Visit Fredericksburg Instagram

In a win for the Hill Country, Fredericksburg was the only Texas town to make the top 10 best small towns in Southern Living’s seventh annual South’s Best Awards. In the Alabama-headquartered magazine’s upcoming April issue, they tabulated the top 50 best Southern small towns, cities, hotels, state parks, and barbecue restaurants.

In the past, Fredericksburg has earned praise for being one of the best Texas towns for retirees. In last year's 2022 South's Best Awards, Fredericksburg ranked as the No. 4 best small town and San Antonio was named one of the best family getaways.

"In a year when more people than ever are traveling and moving to the South, we wanted to put a spotlight on small towns in this year's South's Best Awards,” declared Sid Evans, the editor in chief of Southern Living in a release. “These are the hidden gems our readers picked for their character, charm, and unmistakable southerness.”

St. Augustine, Florida was named the No. 1 best southern small town, with Beaufort, South Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee coming in at No. 2 and No. 3. Other cities on the best small towns list hail from Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama.

The top 10 out of 50 Best Small Towns include:

  • No. 1 – St. Augustine, Florida
  • No. 2 – Beaufort, South Carolina
  • No. 3 – Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  • No. 4 – Dahlonega, Georgia
  • No. 5 – Blowing Rock, North Carolina
  • No. 6 – Fairhope, Alabama
  • No. 7 – Tybee Island, Georgia
  • No. 8 – Sanibel, Florida
  • No 9 – Folly Beach, South Carolina
  • No 10 – Fredericksburg

Texas' capital city also earned some impressive recognition as one of the best southern cities overall, according to Southern Living's rankings. We already know Austin is one of the best cities for entrepreneurs, filmmakers, family-friendly vacations, remote workers, and retirees.

Austin ranked No. 10 in the South’s Best Cities list, with cities in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee ranking higher than the Lone Star State. Charleston, South Carolina was ranked the South’s best city, with Savannah, Georgia and Asheville, North Carolina respectively ranked in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.

Featured on the magazine’s first-ever celebrity cover is Hoda Kotb, an NBC Today co-anchor. The cover spotlights her connection to New Orleans, which was ranked the No. 6 best southern city.

Evans shared his excitement to have Kotb share her “longtime connection” to Louisiana’s most famous city.

“This whole issue is about the places we love, and in Hoda's case, the city clearly loves her back,” he said.

The top 10 South’s Best Cities list includes:

  • No. 1 – Charleston, South Carolina
  • No. 2 – Savannah, Georgia
  • No. 3 – Asheville, North Carolina
  • No. 4 – Atlanta
  • No. 5 – Nashville
  • No. 6 – New Orleans
  • No. 7 – Greenville, South Carolina
  • No. 8 – Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • No. 9 – Alpharetta, Georgia
  • No. 10 – Austin

In the category for the best barbecue by state, Austin’s own Franklin Barbecue was declared the best in Texas.

Southern Living’s Top Barbecue by state rankings are:

  • Alabama – Saw’s BBQ in Birmingham
  • Arkansas – Wright’s Barbecue in Fayetteville
  • Florida – Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach
  • Georgia – Fox Brother’s Bar-B-Que in Atlanta
  • Kentucky – Moonlite Bar-B-B Inn in Owensboro
  • Louisiana – The Joint in New Orleans
  • Mississippi – The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs
  • North Carolina – Lexington Barbecue in Lexington
  • Oklahoma – Leo’s BBQ in Oklahoma City
  • South Carolina – Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston
  • Tennessee – Peg Leg Porker in Nashville
  • Texas – Franklin Barbecue in Austin
  • Virginia – Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que in Williamsburg
  • West Virginia – Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill in Charleston

Southern Living’s April issue goes on sale March 17.

The full list of Southern Living’s survey and its methodology can be found on SouthernLiving.com.

Photo courtesy of Lawn Love

San Antonio hops into top ten spot for family-friendly vacations


San Antonians looking to create lasting memories with their families don’t need to look further than their own state. In a new report from lawn care company Lawn Love, San Antonio scored No. 10 in the Best Cities for Kid-Friendly Vacations, behind Houston (No. 8), and ahead of Dallas (No. 11), Austin (No. 29), and Fort Worth (No. 44).

200 of America’s largest cities were ranked using 23 metrics, including affordability, family-friendly accommodations, attractions, transportation options, and more. Houston ranked highest of all Texas cities: Classified as the third safest city for kid-friendly vacations, Houston earned the No. 6 spot in the category of “getting around" and No. 5 for most amusement and theme parks (a three-way tie with San Diego, California and Denver, Colorado).

San Antonio was hot on Houston's heels, just making the top 10 with its highest ranking in "having fun" (No. 5), the highest of any Texas city. It also had a high ranking in safety (No. 8), and all its scores were above average, including the lowest ranking in "eating" (No. 97). The Central and Southern Texas city competed with the Northern Texas city of Dallas, which did best in "staying" or the number of family-friendly accommodations (No. 11), price notwithstanding. It also did well in "having fun" and safety (both No. 14).

Austin did better than average on most metrics except affordability (No. 115 of 200), scoring best for "getting around" (No. 30) and "having fun" (No. 36). Fort Worth lagged behind its four Texas counterparts, but still made the 78th percentile and beat cities like Killeen (the worst in Texas at No. 192). It did very well in "staying" (No. 16) and better than average in all other metrics than eating (No. 116), which sees to have dragged the overall ranking down significantly.

When planning your next vacation, Christina Sharp, faculty member at MiraCosta College in California, says there are no rules that say all family members have to agree on what to do.

"Let folks carve out time for themselves and the activities they want to do and ensure that there are activities for everyone to do together," she suggests. "My 92-year-old father-in-law didn’t want to go to the beach – and that was fine. We went while he read. But we all did take walks, eat meals, and watch TV together – and it was wonderful."

