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San Antonio may never forget the Alamo, but African Americans have also left an indelible stamp on this Texas city. In fact, blacks have been in San Antonio since the early 1500s, when Africans were brought to the area by the Spaniards. Many of them were freed by the late 1700s and began making inroads into San Antonio’s society.
- Who’s Who: The city’s first black mayor, Victor Blanco, was elected in 1809. And William E. Goyens, an escaped slave, became the first black Texas millionaire.
- Where to Worship: Founded in 1866, St. Paul United Methodist Church (210-227-2525) is the oldest African American church in San Antonio.
- Cultural Sites: San Antonio’s St. Paul Square was where black businesses first sprung up. A large number of Buffalo Soldiers are buried in the San Antonio Cemetery. And the Alamo (210-225-1391)-the fort defended by black soldiers-is a must. For a lesson in San Antonio’s black history, visit the Institute of Texan Cultures (210-458-2300). Another city highlight, the missions (210-932-1001), can be enjoyed by contacting the National Park Service.
- Malls and More: Ingram Park Mall (210-684-9570) is a popular black shopping area. But for high-end stores and designer wear, hit the Rivercenter Mall (210-225-0000) and North Star Mall (210-366-2447). And don’t miss the Riverwalk (210-227-4262), where stores, eateries and clubs line the San Antonio River.
- Tee Off: Gold Willow Springs Golf Course (210-226-6721) is a popular championship municipal course.
- Martinis and More: Sip a Cosmopolitan martini at the Swig Martini Bar (210-476-0005) or head to the Esquire (210-222-2520) where you’ll find Texas’ longest bar. The stately Esquire, modeled after the British House of Lords, was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt. For a mix of cigars, cocktails and live lounge music, stop at Polos, located in the exclusive Fairmount Hotel (210-800-996-3426).
- Night Spots: Prime Time (210-648-3659) serves up R&B and urban sounds nightly and it’s Top 40 and Rhythm and Blues at Midtown Lounge (210-224-1122). For jazz lovers, hang out at Landing Jazz Club (210-223-7266).
- Good Eats: It’s finger-licking barbecue at Bob’s Bar B-Q (210-333-9611). And for fish in a casual atmosphere, hit any of the Black-owned Baysea’s Fish Market (210-337-3858) around town.
- Kiddie Korner: Have a private poolside dinner with Shamu, the killer whale, at Sea World of San Antonio (800-700-7786), the largest Sea World in the West. For a few extra bucks, get a private behind-the-scenes view.
- Sleepy Time: While the Omni San Antonio (800-843-6664) and La Mansion del Rio Hotel (800-292-7300) are the city’s best-known business hotels, luxury beams at the historic Havana (210-222-2008) where rooms go up to $600 nightly. The Menger (210-223-4561) is thought to be the flashiest hotel in town.
- Details: Surf over to www.sanan toniocvb.com or www.blacktexas.com. Also, order the free San Antonio African American Visitors Guide by calling 800-447-3372.