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.

When I was growing up in Laredo, I was determined to attend a competitive college out of state. I worked hard to make that happen and was able to get my degree at Cornell University. But spending time away didn’t mean leaving Texas behind. I knew that I eventually wanted to return to my home state to be near my family and make an impact closer to home.

My family would often visit San Antonio when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really started seeing San Antonio differently. My older sister moved here and when I would visit, she would take me to places we never experienced growing up. One of those places was the Pearl, which immediately struck me as such a cool space. My grandparents live nearby in Kerrville and my parents are still in Laredo, so San Antonio has become our gathering place. And when it came time to decide my next move after college, it made sense to return to that support system – especially since my husband is so far from his family in South Korea.

We got married at the Briscoe in September and the day before the wedding had a rehearsal picnic at the Pearl. On the day of the wedding I got ready at Hotel Emma while my husband got ready at our apartment. Then we met in front of Hotel Emma for our first look. We pass by that spot almost daily, so it’s definitely special to us and a reminder of that day.

We both love that the Pearl is its own community. Living here, you get to know the staff at the shops and restaurants and build those small but meaningful bonds. It’s nice to see those friendly faces among the mix of locals and tourists. 

Almost everything that we need is within walking distance of our apartment, including five coffee spots, which was a major selling point for me. And during the pandemic, being near so many coffee shops has helped us shake up our work from home routine. The park space has also been ideal for meeting friends. We can grab food and drinks from the Food Hall and claim one of the socially distanced circles for a relaxing evening.

  • Amy Garza moved into the Pearl in July 2020 with her husband and puppy Pepper.

Having such easy access to outdoor spaces has also helped us stay active. Before the pandemic, I would regularly attend fitness classes with my friends. When that was no longer an option, we were able to quickly move our workouts outdoors. We meet at Lions Field, get a workout in, and then walk down to Mila Coffee and Wild Barley for coffee and bagels. 

The recently opened dog park at Maverick Park is already a favorite play place for our puppy. Not only can Pepper make friends, but we can, too. Navigating post-college life in a new city and in the middle of a pandemic, it’s not easy to make friends, so we’re happy to have a chance to meet more of our fellow dog parent neighbors at the park.

I’m also grateful to have a built-in community through the Venture for America fellowship program, which pairs recent graduates with startups in cities across the country. The San Antonio startup scene is a tight-knit ecosystem and being part of the fellowship is a cool way to get plugged in. Having the camaraderie of the other fellows has been comforting and eye-opening. There’s so much exciting work being done in San Antonio in so many different fields. People always think of Austin when they think of Texas startups, but San Antonio is building its own momentum. 

When we are able to have visitors from out of town, I enjoy curating experiences for them. This always involves food and drinks. My go-to recommendations are starting at High Street Wine before walking down to Tre Trattoria at the San Antonio Museum of Art or starting at the recently opened Best Quality Daughter and moving to Sternewirth for drinks. One of the biggest perks of living at the Pearl is that visitors don’t have to go far (or even drive, if they don’t want to) for an excellent San Antonio experience.

As we emerge from the pandemic and are able to enjoy the Pearl more and more, I’d love to see the farmers market continue to grow, while also becoming more accessible and inclusive. I’m also eager for the return of events to the Pearl because that’s definitely an aspect of life here that I’ve missed. Heading into summer I hope to see more of that programming that once drew people from all over the city.

Amy Lee is a project manager at Dura Software and a 2020 Venture for America fellow.