The local’s guide to San Antonio’s River Walk

North AmericaSan Antonio

Millions of people visit the River Walk each year to enjoy a sanctuary in the heart of the city. River Walk is made up of a lush landscape lined with riverside dining, museums, historic sites, hotels, shopping and other attractions on the San Antonio River, a natural waterway.

The San Antonio Missions, including the Alamo, are an important part of the River Walk and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Officially designated in July 2015, they were the first site in Texas to receive the honor. As the largest collection of Spanish colonial architecture in the United States, the early 18th-century missions represent an era when the world was expanding and cultures intertwined. The Alamo is, of course, most famous as the site of the legendary 1836 battle. All of the missions are within a short trek along the San Antonio River.

In 2009, the River Walk doubled in length with the completion of its Museum Reach section. This 1.3-mile extension features visual and aural works of art, terraces landscaped with native plants and pedestrian access to the San Antonio Museum of Art, as well as the historic Pearl Brewery complex. This is the only area where personal kayaks are allowed (and can be rented), and river taxis transport visitors to and from the older sections of the River Walk through a lock and dam system.

With its rich cultural history of Native American, Mexican and European influences, the performing arts scene in San Antonio is vibrant. Check out the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, directly across from the Hotel Indigo Riverwalk. Tobin showcases an eclectic mix of arts and music in a state-of-the-art performance hall, and is home to the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio, Opera San Antonio, The Children’s Chorus of San Antonio and more.

If you’re in the mood for shopping, River Walk’s opportunities are endless and diverse. Rivercenter Mall is the place for modern stores under one roof, while the revitalized multi-purpose Pearl Brewery houses locally owned boutiques, dining options, events and a weekend farmer’s market. For traditional and local handcrafted items, don’t miss these two destinations: El Mercado, the largest Mexican market in the U.S., spanning a three-block outdoor plaza with working artists and performers; and La Villita, San Antonio’s first neighborhood, now a historical arts village. Streets once filled with Spanish soldiers are now lined with shops, art galleries, restaurants, a post office and five special events venues.

When it comes to dining, River Walk fare is inspired by both the old and new worlds. Some local favorites include Las Ramblas, serving Spanish and regional American cuisine in their open kitchen; Bella on the River, with Italian flair and an extensive wine bar; Restaurant Gwendolyn, where everything is handmade using methods and recipes from 1850 or earlier; and Lüke, the first restaurant outside of New Orleans from acclaimed chef John Besh, featuring bistro specialties created from farm-fresh ingredients.

There’s also plenty of nightlife in close proximity to the River Walk. San Antonio is home to the revered Jim Cullum Jazz Band, which plays live at Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood every Friday and Saturday nights. For a speakeasy feel, head to The Brooklynite, with craft cocktails, premium spirits and old world wines. Esquire Tavern is the oldest bar on the River Walk, opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition. With libations such as Vanquished Enemies, Texas is the Reason and Texecutioner, this is a don’t-miss spot for cocktail lounging.

Whatever you are looking for, you don’t have to go far along the San Antonio River Walk to find it. Book your IHG® hotel in San Antonio today.

Search IHG Hotels