The San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Texas. Part of the San Antonio River, the Riverwalk actually came about thanks to efforts to save the city from flooding troubles in the early 1900s. The city began developing the Riverwalk as a usable tourist attraction in the 1930s, and today the Riverwalk stands as one of the most unique attractions in the Southwest, blending beauty, history and commerce.
Food and Drink
Thousands of people flock to the Riverwalk everyday for a meal, whether its downtown business people taking a break from the workday or tourists starting their evening with a hot meal. Casa Rio, established in 1946, was the first restaurant to open on the Riverwalk. Today, nearly 40 restaurants call the Riverwalk home. Some are familiar names to people nationwide, such as the Hard Rock Cafe and Joe’s Crab Shack. Others are local favorites, like Casa Rio, Paloma Blanca, and the upscale Omni La Mansion.
If you’re looking to shop, the Rivercenter Mall has more than 100 stores that can satisfy almost any need. If you need to party, Howl at the Moon features a dueling piano bar. Acalpuco Sam’s and Kremlin have three floors of entertainment, from a beach club to a Las Vegas-style third-floor club. Coyote Ugly’s, Pat O’Brien’s and Mad Dogs are pure bars, while the Republic of Texas combines music with a Texas saloon atmosphere.
The Riverwalk Cruise
The best way to see the Riverwalk is to cruise on it. Tourists and residents alike take the Riverwalk Cruise as a way to see the sights, celebrate the evening or just give their legs a break. Tickets for the cruises, which last 35 to 40 minutes, can be purchased 365 days a year for $8.25 for adults ($6 for Bexar County residents) and $2 for children 1-5. Tickets can be purchased under the Market Street Bridge and Alamo Street, in the Rivercenter Mall at the intersection of Commerce and Bowie, and at the Holiday Inn Riverwalk located at St. Mary’s and College streets. There are also lunch, dinner and cocktail cruises, which must be chartered through a Riverwalk restaurant.
It’s not all about cutting loose on the Riverwalk. There’s culture, too. The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum has hosted guests for 120 years. The Eclectic Art Gallery features 48 local artists. The Briscoe Western Art Museum displays San Antonio’s and the Southwest’s rich Western heritage. Jim Cullum’s landing features jazz music six days a week. And the San Antonio Street Dance and Drum Co. combines percussion and dance into an entertainment experience that allows those daring enough to try it to join in the fun.
There are at least 18 hotels that offer immediate or adjacent access to the Riverwalk, and they appeal to most budgets. For those who don’t mind spending a little more, the Crowne Plaza San Antonio, the Grand Hyatt, the Hilton Palacio Del Rio, and the Omni La Mansion del Rio offer high-end solutions. If you’re looking for a little history, try the Fairmount, a small hotel built in 1906 that features easy access to the Alamo and a vintage atmosphere. For the budget-conscious traveler, Holiday Inn and Drury offer pleasing options that won’t drain the pocketbook.