San Antonio’s first suburb, King William was settled in the 19th century by prosperous German merchants who displayed their wealth through extravagant homes and named the 25-block area after Kaiser Wilhelm of Prussia. (Other residents of San Antonio were less complimentary, dubbing this German area “Sauerkraut Bend.”) The neighborhood fell into decline in the middle of the 20th century, as the affluent abandoned the inner city for prosperous neighborhoods and suburbs to the north, but you’d never know it today, as tour buses ply its revived streets. If the weather’s agreeable, I suggest skipping the bus tour in favor of strolling around the tree-lined streets, gawking at beautifully landscaped mansions in a variety of architectural styles. Outside the gate of the San Antonio Conservation Society, 107 King William St. (; tel. 210/224-6163), you can pick up self-guided tour pamphlets covering three separate historic districts within the neighborhood. To see some of the homes’ interiors, you can tour Villa Finale and the Steves Homestead Museum, or have a meal at the Guenther House. The neighborhood is a pleasant 15-minute hike from downtown, following the Mission Reach extension of the River Walk.