Moon Valley Nurseries/Instagram

There are few things more satisfying than strolling into a plant nursery and being surrounded with leafy friends, and one gigantic grower is making this a reality for more San Antonians.

Moon Valley Nurseries, which carries more than 1,500 varieties of trees, palms and shrubs, is opening its first San Antonio store (3550 N. Loop 1604 E.) with a grand opening on October 7-8.

Nurseries aren't just for professional landscapers, and this opening caters toward any San Antonio plant-lover who wants to stop by, with free food, drinks, and entertainment. It will offer discounts including half-off prices and free planting, plus there will be a raffle and a chance to win a $1,000 gift card.

Even if customers aren't ready to commit (a tree is not a windowsill cactus, after all), nursery employees will be on hand to give tips on existing trees, including winterizing as things cool down. Luckily for San Antonio trees, they're planted in an 8b or 9a climate, which means that they shouldn't need to withstand much colder than 15 degrees Fahrenheit — although, of course, many residents have planted trees from other regions, and winter is increasingly more unpredictable.

Of the many resources on the website, one of the most interesting is a backyard planner that lets users upload a picture of their outdoor space, browse trees, and arrange images to get the perfect layout. The nursery also offers free in-store design consultations.

For renters, there is plenty of pottery and some yard sculptures that can spruce up a lawn without the need for digging. (The most exciting statues are quite large, though, so consider the moving costs of an elephant-sized metal elephant.)

The 25-year-old chain is currently located throughout the South and Southwest; It is based in Arizona with the most stores in California (20) and 16 in Texas.

The grand opening on October 7 and 8 will take place from 7:30 am to 6 pm on Saturday, and from 9 am to 5 pm on Sunday. More information about Moon Valley Nurseries is available at moonvalleynurseries.com.

Photo courtesy of Jonas Brothers

Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Festival fun, live music, and entertainment are on the agenda over the next few days. Catch Jonas Brothers live in concert or take a day trip to the Gruene Music & Wine Festival. Check out the top seven things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a complete list of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, October 5

Gruene Music & Wine Festival
Venture out to Gruene Hall for a weekend of Texas music, wine, and food. Highlights of the four-day music and food festival include wine and beer tasting events, dinner experiences, and live, acoustic concerts for a well-rounded weekend of good music, food, and drinks. Ticket prices vary by event. For a full schedule of events and more information, go to gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Opera San Antonio presents Hansel and Gretel
The cautionary folktale of two siblings getting lost in the woods and finding an enchanted candy house is given the operatic treatment at Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. This production by Engelbert Humperdinck invites the audience on a daring yet whimsical journey for the lost pair. Get ticket details at operasa.org.

AT&T Center presents Jonas Brothers in concert
The Jonas Brothers bring their world-famous family affair to San Antonio’s AT&T Center. While their tour makes a stop in the city in support of their new album, The Album, fans will enjoy music from five of the trio’s expanded discography during the show. Get ticketing information at frostbankcenter.com.

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club presents Hans Kim & Friends
The Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club welcomes Hans Kim to the stand-up stage for a brief residency this weekend. Kim has opened for stars like Joe Rogan and Tony Hinchcliffe, and is currently a regular on the comedy podcast Kill Tony. Shows are scheduled through October 7. Get more information at improvtx.com.

Friday, October 6

San Antonio Fall Home & Garden Show
The San Antonio Fall Home & Garden Show returns for its 35th year with a sprawling marketplace and tons of exhibits. Attendees to the three-day show at the Alamodome will get the chance to hear from special guest speakers Patric Richardson, The Laundry Guy, and celebrity YouTuber and home improvement expert, April Wilkerson. Additional highlights include presentations from renowned local and national home pros, opportunities to connect with industry experts, and more. Events are scheduled through October 8. Get more information at sanantoniofallhomeshow.com.

AT&T Center presents Koe Wetzel in concert
Texas native and singer-songwriter Koe Wetzel performs live at AT&T Center for one night only. Wetzel is well known for his top songs such as “Cabo” and Good Die Young.” He comes to San Antonio in support of his new album, Hell Paso. Get more details on Ticketmaster.

