Fans of homegrown brands like Lick Honest Ice Creams know that the Austin and San Antonio areas serve up some of the best scoops in the country. So it's no surprise that on a recent list of the best (and worst) ice cream cities in America, Austin lands in the top 10, while San Antonio tops a subset of the survey.

At No. 27, San Antonio ranks in the middle of the best ice cream cities. But it wins the No. 1 slot for Best Shaved Ice, one of six additional categories.

The survey, compiled by real estate brokerage Home Bay, ranks 50 cities using factors such as the number of ice cream shops per capita, the price of a small cup or cone (using Ben & Jerry's as a benchmark), average annual temperature, and Google searches. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Yelp, and Google Trends.

The best
The best cities for ice cream have more shops (an average of 4.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people), a high interest in ice cream (Google searches), and better prices, with a small cup of Ben & Jerry's averaging $4.47 versus the $4.50 residents pay in the average city.

Here's a surprise: Oklahoma City is America's best ice cream city, thanks to a high number of ice cream shops per capita as well as affordability.

Austin is the only Texas city in the top 10:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. New Orleans
  3. Las Vegas
  4. San Jose, California
  5. Providence, Rhode Island
  6. Raleigh, North Carolina
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Austin
  9. Boston
  10. Philadelphia

Way to go, Austin! This is what they say about Austin's ice cream scene:

Austin excels when it comes to appreciation of different ice cream styles. The city ranks third in our ice cream variety metric thanks to frequent searches for ice cream types and flavors. The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is appropriate with so many locals going bananas: The city ranks first in online search interest for banana ice cream. Visitors can find two different types of banana ice cream — banana cream pie and strawberry banana — at local chain Amy's Ice Creams. Additionally, Austin has the seventh-warmest average temperature in our study, making ice cream especially appreciated as a sweet treat for relief from the heat.

The worst
The bottom 10 cities have fewer ice cream shops, higher costs, and less ice cream interest in the topic, which they judge by the number of Google searches for topics such as "ice cream near me" and "ice cream flavors."

The 10 worst ice cream cities are as follows:

  1. Memphis, Tennessee
  2. Riverside, California
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Miami
  5. Houston
  6. Baltimore
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Sacramento, California
  9. Dallas
  10. Jacksonville, Florida

These cities have only 2.2 ice cream shops per 100,000 people. The average city has 3.4 shops per 100,000 people. And Dallas has only 1.4 ice cream shops per 100,000 people.

Ice cream in these worst cities is also more expensive. A small cup of ice cream averages $4.80 in the bottom 10 cities, versus $4.50 for the average city in the study.

Ice cream in Missouri and Alabama is the cheapest: $3.99 for a small Ben & Jerry's cone. Washington, D.C. is the most expensive, at $5.35 for a cone.


Texas' 10 best water parks for families, thrill-seekers, and everyone in between

Ride the Wave

By all indications, it's shaping up to be a scorching summer in Texas. The best way to beat the heat is by floating in a brightly colored plastic tube around a fake German castle on a lazy river, or being propelled through a tube chute at 20 miles per hour into a refreshing pool of blue water. Luckily for us, no matter where you are in Texas, you are never too far from a water park. Here are 10 of the state's best.

Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels
The OG of Texas water parks, Schlitterbahn opened along the Comal River in 1979 with four water slides. Today, the park in between Austin and San Antonio offers more than 50 water rides split over two sections of a sprawling 70-acre park. The original section, home to the signature Schlitterbahn Castle, has tube chutes, enclosed twisty slides, seven kid’s pools, and a swim-up pool bar for adults. All the rides on this side are still powered by the natural spring fed water of the Comal River.

The newer Blastenhoff section is where the majority of high-thrills rides are located, including the six-story Master Blaster water coaster. To see the entire park from the comfort of your own tube, hop on The Falls. The whitewater river is 3,600 feet long, making it the world’s longest water park ride.

White Water Bay at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio
Their website says access to White Water Bay is included with the price of admission to Six Flags Fiesta Texas, but we like to think it is the other way around. Bypass those Superman coasters that have you hanging upside down screaming for dear life and head to the Texas-shaped wave pool. The rides here are no joke. The Bahaman Blaster drops riders at an 80-degree angle to reach speeds of up to 40 miles-per-hour where they descend straight down six-stories. The Twister body slide descends into darkness, while the riders on the Tornado begin on by traveling through an enclosed slide before being shot out onto a funnel where they twist and turn on a four-person tube ride to the end.

Kalahari, Round Rock
Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Round Rock is dubbed “America’s largest indoor water park resort.” The African safari-themed water park has 223,000 square feet of water rides, including the Screaming Hyena, which drops thrill-seekers through the water park roof into a 60-foot slide; the Tanzania Twist — known for flinging bodies down a funnel at 40 mph; and the Kenya Korkscrew, where visitors ride on a tandem raft down a spiral tube slide.

