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San Antonio’s “Central Park,” Brackenridge served as a Confederate tannery, stone quarry, and a key part of the city’s waterworks before the heart of it was deeded to the city by George Brackenridge in 1899. The park is home to lofty tree canopies, the San Antonio River’s headwaters, bicycle trails, bits and pieces of the old Spanish acequias, and an assortment of excellent day-trip options such as the San Antonio Zoo, the recently restored Japanese Tea Garden, a golf course, and playground, as well as being sited just downhill from the San Antonio Botanical Garden to the East. The Witte Museum, with its kid-friendly historic and hands-on exhibitions, is located adjacent to the park, too.
Eisenhower Park, south of Camp Bullis on Northwest Military Drive, is a 320-acre natural area that provides excellent examples of Texas Hill Country landscapes, including wooded dry creek beds and rocky canyons. The park is popular among hikers, joggers, and nature observers, offering five miles of both paved and natural surface trails, but is for pedestrians only. A wooden observation tower offers a view of surrounding landscapes and the San Antonio skyline, while picnic tables, barbecue pits, restrooms, and a playground cater to families.
Roughly 600 acres on the northwest side of San Antonio with great trails of all ability levels and inclines. Nice overlooks. A string of good hiking parks on this side of town, including Crownridge and Government Canyon, have been preserved to help protect the recharge area for the Edwards Aquifer, San Antonio’s main drinking-water source.
Built over the mostly scraped remains of an historic working-class neighborhood for the 1968 World’s Fair (catalyzing SA’s conservation movement), the 15 acres of Hemisfair Park, linked to the popular River Walk, is now teeming with attractions. From the Tower of the Americas it is an easy walk to prime picnic spots, a children’s playground, and soothing water effects, as well as the Instítuto de México, the Institute of Texan Cultures, a children’s playground, the Convention Center, and Southtown’s many restaurants, bars, and art spaces. Soon to be “improved” by the City, so enjoy its current tranquility while you can.
Home to the popular Alva Jo Fischer softball complex and the Hamilton Community Center, Lady Bird Johnson Park is also the site of San Antonio’s first skate park/pool facility combo. The skate park includes a 7,000-square-foot bowl that ranges from 5 to 9 feet deep, an 1,800-square-foot deck, a 5-foot quarter-pipe ramp, and a 5-foot bun pyramid. Entry into both the pool and skate area is free, and visitors often utilize both facilities during the same visit in the summer months. LBJ also features basketball and tennis courts, grassy sports fields, and a hiking trail.
One of San Antonio’s largest and most popular city parks, McAllister features the city’s only official dog park (for now; keep an eye on Madison Square Park downtown), an extensive network of over 25 miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, and is a favorite of hiking, biking, and running enthusiasts, in addition to extreme-sports gurus. The wooded northside park is characterized by trees, rocky trails, logs, and natural surfaces, and native animals such as deer are easily observable in their natural environments. McAllister is extremely spread out and never overcrowded. Athletic fields and picnic spots dot the expansive landscape.
Located between Martin Luther King Academy and the MLK Freedom Bridge, MLK Park is a recreation area adjacent to the Eastside Branch Boys & Girls Club. The park features basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, a softball field, three pavilions available for rent, various picnic tables, barbecue pits, and a children’s playground structure. Paved walkways throughout the park cater to pedestrians, while some visitors fish in Salado Creek, which runs through the park. The 2008 Visitor Tax extension has the potential to dramatically alter this area with the Wheatley Heights sports complex.
Home to one of the iconic springs that first drew settlers to San Antonio, San Pedro Park was once the center of San Antonio social life, echoing its earliest known history as a Coahuiltecan Indian settlement called Yanaguana. The park offers a shallow but lovely swimming pool surrounded by towering cypress trees, numerous archeological traces, the San Pedro Springs Park branch library, the McFarland Tennis Center, and baseball diamonds, across the street from San Antonio College, and on the southern edge of historic Monte Vista.
Just 9 miles north of downtown, you can find San Antonio’s newest biotic gem, 311-acre Voelcker Park straddling Wurzbach Parkway. This mostly undisturbed area ranges across former pasture, mesquite scrub, and oak forest. The city purchased this former dairy farm in 2007 and is building trails and other amenities.
Woodlawn Lake Park is a 62-acre recreational area located northwest of downtown which features an artificial lake about 30 acres in size. The lake is available for fishing (not that we’re recommending you eat your catch), while non motorized boating and watercraft are allowed by special request. Home to the Woodlawn Lake Sailing Club (small craft and radio-controlled sailboats; woodlawnsailingclub.org), the park is also popular with walkers and joggers, including students from nearby St. Mary’s University, and offers a fishing pond, gym, swimming pool, softball field, basketball and tennis courts, and two playgrounds.
