Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio and its surrounding areas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Real estate agent Ginger Browning spent most of her life in the New Braunfels area — even a short move out of state couldn't keep her away from Central Texas.

"While I loved getting to visit different parts of the country, learn different cultures, and meet different people, I got back home as soon as I could," she says. "The graciousness and hospitality of people here are beyond compare."

Having worked in the area, which includes the neighborhoods Vintage Oaks and Gruene, for more than a decade, Browning notes that the location is unbeatable: convenient to everything, but not in the hustle and bustle of the big city.

"The area has so much to offer: the relaxing feel, beautiful rock and stucco homes, expansive yards, Hill Country views and so much more," Browning says. "With the music scene in Gruene and its wonderful restaurants, you do not have to go far to have a good time."

The amenities aren't to be overlooked, either. "Gruene has the river activities, food, shopping, and night life while Vintage Oaks has hidden parks and walking trails, but the best is the amazing pool with the lazy river," she adds. "It is a great way to pass those long, hot summer days."

Browning, who was a Top 10 agent for Kuper Sotheby's International Realty in 2021 and a member of the President's Circle, has also been recognized as a Platinum Top 50 Realtor several years running.

What you might not expect, though, are her hobbies: motorcycles and beekeeping. "We have several hives on our property that we care for. It is such a great experience to watch and learn how they work," she says. "The honey is not bad either."

Browning offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Vintage Oaks and Gruene. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
There are several icons of the area that Browning visits often, like Gruene River Grill, Krause's Biergarten and Cafe (which was originally built in 1938), Muck & Fuss for craft beer and burgers, and Marina's for breakfast tacos.

Where to play
It's all about the water here, from Schlitterbahn to Canyon Lake to a day lazily tubing down the river. Landa Park is where you'll find the headwaters of Comal Springs, plus charming paddle boats and 50 acres of greenspace.

What to see
See live music at Freiheit Country Store or Gruene Hall, catch a classic or new-release movie at Stars and Stripes Drive-In, or participate in any of the many seasonal festivals.

A visit to the Sophienburg Museum and Archives offers insight into the area's German heritage, while a stroll across the Faust Street Bridge feels like stepping back in time.

And, of course, you're not in Texas unless you stop at Buc-ee's and marvel at all its goods for sale.

Where to live
Many properties here have beautiful views and spacious grounds, and most are custom-built or semi-custom like 1021 Gruene Springs, a record-breaking sale of Browning's in New Braunfels that secured the highest price per square foot that has ever sold in the neighborhood.

Other significant sales of hers in the area include 1090 Provence Pl., 1757 Antigua Cove, and 1017 Elm Creek.

Another perk that Browning points out is the area's generally low tax rate and no city taxes in some of the more popular neighborhoods, including Vintage Oaks

"While it was not our first time selling a home, we had never before encountered such exceptional service," says one of Browning's clients. "From the first day that we worked with Ginger, we were struck by her incredible enthusiasm, heartfelt sincerity, astounding industry knowledge, client advocacy, dedication, and personal attention."

The client also pointed out that Ginger went out of her way to ensure that selling their home did not interfere with their busy work schedules.

"Words cannot describe how reassuring it is to know that not only do you have an agent who is willing to go the extra mile, but will make your life as stress-free as possible throughout the home searching and buying process. We also connected with Ginger's warm personality and sense of humor from the start, and now consider her not just our Realtor but our lifelong friend.""


Ginger Browning works and plays in Vintage Oaks and Gruene. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email ginger.browning@kupersir.com or call 830-837-1891.

Agent Ginger Browning

Realtor Ginger Browning

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Ginger Browning.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Alamo Heights: A big little town with great schools and walkability

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


In 2007, Kathy Ripps retired as an Alamo Heights Junior School counselor and transitioned right into real estate, where to this day she happily sells people on her own neighborhood.

"It was a natural fit for me — I've lived here for 25 years," the agent says. "Alamo Heights has charm, beautiful architecture, a canopy of trees, great schools, and walkability."

The vibe is that of a small town, Ripps says, where your neighbor driving by will always stop to chat and the cars behind will wait patiently through the conversation. The community strongly supports its Alamo Heights schools and turns out in droves to cheer on each activity. You can walk to boutiques, restaurants, The Quarry, or Central Market and it's only minutes to Pearl, downtown, and the airport.

"I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri, but my Texas roots run deep," says Ripps, who has called the Lone Star State home for more than 35 years. "I am actively involved in numerous charities and love giving back to this area."

Ripps offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Alamo Heights. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
From upscale-yet-casual dining at Frederick's to SoLuna, Paloma Blanco, and 09 Bistro, there are several spots that top the list for Ripps.

Where to play
"I think for young families you cannot beat the neighborhood pool, which also serves great food and iced tea," notes Ripps. "The Bark Park of Alamo Heights is a hit, and now we have the Bike Park as well."

