In the location of what is now Pearl, the J. B. Behloradsky Brewery, also known as the City Brewery, was founded in 1881. In 1883, a local investment group purchased the brewery as the San Antonio Brewing Company, later called the San Antonio Brewing Association. The first bottles and kegs of Pearl Beer were introduced in 1886, and by 1916, the facility was the largest brewery in Texas. Under the direction of Chief Executive Officer Emma Koehler, it was the only San Antonio Brewery to survive prohibition, and within 15 minutes of prohibition’s repeal in 1933, 100 trucks and 25 boxcars of Pearl Beer rolled out of the brewery grounds. After closing in 2001, the 22-acre brewery complex was sold for mixed-use development along the northern reach of the San Antonio River, now known as the River Walk’s Museum Reach.
This entire area encompasses a 375-acre master-planned location adjacent to downtown and the original River Walk, creating walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, including the transformation of South Broadway (SoBro) into a pedestrian-friendly street. In addition, Broadway has become a cultural corridor connecting the San Antonio Museum of Art, the San Antonio Botanical Garden, The DoSeum, the Witte Museum, the McNay Art Museum, the San Antonio Zoo and Brackenridge Park.
The San Antonio River begins on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word, founded in 1881 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, who came to San Antonio in 1869 to assist with treating a cholera outbreak. The recognized source of the river is the San Antonio Springs Blue Hole on the university’s main campus at the corner of Hildebrand and Broadway. Each year during the holidays, visitors and residents enjoy the thousands of Christmas lights that illuminate the campus.
Key Area Highlights
The 1.3-mile Museum Reach section of the River Walk offers paths for walking, biking and jogging bordered by native landscaping, whimsical public art displays and a lock-and-dam system at Brooklyn Street. Start at the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel, and while exploring, stop for food and drink at these uniquely San Antonio venues:
Ocho at the Hotel Havana serves food and cocktails rooted in the hotel's pan-Latin cultural influences.
VFW Post 76, a Victorian-style mansion housing “the oldest post in Texas,” includes a casual beer garden and live music.
The Brooklynite, an award-winning parlor, showcases premium spirits alongside house-made cordials, bitters and juices in craft cocktails.
The Luxury, a walk-up restaurant inside a cargo container, serves inventive sandwiches and craft beers.
Rosella Coffee Company, offering coffee, light food, beer, wine and Friday night live music.
Sam's Burger Joint, open daily for lunch and dinner, is a neighborhood hotspot for live music several nights a week.
The former brewery complex has a variety of innovative restaurants, fabulous boutiques and popular night spots. With 15 award-winning, acclaimed restaurants and cafes, 13 independent retailers and 18 resident businesses, Pearl is always full of life and activity. Hone your cooking skills and take a Boot Camp class at the Culinary Institute of America—San Antonio. The newest addition to Pearl’s impressive culinary scene is Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery. Southerleigh showcases a seasonal menu of Southern and coastal classics that are paired with a 21-tap
Pearl is also host to some great annual events, including Tamales! Holiday Festival in December, The Paella Challenge in March and Échale! Latino Music concerts during the summer. For those who want to eat a gourmet meal while shopping for organic, seasonal produce, try the Pearl Farmer’s Market on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Pearl also offers free concerts and movie screenings at the riverside Pearl Park Amphitheater.
Consider a stay at the luxurious Hotel Emma, located in a former 19th century brewhouse. The hotel’s architecture and interiors combine the historic building’s industrial aesthetic with South Texas luxury – all while capitalizing on its much-coveted River Walk location. Hotel Emma boasts three epicurean properties with offerings showcasing South Texas’ multicultural food ways and the unique bounty of San Antonio’s year-round producers. To round out the hotel’s culinary focus, the culinary concierge advises and curates guest experiences in-house and beyond.
Broadway Cultural Corridor
Revitalization is occurring rapidly on this stretch of Broadway from just north of downtown to Brackenridge Park. The new Mosaic apartment building houses SoBro Pizza Co., known for its Neapolitan-style pizza and craft beer selection. Tacos and Tequila, also in the Mosaic, features grilled food and hundreds of tequilas. Visit nearby Brown Coffee Co. for your morning brew, which Food Network host Alton Brown called the “best cup of coffee in the world.” Then head over to JoyRide Cycling Studio for an indoor cycling class. End the night with a cocktail at Stay Golden Social House.
Broadway Cultural Corridor Special Attractions
The 50-acre San Antonio Zoo houses 9,000 animals of 750 species and features interactive exhibits, including Africa Live!
The serene Japanese Tea Garden features a pagoda, waterfall, koi ponds and the Jingu House Cafe.
The DoSeum is San Antonio’s museum for children where kids learn by doing, creating and tinkering.
The San Antonio Museum of Art, in the former Lone Star Brewery, is known for its large collections of ancient Mediterranean, Asian and Latin-American art.
San Antonio Botanical Garden showcases plants from San Antonio and Texas, as well as other areas, all in a beautiful, walkable setting.
Brackenridge Park, open to the public since 1901, has a golf course, the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, a miniature train, trails, public art, picnic areas and more.
The Witte Museum, the premier museum of South Texas history, culture and natural science, is located adjacent to Brackenridge Park.
The McNay Art Museum, also part of this corridor, houses primarily 19th and 20th century European and American art in a Spanish colonial revival-style mansion.
Offbeat, unique or quirky finds:
Texas' largest solar installation is on top of Pearl’s Full Goods Building, which also recycles 100 percent of the rainwater collected on its roof.
The Museum Reach, an extension of the River Walk, features unique public art, including an exhibit called F.I.S.H. that includes 27 sunfish, all 7 feet long, swimming in the night sky under the I-35 overpass near Camden Street.
About 60,000 Mexican free-tailed bats live near the Camden St. Bridge along the River Walk’s Museum Reach.