Yee-haw! Buckle up for brilliant belting ride, San Antonio style!

“Let’s rodeo, San Antonio!” – cries fill the early spring air across Bexar County.

Deep in the heart of Texas, ranch craft remains very much USA's fastest-developing city’s stock in trade throughout the year.

And there's other reasons by the “bunch” – as they say round these parts – to make this Tex-Mex gem go-to Stateside vacation location for “y’all”.

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Not least family-friendly folk, consistently accommodating and warmly welcoming to a man, woman and pint-sized Stetson sporting child.

Fine food and drink, San Antonio style (Photo: food and drink, San Antonio style (Photo:
Fine food and drink, San Antonio style (Photo:

UK accents unfailingly break the ice faster than arching steeds unsaddle rookie riders.

Here you get more bucks for your buck, greater variety of value-for-money memorable experiences available than you can shake a cattle prod at.

There's never been a better time for us Brits to adopt a Lone Star State of mind.

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And nothing could be finer than to be – not in Carolina, but 1400 miles southwest at San Antonio – in the morning, noon and night.

The Alamo's architecture amazes (photo Alamo's architecture amazes (photo
The Alamo's architecture amazes (photo

Where to go

Forward planning next year's American dream break, saddle up now for iconic San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Hard on the spurred heels of the recent 75th anniversary, expect Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association finest to perform at their awesome award-winning best by bull taming, barrel racing, roping and bronc riding before music concert in arena usually resounding to Spurs basketball fans' cheers.

More than 6,000 volunteers annually welcome an estimated 1.5 million visitors, whose entertainment straddles all elements equestrian as well as Mutton Bustin’ spectacle that sees kids try – often fail – to stay aboard skittish sheep.

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Precious memories beckon at The Pearl Centre (photo memories beckon at The Pearl Centre (photo
Precious memories beckon at The Pearl Centre (photo

Make a date with Mexican-themed Noche de Vaquero, showcasing the country's 16th century official sport Charreria, combining hacienda dressage and exquisite costumes, mastering such disciplines as Cala de Caballo horse testing and death-defying ominously sounding Paso de la Muerte.

UK tourists can expect warmest of welcomes in the International Room with generous hospitality available to worldwide students, foreign military and fellow travellers from across the globe.

You can ride the range any time of year, courtesy Rancho Cortez, Bandera hill country dude destination deep in “Cowboy Capital of the World”, horseback trail rides, lasso lessons and longhorn cattle feeding all rekindling childhood memories of TV cult classics Gunsmoke, Rawhide and Bonanza.

John Wayne black and white big screen recollections are also revived by visiting Tejas Rodeo, a hidden horse husbandry gem secreted in the Bulverde area, award-winning steakhouse menu providing the truest taste of Texas.

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Riding the ranch range, Chris Page like a nine-stone cowboy (Photo: Paul Harris)Riding the ranch range, Chris Page like a nine-stone cowboy (Photo: Paul Harris)
Riding the ranch range, Chris Page like a nine-stone cowboy (Photo: Paul Harris)

The Alamo has, for three centuries, shaped its surroundings, having ignited independence battles and influenced American history. Tour the Spanish mission complex original footprint and church, exploring artefacts donated by rock star Phil Collins, whose lifetime interest started as a five-year-old’s fascination with Disney's Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier film.

“Capturing a transitional moment in history, frozen in time,” Mission San Jose is rightly crowned “Queen of the Missions,” the largest such restored site offering a unique insight into past communities congregating around the focal point church.

Housed in a historic building that was the first local library, Briscoe Western Art Museum is “dedicated to preservation, interpretation and creation of art of the American West”, complemented by the surrounding Sculpture Garden, further enhancing River Walk aesthetics.

Tower of the Americas takes you to great Hemisfair heights – 229 metres or 750 feet in old money – consisting sky-scraping observation tower and restaurant, architect O'Neil Ford’s World Fair structure tallest of its kind within the US for almost three decades after its 1968 construction.

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Riverside strolls don’t come any more civilised than through Blue Star Arts Complex-bordering King William Historic District, German immigrants’ mid-19th century settlement whose “Sauerkraut Bend” developed into an idyllic neighbourhood populated by Greek Revival, Victorian and Italianate mansions that build the "des" into "res" in some style.

Boatload of family-friendly fun is to be enjoyed aboard GO RIO cruises, River Walk watery transport of delight, discovering the very soul of rich history and heritage, impressive architecture and timeless cultural charm that abounds around.