Day passes are available, but guests who stay overnight at the 975-room resort can access the park for free.

Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine
Does it look like rain on the day you plan to go to the water park? Bad weather does not dampen the fun at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. The indoor park caters to guests of all ages with its various pools, slides, and tandem tube rides. For those who do not want to spend all day in the water, the resort also offers dry land attractions, like a ropes course, an arcade, live action games, and story time.

At 80,000-square-feet, this water park is one of the smallest on the list, but it is a great option for families with children who do not want to spend all day in the water.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Arlington
Adrenaline junkies, this is your place. The water park in Arlington has it all: water coasters, pitch-black enclosed water slides, free falls, shotgun tube slides, and zero-gravity funnels. It even has the Mega Wedgie, an 83-foot-tall half-pipe where riders rush up and down its walls at 23 miles per hour.

Those who want a more relaxing experience can spend time at the lazy river, the million-gallon wave pool, or the giant swimming pool.

NRH2O Family Water Park, North Richland Hills
Situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, NRH20 has rides for every level of thrill seeker. Tiny swimmers gravitate toward the Tadpole Swimming Hole or spend most of the day hanging out at the Frogstein's Splashatory, a five-level interactive water playground. Those who want to get their heart rate pumping make a beeline for the Green Extreme, an 81-foot uphill water coaster, and the plummeting 61-foot drop Sidewinder.

This city-owned park also hosts movie nights throughout the summer. It is also one of the cheapest water parks in Texas. Weekday admission for children is less than $20, and like Schlitterbahn, the park allows guests to bring in coolers full of food and nonalcoholic beverages.

Schlitterbahn, Galveston
With 20 less rides than its sister property in New Braunfels, Schlitterbahn Galveston is much more compact of a park. But that doesn't mean it is less fun. The Galveston location has Massive Monster Blaster, which is credited as the world’s tallest water coaster. Riders on the tandem raft twist, turn, and drop down three football fields worth of water coaster fun. The Galveston location also has the world’s tallest and longest mat slides. Riders on the Infinity Racers race head first down an eight-story water slide in hopes to beat their fellow racer.

Typhoon Texas, Katy
This Houston-area water park has more than 30 slides, a lazy river to help visitors get around the park, and a 375,000-gallon pool that makes waves up to three feet tall. But arguably the most popular ride is the Monster Storm, where a six-person raft barrels down an open-air tube before sliding into a gravity-defying Texas-sized boomerang wall.

The park shows off its Texas pride by matching each area with Texas landmarks, rivers, and rocks. Following the fine tradition of the love of live music in Texas, the park also has a stage for live performances by local musicians.

Castaway Cove Water Park, Wichita Falls
At 15-acres, the paradise-themed water park is small compared to the big dogs in Arlington and San Antonio. However, with water slides, a wave pool, lazy river, and sand volleyball courts, it has everything a park needs to keep families entertained for the day. It also has what few wate rparks in the country have — a ride with a 360-degree loop. The Pirate’s Plunge begins with a 37-foot vertical free fall, accelerating the rider up to 40 mph before reaching the loop. This ride is not for the faint of heart.

Wet 'N' Wild Water World, El Paso
Water park enthusiasts in Central Texas need to travel to the opposite end of the state to experience the largest wave pool in Texas. This oasis of freshwater in the middle of the West Texas desert draws all levels of thrill seekers. For smaller adventurers, the net ladders, slides, jungle gyms, and dump buckets of Atlantis Adventures are a huge draw. The park even has a slippery rock climbing wall where climbers race their friends to see who can make it to the top first. A refreshing pool of blue water is there to catch anyone who loses their grip.

Typhoon Texas.

Typhoon Texas.
Project Pollo

San Antonio makes showing on list of top 20 vegan cities in U.S.

Vegan News

A new survey of the top 20 cities in the U.S. where it's best to be a vegan has determined which city is the most vegan of all. Spoiler: It's not San Antonio. Boo.

But San Antonio did make the list, coming in at No. 13, boasting 202 restaurants that are vegan or offer vegan options.

The survey by the team at Meal Delivery Experts set out to determine which cities have the most vegan food options. They compiled the 20 most populous cities in the U.S., then used data from TripAdvisor to count how many restaurants or food venues in each city offers at least one vegan option.

New York came in at No. 1, blowing everyone else away with 1464 restaurants or food venues offering vegan options — more than double the number than any other city on the list.

Los Angeles was in second place, with 705 restaurants or food venues offering vegan options. Los Angeles has among the widest variety of cuisines including vegan Korean, Ethiopian, and Thai food.

No. 3 was Chicago, with 489 restaurants or food venues offering vegan options, surprising since Chicago is such a meaty town, although the city is best known for deep-dish pizza, and many Chicago restaurants now offer a vegan alternative.

