Exploring the San Antonio Riverwalk
The San Antonio Riverwalk is not a small feat to conquer yet it’s the main point of attraction for many people who visit the city. The riverwalk is located just below street level and has it’s very own water taxi to navigate long distance destinations. Many of the things people travel to San Antonio to visit are located along or within a short distance of the riverwalk from the downtown area to the Pearl District and the four Spanish missions. Instead of sharing details on how beautiful the riverwalk is, we all know it’s gorgeous, we’ve broken it down to make planning easy. Regardless if you’re visiting San Antonio for a weekend or a week, there’s plenty to do to fill that time and no reason to leave feeling like you haven’t accomplished much.
IF YOU LOVE HISTORY
The riverwalk and the Alamo tie for first place in popularity. The Alamo is a must visit for San Antonio whether you think you’ll be interested or not. If you don’t go for the history, go to be amazed that most of this “mission” is still standing after a 13-day battle 182 years ago. That alone is astonishing. The Battle at the Alamo is an important moment in Texas history marking an almost two-week long fight that a severely undermanned army of mostly volunteers fought against the Mexican regime. There were a handful of famous names that participated in the battle including Davy Crockett and James Bowie. The grounds are gorgeous and worth walking around. Tours are available if you’d like an inside look into history but anyone can walk around the common area for free.
Around the corner from the Alamo is Fernando Cathedral, built in 1731. This beautiful building is the oldest standing cathedral sanctuary in the United States. If you’re up for a hike, the San Antonio Missions National Park consists of four Spanish colonial missions that stand almost exactly as they were built. These are also somewhat along the riverwalk but there are no water taxis that take tourists to them, only options on land.
IF YOU LOVE FOOD
There is a ton of food to enjoy along the Riverwalk from high-class dining to walk-up gelato stations. No one will go hungry in San Antonio, that’s for sure. A few restaurants that we will be featuring in the coming weeks include: Rita’s on the River, a Tex Mex-style restaurant featuring mind blowing guacamole and Boudro’s on the River, a Texas-style bistro with a hint of French flare featuring french fries with this chili seasoning that I cannot seem to recreate.
For a more unique dining experience, The Guenther House is a popular spot for tourists and locals with great views of the river in an old private residence. The Guenther House mixes history and dining for an original experience only this old home could provide. From the charming design to a menu filled with classic southern comfort food, there’s no wonder it’s irresistible to anyone who’s familiar. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dessert every day of the week. A few items you’ll find on the menu include Buttermilk Biscuits & Country Sausage Gravy, Strawberry Waffles, Chicken Salad Sandwiches and more.
IF YOU LOVE THE ARTS
The San Antonio Museum of Art is not far from the Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk and also has its own water taxi stop. Take advantage of free admittance on Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings to save a buck! The museum has a large collection of American art spanning Spanish Colonial and Latin American Folk. There are also artifacts and collections from ancient civilizations such as Rome, Greece, Egypt and China.
Right across the street from Hotel Indigo is the Southwest School of the Arts. Now a community art school, the property and building used to be a convent for Catholic nuns and a school for girls. The building is more than 150 years old and breathtaking. It's also where my cousins got married and they couldn’t have picked a better location. Finally, right across the river from Hotel Indigo is the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. You can identify this building from around the area thanks to the large dome. This is a great place to catch a show happening during your visit. They also have free movies on the plaza each month as well as free fitness classes from March through October.
IF YOU LOVE SHOPPING
La Villita (the little village) is a preserved neighborhood that Spanish soldiers built while stationed at the Alamo (source: Visit San Antonio). It’s a fun place to visit with cafes, galleries, boutiques and markets. It also has a well-known arts scene including live performances that happen regularly right on the riverwalk.
The Pearl District is a newer neighborhood at the end of the riverwalk’s water taxi line. It used to be the main brewing location for Pabst Beer and is now a mixed-use area with restaurants, shops, events, markets and more. If you love food, the arts, history, shopping, or anything else...there’s something here for you. It’s an all encompassing destination for the San Antonio area.
TOP 3 RECOMMENDATIONS
1 - If you have kids, tire them out with a walk down the river to the San Antonio Zoo. With 54 acres and more than 750 species, there’s tons to explore and may even take up an entire day of your trip if you’d like it too. It’s kind of a long hike depending on where you’re walking from so you might want to drive instead.
2 - The Pearl District is my #1 recommendation for San Antonio. I honestly love this neighborhood and spent almost two days there. From the beautifully designed Hotel Emma to classes at the Culinary Institute of America San Antonio, there’s plenty to stay entertained. Big feature on this neighborhood coming soon.
3 - The downtown area of the riverwalk has plenty to see and do. It’s easy to spend the majority of your time downtown with the amount of restaurants and activities. The Shops at Rivercenter are great if it’s a rainy day and the Tower of the Americas is an attraction that lots of people love.