Saturday, October 7

Mission Marquee Outdoor Family Film Series: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Settle in for a spooky yet family-friendly movie under the stars at Mission Marquee Plaza. This week’s feature is a screening of, The Nightmare Before Christmas, the animated classic from Tim Burton. Guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs for the most comfortable viewing experience. Live entertainment and food trucks will also be available for attendees to enjoy. Admission is free and open to the public.

Jonas Brothers
Photo courtesy of Jonas Brothers

Jonas Brothers performs live in concert on October 5.

San Antonio Botanical Garden/sabot.org

Colors change at San Antonio Botanical Garden with new fall events and 10,000 marigolds

Follow the Marigold Road

It may not feel like the seasons are changing yet, but plants notice that kind of thing. As the days get shorter, the rhythms of life at San Antonio Botanical Garden chance, and locals are invited in to feel the shift with new programming.

Starting off with pure excess and sunny fall joy, the garden will be showing off a path of 10,000 marigolds throughout the month of October at "Marigolds en Maravilla." The Oz-like exhibit draws attention to a fall bloom very significant in Hispanic cultures, and perhaps most associated in San Antonio with Día de los Muertos. (The garden celebrates this in its own event on October 21.)

A special event will introduce visitors to the golden display on October 8 with a live performance by local singer-songwriter Azul Barrientos. Guests can take part in marigold printmaking, a community chalk mural, guided tours, marigold planting, and even tasting the flowers. A separate tea party on the same day will teach visitors to make cake and tea out of marigolds; a craft event on October 11 weaves the blooms into headpieces; and more of the flowers turn up in other events across the calendar.

Of course, a family pumpkin patch was a must-have, and there were some opportunities to taste those too, but they have since sold out. Less expectedly, orchids are also prominently featured with their own tour on October 8. According to the garden, the fall is a "fabulous time" to see orchids in bloom.

Two exhibitions will be departing the garden soon: the "Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time" topiary collection, which brought the park even more to life with fantasy creatures; and the "Frida Kahlo Oasis," which replicated some elements of the famous artist's home and displayed plants as she would have.

Other events to look out for this October include:

  • Fall Brews & Blooms: Sunday, October 15 — Guests will assemble on the lawn to enjoy local and regional craft beers and live music.
  • Bootanica: Saturday, October 21 — Halloween comes early at the garden, where families are invited to dress in costume, trick-or-treat, and try hands-on activities taught by Garden Educators. The event is free with the price of admission.
  • Sinister Soiree: Friday, October 27 — This adults-only experience meet-and-greet connects visitors with pop culture villains, teasing a heavy Disney focus in the event imagery. Guests will "sip and sing" along with live performances.
  • 5th Annual Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Fest: Saturday, October 28 — At the intersection of fantasy and Halloween, this less-spooky event focuses on the candy and dress-up with a "fairytale, superhero, and villain" twist, assisted by live characters, live music, and even live animals.

Next up after the fall programming will be the famous Lightscape holiday path, with more than one million lights and a few upgrades from past years. But let's enjoy fall before rushing forward to winter quite yet.

More information about San Antonio Botanical Garden and its extensive fall programming is available at sabot.org.

Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

Texas Trees Foundation says San Antonians should water their trees stat

Weather News

With seemingly no end to this prolonged heat wave, Texas Trees Foundation (TTF) is recommending that homeowners and business owners across Central Texas water their trees immediately.

The Foundation has been receiving inquiries about what to do in response to temperatures remaining well above 100°F for lo, these many days — especially in urban centers, currently in the throes of urban heat, where pavement and less vegetation make it up to 10°F hotter than the surrounding countryside.

In these times of extreme heat, trees should be given priority over other landscape plants, including lawns. A lawn left unwatered will naturally go dormant for the season and turn brown, but can turn green again after rain or watering.

A lawn is shallow. It can be re-established in a single season. A large tree cannot. Save the tree.

