San Antonio River Walk: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Looking for history, culture, and old-world charm on your Alamo City vacation? Spend your days exploring the San Antonio River Walk! Also known as Paseo del Rio, the area surrounding this photogenic attraction is a hot spot for art, shopping, and al fresco dining.

The River Walk is a creative hub with impressive museums like the Briscoe Western Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art. This has made it a haven for artisan makers and a great spot to pick up one-of-a-kind artisan goods. Shop til’ you drop at Pearl Brewery and La Villita Historic Village. Everywhere you go, you’ll be experiencing incredible San Antonio architecture in renovated historic buildings.

Ready to plan a dreamy Texas vacation? Find inspiration with this guide to the San Antonio River Walk, including what to see & do, places to eat and drink, and where to stay.

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What to see & do

La Villita Historic Village

Kickstart your River Walk adventure with a visit to La Villita Historic Village. Not only is San Antonio’s first neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it’s also the cultural hub of the city. Whether you want to immerse yourself in 300 years of history or ignite your creative flair, there’s something to keep everyone happy as you stroll the charming streets here.

La Villita Historic Village

With visual delights at every turn, it’s easy to see why creatives flock to La Villita Historic Village. Budding architects will be overwhelmed with Adobe, Victorian, and Texas limestone architecture. As you amble along the pretty riverfront, you’ll find dreamy courtyards and sparkling plazas.

The exciting community of local artists creates endless unique shopping opportunities. From metalwork to paintings, this is one of the coolest places to visit in San Antonio to find hand-crafted artisan goods. Pick up homeware, jewelry, and soaps so you have a special memento from your trip.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

Art lovers can get extra context on the local artwork at Briscoe Western Art Museum. Once the original public library in the 1930s, it’s a shrine to the city’s Western heritage. The pieces it houses explore cowboys, Native Americans, and stunning Western landscapes.

Step through the imposing marble archway and into an emporium of Western art. Textiles, sculptures, and movements depict the cultures of the West and how they’ve changed over time.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

Learn how people saw and adjusted to this arid landscape through a lens of creativity. Find out about migration across the area, from herds of bison to innovative new transport. With its permanent collections and rotating exhibits, you get a varied picture of culture and heritage at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.

The art doesn’t stop if you need fresh air: The museum’s sculpture garden is a serene green space full of bronze works. The sculptures here highlight iconic people and moments from the American West.

Shops at Rivercenter

Get your retail therapy on your San Antonio River Walk adventure at the Shops at Rivercenter. This huge mall complex has over 100 retailers with 14 restaurants. Fashion not your forte? You’ll also find an IMAX Theatre, SEA Life, and a Legoland Discovery Center to keep everyone in the family entertained.

Shops at Rivercenter

From the Disney Store to Macy’s, you’ll find some of the most popular stores in the United States at Shops at Rivercenter. If brands aren’t your thing, you can also check out some of the shopping mall’s specialty stores. When you need to refuel, you’ll find mouthwatering steaks, fun waffles, and tasty margaritas on the menu.

If you tire of splashing your cash, step outside and straight onto the Rivercenter Lagoon. The relaxing space is full of pretty bridges and blooming flowers. Stroll and absorb the atmosphere or hop on a riverboat tour to see more of the neighborhood.

South Bank on the River Walk

Soak up the atmosphere of San Antonio with a wander along South Bank on the River Walk. The idyllic riverside setting is the perfect place to while away an afternoon on any San Antonio travel itinerary. The wonderful selection of bars and restaurants with outdoor seating will leave you spoiled for choice.

As you meander along the shade of the changing leaves, pick a perfect spot under one of the colorful umbrellas. Whether you want ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s or a cocktail at the Hard Rock Café, South Bank on the River Walk will have a venue to tempt you.

Enjoy Texas BBQ by the riverside at County Line or Mexican street food on the patio at Barriba Cantina. If you find yourself out past bedtime, you’ll find stylish cocktails at Merkaba and epic entertainment at Howl at the Moon.

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

Enjoy a night at the theatre at Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. San Antonio’s performing arts center hosts diverse and world-class theatrical experiences. Housed in the historic Municipal Auditorium, it’s kept its impressive façade. Step under the grand archways for a Hollywood start to your evening.

Take part in exciting wellness activities like yoga classes and drum circles. Or cry with laughter at a performance from your favorite comedian.

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

At Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, you’ll find theatre classics such as elegant ballet shows and the latest hit musicals. But you can also snag tickets for talks on specialist subjects with speakers from NASA engineers or true crime experts. No matter what time of year you visit San Antonio, there’ll be a show or performance to tickle your fancy.

If you arrive early for a pre-show dinner, you’ll have lots of options to choose from. Graze upscale plates, sink your teeth into meaty burgers, or sample a fine dining buffet themed to your show.

San Antonio Museum of Art

If you like your art with lots of international flair, you’ll love the San Antonio Museum of Art. With pieces spanning 5,000 years of history, you’ll travel across the globe exploring Asia, Latin America, and the Mediterranean. The museum is perched inside the 1884 Lone Star Brewery building, giving it a charming blend of classic and industrial architecture.

There are endless treasures to explore in the San Antonio Museum of Art, from the clay work of Ancient Rome to modern Mexican sculptures. Make your way across four floors of exhibitions, all framed by the stunning architecture. Admire the intricate textiles of Africa, then appreciate the expert skill of the 17th-century European painters.