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It won’t appear in full-performance until the Tobin Center opens in 2014, but The Opera San Antonio will preview its world class talent in a gala performance that promises to be dazzling. Soprano Patricia Racette, a regular performer at the San Francisco and Metropolitan Operas, and Texas-based tenor Jay Hunter Morris headline with the San Antonio Symphony. Pieces to be performed span opera repertoire from Handel to today, with works by American composer Leonard Bernstein and TOSA artistic director Tobias Picker, and classics by Verdi, Puccini, and Wagner. A rendition of Jerome Kern’s “Ol’ Man River,” by renowned bass-baritone Eric Owens, gives the lineup a populist twist. Also included are Dolora Zajick, Daniela Mack, Alek Schrader, Lucas Meachem, and Lisette Oropesa.
Sami Akbari, who records and performs under the cheeky nom de plume sami.the.great, is possessed by a gentle vocal talent that lends tremendous emotional depth to her sweet and searching pop songs. Lyrically sharp and earnest all at once, as on her latest single “Hear Me Now,” sami.the.great calls upon her diverse life experience — having lived in the Middle East, Virginia, and now Brooklyn — to construct songs that effortlessly incorporate electronics, folky strums, piano, and sometimes groovy percussion in a refreshingly natural manner. Still touring on 2012’s well-received self-titled album, she brings her unique reading of contemporary adult pop music to 502 as something of an anomaly — rarely is an artist so adept at provoking such seemingly conflicting responses as empty smiles, emotional gusts, thought-filled stares, and happy feet. $10, 9pm Thursday, 502 Bar, 502 Embassy Oaks, (210) 257-8125, 502bar.com.
At the ripe old age of 10, Chloe Chaidez formed Wild Youth, a band that covered songs by Sigur Rós and David Bowie. Now 18, Chaidez fronts Kitten, a Los Angeles-based five-piece inspired by the synth-driven sounds of the Eurythmics and the Pet Shop Boys. With only the EPs Sunday School (2010) and Cut it Out (2012) to their credit, Kitten have played SXSW, toured with Paramore, opened for No Doubt, and garnered praise from Carson Daly and Teen Vogue. Daughter of Mike Chaidez (former drummer for the punk band Thee Undertakers), Chloe grew up listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees and has cited the late Ian Curtis as a stylistic influence. These dark spirits mesh with others in Kitten’s tracks, which fall somewhere between the ’80s-inspired electronica of Class Actress and the dark drama of Bat for Lashes.
Foreign film buffs might know Chile’s Sebastián Silva from his Sundance Film Festival hits The Maid (which took home two World Cinema Jury Prizes in 2009) and this year’s Crystal Fairy (starring indie fave Michael Cera opposite Gaby Hoffmann). True fans, however, will tell you to start at the beginning. Released in 2007, Silva’s Life Kills Me deftly combines the ironic melancholia of The Smiths, the dark comedy of Harold and Maude, and a bizarre film within a film into a morbid sleeper suggesting death might be smarter to embrace than to fear. Shot almost entirely in black and white, the openly gay director, screenwriter, painter, and musician’s cinematic debut screens at SAMA in conjunction with Global Lens 2013, a touring series launched by the Global Film Initiative in 2003.
Regarded as one of the architects of contemporary R&B, 10-time Grammy winner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds brings heartfelt and impeccable music for grown folks to the Lila Cockrell stage on Friday. After writing and producing hits for Bobby Brown in the late ’80s, Edmonds joined former bandmate Antonio “L.A.” Reid to create LaFace Records, propelling acts like TLC, Toni Braxton, and Usher into the public consciousness. By the end of the ’90s the young producer was responsible for 42 No. 1 R&B hits and 51 Top 10 Pop hits. A gifted performer in his own right, fans can expect plenty of material from his 11 solo albums, including classics like “Whip Appeal” and “For the Cool in You,” which recall an era of R&B when records didn’t necessarily require 16 bars to make it on the radio.
G. Tomas V presents the sixth edition of SA's "only body art competition." Hosted by Anthony "The Poet" Flores, "Fairytales & Fantasy" features 30 artists (including special guests Oscar Galvan Jr. and Raul Castellanos) creating live art on 30 models, plus music by DJ Techneek (10pm-2am), a live visual performance by Matari Productions (10:30pm), and a photo shoot (11pm-midnight) followed by the presentation of contestants at midnight. Rewarding first, second, and third places with trophies and other prizes, the contest also guarantees winners a spot in the 2014 Beyond the Canvas calendar.
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