The iconic San Antonio Riverwalk (or the Paseo del Rio) twists and turns among cypress trees, winding travelers down dirt paths and paved walkways alike, crossing the tracks of historic Missions and modern art galleries. Stone bridges cast shadows that play with the reflection of the twinkling evening lights from the lively bars and restaurants around its most famous stretch. The San Antonio Riverwalk brings in masses of visitors all vying for a piece of the charm that makes the Riverwalk the top tourist attraction in Texas– and there’s more than enough to go around!
Good weather, ample restaurants wafting in delicious smells and a pedestrian culture add to the spirited atmosphere of the Riverwalk where people come to stroll, linger and where loitering is encouraged. This budget-friendly city welcomes families, couples or solo travelers looking to enjoy its old world ambiance
When should you visit San Antonio?
With hotel prices staying within a very budget-friendly sphere of under $150 a night, San Antonio is worth a visit any month of the year. trivago data shows that prices jump slightly in July and August with an average of $131 a night and the most expensive average coming in at $136 per night in March.
November to January, prices remain at a steady $106 making it the perfect time to enjoy the balmy weather and sunshine that is present year round.
” With 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s always a great time to visit San Antonio. People often plan trips around our many festivals and events; and with a city as festive as San Antonio, odds are good there will be an event no matter when you visit. From the lighting of our River Walk and river parade during the holiday season to Fiesta San Antonio in April which offers over 100 events celebrating San Antonio’s unique culture and honoring heroes from the battle of the Alamo, there’s always something special for you in San Antonio.“
What is there to do around the Riverwalk?
Photos by Mr.512 and Nan Palmero CC BY
Take to the water! Whether you arrive or depart at your Riverwalk hotel via water taxi (a viable possibility for any hotel on our list) or you join a narrated Riverwalk boat tour for a fascinating glimpse into the history of San Antonio, the river is truly what makes this city unique.
Visit the historic Market Square, the largest Mexican-style market outside of Mexico that truly brings some of the down-home, authentic flavors of Mexican culture and food into the city.
Photos by Katie Haugland and Laura Bernhardt CC BY
Walk all the way to the north to the Museum Reach of the Riverwalk, all the way to the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Pearl Brewery. The Museum Reach slinks along around four miles, boasting varied public artworks including sculptures and glow-in-the-dark murals (visit at night to experience the full effect) that you can interact with using your smartphone. Don’t leave the kids at home in anticipation of the brewery as it’s more of a family-fun activity: local farmers and ranchers sell food wares to chefs who cook them and foodies who come to enjoy the local pickins’. There’s also boutiques, live music and tons of special events ensuring there’s always something good happening at the Pearl.
Visit La Villita, one of San Antonio’s first neighborhoods and today a thriving art community in the heart of the city. At one point, this historic neighborhood was a slum, but the eclectic architectural mix of rooming houses and affluent mansions has been well preserved for new generations to enjoy. Today those buildings operate as local businesses dedicated to selling important Mexican folk art, jewelry, pottery and other gift items as well as restaurants.
Walk, bike or drive between the Missions: The Alamo might command the most interest for its notoriety (we won’t forget) but the Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada Missions are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites worthy of a visit. Embodying over 300 years of history, you should allot around four hours to see them all. Start at the southern-most Espada Mission and work your way north through San Juan, San José, Concepción (the best preserved of the lot) and finally up to the Alamo. If your Mission walk falls on a Sunday, don’t miss the Mariachi Mass at 12:00 p.m. at the San José Mission.
See here for more info about San Antonio’s Missions and trekking the Riverwalk to see them all!
What should you eat around the San Antonio Riverwalk?
It may be hard to pick from the vast selection of food available at the Pearl Brewery but Cured is making lovers of charcuterie, craft beers and history very happy. Located in the brewery’s old admin building, the rustic chic decor is accented with what else but hoards of dried meats all made in-house. You can’t help but start off with the charcuterie board before moving onto whatever the seasons have added to the robust mains.
While wandering the Market Square, sample some of the best Tex-Mex food available in San Antonio at Mi Tierra. This local landmark opened back in 1941 with only three tables but their consistent success and the addition of several more tables plus a 24 hour open schedule ensures that this family-run restaurant has fans spanning several generations of one family.
Looking for that perfect, locally-loved restaurant down on the Riverwalk? While the tourist traps over-populate the area, Lüke is a taste of Chef John Besh’s Lousiana that residents love for an evening of indulgence. A fantastic happy hour sees drinks, including cocktails cut to half off, plus 75-cent fresh oysters and other inexpensive bites. Keep it classic with Shrimp and Grits or take advantage of San Antonio’s proximity to the Gulf to savor their fresh seafood dishes or try the Lüke take on the Schnitzel.
Looking for the best San Antonio Riverwalk Hotels?
Views of the Riverwalk may come at a higher price point than rooms with street or city views, but calling down to your water taxi from your balcony is an enthralling experience. Book ahead to avoid what could be a disappointing view and understand that it’s difficult to get a free upgrade to such a coveted panorama.
Swanky and stylish, the Mokara Hotel is San Antonio’s top rated property by trivago users — upon entrance, you’ll quickly grasp why. Escape the Texas heat with a few laps in the rooftop pool while enjoying sweeping views of this historic city. Other fine views include the famous Riverwalk which bends around the hotel and can be glimpsed from many of the property’s balconies and beds. WiFi is free and you can play your favorite Spotify tunes from the comfort of your Whirlpool tub since all rooms have docking stations. Rooms are tastefully decorated with touches of buttery leather and rich woods evoking feelings of a romantic bygone era coupled with modern accents.