Sharp also recommends families plan ahead when deciding their mode of travel, and to limit use of technology once at their destination in order to connect and bond with each other.

The full top 10 list of best US cities for kid-friendly vacations includes:

  • No. 1, New York City, New York
  • No. 2, Orlando, Florida
  • No. 3, Miami, Florida
  • No. 4, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • No. 5, Chicago, Illinois
  • No. 6, Tampa, Florida
  • No. 7, San Francisco, California
  • No. 8, Houston, Texas
  • No. 9, Los Angeles, California
  • No. 10, San Antonio, Texas

More information about Lawn Love’s report can be found at lawnlove.com.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

H-E-B soars to No. 2 in Forbes' prestigious list of best employers in Texas, plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From animal crossings to page turning, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B soars to No. 2 in Forbes' prestigious list of best employers in Texas. In addition to being based in San Antonio, H-E-B operates more than 300 stores in Texas and employs 154,000 people.

2. Wildlife advocacy tour treks to San Antonio's spectacular land bridge. The land bridge is getting national attention through a promotional road trip meant to highlight the structure's role in protecting local ecosystems.

3. Texas Book Festival releases full lineup of 300 authors, including Roxane Gay and Ali Hazelwood. The weekend will be full of panel discussions, author readings, book signings, and much more.

4. San Antonio foundation pounces on bold program to return ocelots to the wild. Following the proposal, the East Foundation will release ocelots onto a section of its San Antonio Viejo Ranch.

5. Famous furniture store Louis Shanks shutters last remaining San Antonio location. The furniture retailer first opened in 1945, with the San Antonio store opening in 1983.

San Antonio International Airport clears runway for 1st nonstop flight to Europe

booking tix now

Big news for Texas travelers: San Antonio International Airport's first-ever nonstop flights to Europe will begin in 2024.

Passengers can now book tickets via Condor Airlines for flights from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Germany's Frankfurt Airport (FRA) between May 17 and September 6, 2024. Flights will initially operate three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – and flights to Frankfurt are expected to take a little more than 10 hours, while flights coming in from overseas will last about 11.5 hours.

The seasonal service is a "spectacular win" for the city, according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and could bring in an estimated $34 million annually. The airport has been seeing wins left and right, having just been named one of the nation's least stressful airports, and consistently handling busier and busier days.

"Germany is where San Antonio has the most demand for travel in Europe because of the cultural, historic, tourism, military, and business ties," Mayor Nirenberg said in a news conference on September 21.

San Antonio Airport System Director of Airports Jesus Saenz foreshadows that the SAT-FRA flight is "just the beginning" of possible flight expansions for the airport in the future.

"We fully believe San Antonio will utilize this service to Europe and take advantage of Condor’s extremely competitive airfares," he said. "Once that happens, we anticipate Condor will expand their services even further."

The airline will be using a brand new Airbus A330-900neo aircraft for the nonstop flights, which features 30 business class seats, 64 premium economy seats, and 216 economy seats.

"With our growing fleet of A330neos, we can provide better travel options to more Americans every year," said Condor CEO Ralf Teckentrup said in a release. "I am particularly proud to offer the only nonstop connection from San Antonio, Texas to Frankfurt, Germany – the heart of Europe, where travelers can enjoy the popular touristic sights of Germany or travel beyond conveniently by air, road, or rail. I invite everyone to try out our newest and most luxurious in-flight experience ever."

Monday flights will depart from SAT at 10:05 pm and arrive in Frankfurt at 3:20 pm the following day. Returning flights from FRA on Mondays will depart at 3:40 pm and arrive at SAT at 8:05 pm.

For Wednesday and Friday flights, departures from SAT will take place at 8:25 pm and arrive at FRA at 1:40 pm the next day. Returning flights from FRA will depart at 2:00 pm and arrive at SAT at 6:25 pm.

New honky-tonk surprisingly two-steps into St. Paul's Square


When Steve Mahoney first relaunched Francis Bogside and sibling wine bar, Anne’s, in the former home of Smoke BBQ, rumors circulated on how he would use the expansive upstairs space. Now, San Antonio has its answer. In a surprise move, the veteran bar owner debuted his latest venture — honky-tonk concept Blayne’s — on September 22.

The name pays homage to the late Blayne Tucker, the former co-owner of the Mix and managing partner of Floore’s Country Store. A tireless advocate for the city’s musical scene, he helped usher in the Save Our Stages Act, assisting hundreds of venues to stay afloat nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[Blayne’s] impact in San Antonio is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Mahoney via a release. “We hope to continue his efforts and support live music in the city.”

Fittingly, music will be in the air at Blayne’s, starting with The Babylonz and DJ Guero Vaquero from 5 pm to 2 am on the soft opening night. A large dance floor, pool tables, and bar games complete the honky-tonk vibe.

Like many of Mahoney’s bars, Blayne’s has a solid food program. The Tex-Mex fusion menu features eclectic pub grub like red curry short rib mini tacos, southwest eggrolls, street corn bites, smoked barbacoa pizza, and customizable nachos. The initial press announcement didn’t deeply discuss the drink options but promised margaritas, house cocktails, and beer.

Though no official announcement has been made, Mahoney has another bar up his sleeve. The Francis Bogside website teases the January 2024 opening of Robert’s, named after Mahoney’s late business partner, Robert Darilek. Details, including the location, are slim, but the landing page touts “feature club-style seating, an extensive whiskey list, and a cigar menu.”

Following the September 22 sneak peek, Blayne’s will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 pm to 2 am.

Blayne's San Antonio

Photo by TXTroublemaker

Blayne's food menu includes red curry short rib mini tacos.