Walking through the Judson Nature Trails, there are plenty of places to sit and listen to/watch the birds. "I really think the 'gem' of this neighborhood is that it calls you to be outside and enjoy nature," Ripps says.

What to see
The McNay Art Museum, Witte Museum, The DoSeum, The Quarry, and Olmos Basin Park are all must-visits.

Where to live
"I think what is unique about the homes in Alamo Heights is that no two are alike," says Ripps. "You have homes built in the 1930s and then others that have been torn down and completely rebuilt in 2022. The older homes have a lot of quirks and charm, since most have been added onto at some point. But there are still large oak trees in the yards that provide a rich canopy of shade, making it easy to remember that this is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Antonio."

One recent sale of Ripps was 935 Cambridge Oval, which she had under contract in only two days.

"Kathy is a professional and experienced real estate agent who recently helped us sell and purchase a new home," says her client. "We had a contract only a few days after listing, and she was amazing throughout the selling and buying process. Moving can be difficult, but working with Kathy took all the stress away."


Kathy Ripps lives, works, and plays in Alamo Heights. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email kathy.ripps@kupersir.com, or call 210-240-4464.

Realtor Kathy Ripps

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Kathy Ripps.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Olmos Park: The perfect place to build a lifetime of memories

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


The true test of a neighborhood is when a person grows up there, and then chooses to return in adulthood.

That's what real estate agent Mary Carter did with Olmos Park, which she has called home for the past 20 years.

"I know it so well, and I met my lifelong best friends there as a child," Carter says. "I had many children my age to play with, and we would ride bikes, have lemonade stands, and sell Girl Scout cookies. It was a wonderful place to grow up."

Today, she praises the area's convenience, being only minutes from Highways I10 and 281 and a very quick jaunt to downtown.

"If I didn't have to get around town for work, I could easily live here without a car," she says. "There are so many conveniences right at my doorstep."

Carter offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Olmos Park. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Panchito's Mexican Restaurant is "a favorite spot with all San Antonio," Carter says — and that's extra impressive, considering the city's rich Tex-Mex offerings.

Where to play
Olmos Basin is a popular spot for its sports fields, as are the many walking trails that surround the neighborhood and its dog park.

What to see
Olmos Park is very close to Landa Library, plus just minutes from all the entertainment, history, and cultural spots that downtown San Antonio has to offer.

Where to live
"Olmos Park was one of the first major elite communities built after WWI," Carter says. "A man named Thorman bought the land to develop and was instrumental in making sure it would be its own township and part of the newly developed Alamo Heights Schools District."

The style of homes he built were two-story native rock or brick with interior features like high ceiling and arches between formal areas.

"In the middle of the Olmos Park is a large hill where you can see to downtown and back, and on those lots Thorman built true mansions," she says. "Much later, another man came along to build more contemporary-style homes, only one story and made from brick. You still have a mixture of the two, though many of the contemporary homes have either been torn down or vastly expanded."

Carter recalls that her very first sale was 625 Contour Dr. in 1977, though sadly it was just torn down to become part of a lot for the next-door neighbors. More recently, she has sold 202 Primera, 210 E. Mandalay, and "a great house on Park Lane."


Mary Carter lives, works, and plays in Olmos Park. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email mary.carter@kupersir.com, or call 210-387-4663.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

The Dominion: San Antonio's premier lifestyle community

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


The Dominion has always intrigued real estate agent Matthew Resnick — he lived there himself for more than eight years, and was a HOA board member, and has family still in the neighborhood. His office has been located in The Dominion for the past 15 years.

"I've made it my passion to become the expert for people buying and selling in The Dominion and its surrounding areas," Resnick says. "It's a masterplanned community where you can live, work, and play, with golf courses, parks, ponds, and trails."

Resnick — who is also a certified expert in diamonds and jewelry, thanks to growing up with his father's business, Reznikov's Fine Jewelry — calls The Dominion San Antonio's premier lifestyle community.

His reasons? Here are a few more of his personal favorites about life in the area:

Where to eat & drink
No matter what you're craving, you'll be satisfied. Resnick recommends Signature, Piatti, Rudy's BBQ, and Bar 301.

Where to play
"I enjoy spending time with my family hiking at Friedrich Park," he says. "I also really enjoy playing a round of golf or having a tennis match with my kids at the Dominion Country Club and La Cantera Resort & Spa."

What to see
TopGolf is another way to practice your swing, or more adventurous souls can check out Six Flags Fiesta Texas, horseback riding at Rose Palace, and iFly indoor skydiving.

Less heart-pounding but still enjoyable is retail therapy at The Shops at La Cantera or a visit to Cascade Caverns and the Cave Without a Name.