How to water your tree

  • Do not water established trees at the trunk. Instead, water from the "dripline" - which is the edge of the tree’s branches and outward. The basic rule of thumb is to apply water in a circular band that’s at least half as wide as the distance from the trunk to the dripline.
  • Trees prefer to be watered slowly and deeply. Sprinklers are for lawns but not for trees. Instead, use a bubbler, multiple drip emitters, or a hand-held hose to deliver water to the tree’s root zone. Water the soil to one to two feet deep each time you water and let the surface dry between waterings.
  • The simplest method of watering: Turn your garden hose on a slow trickle and leave it in different zones within the dripline until you can easily insert a screwdriver into the soil. This kind of "deep watering" encourages deep rooting – and deep roots are the best way for a tree to survive a drought. Irrigate established trees once every two weeks during the growing season.

Texas Trees Foundation’s Urban Forester Rachel McGregor reminds homeowners to follow water restrictions, but points out that "trees provide an enormous asset to our landscape by reducing heating and cooling cost in our homes, cleaning the air we breathe, increasing our mental and physical health, decreasing storm water runoff, and many other benefits."

Other techniques
Beyond the necessity of watering, keep these other tips in mind to help your trees survive:

  • The best time for summer watering is in the morning or evening between the hours of 7 pm-8 am. Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day, 10 am-6 pm, because water gets lost in evaporation.
  • Remove grass and other plants which can compete within the soil root zone for available water. This water competition can be severe.
  • Use mulch to conserve water and prevent weed competition. Mulch is any tree’s best friend. Besides minimizing evaporation of soil moisture and limiting rainwater runoff, mulch also protects the tree from mower and weed trimmer damage. Wood chips and shredded bark can be used for mulch. Cover the area with mulch about 2 to 3 inches deep, taking care to avoid the area next to the tree’s trunk.

Do not use fertilizer or prune your tree during summer months. Both cause more stress. Fertilizers promote growth that the tree cannot sustain under unfavorable conditions and pruning off good leaves takes food away from an already stressed tree. The only pruning that should be allowed is to remove dead branches or any branches that pose a hazard.

Heat stress
Your trees will show signs if they are stressed from the heat:

  • Wilted leaves are one of the early signs of stress on a tree during drought.
  • Leaf scorching, when the edges of leaves or the space between a leaf’s veins turns brown

When a tree begins to exhibit signs of heat stress, irrigation should begin immediately to avoid long-term damage to the tree. Drought and high temperatures deliver a one-two punch to trees. Trees exhale moisture from their leaves in a process called transpiration. As temperatures climb, transpiration kicks into overdrive. During extreme heat, there isn’t enough water in the soil to replenish the water lost. When this happens, trees adopt survival strategies that can stress and weaken them.

The Texas Trees Foundation (TTF) is a non-profit tree planting organization dedicated to greening North Central Texas.

Photo by Sonnie Hiles on Unsplash

San Antonio brings its to-do lists for expert advice at the Fall Home + Garden Show

Supervised DIY

San Antonians have a lot to be proud of in their homes. We know they'll shell out thousands of dollars each year to keep up curb appeal, and the city is poised to attract lots of Gen Z residents who will at least become renters, if not buyers quite yet. But home maintenance can be overwhelming, even for longtime homeowners.

Inspiration and important tips can be found at the 35th annual San Antonio Fall Home + Garden Show. The expo just announced that it will set up its goods and service booths at the Alamodome from October 6-8, 2023.

With "hundreds of industry professionals under one roof," according to a news release, the show will offer a lot more than a chance to browse the more than 200 booths. Vendors are happy to give advice and inspiration (hey, maybe bring in that broken something-or-other you've been holding onto for months), and some have even prepared how-to presentations.

This isn't just something for landscape-obsessed dads. (Although...we'll see you there. Can't wait to talk about the best hoses.) Every member of the family can have a hand in keeping the home running smoothly, and kids are invited to learn about how to be more responsible and creative in workshops.