Towwer of the Americas overshadows Instituto Cultural de Mexico (Photo of the Americas overshadows Instituto Cultural de Mexico (Photo
Towwer of the Americas overshadows Instituto Cultural de Mexico (Photo

Singing Cowboy Gene Autry’s The Yellow Rose Of Texas eyes may be “bright as diamonds” but Pearl district shines brighter still as the jewel in the city crown. Thriving and vibrant in equally impressive measure, this must-visit district paints a unique portrait of South Texas.

Where to dine (and wine!)

Mi Tierra, sharing My Homeland title with Cuban songbird Gloria Estefan’s third studio album, is equally enriched with salsa-spiced themes that burgeoned big style from Pete and Cruz Cortez’s 1941 three-table café for early-rising farmers and market workers launch to today's global landmark, restaurant, bakery and Mariachi music stage fronting Farmers Market Plaza’s 80 niche shops and El Mercado's 32 well-stocked stores.

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Right royal recommendation to savour American activist and nutritionist Adelle Davis's "Eat breakfast like a king” counsel comes in the senses-stimulating form of Casa Hernán Cantina, liberally dribbled with classic chic vibes. Showcasing in-house curated art and authentic furniture, genial gastro giant Johnny Hernandez’s project serves success on a plate Barbacoa brunch, smorgasbord of flavours for most discerning of carnivores.

Brothers José and David Cáceres are breadwinners par excellence, launching La Panadería café a decade ago to share their heritage and love for back-to-basics baking with adopted customers after finding fame and fortune in native Mexico City, far cry from boyhood humble origins selling mother Doña Josefina’s freshly baked loaves on street corners, pan dulce pastries today among assorted cornucopia of sweet treats to di(n)e for.

No time to dine? No worries! Eddie's Taco House enables hungry commuters to enjoy "to go” menu on the move or, reflecting many meat tacos and tortillas, on the hoof. Think Chicken Quesadillas to Queso Flameado, Cortadillo and Carne Guisada to Chilaquiles with Pork Chops, Machacado to Migas, Tres Leches Cake to silk-soft Sopapillas. And, for parched passengers, road trip refreshments including intoxicating Micheladas, Mojitos, Margaritas and Martinis.

Cowboy chaps and boots, wagon wheels and weathered saddles abound alongside wholly appropriate "ten-gallon" hats throughout Crockett Tavern, Mad Dogs Restaurant Group hotel saloon celebrating storied frontiersman Davy, revelling in Wild West memorabilia, country music and good ol' fashioned Southern hospitality in appealing shape of such dishes as Chipotle Shrimp Scampi, Lost Prairie Chicken Tenders, Beer Battered Cactus Fries, Vaquero Nachos and, echoing Nineties US comedy-drama box office hit, Fried Green Tomatoes.

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Box St. All Day, catering company food truck, so popular it became current feminine-friendly location, does exactly what it says on the Mesquite Mustard tin, delivering early morning to late night quality cuisine from doughnuts and curated Expresso bar coffee - stronger than burliest of buckaroos - to celebratory bubbles, signature cocktails and craft beer nightcaps, cycle and canine-friendly patio offering window on waiting world, nearby Leon Creek Trailway included.

Limestone walled Boudro’s Texas bistro has since 1986 stood centre stage among River Walk's eclectic eateries, pride of place prime position alongside gently rolling waters, prickly pear margaritas among range of extensive cellar refreshments washing down portions faithful to "everything is bigger in Texas" truism, tableside guacamole preparation presentation - all smashed avocado, chopped cilantro, chili, onion, tomato, lime and lemon juice - particular pleasure to dip into.

RE:ROOTED 210 Urban Winery & Tasting Room, sommelier owner Jen Beckmann's dream turned reality, comprises impressive kegged system serving on-tap whites, red and rosés by the glass or growler, "accessible for every day enjoyment, not tucked away in the back of a cellar," complemented by selection or similarly local grown cider and mead.

El Honky Tonk Western bar, meanwhile, is awash with authentic Texan taste, bottled beers imbibed to foot-stompin' soundtrack. Channelling some aged Cockney rockers ... gimme, gimme, gimme those blues.

Where to stay

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Centrally located waterside Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk’s newly renovated rooms and suites accommodate visitors among beating heart of downtown entertainment, cultural and historic hub. Boasting on-site bars and restaurants, shops and spa, temperature-regulated rooftop swimming pool and sundeck affords aerial views aplenty while the 2,800 square feet fitness centre offers round-the-clock cardio equipment and studio classes, guests also geared up for Peloton bikes.

Way to go

Virgin Atlantic Delta operates frequent flights regularly from across the UK, Premium upgrades enjoyably enhancing the whole holiday experience from take-off to landing.