Living in Austin, San Antonio is a short 90-minute drive away. So I’ve had my fair share of trips to San Antonio. However, it wasn’t until this most recent trip that I decided to spend my time living it up on one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country: The San Antonio River Walk.
About the San Antonio River Walk
So a little bit about the River Walks in San Antonio… In short, it’s a park/pedestrian street in Downtown San Antonio, Texas, one level down from the “car” street. The River Walk is an icon in Texan culture and many trips to San Antonio can be spent without ever needing to leave the area.
Initially, the San Antonio River Walk was built in 1929 as a way to control flooding, while also improving the look of the San Antonio River.
Today, The River Walk features two paths on either side of a fairly shallow, slow-moving river. The pedestrian (and dog-friendly) paths wind under bridges and in front of restaurants, bars, hotels, and even a shopping mall.
How Long is the Riverwalk in San Antonio?
The River Walk in San Antonio, Texas is 15 miles long, with five miles in the downtown section. Since the River Walk is a public park, the attraction is free to visit.
My Favorite San Antonio River Walk Hotels
There are many cool and unique hotels on the River Walk in San Antonio. From large hotels to smaller, historic inns. Staying at one of these hotels that are right on the River Walk will make it a breeze to get around and explore Downtown San Antonio.
For most of my visits to San Antonio, I’ve stayed at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a great place to stay on the San Antonio River Walk.
The hotel is large, modern, and packed with all the amenities such as dog-friendly rooms, a rooftop pool, on-site Starbucks, plus a delicious restaurant and bar that overlooks the River Walk.
If you’re interested in learning more about the rooms and rates at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, click the button below!
The Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk is the only hotel on the River Walk that I’ve stayed at. However, during our recent visit, we took a boat tour and got to float by many of the other gorgeous hotels nearby.
Here are a few River Walk hotels that caught my eye:
What To Do on the San Antonio River Walk
From shopping to eating, to drinking, to remember the Alamo, there is SO much to do along the downtown section of the River Walk. Families will have a great time, as well as couples and groups. Here are some of the best things to do on the San Antonio River Walk.
1. San Antonio Riverwalk Boat Ride
Going on a River Walk boat tour you’ll learn more about the history and engineering behind this popular tourist attraction. Out of all the times I’ve been to San Antonio, this was my first time taking a boat tour. And oh boy, do I wish I did it sooner. I recommend doing this early on in your trip to the River Walk.
If you don’t mind waits and crowds, it’s quite the experience going at night. However, if you wish to go with fewer groups, go during the morning. The shade trees that line the River Walk will provide plenty of shade!
There is only one provider of boat tours on the River Walk: GO RIO Cruises. My tip is to get a ticket from them ahead of lining up to board a boat. Sometimes both of those lines can get pretty long.
2. Take a Picture at the Selena Bridge
The Selena Bridge is a famous stop along the River Walk. An iconic scene from the movie “Selena” was filmed on the bridge located by N. Saint Mary’s Street and Navarro Street.
3. Imbibe with a Few Tiki Drinks at Hugman’s Oasis
Finally! The River Walk has a tiki bar! Hugman’s Oasis opened just a year or two ago, but they’ve quickly become a San Antonio favorite. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time as this place can get busy!
4. Indulge in all the Delicious Tex-Mex River Walk Restaurants
You cannot come to San Antonio without eating your weight in Tex-Mex. If you’re coming to San Antonio as a Tex-Mex lover, I’ve got good news for you as well. The River Walk is home to some of the most popular Tex-Mex restaurants in San Antonio. Here are a few of the best to check out during your time here:
5. Shop Local at La Villita Historic Arts Village
La Villita Historic Arts Village is a cute walking, mall-type area home to several local artisans and shops. It makes for a great place to shop for San Antonio souvenirs.
6. Visit the Longest Wooden Bar in Texas at the Esquire Tavern
Opened in 1933,k The Esquire Tavern is the oldest bar on the San Antonio River Walk. Most notably it features a bar that is more than 100 feet long. Making it the longest ‘wooden’ bar in Texas! This River Walk cocktail bar is a bit upscale and the menu features a few small bites along with all your favorite Prohibition-era cocktails. This is one more place that I highly recommend making reservations for beforehand.
7. Experience San Antonio Culture During the River Walk Boat Parades
Several times throughout the year the River Walk plays host to a variety of parades that feature intricately decorated boats. Check the calendar here to see if any of these San Antonio parades are going on during your visit.
8. Shop at the Rivercenter Mall
The Shops at the Rivercenter is a bustling shopping mall located in the middle of Downtown San Antonio. This River Walk Mall is a fun place to come for drinks, eats, and shopping while staying in San Antonio. Here you’ll find a Legoland Discovery Center, Landshark Bar and Grill, Fat Tuesday, an iMax theater, and Sugar Factory among others.
9. Grab a Beer from Bier Garten Riverwalk
Bier Garten Riverwalk is the spot to go if you’re craving some big mugs of beer. Get a semi-authentic feeling German beer hall experience here. Or take your beer to go! Yes, that’s right, you’re allowed to drink while walking along the River Walk. Just don’t take your brew up to street level.
10. Remember the Alamo!
The Alamo is one of the top tourist attractions in Texas and is full of history and Texan pride. Visits here are free as are visits to the other four missions in San Antonio.
Bonus: Venture Outside of Downtown San Antonio Via the River Walk!
As mentioned earlier, the River Walk runs for 15 miles, while the downtown section is only about 5 miles. You can use the River Walk to get you to other parts of San Antonio such as the Historic Pearl District.
Need More Help Planning Your San Antonio Trip? Check Out These Guides:
If you made it this far, thank you! I hope all of this advice and my recommendations will help you plan the best trip for the San Antonio River Walk. If you’re looking for more things to do and explore in the area, check out these other Big World, Small Girl blogs!
- How to Spend a Perfect Day in San Antonio, Texas
- 10 Best Day Trips from in Central Texas
- Hill Country Breweries Worth the Drive
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