Bonjour, Victor Wembanyama! Or as we say in Texas, Howdy!
As the official travel magazine of Texas, we would like to welcome you to the Lone Star State. We hope this is the beginning of a long and prosperous time for you and the San Antonio Spurs. (After the last four losing seasons, lord knows they could use the help.)
Like your fellow countryman and Spur legend Tony Parker, we believe San Antonio is the “perfect place” for you. We see the city has already rolled out the welcome mat—well, this sign—for you. And Mayor Ron Nirenberg has made it known he’s a big fan of yours.
So, to help you get acclimated to San Antonio and the rest of the state, we’ve compiled a list of things you need to know and places you need to visit. We hope this helps you feel right at home.
First, a little history lesson. Texas became the 28th state on Dec. 28, 1845. Before that, the land had been colonized by other countries, including Spain and France. (That’s right, Texas could have been known as L’état d’étoile solitaire.) Though Texas was once a part of Mexico—aka “our southern neighbor”—the state wanted to break free from the country’s abolitionist government, sparking the Texas Revolution.
In 1836, following the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, the state became the Republic of Texas. It’s also where the phrase “Remember the Alamo” comes from. You can learn more about this period of state history during a visit to the Alamo in downtown San Antonio. Be sure to check out Phil Collins’ massive collection of Alamo artifacts. He’s the father of Lily Collins, the star of the hit Netflix show Emily in Paris. There’s a French connection for you!
Since you’re now a Texan, you might want to start dressing the part. You’ll need to get yourself some cowboy boots. Seeing how you’re 7-foot-4, this pair outside North Star Mall might fit you. Just kidding.
Seriously, Texas is home to many custom bootmakers. Some even consider the Rio Grande Valley as the place where the cowboy boot was invented. Locally, there’s Little’s Boot Company, a family-owned business that has been making boots since 1915. According to Sharon Little, their molds go up to size 15, and even though people wear a smaller size in boots than their regular shoe size, she doubts you could fit a size 15—you reportedly have a shoe size of 20 1/2. She says they would have to special order a mold for you, but they’ve done that for Spurs players before. “There was a Spur who didn’t think we would be able to fit him, but we did,” she says. Of course, it can be expensive, but you’re now a millionaire, so we think you can afford it.
Let’s skip to the elephant in the room: the heat. Not the Miami one but the summer one. If you’re a little concerned about hot summers in Texas, we got you covered. Take a swim at the San Pedro Springs or go underground at Natural Bridge Caverns. You can try kayaking on the San Antonio River, which flows right through the famous San Antonio River Walk. Don’t worry about falling in—it’s only 3 or 4 foot deep (so, up to your knees).
We understand that, at age 19, you’re a bit of a Renaissance man and enjoy drawing and visiting art galleries. Well, you’re in for a treat. San Antonio has a vibrant art scene, with many world-class museums including the San Antonio Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, and Ruby City. There’s also amazing outdoor art everywhere you look. A couple artists have already immortalized your likeness: check out this cutout of you by artist Oscar Alvarado and this mural by artist Colton Valentine that has received Coach Popovich’s stamp of approval.
Get ready for some road trips. As a fan of science fiction, you’ll probably be interested in visiting the future at places like Space Center Houston, where they offer three tram tours that take visitors behind the scenes of places like Historic Mission Control and the Astronaut Training Facility. There’s also the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica in South Texas. As for unexplained phenomenon, the Marfa Lights is a must-see for any sci-fi fan. Marfa, by the way, is near Big Bend National Park. You think you’re big—wait till you see this place.
In terms of food, well, you’re in the heart of Mexican and Tex-Mex food country. We know you’re excited about eating breakfast tacos, so we suggest you grab some at San Antonio native and basketball fan Shea Serrano’s favorite joint, Mendez Cafe. There’s also Maria’s Café, a local favorite that The New York Times recently raved about. If you’re hoping for a night out on the town at a fancy spot, you can’t go wrong with dinner at the Tower of the Americas. You’ll recognize it as that tall, bobble head-like structure in the middle of San Antonio.
For French food, there’s Brasserie Mon Chou Chou in the Pearl District, which the San Antonio Express-News rated five stars and called a “near-perfect French restaurant experience.”
That reminds us, there might come a point where you find yourself missing home. You’re in luck. Texas has a Paris! The town even has a 65-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower. (OK, it’s not quite as tall as the real thing but close-ish.) It’s only a six-hour drive north of San Antonio—in other words, a typical commute for Texans. Did we mention how big Texas is? You’ll fit right in.