Explore San Antonio

The Essential Guide to Experiencing San Antonio's River Walk

From Broadway to Southtown and Hemisfair to La Villita, get to know downtown San Antonio with this ultimate guide to the famous Paseo del Rio’s top attractions and unique neighborhoods.

With so much to do and see along the 15.2-mile stretch of the San Antonio River, it’s not hard to see why the famed San Antonio River Walk is the No. 1 attraction in Texas. With multiple access points to historic yet modern urban sanctuary, not to mention the unique neighborhoods that surround it, there’s something for everyone downtown.

San Antonio River Walk boat cruise tours
Hop aboard a Rio San Antonio cruise to get a full-spectrum tour of the River Walk and downtown. (©Katya Horner)

Above ground, explore points of interest like the eclectic Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and the Majestic Theatre (the iconic Alamo goes without saying). Locate the Tower of the Americas to explore Hemisfair, which includes destinations like the Yanaguana Garden, Magik Theatre and UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures. Down below, endless shops, nightclubs and restaurants line the river itself, where patrons can be found on perpetually packed patios sipping margaritas and people-watching as river boats pass by.

Tower of the Americas at Hemisfair in San Antonio
At night, the Tower of the Americas stands tall against the downtown skyline. Enjoy dinner with a view from the Chart House restaurant on top. (Courtesy Hemisfair Park Redevelopment Corp.)

“Classic” downtown mainstays Market Square and La Villita will entertain history, art and culture buffs, as the former is known as the “the largest mexican marketplace this side of Mexico,” and La Villita houses a multitude of local boutiques and art galleries filled with handcrafted goods and Southwestern souvenirs. Old meets new at the oldest historic district in texas, the King William neighborhood, which encompasses 25 blocks of eye-catching architecture ranging in style from Spanish Mission to Art Deco. Explore old restored mansions like Villa Finale, the San Antonio Art League Museum, the Guenther House (which doubles as a restaurant and a museum) and more. 

King William Historic District
Explore historic mansions, charming neighborhoods, local galleries and hip boutiques in Southtown and the King William Historic District. (©Adam Stocker/Shutterstock)

King William is also home to the artsy, up-and-coming area of Southtown. Here, one will find charming boutiques, historic mansions and Southtown’s bevy of bistros, coffee shops, microbreweries and the Blue Star Arts Complex. (Insider's tip: Don’t miss First Friday–one big, area-wide block party.) The Museum Reach and Mission Reach—which extend the River Walk to the north and south, respectively—have both expanded and revitalized downtown with a wealth of outdoor activities, art installations and attractions. the eight-mile stretch of Mission Reach begins at south Alamo Street, where hiking and biking trails offer portals to the city’s four historic mission sites (several bike rental stations are scattered throughout the area).
San Antonio B-Cycles on the Mission Reach
Rent a bicycle at one of several points along the River Walk to explore scenic routes along the Mission Reach or Museum Reach. (©Heather Cowper/Flickr, Creative Commons)
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy scenic shaded overlooks, restored natural habitats, picnic benches and even sections of the river for kayaking or paddling. For a less intensive form of transportation, take a river taxi toward the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which serves as a “gateway” to the Museum Reach. The Witte Museum, Briscoe Western Art Museum, the children’s Doseum and other notable attractions call this area home, along with notable attractions such as San Antonio Botanical Garden, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Zoo and the picturesque Japanese Tea Gardens.