Alamo Heights

Hip haunts, fine art, and old-school charm in the city’s famously well-heeled enclave.
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The Violet Hour
Photograph by Sarah Sudhoff

1. The Witte Museum

Hardly your typical stodgy cultural establishment, the Witte not only welcomes kids but actually encourages them to interact with its exhibitions. The natural history and South Texas culture center’s location, in Brackenridge Park on the San Antonio River, makes it popular with young visitors, who can poke, prod, and peruse the park’s plants, fossils, and water machines to their hearts’ content. The H-E-B Science Treehouse has an open-air platform with telescopes for spying on native wildlife. 3801 Broadway, 210-357-1900, ittemuseum.org

2. Tre Trattoria

The latest in a trio of restaurants founded by local chef Jason Dady, Tre is located right next to the Witte Museum, its outdoor patio the perfect perch from which to admire the institution’s lush backyard. Munch on roasted golden beets and the chef’s daily panino for lunch. Come evening, try the spicy spaghetti with pork sausage, poached broccoli rabe, and crushed plum tomatoes. Cocktail hour? Order the Tre Martini, a signature libation made with vodka, pomegranate juice, and an earthy thyme-infused simple syrup. 4003 Broadway, 210-805-0333, tretrattoria.com

3. Vela

Enjoy a cabernet or pinot grigio while the glow from faux ceiling candles works its mood-enhancing magic; you can nosh on a sampling of French and American cheeses or on small plates of focaccia-bread pizza topped with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. On Wednesdays, bottles of champagne are 50 percent off; on Tuesdays, the spotlight is on all things Iberian, with special emphasis on Spanish wine, sangria, and tapas. 5800 Broadway, 210-822-7120

4. Sloan/Hall

For fifteen years, Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall have been providing discriminating San Antonians with an eclectic assortment of artful objects and bijoux at their eponymous gift shop. Under-the-radar finds such as 24-karat-gold-dipped bubblelike sculptures by Daniel Saldaña, design tomes by fashion lensman Terry Richardson or architecture photographer Julius Shulman, and gold and diamond necklaces from Austin-based line D&A commingle effortlessly with fanciful greeting cards and John Derian decoupage. Don’t miss the small but well-curated selection of CDs from the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson, and Hôtel Costes. 5922 Broadway, 210-828-7738, sloanhall.com Watch a video .

5. LeeLee

A spare interior lets LeeLee’s excellent selection of shoes and accessories take center stage. The smart mix of exclusive names (Camilla Skovgaard green snakeskin high-heel sandals, $525) with more-budget-friendly labels (Bernardo Key West gold-ring flip-flops, $45) is an irresistible draw. Other envy-inducing standouts for spring: Cynthia Vincent gladiator sandals and Beirn snakeskin handbags in candy colors. 5932 Broadway, 210-832-0066, leeleeshoes.com Watch the Video .

6. McNay Art Museum

In 1954 the former manse of late artist and collector Marion Koogler McNay became the first modern art museum in Texas. More than fifty years later, it still houses her original collection (nineteenth- and twentieth-century works by Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, and Edward Hopper, among others) but has also expanded to include acquisitions by such artists as Donald Judd, Edgar Degas, and Joel Shapiro—as well as the light-filled Stieren center, a low-slung, glass-enclosed new wing. 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., 210-824-5368, mcnayart.org

7. The Violet Hour

Owners and sisters Camilla Basse and Amber Long share a passion for both glamour and the written word. Stacks of books from their personal shelves and leather reading chairs lend the feel of an intellectual salon. But not even an English lit major could pass up the Luc Kieffer resin jewelry, retro frocks by Lorick, or pretty dresses by Doucette Duvall, all of which are exclusive to San Antonio (though Kieffer has also designed pieces for Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel). If you can’t make an in-store appearance, try the Web site. 6346 N. New Braunfels Ave., 210-829-0388, shoptheviolethour.com Watch the video .

8. Amar

True to its name, this new cosmetics outlet in Quarry Village offers a lot to love: the airy industrial space, the Mason Pearson boar bristle and nylon brushes, the facial scrubs and exfoliants from Spanish skin care line Natura Bissé, the makeup from Kevyn Aucoin and Hourglass, and the hair care products by Hamadi. 320 E. Basse Rd., Suite 105; 210-822-5777 Watch the Video .

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