This post was produced in partnership with Visit San Antonio.
Everyone who’s heard of San Antonio, Texas, probably associates the city with the River Walk — and for good reason. It’s beautiful, lively, and there’s so much to do both on the River Walk itself and within walking distance. Since it’s the heart of the city, it only makes sense it would be a perfect spot for a family getaway, and there’s no better time than springtime.
With 15 miles of River Walk teeming with attractions to explore, spring is the perfect time to get to San Antonio’s River Walk.
If you’ve never been, or never realized just how much there is to explore, the River Walk weaves and winds through the city, taking you north to the Museum Reach and Pearl or south to Mission Reach in the middle of the city. On our most recent trip, we were reminded why San Antonio is a place that seems to breath life into everyone who visits.
First, with so many hotels on the River Walk, it’s hard to pinpoint which is “the best,” but on our visit, Hotel Valencia River Walk was spectacular. It’s in a prime location for some fantastic activities and within walking distance to nearly anything you could want. The rooms were spacious, the staff accommodating and the food spectacular. Everyone from families with small children to couples taking a weekend getaway stayed here, so you really can’t go wrong.
What to see on or near the River Walk
Walking out the front doors, you can take steps down to the River Walk to get going on your adventure. That’s one of the beauties of this area, you can so easily just wing it, have no plan in mind, and have the most wonderful day! That being said, we did have a plan on our visit, so we were ready to get going.
Top of the agenda was, of course, to see the historic Alamo! While the River Walk doesn’t spit you out right at the Alamo, it gets you just a couple blocks away. The skies when we visited were this gorgeous blue with just a few white, cotton-candy clouds in the sky, so standing in line to get in the Alamo was actually quite pleasant. Generally, there’s a line since it is such a major attraction for visitors, but it goes by pretty quickly. It was sweet to watch how excited the kids in line were to get to explore the Alamo, and who could blame them? Standing staring at the front of it, it just exudes importance.
The Alamo is one of five missions in San Antonio. The other four are Mission Concepción, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada. These four lie further away from the Alamo, but still within an 8-mile stretch off the River Walk. However, another fun way to see them is to take a bike ride with one of the San Antonio Bike Share bikes that can be found throughout the city. They have motorized bikes or your traditional bicycles that offer a new way to see even more of the city. You can even download the Bcycle app for bike routes all around San Antonio.
Once we saw the Alamo and of course, took some pictures, it was back to the River Walk for more exploring. The Briscoe Western Art Museum is conveniently located just off the River Walk, so whether you’re just popping in or looking to discover more history on the American West, it’s a great spot to stop. The museum’s permanent galleries include exhibits on Native American history and how infrastructure began in the West.
Another museum accessible from the River Walk is the San Antonio Museum of Art, and it’s located within the Museum Reach section of the River Walk. You can walk or bike here, or for something a bit out of the box, take a Go Rio boat ride to the museum! They have a restaurant overlooking the water and enough art and history in this gorgeous museum to pass hours here. We got to see “Elegant Pursuits: The Art of China’s Elegant Elite,” while there, and it was unsurprisingly elegant and beautiful. Up next, and something we’d love to go back and check out, is “Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art,” which runs from Feb. 7 to May 3, 2020. Regardless of when you go though, it’s definitely a museum that should be on your list.
Since the River Walk is 15 miles, depending on where you’re staying and what you’re looking to do, hopping in the car for a quick drive might be more up your alley, which works well since nothing is really too terribly far in San Antonio. Check out even more things to do in this exciting city.
Our very favorite activity in San Antonio, though happens Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in Main Plaza. The Saga is a family-friendly light show created by world renowned French artist Xavier de Richemont. The 24-minute light show is shown on the facade of San Fernando Cathedral, in the heart of downtown. Through music and different displays, it tells the story of San Antonio. It’s seriously incredible, to the point you’re almost moved to tears. It really is something anyone going to San Antonio should see.
We happened to visit during Chinese New Year and got to watch the kick off of the Parade of Lanterns on the River, which runs for about three weeks. In the evening, colorfully decorated and lit boats make their way down the river playing music. Flocks of people lined the River Walk for this spectacle, and none were more enamored with it than the little kids. It was darling to watch them ooh-and-aww as the animatronic panda waved at them and the brightly colored dragon floated by.
Where to Eat on or Near the River Walk
There’s no shortage of amazing food to eat on the River Walk. Everything from Tex-Mex to new American cuisine to Italian and really anything else can be found here, and there’s no bad place to pop in.
Right next door to Hotel Valencia, where we stayed on our trip, is Acenar. It was so good we dined here more than once. Their menu has a ton of Tex-Mex options, and the crab tinga tacos were out of this world, especially when paired with a paloma or margarita — when in Texas, right!? There’s a ton of space both inside and on their patio, which overlooks the River Walk.
Our next stop, and where we got prime River Walk seating for the Parade of Lanterns, was Gourdough’s Public House. As the name alludes, donuts are a staple here. You can get a whole slew of donut sandwiches and burgers, like a build your own grilled cheese or Ron Burgundy Burger. Or, if you’re in the mentality of “go big or go home,” like we were, you’ll try Country Clucker. Let me tell you, it could be split among four people! It’s crispy fried chicken breast, with a potato pancake, creamed corn, and candied jalapenos. You could have rolled me out of there. It was delicious, and with the eye-candy of the River Walk right next to me, it couldn’t have been a better evening.
Another option that everyone in the family will love is Playland Pizza. They offer wood-fired pizzas and an extensive cocktail menu in a colorful and lively atmosphere just off the River Walk.
We could go on and on and on about the plethora of things to do and see and eat on San Antonio’s River Walk. Even though it’s an attraction for the city, it doesn’t feel touristy. It feels like you belong there everywhere you go, and when your trip is over, you won’t want to leave.