Among Texas cities, Houston and Austin both make the top 10. Houston comes in at No. 6, with 312 restaurants — snatching the surprise win for top vegan city in Texas away from Austin, which has a bigger reputation for being veg-friendly; Austin is No. 8 on the list with 286 restaurants.

Dallas just noses out San Antonio at No. 12, with 209 vegan- or vegan-friendly establishments.

San Antonio's vegan scene is noteworthy in that it's the birthplace of some serious innovators including Earth Burger, the pioneering fast-food burger chain, and Project Pollo, the vegan chicken chain that recently appeared on Shark Tank.

Fort Worth comes in last place, with 68 restaurants or food venues offering at least one vegan option. Despite what the numbers say, Fort Worth has a buzzy vegan scene with places like Pizza Verde, Zonk Burger, and Mariachi's Dine-In; it's also home to Texas' most famous vegan restaurant, Spiral Diner.

Whether motivated by health, environmental, or ethical reasons, the number of vegans in the US is rapidly increasing, reaching new heights in 2022. One in ten, or 10 percent, of Americans now consider themselves vegan or vegetarian.

The dollars are also there, with the plant-based industry worth over $7 billion in the US in 2022.

The milk substitute market is valued at over $3 billion in 2022.

The meat substitute market is valued over $1 billion in 2022.

The full list, by ranking:

  1. New York - 1464
  2. Los Angeles - 705
  3. Chicago - 489
  4. San Francisco - 467
  5. San Diego - 385
  6. Houston - 312
  7. Seattle - 309
  8. Austin - 286
  9. Denver - 261
  10. Philadelphia - 258
  11. Phoenix - 234
  12. Dallas - 209
  13. San Antonio - 202
  14. Charlotte, NC - 176
  15. Jacksonville, FL - 140
  16. Indianapolis - 140
  17. Columbus, Ohio - 137
  18. San Jose - 80
  19. Oklahoma City - 80
  20. Fort Worth - 68
Image courtesy of Thompson San Antonio

Swanky San Antonio spot checks in as one of the hottest new hotels for 2022

over the moon

San Antonio’s Thompson Hotel - Riverwalk is sizzling. The local hot spot has booked the No. 12 spot on TripAdvisor's new list of the Hottest New Hotels in the U.S. for 2022.

The top 25 list comes from the site's 2022 Travelers' Choice Awards, in which travelers reviewed new hotels they experienced in 2021. Travelers gushed over the Thompson's design, as well as its in-house dining and bar.

Located on the River Walk at 115 Lexington Ave., the Thompson Hotel - Riverwalk is within walking distance of the Tobin Center for Performing Arts and The Alamo. The hotel opened in early 2021 and features the culinary talents of chef Steve McHugh at Landrace, its gorgeous restaurant with River Walk views.

Just ahead of the Thompson Hotel - Riverwalk, Houston's Blossom Hotel earned the No. 8 spot, followed closely by Austin’s Colton House Hotel at No. 9. The Blossom was cited for impeccable and friendly service and comfortable, modern rooms, while Colton House earned rave reviews for its hip design and as a choice staycation destination.

Further down the list, Lubbock’s Cotton Court Hotel comes in at No. 20. Inspired by the city’s downtown vibe, the hotel earned 4.5 stars and marks for its “cozy” and “exceptional” lodging. (Those visiting would be wise to visit the nearby Nicolett restaurant, which recently secured a James Beard Award nomination and a Texas Monthly nod.)

San Antonio climbs onto list of best cities for hiking in the U.S.

sort of great heights

Not that there’s anything wrong with the beautiful River Walk, but sometimes you just have to get your shoes dirty. Texas is home to a surprising amount of great hiking, and a new study of 200 U.S. cities places San Antonio at No. 36 for the best hiking nationwide.

The study from lawn care startup LawnStarter is based on 13 criteria, from “hiking access and quality to trail difficulty to natural hazards index.”

With an overall score of 52.06 out of 100 (which sounds borderline bad until you consider the highest score on the chart is 68.37), San Antonio fares best for supplies access, in which the city ranked No. 5 for the number of outdoor gear stores, followed by safety, 18th out of 200, and hiking access, 24th out of 200.

The San Antonio area's quality of hiking — number of hiking routes and campsites — ranks a middling 64th. Its worst ranking is, of course, climate, at No. 112. The number of sunny days, apparently, couldn’t stand a chance against the number of extremely hot ones.

The top 10 U.S. cities for hiking, according to LawnStarter, are:

1. Portland, Oregon
2. Tucson, Arizona
3. Phoenix, Arizona
4. Colorado Springs, Colorado
5. Oakland, California
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
7. Los Angeles, California
8. Boise, Idaho
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
10. San Diego, California

(The 200 cities were chosen based on population, so those small Vermont and New Hampshire towns built around incredible hiking did not get to play.)

