San Antonio Neighborhood
By far the most popular neighborhood in Cali for tourists, San Antonio is one of several adjoining Colonial sections of Cali. Colonial San Antonio has been well preserved architecturally, after being founded in 1746.
The neighborhood boasts a beautiful park, with trees and amazing views of the city. At the peak of the park is the Colina de San Antonio, an old church which offers little by way of elegance, yet retains its colonial charm, and provides some of the best views of the city from atop the hill.
San Antonio has, and continues to attract writers, painters and intellectuals to its historic narrow streets and beautiful architecture. Every September the neighborhood hosts a street art fair, where blocks are closed to automobiles and the doors open up to endless galleries and art shows.
Many popular restaurants are located in San Antonio, offering great lunch specials and a chance to taste a wide variety of Colombian regional dishes. Bars and nightlife are a little more limited, but there are some nice old spots to slip into, like “La Colina Bar.”
Sitting in the park during the day allows for great bird watching within the city. Red, yellow and blue birds are everyday sights in the park. If lucky you can see some Parrots flying in or hanging out in the trees.
As soon as the midday heat passes and the breeze comes flowing from the mountains, Caleño’s take to the park for a number of activities. Many musicians sit in the park and have jam sessions, while families bring their dogs to let them run through the large space. Many of the residents go to have a beer and the area is more or less a tolerated zone for smoking marijuana.
On a side note, marijuana is legal to possess in Cali, though the cops may tell you otherwise. Very recently a law was passed allowing for Colombians to even grow their own if they want. After years of drug violence and a failed War on Drugs, it seems that the government is anxious to try out alternatives.
The San Antonio neighborhood is also home to a few Salsa schools and is a great place to meet other travelers. No matter how much time you have in Cali, San Antonio is most likely going to be your place of choice. So go, grab a beer from one of the nearby storefronts, and relax for an evening in the park. We’re sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.