls and the city’s many community social events. Restaurants: Bistro Vatel, Cio Lavanderia, Shiraz, Jim’s Café & Coffee Bar, Panchito’s Mexican Restaurant.
South Flores (SoFlo)
Reputation: San Antonio’s artistic side. Main Drag: South Flores Street. Lowdown: Catering heavily to artistic types with the neo-industrial setting, South Flores (or SoFlo) is home to an array of lofts, townhomes, art studios and entertainment destinations that occupy the once dilapidated, early 20th century buildings. The South Flores Arts District consists of many galleries and performance spaces, many of which frequently boast live music, film screenings and theatrical performances. Many of the spaces also have regular openings on the monthly art walk event known as (and hosted on the) Second Saturday. Art Galleries & Performance Spaces: Fl!ght, Gallista, Lonestar Studios, One9Zero6, Salon Mijangos.