Elsewhere in Texas
The highest-ranked Texas city is El Paso, coming in at No. 18, an obvious choice for beautiful desert treks that probably didn’t break the top 10 because of its low hiking access and climate scores. Austin comes in next, at No. 30, with No. 11 rankings for both hiking access and supplies access.

The other Texas cities in the top 100 are as follows: Garland (No. 43), Frisco (No. 55), Dallas (No. 62), Fort Worth (No. 65), McKinney (No. 75), Laredo (No. 82), Houston (No. 92), and Plano (No. 94). Pasadena ranks the worst statewide — and nearly nationwide — at No. 198.

Hikers in and around Garland should be happy to learn the city ranks No. 1 in average consumer rating for hiking trails. Midland suffers from some of the worst consumer ratings, but it happens to rank No. 1 in lowest natural hazard risk. Perhaps it’s just not as exciting when nature is on your side.

With sister cities San Antonio and Austin ranking among the top 20 percent of U.S. hiking, outdoorsy locals have plenty of reason to get outside and take a hike.

Photo by Getty Images

San Antonio cruises to the middle on ranking of bike-friendly cities

Bicycling News

A new survey on bikeability ranks San Antonio No. 30 in a list of the top 50 cities in the U.S.

San Antonio has a bikeability score of 45. It has 0.2 percent of workers who commute by bicycle compared to the average city's 0.5 percent, with 0.7 bike shops per 100,000 people and 0.8 percent bike trails per 100,000 people.

The study was released by Clever, a real estate data company, and analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information, Walk Score, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Vision Zero Network, Google Trends, and Yelp.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West is best when it comes to bike-friendly cities — one-third of the 15 most bike-friendly cities on the list are on the West Coast. California is the best state for bicyclists, with 27 percent of the top 15 cities located in The Golden State.

Portland, Oregon is the No. 1 most bike-friendly city, despite its reputation for rain, with a bikeability score of 83 out of 100. It has the most bicycle shops per capita (3.5 per 100,000 residents) of any city on the list.

Additionally, workers in Portland are four times more likely to commute via bicycle than workers in the average city: 2 percent of workers in Portland commute to work by bicycle, compared to 0.5 percent in the average metro studied.

The top 10:

  1. Portland
  2. San Francisco
  3. San Jose
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Sacramento
  6. Denver
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. Boston
  9. Salt Lake City
  10. Seattle

New York just almost made the top 10, coming in at No. 11.

Elsewhere in Texas
Scoring 49 out of 100, Dallas scored dead last at No. 50, making it the least bike-friendly city in the U.S. With 80 percent fewer bike commuters than the average city, and only 0.1 percent of Dallas workers commute by bicycle compared to the average city's 0.5 percent, the survey also found that Dallas has fewer bike-friendly amenities, with 75 percent fewer bike shops (0.3 per 100,000 people) and 16 percent fewer bike trails (1.4 per 100,000 people) than the average city.

Even Houston beat Dallas, coming in at No. 29. Houston has a bikeability score of 49. It has 0.3 percent of workers who commute by bicycle, a little below the average city's 0.5 percent, with 0.4 bike shops per 100,000 people and 0.3 percent bike trails per 100,000 people.

Austin's bikeability score was 54, tying with the national average, and placing Austin at No. 16 nationally and tops in Texas. Austin surpasses the average city's commuters (0.5 percent) with 0.7 percent workers commuting, and the city has above-average bike-friendly amenities, with a few more bike shops (1.1 per 100,000 people) than the average city (1.0 per 100,000 people).

Cities that rank highly not only have bicycle resources such as bike share stations and bike rental shops, they also promote transit safety: Nearly every city in the top 15 has made a city-wide commitment to bicycle safety and transit safety in general.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that cities across the U.S. saw a surge in cycling traffic after the pandemic began, prompting a bicycle shortage, as many Americans found cycling to be a reprieve from at-home isolation or a socially distant solution to their commutes.

Cycling is seen as a good way to get a low-impact workout while also reducing your transportation costs, and the 15 most bike-friendly cities have also fostered interest in cycling and bike-related activities.

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San Antonio Missions hit home run with new owners, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's minor league baseball team scores new owners, including Texas sports legends. San Antonio's minor league baseball team is back to being locally owned — by some big names.

2. H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary and in honor of its first store.

3. San Antonio market continues to see prices going up and sales going down. San Antonio home sales dropped 19 percent from October 2021.

4. San Antonio Rodeo wrangles even more musical acts for star-studded 2023. Turnpike Troubadours joined the already impressive lineup for the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

5. San Antonio children's theater adapts timeless children's book for the holidays. Magik Theatre celebrates The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas story, with inclusive special performances.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.


The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.