Editor’s Note: This brief guide to our favorite things to do on Riverwalk in San Antonio is part of our travel guide series. Find out about great activities, places to eat, drink and sleep without breaking the bank!
Things to do on San Antonio’s Riverwalk
San Antonio’s Riverwalk (also known as Paseo del Río) is full of food, drinks, shopping, history, beauty and romance. On one end of the spectrum, you have numerous bars, restaurants and hotels lining a river setting that makes you feel like you’re in Amsterdam (minus some of the “freedoms”).
Not far away from this lively and beautiful scene, you have what remains of the Alamo. The site of an epic siege and battle that raged in 1836 for over 13 days.
It’s important to note that Riverwalk is a popular tourist destination in Texas. It can be somewhat crowded on the weekends, so it’s worth visiting Riverwalk with an idea of where you want to go before hand. You should also expect to pay tourist prices at many bars and restaurants. However, if you pick the right establishments, you’ll get great service along with great food and drinks.
Below, we’ll briefly cover the best things to do on Riverwalk in San Antonio in an orderly fashion.
Take a Riverboat Tour Cruise
Get a guided tour through most of Riverwalk with award winning tour company Rio San Antonio Cruises. There are numerous locations scattered along the walk where you can purchase tickets. Hours of operation are from 9am to 9pm. See below for ticket prices. You can visit the Rio San Antonio Cruises website for more information.
- $8.25 – General Admission
- $6.00 – Bexar County Residents
- $2.00 – Children (1-5 year olds)
- $6.00 – Seniors (60+) & United States Military
Yes, you can walk around with alcohol on Riverwalk.
Riverwalk is the type of place you might want to grab a drink to go while you explore. After all… this is a wine blog. We’re enthusiasts of beverages that enhance an already sweet location. That being said, we highly suggest you visit the Bier Garten directly East of The Alamo. You can grab a drink here and trek around the Riverwalk.
Note that you can only carry drinks openly on the Riverwalk, not above on the street.
You need to visit The Alamo! Even though I’ve visited it over 5 times now, I still always walk by and pay my respects to the soldiers who fought to the death at this place. You can’t help but get chills as you walk by the chapel. It’s also 100% free to go inside. If you want more insight into the battle that occurred, you can book a guided tour or simply follow along to an audio tour.
In the summer, (June, July & August), you can visit until 7pm. Note that you cannot take pictures inside any buildings on Alamo grounds.
Eat and Drink at Iron Cactus
This place isn’t the cheapest spot to buy drinks if you’re comparing it to Austin, but they make some mean beverages and feature over 80 different kinds of tequila. It’s a great spot to indulge in both Mexican food and drinks.
Many dishes are done tapas style. Try the brisket quesadillas and or the crab fritter nachos. If you’re into margarita’s, don’t shy away from the Strawberry Cactus Margarita with Cactus Juice. The bartenders and servers at Iron Cactus are also incredibly knowledgable about the drink menu, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A great spot to end the night. The Esquire Tavern is an amazing, dimly lit & rustic bar elevated above San Antonio’s Riverwalk. It was opened in 1933 in an effort to celebrate the END of prohibition. It’s also the oldest bar on Riverwalk. The ambiance is incredible and warming. From the thick wood flooring, to the antique lanterns hand picked by the bar owner at local San Antonio antique shops – there’s an authenticism here unlike most bars on the Riverwalk strip. You’ll also get true mixologists, as opposed to your typical bartender serving you sexy beverages. If you need a pick-me-up at the end of the night, try the French-pressed coffee with a shot of Bailey’s.
Riverwalk Facts: The San Antonio River itself played host to a variety of cultures. These included early Native American tribes, Mexican migrants, as well as Spanish trekkers and settlers in the early 1700s. You’re walking on ground steeped in history!
- Keep your eyes open as you walk the Riverwalk. There are numerous plaques throughout the area that will give you insight into Riverwalk’s history and progress.
- Consider applying for a travel credit card that earns you a signup bonus and points on travel and dining for free flights to and hotel stays in San Antonio.
- If you have a smart phone with scanning capabilities, keep an eye out for scannable “QR” barcodes throughout Riverwalk. When you scan one, you’ll get feedback and historical information related to that particular location.
- There are numerous maps of Riverwalk throughout the area, making it fairly easy to navigate. The entire centre of Riverwalk is a horseshoe attached to a vertical line.
- There are Riverwalk educators – paid by Centro San Antonio and called Ambassador Amigos – frequently present on The Walk. They wear bright yellow-orange shirts and provide information and advice to locals and tourists. Don’t be shy and ask your questions, they’re friendly and like what they do.