For generations, locals have flocked to the San Antonio River, a life-giving oasis, business hub and great place to settle down. It is no surprise that the vibrant River Walk is still one of the most visited attractions in San Antonio today.
Centuries ago, missionaries and Indigenous peoples built communities along the river, using its fresh, spring-fed water as a means to thrive. This network of five missions would eventually become the birthplace of modern-day San Antonio, and it remains in place today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a designation given to select sites around the world that are culturally significant not just to the communities in which they reside, but to all humanity. Take a day to walk, bike or paddle the 8-mile trail to see each of the five missions. It’s a great way to balance all the queso you’ll be eating.
One mission in particular has captured the hearts and minds of Texans for generations—remember the Alamo? In the middle of downtown, the Alamo is one of the most iconic structures in San Antonio – and the whole state. It will give you and your family something to remember for sure. Across the street from the mission’s unassuming stone facade, you can duck through an outdoor hallway of sorts at one of many entrances to the River Walk.
From there, you can make your way to the original sections of the River Walk, which are within wandering distance from the hip Blue Star Arts Complex and the King William Historic District, a Victorian-inspired neighborhood filled with restaurants, charm and beautiful architecture. Or you could also stay put and enjoy the Downtown Reach area. For the ultimate experience, take a river taxi tour or walk along the stone-covered sidewalks to explore the architecture, art and features while meandering past restaurants, shops and museums.
Continuing north along the river, you’ll find the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), housed in the former Lone Star Brewery – another example of how historic venues and buildings are reinvented in this city. Just a smidge farther north will land you in the historic Pearl district – a redevelopment of the former 22-acre Pearl Brewery that is now home to restaurants, shops, apartments, a hotel and a twice-weekly farmers market. Then continue all the way to Brackenridge Park, home to the San Antonio Zoo, Witte Museum and Sunken Garden Theater.
You’ll also find the Japanese Tea Garden here, a secluded world of its own amid the Tex-Mex culture of San Antonio. This free garden boasts a gorgeous variety of flowers, delightful waterfalls and serene ponds filled with colorful koi. Stay awhile and enjoy a cup of tea or a bento box at the Jingu House Café on-site.
For San Antonio, the River Walk isn’t just a waterway; it’s the cradle of the city, connecting millions of residents and visitors to a rich network of culture, history and entertainment. The next time you’re in town, let the river guide you – just as locals have for hundreds of years.