Gay San Antonio
Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
Effective March 20th, Texas Governor Greg Abbott had signed an executive order to ban gatherings of 10 or more, and dining-in restaurants. Gyms were closed, along with bars.
In May retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums, libraries and bars began to reopen - but on June 26th Abbott shut down bars to contain a state-wide Texas coronavirus spike, expressing regret about the reopening process he'd encouraged, allowing bars to open so quickly. Restaurant capacity was reduced back to 50%, and outdoor gatherings of over 100 people have again been banned, unless approved by local officials.
In a major reversal to take effect July 3rd, Abbot ordered face coverings to be worn in public across most of the state, in an effort to control rising numbers of newly confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus hospitalizations. The order requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive Covid-19 cases, with few exceptions.” Violators can be fined up to $250.
People always remember the Alamo, but there's a lot more to this sprawling metropolis in southeastern Texas. Into history? Visit one of the interesting Spanish missions. Just want to put your feet up? Boats ply the waters of River Walk, an artificial waterway lined with interesting eateries. When the weather is pleasant, there's no better place to be than on one of the tree-shaded patio bars overlooking the water.
Most of the gay nightlife scene takes place on or around "The Strip" of the North Central neighborhood of North Main and San Pedro avenues, in Tobin Hill near San Antonio College, north of downtown. Pride San Antonio has events all year, including the "Pride Bigger Than Texas" June festivities with a Saturday festival at Crockett Park, and a Sunday 9pm parade kicking off from Dewey Place at North Main. Their QFest LGBT film festival screens over three days in mid-October at City Base Cinema 10. Austin, the Texas state capital, just over an hours drive north on I-35, also has many LGBTQ attractions, resources and events - see our guide to the city.
San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is about 12 miles from downtown. VIA Metropolitan Transit has local bus service to downtown for $1.30 on route 5, operating every day into downtown San Antonio, a trip of about 30 minutes. The bus stop is located at the far west end of Terminal B. For shared shuttle vans into the downtown area at $15 each way see SA Airports Shuttle. Taxi fares into downtown typically start at $29; catch one at the lower level curbside, just outside the Terminal A and B baggage claim area.
If you're staying outside downtown, a car is a must for getting around San Antonio most of the day. In town three VIA streetcar lines cover most of the center, for just $1.30 per trip (Express Bus $2.60), or $2.75 for an all-day pass. Transfers cost an extra 15 cents, and must be purchaed with the ticket. Their website has maps, schedules and a pass-purchase store. A phone app can tell you when the next bus is scheduled to arrive, but service ends between 9pm and 12:30am, so grab a taxi, a lift, or walk from the bars after that.
Media & Resources
GayDFW has Gayborhood tips and events listings.
The San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce website has info on all kinds of local businesses and a calendar of events.
The San Antonio Current is the weekly alternative paper for news, arts and entertainment listings and reviews, including the gay community here, with good photos of annual Pride events.
Pride San Antonio has events all year, with big festivities each June.
There are several gay-friendly options in and around the Kings William neighborhood, near River Walk and the Alamo. See more hotels & guesthouses in our maps & listings pages.
Arbor House Suites (109 Arciniega; 210-472-2005), five stately houses linked by a lush garden courtyard. Seven suites, each with its own unique décor, and named in honor of San Antonio heroes; sitting rooms, private baths, intimate balconies, patios and porches.
Brackenridge House B&B (230 Madison; 210-271-3442), gay-friendly five-room guesthouse 2 blocks from the Riverwalk, gourmet breakfasts, parking and WIFI.
Emily Morgan Hotel (705 E Houston St; 210 225-5100), 177 boutique hotel rooms across from the Alamo; city views, Oro Restaurant, pool, WiFi.
Hotel Havana (1015 Navarro St; 210-222-2008), 27 retro-chic antique-filled rooms and suites in 1914 Mediterranean Revival building near Tobin Performing Arts Center, with grand and colorful history. Ocho Restaurant Mexican, Cuban and Texan-influenced meals, glass-enclosed veranda overlooking River Walk; dark and intimate candle-lit basement Havana Bar.
Hotel Valencia Riverwalk (150 E Houston St; 210-227-9700), gay-friendly 213-room hotel near restaurants, shops, and entertainment, private baths,
King William Manor (1037 S Alamo St; 210-222-0144),12-room gay-friendly B&B near attractions, private baths, new pool, full breakfast, WiFi.
The St Anthony Hotel by Wyndham (300 East Travis St; 210-227-4392), 1909 luxury elegance, landmark hotel with 352 rooms and suites; city views, fitness and business centers, restaurants, club lounges and rooftop bar, outdoor heated pool and cabana bar, full-service concierge.
Bars and clubs
2015 Place (2015 San Pedro), central LGBT/mixed neighborhood bar/lounge, pool tables, darts, videos, jukebox, shaded patio.