The release picks out 12 highlights, but here are the six CultureMap is most interested in:

  • Celebrity appearance by April Wilkerson: A home-improvement expert on YouTube, Wilkerson can often be spotted in her workshop forming DIYs with wood and metal. She has appeared on History Channel’s More Power, testing power tools. Wilkerson speaks on Friday, October 6, at 4 pm and Saturday, October 7, at 1 pm.
  • Celebrity appearance by Patric Richardson, The Laundry Evangelist: Believe it or not, people couldn't wait to go to Laundry Camp — so much that it created book and TV spinoffs. Richardson is teaching people to take better care of everything that goes in the laundry. He speaks on Friday, October 6, at 3 pm and Saturday, October 7, at noon and 2 pm.
  • Barbie-Inspired Dream Rooms: Barbie inspired tons of people at the movies this year, and her dream house will remain a lasting cultural touchstone for generations to come. Anyone who is ready to think pink can explore four "Barbie-themed dream rooms" by professional designers, to gather inspiration for what can be done in the real world.
  • Ask an Expert Arborist: Local arborists will be answering questions about "all tree-related matters." Hiring an arborist is a good idea, but not cheap, so these tree experts can help make sure you've checked all your boxes first. Consider asking what to plant, and where; whether your trees look healthy or need more attention; and if it's really time to take an old tree down.
  • Home Depot Children’s Workshop: Kids have too much creative energy to let it go to waste around the house. But before popping on a YouTube video and hand them a hammer, consider getting guidance from the Home Depot. The workshop will teach kids "how to build and make something real by themselves."
  • Runway Pet Show: Adoptable pets will hit the runway to inspire pet parents and find new homes. These runway models come from God's Dogs Rescue and San Antonio Pets Alive; Both rescue organizations will benefit from the silent dog house auction.

There will be plenty of snacks from San Antonio food vendors including Aloha Kitchen, Carina's Tacos, Casey's Cottage, Gigi's Cupcakes, Sofia's Pizzeria and The Original Taste of the Caribbean.

Tickets ($8 until October 5, $10 later) are available at sanantoniofallhomeshow.com. Children under 16 enter free, and special days are set for free entry for active military personnel, veterans, fire, police, first responders, and teachers.

Photo courtesy of Central Market

Tons of these Southwestern chiles go down the hatch in Texas every summer

Your Burning Questions, Answered

As if we weren't already sweating enough, things are heating up for Hatch Chile season. These green (and less commonly, red) peppers are all over San Antonio menus. A Hatch Chile usually signifies a special commitment to Southwestern cuisine beyond that of the pedestrian — if widely loved — jalapeño.

But ask a San Antonian where a Hatch Chile comes from, and you'll be met with blank stares. Let them pick it out of a basket at H-E-B and...wait, are there even any in stock? Thankfully, Central Market is on the job with its 28th annual Hatch Chile Festival until August 22.

The grocery store will send teams outside for daily Hatch Chile roasts, adding the special ingredient to "everything from pork chops to pound cakes." Locations across the state plan to go through 125 tons of peppers during this festival, including a free tasting event on August 12.

There are plenty of other places to taste Hatch Chiles in San Antonio, if you want someone else to prepare them: usually at Tex-Mex chains like Chuy's and Torchy's, but sometimes smaller restaurants like Mr. Juicy with a Hatch Chili chicken sandwich.

Like Champagne, Hatch Chiles are named for their provenance: the former floodplains of New Mexico's Hatch Valley. An online seller called the Hatch Chile Store places the growing region across 40,000 acres in New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Texas, but some fanatics say it's not a real Hatch Chile if it's not from the valley, which is fully contained in New Mexico.

A real purist would only accept chiles within the lineage of Joseph Franzoy, an Austrian immigrant and commercial farmer in Hatch who grew his family to more than 700 members over four generations of chile growing. Many informational sources about Hatch chiles are sure to mention the Franzoy name.

If 125 tons seemed like a lot, consider the 300,000 people that visit the small village of Hatch along the Rio Grande each year, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department. These visitors dramatically outnumber the villagers; a group of 1556 as of 2021. A local festival even chooses a chile queen each year.

Central Market attributes the smoky flavor of the chiles to a temperature differential in the valley: big shifts been hot days and cool nights. This is in keeping with widely held gardening wisdom that hotter areas generally create hotter chiles — these generally only pack a mild-to-medium punch at 4,500 units on the Scoville scale. That's about the same or milder than a jalapeño.

