The San Antonio River Walk is a world-famous urban waterway in the heart of San Antonio, Texas. The River Walk is a network of beautiful walkways running alongside the San Antonio River that’s actually a story beneath the main city streets! It’s a special oasis in the heart of this city giving locals and tourists alike a unique San Antonio experience!
After a quick google search, you’ll find that the River Walk is 15 miles long. You may wonder where to even start when planning out your trip. I’m here to save you some stress and time with this complete 3 Day Guide To The San Antonio River Walk where you’ll learn-
- Where To Stay
- Where To Eat
- Things To See
- Tours Worth Taking
- & How To Get Around The River Walk!
Where To Stay
There are plenty of hotels right along the River Walk that are totally worthy of a stay! However, I am so glad that I got to experience the Hotel Valenica during my trip. This luxurious San Antonio hotel was conveniently located right on the river walk and offers upscale rooms and suites to visitors.
Pros of staying at the Hotel Valenica-
- Option of guest rooms or suites
- Delicious Argentinian restaurant on-site called Dorrego’s Restaurant & Naranja Bar that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert
- In-Room dining available 24 hours a day (perfect for when that midnight craving hits)
- Flamenco Guitarist plays live music in the lobby living room throughout the week
- Beautiful courtyard that I loved taking an afternoon break in
Pro-tip- All the rooms are beautiful! But if you can, try to book a room on the 4th & 5th floor because it has a balcony that looks out to the courtyard.
Looking for a COMPLETE hotel guide? You’ve got to check out this website that provides a full list of historic, pet-friendly, River Walk based, etc hotels.
Where To Eat
I like to tease people that I left San Antonio with a full heart…and even fuller stomach! When I tell you the food is great, I really mean that it is freakin-fantastic-lick-your-plate-clean type of great! Here are some of my top recommendations of where to eat while exploring the San Antonio River Walk.
Boudro’s is a Texas bistro that will have you coming back time and time again. In fact, most first-time guests find themselves doing just that.
What I really appreciated about this extraordinary restaurant was that the head chef keeps the traditions of South Texas while elevating that history to new heights with his unique dishes.
A few fan favorites include the prickly pear margaritas, the table side guacamole, and their delicious duck & quail dishes. Speaking of the guacamole, you’ll definitely want to experience this table side presentation where they demonstrate how they create their signature flavor and then let you eat it afterwards! If you’re anything like me, you’ll download the free recipe from their website right after your first bite.
Iron Cactus was the last place that I was able to eat at before having to catch my flight and boy was I glad that I did! This restaurant serves contemporary Mexican food at a great price, making it easy on your wallet to come back for additional meals.
What they pride themselves on is making most of their food from scratch, including their delicious handmade tortillas! The atmosphere is inviting and provides a place for friends and families to get together and experience a wonderful meal together.
My problem with restaurants is that I usually get full before dessert roles around and I end up missing out. Don’t do that here! There are endless options that it would be a shame to pass up this delicious experience.
Pro-tip- Get the freshly made Mexican donuts with the chocolate sauce…you can thank me later!
I really appreciated that although you could get the famed Tex-Mex and Mexican Cuisine, the River Walk had a wide variety of different options! The Bier Garten is one of those alternative choices.
The Bier Garten is located in a secluded portion of the River Walk surrounded with greenery and waterfalls creating the perfect ambience for visitors to come and stay awhile. Guests experience rich German culture and hospitality while sharing authentic Bavarian fare.
Some fan favorites include sausages, pretzels, kraut, and a wide variety of beers and wine. They also make a mean chicken sandwich and apple streusel cheesecake that I 100% recommend!
One of the joys of dining alongside the riverwalk is that you typically have the option of dining al fresco along the river or inside (it’s a nice option to have depending on the weather).
Zocca, like most restaurants, also offers these two dining options. I enjoyed their breakfast and opted for a texas-size belgium waffle and it did not disappoint!
However, if you’re not available to dine with them for breakfast, join them for lunch or dinner. Why? They are consistently ranked as one of the best Italian restaurants in San Antonio making it a great stop if you need a break from the famous Mexican and Tex-Mex food.
Original Mexican Restaurant
Craving some of the best Mexican food that the River Walk has to offer? Then head over to the Original Mexican Restaurant! They serve up amazing tacos, fajitas, and margaritas daily.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit for dinner, but I did swing by for a slice of their famous cheesecake. You think I’m joking about it being famous? Well let’s just say that it’s been a visitor favorite since 1968! And with a creation date that old, you know there must be a good reason why it’s still around.