Where to live
"Behind the gates in The Dominion you have many distinctive neighborhoods that each have their own style, appeal, and architecture," Resnick says. "You will find contemporary and modern to traditional and Colonial architecture in all sizes, from garden homes to large acreage lots with mansion/estate homes."

A recent large sale of Resnick's definitely falls into the latter category: 5 Crescent Bluff, a beauty of over 7,000 square feet built by the award-winning Roberto Kenigstein of Image Homes.

"Matthew really cares, as though he's making the purchase himself," says his client. "Having moved a handful of times, I have experienced a variety of Realtors as both a buyer and a seller. Matthew and his team are exceptional."


Matthew Resnick works and plays in The Dominion. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email matthew.resnick@kupersir.com, or call 210-849-8837.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Stone Oak: A+ schools and plenty of parks populate this neighborhood

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Real estate agent Robin Karam has been a Stone Oak resident for more than two decades, drawn by its beautiful landscaping and NEISD schools. But it's only been in the past decade that she's begun focusing on the area for her clients, too.

"The area is so beautiful, with its rolling hills, views of downtown, and lots of wildlife are some of the unique qualities of this area," the native San Antonian says. "It's also full of delicious dining options, shopping, and parks."

Karam offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Stone Oak. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"Copa Wine Bar and Tasting Room has been a long-time favorite, offering delicious pizza and appetizers and amazing wine selections," she says.

A new favorite is Pan and Coffee for its scrumptious brunch, offering fresh-baked items and gourmet organic coffee selections.

Where to play
"I'm very excited for our new 204-acre park, Classen-Stuebing Ranch Park, which is surrounded by a limestone quarry and filled with oak trees," Karam says. "It offers hiking and biking trails, ball fields, and a playground."

Stone Oak Park has an access point on the Bush Middle School campus, while members of The Club at Sonterra can enjoy golf on its two 18-hole championship courses, tennis, and swimming, plus great summer camps for the kids.

Where to live
The community offers a unique Hill Country lifestyle that embraces nature, making this area of San Antonio unlike any other. Reagan High School is the pride of the residents here, Karam points out, excelling in academics and athletics year after year.

A few of Karam's recent significant sales in the area include 47 Trophy Ridge, 24810 Jordans Way, 24807 Jordans Way, 21402 Promontory Circle, 610 Enchanted Way, 922 Campanile, 23722 Baker Hill, and 20631 Wild Springs Dr.

"Robin was the perfect choice to list our home," write recent clients. "Her in-depth market knowledge and home staging expertise brought top dollar offers."


Robin Karam lives, works, and plays in Stone Oak. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email robin.karam@kupersir.com, or call 210-488-7225.

Photo by Onward Group

Southtown: San Antonio's artsy, historical enclave

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


"Southtown is a neighborhood in the truest sense," says real estate agent Debra Maltz, "residents with diverse backgrounds who care deeply about their community, both its people and its structures, who strive to maintain balance in order to assure that future generations have the same quality of life."

The artsy neighborhood of Southtown is where Maltz keeps her office, and it's an area that she's been happily introducing clients to for the past decade.

"The vibe of Southtown is well appreciated among San Antonio," she says. "It is probably the most walkable neighborhood in the city, with fabulous restaurants, interesting shops, Blue Star Arts complex, the San Antonio River, the So Flo HEB, and gorgeous Victorian homes, all only a short walk to downtown."

Maltz offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Southtown. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"There are too many to pinpoint, but I love Cascabel, a small Mexican cafe across from Bonham Elementary — delicious!" she says.

Liberty Bar, Upscale, Bar Loretta, Little Em's, Pharm Table, Bliss, and The Good Kind also make the list, though Maltz points out that new favorites seem to always be appearing.

Where to play
Obviously Hemisfair Park and the San Antonio River hike and bike path, which goes all the way to the Missions, are oft-visited spots, as is Yanaguana Park and just strolling down King William Street.

What to see
Though the Edward Steves Homestead Museum is currently closed, you can still visit Villa Finale and the Blue Star Arts Complex for your doses of culture and history.

Where to live
"Southtown has wonderful historic homes, many of them well over 100 years old, as well as newer, more modern ones," Maltz says. "Many of the older homes are filled with history, and when you decide to live in a home filled with history you are agreeing to be a steward of the home."

One such homes is a recent listing of Maltz's: 129 Crofton Ave., a one-of-a-kind artisanal King William home.

This was the lifetime home — and project for almost 40 years — of noted local designers and craftsmen Isaac and Judith Maxwell. It has since been thoughtfully updated by the current owners and features gorgeous long-leaf pine floors and ceilings and meticulous woodworking, joinery, and craftsmanship. Original coal-burning faux fireplaces with gorgeous brick can be found throughout. The Maxwells' original punched metal light fixtures and chandeliers can still be found throughout, along with many hidden cabinets and hiding places.