Annex (330 San Pedro Avenue), men's cruise bar, bears, cowboys, leather groups, darts, burgers on Sunday. Home bar to bear and leather groups, gay darts and pool leagues, plus locals of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association.
Bonham Exchange (411 Bonham), big, busy multi- level River Walk dance club, mixed crowd, drag shows, go-go boys, guest porn stars, Sunday shows, and patio theme parties; sponsors of the Mr Texas Cowboy contest in February.
Club Essence (1010 N Main Ave), Wednesday through Saturday male strippers/pole dancers and guest porn stars perform and mingle, amateur nights, men/women mixed clientele; relaxed/casual vibe, karaoke, pool tables, covered patio grill.
Cobalt (2022 N Mccullough Ave), friendly gay/mixed Tobin Hills neighborhood bar, jukebox, pool table, patio.
Heat (1500 North Main), Saturday dance club, after-hours on weekends, video lounge; heated patio, all-male revue dancers, guest porn stars, drag shows, Sunday cookouts, Backdoor Wednesdays with sexy bartenders and half-naked men, holiday specials.
Ivory Lounge (5152 Fredericksburg Rd), upscale video martini lounge, Friday/Saturday DJ sets, men/women mixed crowd
Pegasus (1402 North Main), cruise, dance, video club, courtyard and stage shows, karaoke bar, leather-sports-country music bar, darts, pool tables, drag shows. Sunday beer bust/ cook-out. A Protest the Peg LGBTQ community boycott has been called, citing the Log Cabin Republican owner's support for Trump policies.
SA Country Saloon (10127 Coachlight), gay/mixed locals' bar, country-western music/dancing, comedy and karaoke nights.
Silver Dollar (1812 North Main), stage shows, drag, dancing, lively gay mix of cowboys, Latinos, men and women; large patio, pool tables, variety of music.
Sparks Club (8011 Webbles Dr), locals' neighborhood bar, friendly welcome, TV sports, karaoke, shows, back patio.
Sparkys Pub (1416 N Main Ave), old English-style neighborhood gay pub cafe and wine bar, game room, two patios; popular with after-work crowd, late lunch served after 3pm, deli sandwiches, home-made soups, salads and deserts.
Wax Club Lounge (2211 San Pedro Ave), women-focused alternative/goth live music and dance club, all welcome; DJs, theme nights, patio.
CLOSED: One-O-Six (106 Pershing Av), local hangout popular with Mexican guys; Saint Show Bar (800 Lexigton St), drag divas, go-go boys, 18+ dance crowd.
Alternative Club/ ACI (827 E Elmira St), sauna/steam faciilites, plus hot tub, tanning sundeck, covered patio, free weights and excercise machine, TV lounges, bunk room; military guys in the mix.
CLOSED: Executive Health Club (402 Austin St), basic facilities, overnight "hotel" popular with local guys.
Candlelight Coffeehouse (3011 N St Mary's), laid-back coffeehouse, lunch and dinner, appetizers, sandwiches and entrees, gourmet desserts, wines, ports, champagnes and beers, Saturday and Sunday brunch, live music, shady patio.
Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery (3920 Harry Wurzbach Rd), European-style fine dining amid trees, ponds, and waterfalls; seafood, pasta, beef, and chicken, lunch or dinner every day. Voted one of Esquire Magazine's best 100.
Five Points Local (1017 N Flores St), vegetarian/vegan all-day breakfast, coffee bar, lunch and dinner, sweet treats, Sunday brunch, Paleo options; also yoga classes.
Luther's Cafe (1503 N Main Ave), "San Antonio's Best Burgers" for over 64 years, tacos, meatloaf, stews and chili, lunch/ dinner, late snacks, patio; open Friday/Saturday until 3am.
Mad Hatter's Tea (320 Beauregard St), big breakfasts daily, lunch soups, salads and sandwiches, Saturday and Sunday brunch; many teas, decious cakes and pastries, beer, wine and Mimosas..
Rosario's (910 S Alamo + 9715 San Pedro), Mexican cafes/ cantinas, lunch and dinner; always crowded, good food at reasonable prices, signature cocktails.
Web House Cafe & Bar (320 Blanco Rd), underground/alternative crowd hangout, restaurant, bar and internet cafe, DJs and MCs music.
Three large area mall centers should fulfill most any shopping needs or urges, each with 100-200 stores, and including large name-brand department stores, fashions, electronics, food courts and cinema entertainment: North Star Mall (Shearer Hills/ Ridgeview); Rivercenter Mall (Downtown/ River Walk); and the largest of them, The Shops at la Cantera (Northwest Side).
Zebraz (1608 North Main Av), has rainbow and pride merchandise, funky club wear, DVDs and CDs, flavored lubes, and designer label underwear.
CLOSED: Encore Video (1031 NE Loop 410), large erotic VHS and DVD movie selection, music CDs, lubes, apparel and toys.