Sweet Land of Liberty: Guide to Military Travel

By: Erica I. Peña-Vest


When I was a little girl, I use to sleep with my most treasured possessions under my bed.  As an only child, sharing wasn’t a consideration so I figured that keeping them close assured that they belonged to me and only me.  As a travel writer, I’ve always loved sharing details about all the wonderful destinations I get to visit throughout the United States, but this story is different.  Although I can’t wait to tell you about this treasure of a destination, the little girl in me still wishes I could hide it under my bed so that it would be mine and just mine.  My dear readers, my favorite of all the destinations I’ve ever visited is San Antonio, Texas.

A family city at its very core, San Antonio is a large city with a small town personality.  People are friendly and the city is easy to navigate.  Yet, it has all the benefits of a big city – you would be hard-pressed to find better food anywhere else and they have every kind of entertainment you can imagine under one city roof.   If you are traveling with your family and are looking for an amusement park adventure, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Sea World both call San Antonio home.  If you are looking to discover a piece of American history, discover personalities like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie at the Alamo.    If you want to enjoy a romantic weekend with a loved one, you can’t miss the San Antonio Riverwalk.  Consisting of a series of walkways along the San Antonio River located one story below street level, this beautiful grotto is lined with shops, restaurants, pubs and beautiful gardens, and is the #1 tourist attraction in the State of Texas.

During my recent trip to San Antonio, I stayed at the Hotel Contessa, which is a beautiful, all-suite hotel located along the Riverwalk.  Their rooms are spacious and elegant, with fantastic vistas of the city.  From my room I could see all of downtown laid out in front of me, and could watch the colorful Riverwalk tour boats pass under my window.  Best of all for you and me, they offer great military discounts, including a per diem package that includes lodging and meals at the government per diem rate.  With a great restaurant, Las Ramblas, located on site that caters to couples and children alike, and their perfect location on the river, they are a great hotel for families or a romantic weekend getaway.

While in San Antonio, you must visit Market Square.  Why travel to Mexico (which isn’t smart to do these days) when you can have a two-nation vacation right in downtown San Antonio?  Market Square, also known as “El Mercado”, is a Mexican marketplace filled with authentic Mexican crafts, food, music, gifts, clothing and much, much more.  Taking up three square blocks, it is the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico and I recommend you save time to see it all.

The highlight of Market Square is the food.  My favorite destination would not be complete without my favorite restaurant.  In this case, my two favorite restaurants are located in San Antonio – La Margarita and Mi Tierra Café.  Both located in Market Square, these two restaurants both stand out for their incredible food, reasonable prices, amazing service and unforgettable atmosphere. 

Mi Tierra Café is a San Antonio staple.  Open 24 hours a day, they serve the best breakfast in town, and with a seating capacity of over 500, you will never have to wait long.  Despite the size, Mi Tierra has the feel of a small Mexican cafe on the other side of the border.  The walls are covered with 70 years of history in this third generation family owned business that give the café a flavor that can’t be mimicked anywhere else.

Just down the square, La Margarita is the place to go when you feel like kicking up your boots and having a good time, where every night feels like a fiesta.  A rich atmosphere, indoor and outdoor dining and live music make La Margarita a fantastic place to celebrate any occasion, but the food really sets it apart from the competition.  The menu contains all the usual Mexican staples, but you can’t miss their charcoal grill and their seafood.  My personal favorite is a mix of both, the grilled gulf shrimp that can be ordered either by themselves or as part of a botana.

I have traveled extensively into Mexico and can tell you that you won’t find more authentic Mexican food than at these two restaurants.  Add in the colorful atmosphere and the sound of the mariachis playing in the background and for a moment you can forget you are still in the United States.  If you visit San Antonio and do not eat at one of these two restaurants, your visit will be incomplete. 

Mark Twain once said that San Antonio was one of America’s most unique cities and he was right.  What makes San Antonio stand out above all others is that it offers a one of a kind travel experience that you can’t find anywhere else.  It’s not that most of the things in town couldn’t be found elsewhere.  It’s that if they are, they don’t have the same feel.  The city has a spirit, a vibrancy that stays with you long after you’re gone.  The colors of market square, the lights of the Riverwalk at night and the smell of the food will haunt you like a familiar friend beckoning you to return.  That is what makes San Antonio my favorite place.  Meet you there!

For more information on San Antonio or military discounts around the U.S., log on to www.guidetomilitarytravel.com for more details.


MilitaryConnection.com is proud to be featuring the travel articles of Erica I. Pena-Vest to our users. Erica is a travel industry veteran with over ten years of experience in public and media relations. Erica has worked with hundreds of travel writers before becoming one herself in 2004. As a Navy wife, Erica understands the needs of military families and focuses her research and articles to travel deals for those in the armed services. Erica’s travel column is appropriated titled “Sweet Land of Liberty”. MilitaryConnection.com works hard to bring a multitude of resources and information to our audience. This site has thousands of pages of resources and information. There is something for everyone. Users refer to MilitaryConnection.com, as the “the Go To Site” for the military and veteran communities. When the next tour is back home, it’s on MilitaryConnection.com