Continue your global experience in the museum restaurant. You can graze handmade pasta, flatbread pizza, and elegant antipasti on the charming balcony overlooking the river.

The Grotto

Get a unique city break experience with a trip to The Grotto. This artificial cave creates an underground world between the Camden Street and Newel Street bridges. San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés created the cave from metal and cement. But you’d never guess that it isn’t real!

Everything in The Grotto is made in the artist’s Trabajo Rustico style, a technique that uses nature as inspiration to create cement structures.

The Grotto

As you step into the unassuming entrance, you’ll enter an otherworldly space of impressive structures and intriguing artwork. The trickling of water makes it even more atmospheric. Stumble upon a small waterfall, watched over by a carving of a huge spirit face.

Stalagmites and stalactites follow you through meandering passageways as you discover jaguar heads, pools, and sprouting trees. Stop and rest awhile on one of the driftwood benches, only to discover these are made from concrete, too!

Pearl Brewery

You don’t have to be over 21 to hit up this popular spot. Pearl Brewery is a historic site dating back to 1883, built upon a former brewery. Today, it’s a thriving entertainment complex offering shopping and dining options with heaps of personality.

The Pearl Brewery in October

Pearl Brewery capitalizes on the historic charm of the building by focusing on craftsmanship and artisan goods. Thoughtful and creative chefs set the tone for a lively dining scene. Feast on Mediterranean food made in a wood-fired oven at Ladino, or try authentic San Antonio comfort food made from scratch at Full Goods Diner.

As well as a local farmers market, you’ll find wonderful handmade goods and stylish boutiques at Pearl Brewery. Browse global art, unique home décor, and unusual gifts. There’s something for everyone, from bike stores to bookstores. And you know that your purchases support local makers and ethical practices.

Where to eat & drink

Thanks to its beautiful historic setting and vibrant creative energy, the San Antonio River Walk is home to some of the tastiest restaurants in San Antonio. Upscale venues, dreamy waterside patios, and exciting dishes make this neighborhood a true eating and drinking experience.

Try classic Texas food bistro style at Boudro’s on the Riverwalk. The restaurant is famous for its guacamole; enjoy it with a signature prickly pear margarita in the cool limestone interior or on the leafy patio. The creative chef at Biga serves up exciting takes on classic dishes in a stylish and minimal setting.

Have your dinner in a colonial hacienda. Casa Rio is a San Antonio institution. With original features, colorful décor, and a tasty Tex-Mex menu, this restaurant offers a night by the river you won’t forget.

Or tuck into traditional South Texas dishes on the huge terrace of Domingo Restaurant. This elegant riverside setting offers a stylish atmosphere and upscale cuisine.

Restaurant in San Antonio River Walk

The Esquire Tavern is a vintage-style lounge in a historic building. The bar serves classic cocktails, good wine, and a diverse beer selection. Its claim to fame is the 100-foot beer-soaked wooden bar top, sliding in as the longest wooden bar top in Texas.

Escape to Bavaria at Bier Garten Riverwalk. Every day’s a party with long outdoor tables for socializing, all-day happy hours, and live music seven days a week. With tasty Bavarian snacks and one of the largest imported and craft beer menus on the River Walk, you’ll end the day full of cheer.

If you’re looking for a classic Irish bar, you won’t find any better around the Alamo City than Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub. It’s based on the original Durty Nelly’s in Ireland, a pub that’s been thriving since 1620. The San Antonio tribute has been a local favorite for 50 years, and it’s easy to see why, with great beers, live piano, and hearty sing-a-longs.

Continue the night at Howl at the Moon San Antonio. The River Walk branch of this live music chain never fails to get everyone up and dancing!

Where to stay

As it’s the city’s cultural heart, the River Walk is one of the most popular places to stay in San Antonio. The area is home to many of the city’s top-rated hotels, ranging everywhere from budget-friendly chain hotels to luxury hotels.

Element Hotel

Element San Antonio Riverwalk

This modern and sustainable hotel focuses on well-being and putting you in touch with nature. Minimalist design and fabulous views of San Antonio make this boutique-like hotel a relaxed base for your stay on the River Walk. Unwind in the fitness center or with a drink in the stylish tapas lounge.

Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

The former Alamo National Bank has been renovated into an impressive skyscraper with 50-foot ceilings, stained glass windows, and ornate décor. The stunning rooftop pool has two whirlpools and panoramic views of San Antonio. Get treated to complimentary food and drinks every evening, as well as free daily popcorn and soda.

Canopy By Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk

Canopy By Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk

This modern hotel has lots of trendy and warm touches to make you feel at home. Soak up the sun in the pretty courtyard or perch on the terrace bar overlooking the river. As the property is home to the popular Domingo restaurant, you can enjoy delicious South Texas cuisine without leaving the hotel.

Mokara Hotel & Spa

Mokara Hotel & Spa

Steps from the waterfront, this sophisticated hotel is brimming with old-world charm. Light and airy rooms are finished with classic elegance, while the fine dining restaurants feature an oyster bar and specialty tequilas. Unwind with a trip to the exclusive spa or take a dip in the heated rooftop pool.

Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk

Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk

This luxurious hotel offers the full package. With stunning views of San Antonio at every turn, you can unwind in your luxurious bedroom or by the sunny pool deck. Fabulous nightlife options include a seasonal grill and a sparkling rooftop bar.

Treksplorer

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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