Celebrating the Tricentennials of San Antonio and New Orleans

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San Antonio and New Orleans are both celebrating their 300th anniversaries this year, and inviting visitors to sample each city’s rich history and culture.

Founded as a Spanish mission in 1718, San Antonio is the oldest municipality in Texas. The city maintains a strong connection to its past with sites like the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and the Alamo, site of an 1836 battle between Mexican troops and Texans fighting for independence from Mexico. While the defenders were overpowered, “Remember the Alamo!” became a rallying cry, and today the former Spanish mission, a symbol of courage and sacrifice, is among Texas’ biggest tourist attractions.

The River Walk, a park and network of walkways along the San Antonio River, connects many of the city’s attractions, including its Spanish colonial missions. Visitors will also find numerous shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and nature areas along the River Walk. It’s also the site of special events, like the Labor Day Artisan Show from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, and Drift and Dine, from Sept. 25-27, when boats float along the river, making stops at restaurants along the way.

As part of the 300th anniversary festivities, the San Antonio Museum of Art will display paintings from some of Madrid’s leading museums. The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 16, includes works that have never before traveled to the United States. Throughout the month of September, 60 San Antonio artists will display work focused on the city’s history and culture by creating small personal shrines popular in the Southwest.

New Orleans was founded by the French in 1718 and then ceded to Spain. Today, the city revels in a vibrant mix of cultures, reflected in its architecture, Cajun and Creole cuisine and musical traditions. Spend some time in the French Quarter, famous for its cafes, bars and restaurants, to enjoy a beignet and listen to New Orleans jazz. Historic Jackson Square is home to St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere, which houses a collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia, and the Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803.

In the charming Garden District, visitors will find oak-lined streets and homes that range from simple cottages to mansions. Spend some time browsing in the boutiques and antique shops along Magazine Street. Also in the area is the National World War II Museum, which focuses on Americans’ wartime experiences. Current exhibits include “So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope,” which tells the story of his trips to entertain the troops.

The city’s 300th anniversary events range from an exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art opening in October that features paintings from the collection of the Duke of Orleans, to a festival on Nov. 17 at the Old U.S. Mint celebrating French culture with music, wine and cheeses from around the world, to Luna Fete, a festival of lights throughout December that celebrates the city’s iconic architecture.

For help planning a trip to San Antonio or New Orleans –­ or both – ­­­­contact your travel agent.

Katie HoranComment