Justin’s Ice Cream
After an especially warm day along the River Walk, I did a double take passing by Justin’s Ice Cream and knew that I needed to get a cone. They offer a variety of fresh, handmade desserts. I especially loved their gelato flavors, but you’ll also find ice cream along with sorbet flavors.
Looking for additional sweet treats along the River Walk? Then this Dessert Guide is for you!
Things To Do/ Sites To See-
San Fernando Cathedral
A short walk from the banks of the River Walk, you’ll find the majestic San Fernando Cathedral. This Roman Catholic Church is right in the Main Plaza and is definitely a site that you don’t want to miss!
Make sure to come back at night to this iconic spot. Why? You’ll get to see a beautiful light show that is projected onto the face of this historic building. The show takes you through the history of San Antonio, all the way from when it was first discovered up to current times. You can learn more about The Sage here.
Spanish Governor’s Palace
Next up on the list of historical places that you need to visit is the Spanish Governor’s Palace. You’ll get to see the only “remaining example in Texas of an aristocratic 18th-century Spanish Colonial in−town residence.” You can learn more about this site here.
Here is a Complete List of Historic Sites near the River Walk
Historic Market Square
Historic Market Square is not to be missed during your trip! Here you’ll find over 100 locally owned businesses ranging from shops to bakeries and restaurants. This is also the place to visit if you’re searching for authentic Mexican cuisine.
I visited during the week but business owners told me that I should come back during the weekends because the whole square is filled with live entertainment and dancing!
San Antonio Museum of Art
No matter what type of art collections you’re into, there’s a good chance you’ll find it at the San Antonio Museum of Art (nicknamed SAMA). This art museum is known for the most comprehensive ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art collection in the southern United States!
With five stories in just one wing, you’ll spend hours here going through their large art collection! Do note that they are closed on Mondays but are open Tuesday-Sunday with varying hours.
Here’s a full list of museums near the San Antonio River Walk
Just two blocks from the Alamo, you’ll find Buckhorn Saloon. Buckhorn Saloon includes a Cafe, Gift Shop, Shooting Gallery and of course, their two museums- The Buckhorn Museum and the Texas Ranger Museum. If you’re looking to escape the heat (or the rare cold), this place is worth stopping by!
Can you visit San Antonio and not stop at the Alamo? There is so much written about this historic place so I’ll keep this section short and sweet. There is no cost to enter but if you’re looking for a tour, you’ll have to pay.
I would recommend to take 20 minutes and head to the very back of the Alamo where they house the amphitheater. They have a short movie playing on loop that does a fantastic job of explaining the history and significance of this area.
Pro-tip- Go and watch the video before exploring because you’ll have a greater appreciation for the area after learning more about it.
How To Get Around The River Walk
In my humble opinion, I would not rent a car if your plan is to visit and vacation along the San Antonio River Walk. Instead, I would purchase a 1-3 day hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing Pass!
This sightseeing bus stops at all the major stops along the riverwalk (like the historic Market Square, the Alamo, The Pearl, etc.) I loved riding with them because not only do they provide easy and convenient transportation, the buses are narrated too!
Some people will simply stay on the bus for the entire loop (about 1 hour) and enjoy getting a comprehensive overview of the city. Another strategy would be to choose the stops that are most appealing to you, and get off when you arrive. Then you can easily jump back on as the buses run in 30 minute intervals.
Go Rio Cruises Along The San Antonio River Walk-
Just like Venice, a ride (in Italy’s case, a gondola ride) along the San Antonio River Walk is a must! Go Rio has eco-friendly electric river boats that cruise the waterways providing tours for visitors.
These beautiful colored boats run throughout the day and have departure points all along the River Walk giving you plenty of convenient options. Most of the cruises are narrated and provide a peek into the history and current happenings of the River Walk.
You can learn more and book your cruise here.
Check out this guide for a complete list of tours near the San Antonio River Walk!
Events Along The San Antonio River Walk
No matter what time of year you visit the San Antonio River Walk, you’re sure to find something happening! I got lucky and happened to be there during the Ford Parade of Lights that was absolutely magical. Some other notable events include Mardi Gras celebrations, Jazzfests, celebrations around every U.S. holiday, and more!
You can find the full list of events here.
San Antonio River Walk Map
All of these locations that I have highlighted in the article are located on the Google Map for easy planning. Enjoy!
A big thank you to the San Antonio River Walk for hosting us and all the individual businesses that were involved. All opinions remain my own.