The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

Leon Springs on San Antonio’s Northwest Side is a family-oriented neighborhood with excellent schools and access to everything you need. Though it’s fairly suburban, Leon Springs is a lively community with friendly, diverse neighbors who truly care about each other.

When we first moved here in 2013 after outgrowing our townhome in the Medical Center, this part of San Antonio was still semi-rural and reminded me of my hometown. Our street was a dead end with no development beyond it and a cow pasture down the road.

I grew up in rural Indiana and after meeting my husband Orlando in college decided to move to his hometown of San Antonio. Though I’d only visited a couple of times, it was an easy decision for me to pick the city with warm weather and vibrant culture.

Orlando’s big family has deep roots on the West Side, and welcomed me with open arms so I instantly felt at home. Growing up in a big family myself, it was important for me to have that support system. When my parents visit from Indiana, they love to take my daughters Cora and Issa to museums and on adventures. And it’s not a trip to San Antonio without a visit to their favorite grocery store H-E-B. They think the Combo Loco deals are the coolest thing and the team members (unsurprisingly) are some of the friendliest retailer employees they’ve ever encountered.

  • Aquila Mendez-Valdez works on her front porch with her 11-year-old Bichon Frise, Frenchie, by her side Wednesday.
  • Frenchie, an 11-year-old Bichon Frise, guides Aqulia on a stroll through a nearby park Wednesday.
  • Aquila Mendez-Valdez often takes virtual calls while working inside of her favorite cafe Merit Coffee.
  • Friedrich Wilderness Park offers approximately 10 miles of hiking trails with carrying levels of difficulty.

We have good options for local coffee nearby, including Merit Coffee and a recently opened new location for Summer Moon Coffee. I love Yummi Japanese Restaurant for sushi (be sure to try the Boerne roll!), and La Hacienda Scenic Loop has a great outdoor space with an enormous wooden playground to keep the kids occupied for hours.

Friedrich Wilderness Park is a beautiful place to unplug and find respite from the busy day-to-day, and trail access in the neighborhood for walks with my dog Frenchie is a definite plus. We’re also close enough to Boerne to take a Sunday stroll along the riverbanks when we want a weekend escape from the city. And of course, Fredericksburg’s wine country is just a quick day trip away.

As the city grows, there’s been a lot of development in this area. In what used to be a cow pasture, a new Walmart went up along with a Spec’s and a Chick-fil-A. This was a bit of a wake-up call for longtime residents that development was inevitable, but we would love to see more local businesses rather than big chains. We have all the staples now, so it would be nice to have more small businesses within walking distance so we can support our local economy. 

The homeowners association, on which I serve on the communications committee, organizes neighborhood events for residents to socialize and celebrate holidays together. We love the Fourth of July tradition of having the local Leon Springs fire department lead the neighborhood kids in a bike parade, culminating in parking the truck in the elementary school parking lot and turning on the hose for kids to play. We always have a lot of trick-or-treaters for Halloween, and our neighbors really get into the annual holiday lights competition. I’m looking forward to what everyone will come up with this year, and if anyone will finally dethrone our longtime repeat champion down the street.

In recent years we’ve had more young families move into the neighborhood, which means more friends for us and our daughters. On any given afternoon you’ll see six or seven kids, including our two girls, running around together until the street lights come on. In some ways that feels like a very rare thing in today’s society, so we feel very lucky.

We’re absolutely blessed to have found this community for our family and to have people to lean on, especially during the pandemic and the winter storm. At the height of the pandemic, we formed a “pod” with our next-door neighbors to help each other balance remote school and work. During the storm, my husband had an accident and a paramedic neighbor was there within minutes to make sure he was OK until the ambulance arrived.

Among all the wonderful memories we’ve made in Leon Springs, the one that always sticks out is the birth of our youngest daughter. We chose to give birth with a midwife and Issa was born in our master bath. Though she arrived in the middle of the night, our firstborn Cora happened to wake up and come downstairs, meeting her new baby sister just moments after she was born. I have so many emotions tied to that experience and so many more in our home that even if someday we end up moving, I’ll know I’ll always feel a pull to this house and this neighborhood. 

Aquila Mendez-Valdez

Aquila Mendez-Valdez is CEO of Haute in Texas, a full-service agency, specializing in digital marketing, media relations, and community programming.