Shopping, food, fun, and a night out of the house enjoying a really cool part of San Antonio? Yes, it exists—and it happens every month, thanks to First Fridays.
I admit, with all of the great things going on in San Antonio, I sometimes miss out because I’m either overwhelmed or overbooked or I’ve overlooked something. First Fridays used to fall into that last category for me, but no more. What’s better than a calendar excuse to shop, dine, and hang out?
Visit San Antonio lists First Fridays as a recurring art event, and there’s no denying the artistic flair that ties the event together. Filling a variety of venues and spilling out onto the streets of Southtown, First Fridays are an evening of exploring with art, music, food, and adult beverages to keep the fun flowing as you wander along city blocks. As evening begins on the First Friday of each month, San Antonio’s South Alamo Street (near South Presa Street and flowing all the way to Cesar Chavez) transforms with tents, booths, and vendors popping up along the sidewalks. The best way to describe it: European street market meets San Antonio flair. As you walk down South Alamo and cross the bridge over the San Antonio River, the beauty of our city and its landscape really can make you think you’ve been transported to Europe. (Reason #1,452 to love the Alamo City!)
First Fridays bring together a wide variety of art, from photography, prints, and mixed media to textiles and ceramics, along with clothing, jewelry, vintage goods, handmade greeting cards, local honey, jams and jellies, handmade soaps and lotions, and more, all with the added bonus that you can usually meet the artist, maker, or craftsperson behind the work. Some of San Antonio’s best artists participate, so it’s a chance to chat and support local talent. And Southtown is one of San Antonio’s hottest neighborhoods, so there’s something new popping up all the time.
There’s really no wrong way to tackle First Fridays. Want to start early, explore, and then grab a bite on a date night? Or maybe eat, roam, then enjoy adult beverages with some friends? You can! And yes, if you want to make it a family night, you can do that too! You’ll be surprised at the number of strollers, kids, and pets you’ll see, especially early in the evening. And there are kid-friendly dining options and spots to enjoy, like South Alamode. There are a ton of other food options, too, including some great ones at Blue Star Arts Complex. It just depends on what you and hubby, you and your friends, or you and the total family are in the mood for. You’re not far from anywhere in Southtown, and there’s so much to choose from that you can’t go wrong.
With no set route or list of First Friday participants, no two First Fridays are the same. You can dive in almost anywhere and roam as your heart desires. Private homes will host pop-up artist shops in their yards, porches transform into display spaces, and you’ll stumble across a band giving an impromptu performance in someone’s driveway. Some homes will have artists’ shows in their living rooms, and yes, you’re invited inside. The only rules are: (1) don’t limit yourself; and (2) wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll want to walk and take everything in.
There are numerous First Friday destinations to explore, but the mother ship of activity is Blue Star Arts Complex. Blue Star features galleries, shops, restaurants, and The Brick, the heart of the complex and during First Fridays, the home to fantastic vendors, live music, and tasty treats. The kaleidoscope of vendors and activity make The Brick a beehive of activity during First Fridays, when you’ll find a mix of art, vintage, jewelry, and treasures. Like everything else First Friday, you never know what will pop up at The Brick. You might catch a show from a traveling artist, an impromptu opera performance, or find yourself in the midst of a flash mob.
One of my Brick favorites is Rubyzaar, a homegrown company that features San Antonio at its kitschy, iconic best, immortalized under polyurethane for the coolest coasters around. Their coasters are the perfect gift for anyone you want to treat with a piece of “puro San Antonio,” and their collection of humor/wine/drinking coasters are sure to make you laugh. They also produce custom pieces, so consider working with them to create your own style.
By the way, if you can’t catch First Fridays, don’t despair: The Brick hosts Sunday markets and, honestly, something almost every night of the week. You can keep up with the schedule here. And of course, everything at Blue Star Arts Complex offers regular hours so you can pop by anytime. But, c’mon, you know you’re dying to join the flash mob!