If Texas is on your travel list, then San Antonio is one of the must-see cities. Full of history and a strong Latino influence, there are plenty of sights to see in this jewel in the Texas crown. But the obvious place to start is the San Antonio Riverwalk, which can count itself as a top tourist attraction in the USA. Whether you stay on the Riverwalk itself or elsewhere, you can’t stop by the city without at least walking round it once.
San ANtonio riverwalk
If the idea of exploring a city along busy streets and car-fume filled air doesn’t fill you with joy. Then the San Antonio Riverwalk is designed just for you. The Riverwalk circles the centre of the city. Pedestrian-only paths meander their way round alongside the – you guessed it – river. With regular flights of stairs back up to the real world i.e cars and roads, you can hop on and off as much as you like.
what to see on the san antonio riverwalk
The Riverwalk is really about enjoying the city of San Antonio at a leisurely pace. It’s not so much what to see there, rather absorbing the experience. But there are a couple of points of interest along the way. One of them is “La Villita”. Translated from Spanish, simply “The Little Village”. This area is classed as an historic arts village and features a range of galleries and restaurants to check out. If you’re looking for a unique gift or memento, you’ll probably find some ideas here.
Situated on the south side of the Riverwalk, “La Villita” is easily accessed up some stairs. If you have mobility issues, there are various accessibility points as well.
where to eat on the riverwalk
If you like food – and really, who doesn’t – you’ll find tons of places to suit all tastes and budgets. If you’ve got kids or you just want something quick, the Shops at Rivercenter have a food court just inside the ground floor entrance. Chinese, IHOP, subs to name a few, you’ll find a lot of choices. No Burger King or McDonald’s though, just to manage expectations.
On the run up to the mall and if you keep on walking round the Riverwalk, you’ll find various restaurants if you’re after a proper lunch or dinner. Literally, restaurant after restaurant. Most of them with outside seating to enjoy the humidity of the San Antonio weather.
You won’t be surprised to learn that there’s a lot of Mexican food on offer. Which suited me just fine, it’s my absolute favourite cuisine. But you’ll also find Steak, Italian and even German restaurants popping up as you wander round. The city of San Antonio is truly diverse and that’s well-reflected here.
Top tip for cheesecake lovers – cheesecake is almost nowhere to be found on the Riverwalk. I know. Outrageous. And a nightmare for this cheesecake-obsessive. But i did get a tip-off that the Saltgrass Steakhouse on the NE side would have some. And so they did. So if you can’t get enough of cheesecake, you’ll find one on the dessert menu there. I appreciate that i may be the only person who cares this much about cheesecake. But just in case.
staying on the san antonio riverwalk
Ok so here’s the rub. The Riverwalk is still a tourist attraction. No matter how pretty, or green or unique it is in a city setting. It’s a tourist attraction. That means you’re going to run into people. And lots of them.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find more peaceful areas. As a general rule of thumb, the southside seems to be quieter. Simply because there are less restaurants. I stayed at The Westin Riverwalk which was pretty much perfectly placed. Away from the crowds but still close enough to get to the action. Plus it has its own fantastic resaturant, Zocca, which serves up some beautiful Italian food. Of course, you don’t want to eat there everyday when there’s so much other cuisine on offer. But it’s always good to have the option downstairs from your hotel room.
If you’re staying on the Riverwalk, it’s worth getting a room with a balcony if you can. Spending an afternoon in the sun on your balcony is a great way to unwind, especially if you’re travelling solo. Not all views are equal in San Antonio though. Many hotel balconies are communal so check carefully before committing to a room.
Of course, how busy the Riverwalk is can also depend on the time of year and even the day of the week. Expect early in the week to be significantly quieter than the weekend – but do keep an eye out for local conventions and events as this will naturally increase visitors at certain times.
safety on the san antonio riverwalk
Like any city, San Antonio still requires an amount of sensibility when you’re out and about. Especially if you’re a female travelling by yourself. You will see quite a lot of homeless people as you wander round the city. Most of the time they are harmless and will keep to themselves. But it can still feel intimidating if you’re approached.
Similarly, if you’re out after dark, try to avoid the parts of the Riverwalk that have no buildings, restaurants or lights. There’s not much of it and again, it’s not that it’s absolutely unsafe, of course you can still walk there. But for the sake of being cautious, it’s worth doing if you can. If in doubt, just attach yourself to the back of a family or friends group and they can walk you wherever you need to go!