The kitchen has a beautiful island with those same original punched metal cabinet doors, but has also been updated with Corian counters, a built-in refrigerator, a downdraft gas range, farm sink, and a charming banquette overlooking the back deck. Wrap-around porches decorate both the first and second floor, while the third-floor loft makes an ideal guest room, office, or reading room.

A second, 400-square-foot structure in the rear has two floors, each with a living area, full bath, and private entrance. Follow the brick path that winds through the yard down to the San Antonio River.

A stunning recent sale is 331 Adams St., a five-bedroom historic treasure built in 1893.

Known as the Haarmann/Goethe House, it's recognizable by the arched brick facade and multiple porches, but also hides a 900-square-foot apartment, dog run, pool, and outdoor kitchen out back.


Debra Maltz works and plays in Southtown. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email debra.maltz@kupersir.com, or call 210-639-3272.

Realtor Debra Maltz

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Debra Maltz.

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'Little West Side gem" sparkles with summer grand opening


Some bar owners talk about community, but the all-woman trio behind new Prospect Hill spot Chiflada’s mean it. The team says the concept, celebrating its grand opening on June 2, wouldn’t have happened without it.

Family and friends turned out to support the bar months before it was ready for the build-out. They turned out again to help transform a vacant bungalow at 1804 West Martin St. into a comfortable and stylish lounge. When the ice machine went on the fritz during the June 27 soft opening, the bar’s supporters flexed their muscles to ensure the drinks remained cold.

Even the West Side neighborhood gave it a seal of approval. Natasha Riffle, who co-owns Chifladla’s with her mother, policewoman Veronica Riffle, and El Buho owner Melanie Martinez, says the team walked door to door to change the zoning, ensuring residential buy-in.

The result is a bar that is by and for the neighborhood. At the soft opening party, Marigolds swayed in the breeze under a pergola as congratulatory bouquets filled the bar’s shelves. Guests busily chattered as popular deejay Sunnyboy played oldies and conjunto hits.

“It feels like you’re at your abuelita’s backyard and hanging with your family,” Natasha Riffle says of the bar’s vibe.

The drinks honor that spirit, too, toeing the line between the neighborhood’s blue-collar roots and the team’s cocktail-making skills. Featured sippers include a punchy Mexican Martini, a melon Paloma, the Chif Peach, and the mezcal-based Smoke on the Water.
“It’s a place to get a nice cocktail, but also a place to get a beer and shot combo,” Natasha Riffle tells CultureMap about the high-low mix.

Ultimately, Chiflada’s feels like home — the type of place folks let loose after a long day at work, where multiple generations can get in on the party and where bartenders become close friends.

“We all lived [on the West Side] off and on,” says Riffle of the team, “and we’ve all worked with each other over the years. We are more of a family than we are co-workers — 100 percent.”

Chiflada's San Antonio

Photo by Joe Rodriquez

Natasha Riffle beams in front of her newly opened bar.

Contemporary Irish pub sprouts up in new St. Paul's Square home


One of San Antonio’s most storied bars is gearing up for its next chapter. After a brief hiatus, Southtown hot spot Francis Bogside has reopened in St. Paul Square, along with a sister concept — Anne’s.

The bar first opened in 2015 in conjunction with the fine dining eatery Brigid. The pair had barely been in business for a year before an early morning fire ravaged their shared space in 2016. In 2017, the bar reopened on South St. Mary’s Street sans Brigid, becoming one of Alamo City’s favorite haunts.

In July 2022, owner Steve Mahoney announced another change. Francis Bogside was moving out of its longtime home and into a new location. Eventually, internet sleuths figured out that spot would be 1170 E Commerce St #100 in St. Paul’s Square, the former home of Smoke BBQ.

Though in a new location, the basic DNA of the bar is still intact, with a similar layout featuring a large central bar and a jumble of artwork on the walls. The space, however, is a more contemporary interpretation of an Irish pub with a bold mix of upholstery, up-to-date wallcoverings, and mosaic tiles, all enlivening the mostly brick space.

Though Bogside’s signature cocktails have often strayed from theme, a release promised a return to form with sippers like Paddy’s Irish whiskey-based Irish Maid and low ABV Jammy Lass. As usual, the specialty drinks will be supplemented by various classics, including daiquiris and negronis.

Currently, the bar has a limited food menu of pub grub, like focaccia pizza, wings, and loaded potato skins. A more fully developed menu will be rolled out as it prepares for a grand opening later in June.

The media alert did not offer many details about Anne’s, a wine bar now open in the adjoining space, but did tease at an international bottle list. The concept will also have a dedicated food menu, although no details were shared.

Currently in its soft opening phase, Francis Bogside welcomes guests 4 pm-2 am Tuesday through Sunday. Anne’s operates Wednesday through Sunday with the same opening hours.

Francis Bogside San Antonio

Photo by TXTroublemaker

A large central bar is the focal point.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”