Cool spots to snap a holiday Insta in S.A.

December 21, 2018 GMT

You already know about the giant Christmas tree in Travis Park and the thousands of dandy dangling lights along the River Walk. But if you still crave a holiday photo op with real San Antonio flavor, how about a sprawling Alamo City backdrop that’s literally good enough to eat?

The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is hosting a giant gingerbread River Walk display in its front lobby, a true feast for the eyes just begging to indulge any last-minute holiday selfies. The scrumptious diorama at 23808 Resort Parkway is open to the public to take free photos through Jan. 2.

Just don’t snap off any of the tasty architecture when you snap your pics.

“It’s definitely not something where you’re going to walk up and grab a little candy and have it,” said executive pastry chef Marcos Gonzalez, who designed and built the gingerbread display with a team of 22 people from the resort’s pastry department.

A celebration of San Antonio’s tricentennial, the gingerbread River Walk pays homage to several Alamo City landmarks and restaurants, including nods to the giant boots outside North Star Mall, with the Alamo anchoring all the action around a sparkling “river” lit to resemble running water.

A couple of 6-foot-tall nutcrackers stand guard on either side of the display for that extra holiday flavor, along with a towering Christmas tree made with French macarons.

Gonzalez and company spent about two months constructing the River City-themed display, covering boards with fondant and crafting gingerbread houses for a confectionery spectacle that measures 8-by-10 feet.

The entire enterprise weighs in at a teeth-rattling 275 pounds of gingerbread, 100 pounds of royal icing and 50 pounds of candy. That doesn’t count any edible bits that ended up on the cutting room floor, or in the bellies of the construction crew.

“It’s a build-a-gingerbread project and gain some calories at the same time,” Gonzalez said.

The gingerbread River Walk also features miniature fountains, stained glass windows, and other colorful details befitting the downtown San Antonio attraction. In addition to floating river barges and scenes of balcony dining, Gonzalez said the gingerbread display also houses fun little hidden treats, such as a mariachi playing a guitar and Winnie the Pooh outside the Alamo.

Gonzalez noted the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has featured gingerbread displays for about the past eight years. This year’s marks the third for Gonzalez, whose previous cookie constructions include a gingerbread town and one of the San Antonio missions.

As for next year’s gingerbread display?

“I welcome any ideas,” Gonzalez said.

Embrace the holi-daze

Hungry for even more seasonal eye candy? Here are a few other over-the-top holiday displays around San Antonio to take free photos.

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops: Here’s a nice holiday catch: a free 4-by-6 inch photo with Santa, plus scads of free family activities in a picture-perfect setting featuring Christmas cabins and snow-covered hills. 17907 I-10 W., 210-253-8800, basspro.com/santa

Giant ornament at The Rim: In addition to the Flower Vault photo installation sporting holiday scenery, The Rim also has a giant walk-in ornament outside the Lion & Rose for free photos. It even lights up at night for that extra special holiday glow. 17627 La Cantera Parkway, 210-641-1777, therimsa.com

Alamo Quarry Market: The Quarry Market’s iconic smokestacks over Whole Earth Provision Co. get red and green lighting for the holidays, a perfect industrial backdrop for that seasonal snapshot. 255 E. Basse Road, 210-824-8885, quarrymarket.com

Deck the River along the Museum Reach: The San Antonio River Authority’s Deck the River contest along the Museum Reach features various holiday lit locations, including the lit trees and lights of the “Peace, Joy, Art” display outside the San Antonio Museum of Art and the tropical Christmas vibe at El Tropicano River Walk Hotel. 510 Brooklyn Ave., 210-227-1373, sara-tx.org

René A. Guzman is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | rguzman@express-news.net | Twitter: @reneguz