If pepper fanatics in San Antonio choose to visit this pepper hotspot, they'll have to plan quite the drive. Hatch is north of Las Cruces and south of the famously named Truth or Consequences. (Yes, that's a real town.) It's about a nine-hour drive one-way, or Texans can fly into the El Paso International Airport and rent a car for the day.

Those who do make the drive may want to check out a copy of New Mexico Chiles: History, Legend and Lore by documentarian Kelly Culler, whose extended family grows chiles in the Hatch Valley. Some things have changed since its 2015 publication, but it doesn't look like people are losing interest in these crops anytime soon.

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San Antonio sparkles and shines as No. 5 most festive city in the U.S. for 2023

on the nice list

San Antonio homes, businesses, and special events that go all out to deck their halls for the holidays have not gone unnoticed. San Antonio has been named No. 5 most festive city in the United States.

A new study by home services provider Thumbtack puts San Antonio at the top of the nice list this year. The report compiled data from millions of Christmas-related home projects across all 50 states between October 2022 to November 2023 to reveal their list of the most festive cities in the nation.

San Antonio is on the rise, after the city previously ranked No. 10 in the 2022 report. And while Thumbtack specifically focuses on home holiday projects, San Antonio residents certainly can glean inspiration from the city's many festive displays, and several surrounding Hill Country winter wonderlands.

Texas cities dominated the top 10, with Austin (No. 1), Dallas-Fort Worth (No. 2), and Houston (No. 3) ranking just ahead of San Antonio to claim the top three most festive U.S. cities. Rounding out the top five is Seattle, Washington in the No. 4 spot.

The average cost to hire a holiday lighting specialist, Thumbtack says, is between $168-$300, with other requests like wrapping outdoor trees tacking on an additional cost. If San Antonians are looking to outsource their exterior home decorating to a specialist, they're already past the peak time to hire one, Thumbtack says. Americans most frequently hang their holiday lights and Christmas decorations during the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the report.

"Whether you’re looking to make your home a brightly lit winter wonderland or simply looking to add a few festive touches to your home’s exterior — sprucing up your home’s exterior with lights is an exciting part of getting into the holiday spirit," said Thumbtack design expert Morgan Olsen in the report. "Hiring a holiday lighting specialist can help you avoid stress (and unwanted injuries) so you can focus on enjoying the season."

Thumbtack's top 10 most festive cities in the U.S. for 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 2 – Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 3 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 4 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 5 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 6 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • No. 7 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 8 – Tampa, Florida
  • No. 9 – Denver, Colorado
  • No. 10 – Orlando, Florida

Director Todd Haynes tackles inappropriate relationships in May December

Movie Review

Director Todd Haynes has pushed buttons throughout his career, starting with his acclaimed short film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which used Barbie dolls to illustrate the late singer’s anorexia battle. He’s at it again with his latest, May December, which tackles the idea of highly inappropriate relationships through a lens that itself has the potential to be upsetting.

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), an acclaimed actress, has traveled to Savannah, Georgia to shadow Gracie (Julianne Moore) in preparation for a movie in which Elizabeth will play Gracie. That movie tackles the beginnings of Gracie’s relationship with Joe (Charles Melton), when he was a 13-year-old seventh grader and she was a 36-year-old pet shop worker. The shocking tryst resulted in much controversy, a child, and a jail stint for Gracie, but the couple professed their love for each other through it all.

Twenty years later, they’re still together, having added two more kids to their family, children who happen to be the same age as Gracie’s grandkids from her previous relationship. Elizabeth wants to experience it all, bouncing from person to person to try to understand exactly who Gracie is and was. Striving for authenticity in her performance, however, soon takes her down a Method acting rabbit hole.

Directed by Haynes from a script by Samy Burch, and loosely based on the story of teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, the film treats Gracie and Joe’s relationship in a relatively straightforward manner. It details a benign life in which they have the love of their kids and some neighbors, even if they occasionally get a box full of poop on their doorstep.

