Visit the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas ~ Fun Tourist Destination!
San Antonio River Walk
Next to The Alamo, San Antonio's famous Riverwalk in downtown is probably one of the most visited tourist destinations ever in that part of Texas and for good reason. But it was not always the case.
From the age of 10 my husband grew up in San Antonio and can remember when the Riverwalk was a place to be avoided due to muggings and mayhem. It was not well patrolled by police nor as scenic an area as it is today.
San Antonio houses several military bases and even the soldiers were advised to stay clear of that area!
All of that changed substantially for the better when HemisFair came to San Antonio.
1968 World's Fair
In preparation for the World's Fair in 1968 city planners helped to spur endeavors to help clean up the downtown river area and help to show off the City of San Antonio to the many tourists from around the world who might be seeing it for the first time.
This of course happens in every town, city or country when events of great magnitude bring attention to a place along with tourists and their dollars.
Whether it is Olympics, World Fairs or other events, it generally encourages the host city to put on its best face for others to see.
Efforts to extend the river, both for HemisFair and since have served the city and its businesses well.
The Riverwalk is now well policed and people can feel safe whether strolling the sidewalks, taking a boat ride, shopping or dining at one of the many restaurants that line the scenic riverfront.
HemisFair had already taken place when I was taking my psychiatric nursing course in San Antonio, so we students took full advantage of the scenery and action when we had some free time.
The scenery included all the attractive young men in soldier's uniforms who were found in abundance gracing the Riverwalk with their handsome youthful faces and firm bodies.
I don't think that any of my classmates found their Mr. Right among those Army and Air Force guys, but we certainly had some fun visiting, flirting, dining, dancing, singing and even one time went on a swimming date with a group of them. I vaguely remember a nice kiss or two or three or more.
Ah yes! Those were the days!
Only one mishap occurred while coming down the steps of one of those stone bridges that links one side of the Riverwalk to the other. One of my heels broke off and fortunately I caught myself prior to tumbling down face forward.
It was common back then to wear high heels. So at first glance it would have appeared to onlookers that I had a severe limp. No soldier's eye was caught that day! (Smile)
Sites of Interest near the Riverwalk
With the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio as well as many other great sites of interest in this city, any tourist is sure to head for that area if they want to depart with a true flavor of having visited San Antonio.
A sampling of sites that one can see in addition to the things along the waterway that are adjacent or nearby include some of the following.
- The Alamo ~ Most people already know that this was the place of a historic mission where the famous battle took place between early Texans fighting for independence from Mexico.
- La Villita ~ One of the first neighborhoods in San Antonio is adjacent to the Riverwalk. It has an interesting history and now houses an active arts community in the quaint architecturally styled buildings. If one is looking for a distinctively different and handmade object of art, perhaps as a souvenir, head for La Villita. A wide variety of choices will be offered to suit almost any one's interest or budget. My husband's office for many years was furnished with some artwork that we acquired at La Villita.
- The Spanish Governor's Palace ~ Now a museum, this was the capitol building of the Spanish Texas in 1722. Although it has the name of King Ferdinand VI and the date of 1749 inscribed over the door, it was actually never inhabited by the Spanish king, but instead was the working residence of the local captain in the area. It is a beautiful building worth seeing and one can learn more history of the early days in the San Antonio region by visiting there.
- The King William District ~ This is now a historic district where mansions mingle with more modest abodes. One of the first neighborhoods established in this region of Texas, it was first settled by immigrant Germans. Located on the south side of the San Antonio River, one can take hourly tours through this district or walk the streets or even stay in one of the Bed and Breakfast establishments in this beautiful area. ( I created a linocut inspired by one of the columned homes seen there and titled it "Classically Adorned." This is just one of several limited edition linocuts created with the buildings in San Antonio as inspiration for my artwork.
- El Mercado ~ An authentic old Spanish marketplace adds interest to this downtown area.
- HemisFair Plaza ~ Among many remaining buildings from the 1968 World's Fair is the 750 foot Tower of the Americas set in an area of 92 acres. If one wants a bird's eye view of San Antonio from the top of the tower in a setting of waterfalls, a great children's playground, museums, etc., head on over to this plaza.
There are many other buildings and sites of interest near the downtown Riverwalk, but perhaps this will give a tourist a starting place in which to think about making some plans if visiting this scenic city in the future not to mention the outlying areas of interest.
Through the years when my mother-in-law still lived in San Antonio, my husband and I spent many a happy hour strolling along the River Walk and taking in the sites.
We have dined at a number of the restaurants while seated under the brightly colored umbrella tables outdoors and at the same time were able to watch the boats take tourists up and down the San Antonio River. One of our favorite restaurants was Casa Rio.
This is a great area for people watching!
Now that I am older those young soldiers that still frequent this downtown location look like fresh faced babies to me. What happened?
Of course, as I look in the mirror, I believe Father Time has been adjusting the mirrors because they no longer reflect what I feel like inside. He has a mischievous sense of humor! At least, so far, he has left my memories pretty much intact. He had better not mess with those!
On the back of the vintage postcard (shown above) that my grandparents had acquired many years ago while visiting San Antonio the following can be read:
CASA RIO MEXICAN FOODS
Catering in the Old Mexico Atmosphere on the Beautiful Patio at the Bank of the winding San Antonio River. 100 W. Commerce.
NATURAL COLOR by Mike Roberts, BERKLEY 2, CALIF.
Distributed by C.F. Searls & Son, 2015 E. Houston St., San Antonio, Texas.
A. F. BEYER - JOHNSON SMITH Owners & Operators
In this post I merely tried to give one an impression of the downtown area along the San Antonio River and it is by no means exhaustive of what there is to do and see in this great city.
There is much, much more to this charming inland metropolis that could keep one entertained for weeks at a time.
San Antonio, Texas provides a fun tourist destination for out of towners with its many historic buildings, Spanish culture and flavor, with venues like the River Walk. Come, explore and enjoy!
Have you spent some time at the Riverwalk in San Antonio?
Location of San Antonio in the State of Texas
© 2009 Peggy Woods