Head to San Antonio and you may find yourself visiting the Alamo or taking in any number of other historical sites. This inviting Texas city is now the Lone Star State’s second most populous community, a city rich in cultural heritage and prized for its cultural, education and entertainment prowess. San Antonio is also very easy to get around with its River Walk connecting much of its central, urban area. You may visit San Antonio for other reasons, but no stop over is complete until you don a pair of walking shoes and take in one of the most famous pedestrian streets in the world.
River Walk is compilation of numerous walking areas that like the banks of the San Antonio River. Its origins go back decades or centuries if you include the numerous foot paths traversed by native and European travelers of bygone eras. Those paths are now gone or have been paved over to allow for public access.
The modern day River Walk, also known as Paseo del Rio, took shape in the early 1970s when voters approved a bond issue to beautify the area and provide updated flood gate revamping. River improvements made by the Corps of Engineers made it possible to connect various walk ways, and by the 1980s new hotels opened along the river and the walk way expanded. In 2011, River Walk was extended to Mission Concepcion, lining both sides of the river. More than 20 events are held on River Walk each year.
River Walk is a public park, therefore access to this pedestrian street is free. Special events held there may incur some charges when you take in particular activiites.
Boats ply the San Antonio River and operators will charge for rides. Attractions along the river may also require payment for services rendered. You can rent a wheelchair or scooter, and leashed dogs are permitted. No bikes or other motorized conveyances are permitted.
From May through December, numerous special events are held on River Walk beginning with a Memorial Day Arts & Crafts Show to caroling, luminaries and craft shows for the Christmas season. January through April may be quieter, but these are the coolest months too and some of the best for uncrowded strolls on either side of the river.
Arts and craft shows are held most months with other activities such as a canoeing challenge, food tasting and boat races held. One of the oddest events of the year takes place in October when floating coffins decked in Halloween regalia take to the river. Those coffins are actually placed in barges and sent down the river, and occupied by numerous ghostly characters.
Overnight stays on the River Walk are possible thanks to the number of hotels that have sprung up over the years to serve the area. Your choices are many and include the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel, the Hilton Palacio del Rio, Hotel Havana, Holiday Inn Riverwalk, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Westin River Walk, the Mokara Hotel and Spa, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Marriott Rivercenter Hotel, the Hotel Valencia and other stays. Many hotels have rooms that overlook River Walk, allowing you to watch all the events below from the comfort of your room.
Food service is excellent along the San Antonio River with Biga on the Banks a nationally recognized destination that serves food with a Texas flair including seafood, lamb and beef. Landry’s Seafood House, the Chart House, the Little Rhein Steakhouse, Fogo de Chao, Boudro’s Texas Bistro, Bohanan’s and The Palm Restaurant are among the many fine dining establishments that ring the river. For more informal dining there are numerous casual and takeout options available.
Proximity to River Walk also means that there are many places to play. Local attractions include the Pearl Brewery, RiverCenter Mall and the La Villita Historic Arts Village. Also nearby are Sea World San Antonio, the Majestic Theater and Splashtown San Antonio. The San Antonio Museum of Art, Briscoe Museum and the Witte Museum are nearby.
With so places to stay, eat, play and visit, San Antonio may offer you much more than what you had expected. By staying near River Walk you can take in much of the center city, while getting the exercise you prize in an environment that is stunningly beautiful, culturally diverse and historically significant.
Contributed by Chris McMahon for Marriott.com – Chris is a freelance writer who enjoys traveling and writing about his experiences. His articles mainly appear on travel blogs. To find out more about San Antonio hotels, visit their website.