A truly iconic part of the San Antonio cityscape, the River Walk is one of the most-visited tourist hotspots in the Lone Star State. Brimming with shops, eateries, bars, galleries, and museums, this sprawling, 15-mile network of walkways runs along the banks of the San Antonio River and provides easy access to some of the city’s best historical sites, food and drink destinations, and noteworthy attractions. Here’s where to eat, drink, and shop on the River Walk, as well as helpful tips for parking and other must-know info.
Where to Eat
As with any other major city attraction, the River Walk has a few less-than-stellar restaurants claiming to be the “best in the city.” But there’s plenty of culinary magic happening here, too, and these dining destinations are well worth your time:
- Supper: Located inside the Hotel Emma (which is worth checking out in its own right), Supper is a farm-to-table eatery whose (insanely flavorful) menu rotates with the seasons.
- Ocho: At Ocho, chow down on tasty Cuban- and Mexican-inspired fare while basking in the truly unique setting: a glass conservatory overlooking the water.
- Acenar: If you’re craving quality Mexican cuisine, dinner at Acenar is in order. The food is next-level delicious, and you can enjoy dinner with a view on the restaurant’s riverside balcony.
- Biga on the Banks: A San Antonio dining institution, Biga on the Banks boasts some serious cred—it was selected as a “Top Five Restaurant in Texas” by Gourmet, and chef Bruce Auden has garnered seven James Beard Foundation nominations.
- Guenther House: If you’re craving a classic Texan-ified breakfast (think homemade buttermilk biscuits and waffles served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream), Guenther House is the place to be.
- Boudro’s: Prickly pear margaritas. ‘Nuff said.
Where to Drink
When you’re thirsty, there’s nowhere like Esquire Tavern. Founded the same year that prohibition ended (1933!), this historic bar serves up cold beer and beloved bologna sandwiches in a cozy, living room-esque setting. Despite being near the River Walk hoopla, you’ll see just as many locals as tourists here. Other notable watering holes include Mad Dogs British Pub, The Bar at Bohanan’s (located about a block from the River Walk), and SoHo Wine & Martini Bar.
Where to Shop
In need of some serious retail therapy? Head to the Shops at Rivercenter, a four-level shopping complex with over 100 stores, six restaurants, and IMAX/AMC Theatres. And, the Pearl Brewery—a massive, multi-use community space, just off the River Walk, featuring a slew of boutiques, galleries, bookstores, and more—is one of the hottest spots in town.
Museums and Culture
The River Walk is replete with history and culture—yes, you’ve heard of the Alamo (and you should go!), but have you heard of the Aztec Theatre? Built in 1926 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this is one of the most cherished and historic theaters in the state. The San Antonio Museum of Art has a wonderfully diverse collection. And don’t miss La Villita Historic Arts Village, a group of art galleries and shops located in San Antonio’s very first neighborhood, on the south bank of the River Walk.
It may initially seem cheesy, but trust us—no visit to the River Walk is complete without taking an official River Walk boat tour. It’s a great way to get the lay of the land and learn about the history and landmarks of the River Walk. Tours include the Museum Reach, an additional 1.3 miles that were added in 2009, with a boat landing at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Get on board with Rio San Antonio Cruises, at a river landing near the Hilton.
Riding bikes along the Hike & Bike Trail on the river is a wonderful way to experience the River Walk—and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, where the trail connects all five of the city’s celebrated Spanish colonial missions, including the Alamo. The first-ever bike share in the state of Texas, SWell Cycle (formerly San Antonio B-cycle) has hundreds of self-serve bikes available at more than 60 stations around the city. Download a SWell Cycle Station Map here; buy a 24-Hour Day Pass for $12.99 or pay $3.25 for one trip up to 30 minutes.
Tips Before You Go
- Download a map before you go.
- Admission is free and the River Walk is open 365 days per year.
- Hit the River Walk early in the morning, to soak up the atmosphere sans the crowds.
- There are more than 2,000 parking meters near the River Walk, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a spot.
- Dogs are permitted on the River Walk but they must be on a leash.