If you’re looking to up the ante on romance, stop into the oyster bar at Ostra to slurp down the latter, a known aphrodisiac, or a fresh ceviche, clams and crab which come abundant locally. Surprise your lover with a booked specialty service at the 7,000 square foot Mokara Spa, one of the top rated spa properties in the whole of the US. Our service of choice would be the Mokara Signature massage, where you’ll float away from daily stress on a customized selection of aromatherapy oils.
Early 20th century Cuban decadence reigns supreme at the intimate Havana Hotel, set on a quieter and decidedly less touristy part of the Riverwalk. This boutique hotel dates back to 1914, complete with original pine floors and a collection of antiques that could send period piece lovers into a frenzy. This is accented with moody pastels, white sheets, exposed brick walls, wrought-iron staircases and massive windows ushering in the perfect afternoon light — the Havana hotel could be something out of a dream.
Onsite Ocho restaurant tempts hotel-goers not only with its setting in a unique glass conservatory overlooking the Riverwalk, but it’s pan-Latin menu brings in locals too; huitaloche quesadillas dressed with spicy chipotle salsa added to an avocado salad should start off your appetites nicely. Fix it with a Hemingway Daiquiri and you’re off to your room in this inspiring hotel to pen the next great American novel. The hotel bar is tucked away in the basement and gives off a speakeasy vibe with cigars available for sale, although smoking must be out on the hotel terrace. Pops of color continue here with deep yellows, red and oranges hanging against the turquoise walls and we can assure you that the drinks are as flavorful as the the decor.
The Westin Riverwalk
This riverside setting of the Westin Riverwalk brings you close enough to spot fish from your hotel room balcony. Imitate them in the heated rooftop pool as you either swim or lounge with views of both the Riverwalk and downtown San Antonio. Come nightfall, venture out to the bars and shops that are steps away from your front door. Alternatively, we won’t blame you if you make it a night-in and fall asleep like you’re on clouds on the Westin’s signature Heavenly® Bed– 10 layers of sublime bedding cushioning your body and six pillows providing support and comfort wherever you may need it.
Don’t miss out on La Merienda, a Latin-American version of high tea served Wednesday to Friday in the hotel lobby. Cinnamon-y Mexican coffees, hot chocolate, and refreshing agua frescas are paired with hojorascas (Mexican cookies) and other finger foods from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk
Check yourself in (literally at the electronic check in) to this quintessential San Antonio Riverwalk hotel. Not only do you get a view of the Riverwalk and the comforts of being walking distance to many of the area’s best restaurants, but the Hyatt Regency San Antonio also boasts a view to kill for, overlooking the historic Alamo Mission.
You’ll be more than enticed to spend an afternoon in the 6-story high atrium lobby with glass windows. The expansive window trend is continued in the suites which offer up the best views via their floor to ceiling windows and WiFi comes compliments of la casa.
If you get peckish, grab a bowl of spaghetti from onsite Q Kitchen | Bar, made by your chef just the way you like it at their interactive open cooking pasta bar area. If there’s a big game on, you can also catch at it the same location while enjoying a nice cold one from the over 100 Texas beers and microbrews.
Omni La Mansion Del Rio
Relax like you’re at home with the casual hacienda vibe of this Spanish colonial style hotel. Sumptuous rooms have a tactile allure with beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls. Spend your weekend people watching on your balcony overlooking the Riverwalk and all the nighttime entertainment it provides. Children will love the Omni warm welcome, complete with an activities backpack and cookies with milk — what quicker way straight to a kid’s heart?
Onsite restaurant Las Canarias is one of the best in town and is notorious for their delightful handmade margaritas, supposedly the best on the whole Riverwalk and made even more enjoyable by the Mariachi band who play here regularly. Sister property Mokara offers guests of La Mansion the opportunity to use their spa and fitness center. La Mansion’s lovely courtyard pool is amplified by an old world European feel of the stately surrounding gardens.
Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk
Looking for a view of the Riverwalk on a tighter budget? The Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk lets visitors enjoy fantastic views both from rooms and the rooftop pool and hot tub. Unwind above the city with–what else–but a perfect glass of your preferred grape beverage. Wine o’clock anyone? This pet-friendly hotel is ideally situated for those wanting to make the most of the Riverwalk’s pedestrian spirit or hop on a water taxi to explore the area by boat.
History lessons at the Alamo are a mere mile away and the lively atmosphere of the area’s bars and restaurants are steps away from the welcome mat of the hotel. Rooms are decorated in a mixture of grandiose yet comfortable furniture and fulfill the needs of travelers looking to get the most out of their entire San Antonio experience.
The palazzo inspired exterior of the Valencia Riverwalk Hotel conjures up memories of old-world sophistication and fits in perfectly to the San Antonio vibe. At times both classic and modern, the 213 room hotel is centered around an open air courtyard. Rooms feature elegant wood furnishings, free WiFi and some even boasting covetable balconies overlooking the river through plantation style shutters. The bathrooms are decked out in white virgin Italian marble and draped with oversized bath sheets and cozy waffle bathrobes.
The hotel’s Vbar was voted the Best Hotel Bar by locals who love the edgy, dark decor offering private corners to hold cozy chats. Citrus restaurant melds locally-sourced food and fine international ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner, coupled with an extensive wine menu sure to leave any connoisseur pleased.