It’s the arrival of Elizabeth that sends things spiraling, as her various conversations trigger responses from both Gracie and Joe that they seem not to expect. Haynes alternates between being serious and being campy, with not enough of each for either for them to seem to be the goal. The score gives off a less-than-serious vibe, and an early scene in which a mundane thing is treated as if it were happening in a soap opera points in the campy direction, but those type of moments are few and far between.

In casting Portman as the obsessive actor, Haynes may have been trying to offer up echoes of her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. It’s no small irony that the person who comes off as the most craven in such a sordid story is the actor who everybody wants to be around, not the woman who became a pariah because she is a sex offender. In that and other ways, Haynes upends expectations, keeping the film interesting even through its slower moments.

Portman and Moore are ideal for their respective roles, Portman because she has a knack for portraying confidence and guile, and Moore due to her ability to manipulate at will. Melton, best known for playing Reggie on Riverdale, pales in comparison due to his less showy role, but he complements the story well. Special notice goes to Elizabeth Yu as Gracie and Joe’s daughter Mary, who shines in her limited scenes.

The story of May December contains elements that will creep certain viewers out, whether it’s the subject matter itself or the performances of the two great lead actors. Haynes has a way of getting under the skin with his storytelling, and this film is yet another great example.


May December is now available on Netflix.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December

Photo by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December.

Tesla's electric Cybertrucks go home with first customers in Texas livestream event

delayed future

"This is really going to change the look of the roads," said "Technoking of Tesla" and co-founder Elon Musk on a live stream for the "Cybertruck delivery event" — the official rollout of the first futuristic electric Tesla trucks.

Announced in 2019, the all-electric truck with a very unique visual design made waves in the news, then was delayed for years as fulfilling the initial claims of vehicular superiority were tougher challenges than they seemed.

A few Texans and Californians may already be used to seeing the occasional Cybertruck out and about, but these were likely pre-production vehicles, and some sources speculate they were driven by employees and engineers in California. (The factory is here, in Central Texas.) They're not hard to spot — looking more like a Humvee from Mars than any earthly pickup truck, they certainly do make an impression.

"What we're aiming for here, is something that's more truck than truck," Musk stated, while standing in the covert bed of the truck, which is nearly invisible thanks to the sloped profile of the vehicle. But it is equally meant to outperform sports cars at their jobs. Musk listed toughness, towing capacity, and speed as its main three triumphs.

Demos included a sort-of-awkward, but technically successful redo of a notorious former experiment in which a baseball was, in fact, able to break two windows; a video of the vehicle being pelted with bullets and receiving dents, but seemingly no puncture wounds; a video of a towing test in which it out-performed a diesel-powered Ford F-350; and flashiest of all, a quarter-mile race against a 2023 Porsche 911, while towing a Porsche 911.

Musk claims that this truck is "smooth as silk" to drive, which this reporter can believe after taking a (much better-looking) Tesla Model Y — an SUV type — on a road trip from Austin to Houston and back. The vehicle, by Musk's description, also resists rollover with a low center of gravity, can tow more than 11,000 pounds, and dynamically adjusts steering intensity based on speed, among other off-roading perks.

After the video and stage demos, the first batch of Cybertrucks literally rolled out. Musk opened the handle-less door for some of the owners, and there was some confusion on how to operate the latch: The Tesla leader leaned in to instruct some of the drivers to put the vehicle in park before the door could be open, and guided some customers on how to find the latch to open the door themselves.

The short live stream (only about 35 minutes after 25 of semi-abstract animations) ended as Musk drove one of the vehicles off the line — either a real impromptu decision, or feigning a shrugging agreement to the invitation.

Anyone on the Internet at this point knows that Musk is as famous for his controversial opinions as for his company's accomplishments; but the livestreamed portion of this event was relatively free of bravado outside of this vehicle's capabilities.

"Even if I liked Elon that would still be one of the ugliest vehicles ever created," wrote one Reddit user, in what seems to be a recurring theme in the discourse.

"I like it and I’m tired of pretending I do not," wrote another, more vulnerable Redditor.

"It's an announcement of an announcement from 5 years ago," wrote an Instagram commenter.

The Cybertruck is available (starting at $49,890) at tesla.com. The website lists 2025 as the estimated delivery date.