Places are designed with purpose, though people may not often see it. Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, wants to change that:

“One of the things we like to do,” he said, “is make the often invisible hand of the landscape architect visible.”

To bring the local landscape into sharper focus, TCLF is offering free, expert-led tours of two dozen places around San Antonio this weekend. What’s Out There Weekend San Antonio features deep-dive guided tours of 24 landmarks around the city. Local experts will take visitors around such significant spots as Brackenridge Park, Hemisfair, San Antonio National Cemetery, and more on Saturday and Sunday. Tours are free, but registration is required as space is limited. Register online for tours here.

The tour guides are people with deep knowledge of San Antonio and its notable sites. They include architect Boone Powell and Trinity University art and art history professor Kathryn O’Rourke, who will explain the landscape legacy of Trinity. Landscape architect John Troy and Claire Alexander will showcase the San Antonio Botanical Garden, while Confluence Park Director Frates Seeligson will lead a tour of the site. Each tour’s guides are listed on the weekend’s schedule.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has brought What’s Out There Weekend events to cities nationwide and to Canada. In a project that’s been a year in the making, TCLF partnered with the City of San Antonio to bring it here for San Antonio’s Tricentennial.

The mission of the nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., is to connect people with places, according to TCLF’s website. Birnbaum said doing so is important to preserving a place’s future.

“The more you understand the stories of these places, the better you are able to take care of them,” Birnbaum said.

What’s Out There Weekend events are one of the foundation’s most popular programs, Birnbaum said.

“It appeals to people who are new to the city, to people who are tourists visiting,” he said. “But it’s also really popular with local residents. They often find out something new about a place they often move through every day and never knew it.”

As with each city to which TCLF brings a What’s Out There Weekend event, printed guides of San Antonio are available for purchase. You can also access the guide online here.

TCLF also has a searchable database of North American landscapes with more than 2,000 entries compiled by academics, volunteers, advocates, researchers, and historians. Explorers can also try the foundation’s What’s Nearby function, which uses GPS to search for notable landscapes in your vicinity.

What’s Out There San Antonio starts Friday evening with an opening reception at The Public Theater San Antonio, previously known as the San Pedro Playhouse, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the Rivard Report.