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 beforehand. 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.
IN THIS GUIDE:
- Riverboat Cruises
- Grab Some Drinks
- The Alamo
- City Tours
- Ghost Tours
- Drunk History Tour
- Vespa & Sidecar
- Segway Tours
- Travel Tips
- …and more
Pro Tip: Flying into San Antonio? Take a look at and get updates on the current best flight deals with Airfarewatchdog. You can also take a look at some of our favorite hotels to stay at on Riverwalk.
Below, we’ll briefly cover the best things to do on Riverwalk in San Antonio in an orderly fashion.
Take a Riverboat Tour Cruise
Take a 40-minute guided Riverboat cruise through most of Riverwalk with an award-winning tour company like City Sightseeing San Antonio. You can purchase a pass that includes both the Riverboat excursion, in addition to a 3-day hop-on-and-off bus pass to get out and explore more of the city. It’s one of the best deals you’ll come across for exploring San Antonio.
Another option is to purchase a San Antonio Explorer Pass, which allows you to book up to 5 activities in San Antonio for one low price.
Get a Beer, Wine or Margarita To Go at the Bier Garten
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.
Visit the Alamo
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. There are also hop on-and-off river cruise and Alamo tour packages available.
In the summer, (June, July & August), you can visit until 7pm. Note that you cannot take pictures inside any buildings on Alamo grounds.
Take a Half-Day City Tour
If you’re looking to get a taste of San Antonio, better understand its history while also stopping by most of the main attractions, this experience is for you. It’s fairly all-encompassing, and also stops at somewhat lesser-known locations like the Japanese Tea Garden and the Grotto. This is also a great tour option if you’d prefer to avoid extensive walking, which can be brutal during the hot months in San Antonio. You’ll have an airconditioned vehicle, professional guide and driver who will pick you up from your downtown hotel. The price is just $65.
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 knowledgeable about the drink menu, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Take a Ghost Tour and Pub Crawl
What better way to experience a ghost tour than with a little buzz? San Antonio’s history spans over 300 years, and if you’re a history buff yourself, you’d know that this city has seen its fair share of violence. Because of this, numerous reports of the paranormal have been documented over the years. There’s no shortage of ghost stories, and this is one of the most popular ways to experience them firsthand if you’re into this sort of thing. The guides on this tour dress up, and even carry lanterns while you walk the city to and from The Alamo and they tell their tales. Reserve a tour here with Ally.
Take a Drunk History Tour
With a drink in hand, get ready to explore San Antonio in our favorite way at Winetraveler: on a drunk history tour. From The Alamo to the spot where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his crew of Rough Riders, you’ll get a fair dose of history. But the guides who operate this experience keep it interesting. You’ll go on a bar crawl through the city’s most historic bars, too.
Warm welcomes, prompt service, heavy pours and exclusive access await you all while you learn history not found on any other tour in a truly unique personalized and boutique tour experience.
This is one of the most highly-rated experiences on our website at the moment and not to be missed on your next trip in San Antonio.
Cruise San Antonio on a Vespa and Side Car
No, you’re not in Europe. You’re in Texas. And yes, you can explore San Antonio in this mode of transportation and eat tacos. That’s exactly what we came to find when we booked a Vespa and Side Car with San Antonio SiDeCaRs. Kevin and Liz will even pick you up from your hotel on this private tour. You’ll get to see some of the most interesting attractions and then head to an authentic local taco establishment. How can you go wrong?
See San Antonio by Segway
Have you ever been on a segway? We hadn’t either until stopping in San Antonio. This 2-hour experience keeps you mobile while cruising through the majority of San Antonio’s attractions. It’s also guided, so you’ll get to understand the history of each landmark you stop at, which include HemisFair Park, Tower of the Americas, the Alamodome, Bexar County Courthouse, San Fernando Cathedral, El Mercado, and Arts Village La Villita. You’ll also have plenty of time to have fun riding your Segway and get great photo ops.
Drink at Esquire
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!
Where To Stay in San Antonio
There are dozens of hotels within the Riverwalk area that not only offer a convenient location, but also delightful river views, great food, comfortable rooms, and service. There are two hotels in particular that we recommend and have stayed at previously.
Omni Mansion del Rio
If you’d fancy the ability to step right out of the hotel and onto the river, the Omni La Mansion is a great choice. This 4-Star hotel offers balcony rooms facing the river and their staff are some of the friendliest we’ve come across. It’s a Spanish colonial-style building, and the atmosphere of the place offers a romantic experience and convenience for all of the nearby activities San Antonio has to offer.
The Westin Riverwalk
Whenever traveling, the ability to rely on a hotel brand is very important to us. This Starwood property and 4-Star Westin Hotel offers a comfortable and upscale experience at a reasonable price. The rooms are modern, elegant refreshing and airy. If you upgrade your room, you can get a balcony overlooking the river. In addition, there’s a delicious Italian restaurant that overlooks the river, and if you get a decent table you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning sight. It also has free WiFi and is only a 13-minute walk to the Alamo.
TripAdvisor has recently been offering rooms at the Westin Riverwalk for nearly half the price as usual, depending on the season.
- 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 smartphone 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.
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