San Antonio Riverwalk

We knew nothing about San Antonio when we got here other than we know we wanted to see and that was about it.  We kept hearing from people on Facebook saying we had to see the San Antonio Riverwalk.    So we figured we’d get to it and see the river, big deal.  We couldn’t figure out what the big fuss was about over a walk in a river valley, we have a river at home too.

That was until we actually saw it!

San Antonio Riverwalk

san antonio riverwalk

The Riverwalk

Built in the 1940’s the Riverwalk is an amazing system of canals, waterways, walkways, bridges, cafes, shops, restaurants and fountains.  The river was prone to flooding and near the turn of the century (1900) the city wanted to drain it and reroute the river out of the downtown section.  The conservation society put forth a plan to put in flood gates, a dam and to control the river rather than remove it.  They were successful and built a little mini city, one level under the main city streets and sidewalks.

san antonio riverwalk

san antonio riverwalk

For hours we walked around on the ground level, waiting forever for shuttle buses and getting sore feet.  We saw a few sites in the city and finally decided to find the “entrance” to the Riverwalk as marked on our map, and have lunch.  What we didn’t know then, we realized later when we took the tour boat – we were above Riverwalk pretty much the entire time we were walking up there!  All we had to do was look down and find a staircase to get to it.  Doh!

Rob’s comment: the entire time we were walking through San Antonio, I completely doubted the existence of any such river. There wasn’t one to be found. We had no idea we were walking on the roofs of the stores.

So we actually did Riverwalk in two parts.  The first day was when we went to .   After leaving there, we did our walking tour and ended up at the shopping center, which has a courtyard facing the river on 3 levels.  From there we took the river walk boat ride.
The tour was the best thing we could have done.

Riverwalk Boat Ride

Peruvian band at shopping center on Riverwalk San Antonio
Peruvian band at shopping center on Riverwalk San Antonio
riverwalk boat ride at shopping center
Tour boat at shopping center on Riverwalk

boat ride giving tours on the riverwalk

tour boat docking station on Riverwalk San Antonio
where we got on the river walk boat ride, I thought the light was stunning

tour boat on Riverwalk San Antonio

Our boat ride tour guide was young but very informative.  He pointed out historic and important landmarks and buildings, including one old hotel that was picked up and moved 6 blocks to a new location!  We didn’t actually believe him at the time, but upon searching Google discovered he was indeed telling the truth, and we went another day to check that out.

We learned about the flood control system and at one point passed through a gate that would slam shut in 2 seconds if need be to keep out threatening flood waters.  He also told us about the history of the riverwalk, why it was created, etc.  All in all a very good trip – worth spending a few bucks on.  If you get to San Antonio – take the river boat tour!

Here are some random things we saw along the river on our tour.

san antonio riverwalk
Art deco style building similar to the Empire State Building in NYC. They are taking off the big radio tower and replacing it with a big American flag.

san antonio riverwalk

san antonio riverwalk
You can see the sidewalk is right along the river and walking bridges over at regular intervals.
san antonio riverwalk
I just liked the light on this one
san antonio riverwalk
Hotel room right on the river - nice view hey?
san antonio riverwalk
Notice the canopies are Texas flag motif? Flags and stars here everywhere

A couple days later we went back and did a walking version of the Riverwalk by day.  I had a coupon and menu from the Iron Cactus restaurant and we had eaten there on the first night after the boat tour.  We enjoyed it so much we went back again for lunch.

Iron Cactus restaurant

These guys were outside the restaurant when we came out. I herded them back into the water and away from the building.
san antonio riverwalk
Of course I happened to find a photo shoot in progress.
san antonio riverwalk model photo shoot
Don't know what his shots looked like, this is what I got over his shoulder.
san antonio riverwalk cafe
One of the many places to eat on the river. This one had ponchos on all the chairs for patrons to wear if it is chilly.

We will be back to San Antonio again and we’ll go to the Riverwalk first! We recommend the riverwalk boat ride for anyone who wants to learn about San Antonio while seeing it from a different perspective. Make sure you do both though… take the tour, then take the tour.

2 thoughts on “San Antonio Riverwalk”

  1. WOW…what an interesting experience! I’ve put the riverwalk on my list of things to do. What many wonderful experiences the 2 of you have had…….keep enjoying( and blogging for us to enjoy)!! Take care.

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