Four days was not nearly enough for me to fully enjoy San Antonio Riverwalk. Our hotel was right on the river. Even though the drive was a few hundred miles to get there, I dropped the suitcase as soon as I got to the room and headed out to explore.
The first thing that was immediately apparent, the walkways are right on the canal, the later it gets, the more people there are, and for most of it there are no guard rails. Being from South Florida, I'm no stranger to walking on the water's edge but a little caution is required.
The nice thing is you don't see as many people texting and walking as you do elsewhere in our modern world. Not dry ones at least. I asked our boat captain around the third day how many people fall in.
The not so surprising answer is about 200 reported a year. He also mentioned that what's reported is probably far less than what happens. Now in Florida, a canal this wide could be anywhere from 20-40 feet deep depending on how much swamp was in need of draining and filling. The Riverwalk about knee deep and there are giant gates to keep it that way incase of a flood.
After finding out that last little fact I was far less concerned about getting bumped in and had a beer or two. There is no shortage of places to get that beer along with a fine meal if you are so inclined. Which I was - A lot!
From the Tower of the Americas, you can not even see the Riverwalk. It is dead center of the photo below. As we were driving in, getting lost, ignoring the GPS misdirections, circling around, we passed over the many bridges in criss crossing the river and never realized it. The crazy, nerve racking, traffic of the city is completely lost to the cool, peaceful quiet of the river basically one staircase below. It is a true wonderland in the heart of a major city.
Eating and drinking are the prime activities but there is the Briscoe Western Art Museum right in the center of the river loop. Well worth visiting, and an especially good bargain on free tuesdays.
There is so much to see, do, eat, and drink that if I had another 4 days, I could easily have had a completely new experience to write about. The sites are not the whole story. Not by a long shot. It was the people of this town that made it special.
Every place we ventured into had someone willing to make us feel welcome. We had several boat captains but one in particular had such a long history with the town and such pride in the recent happenings it was a pleasure to listen for the hour long tour around. He was actually on a decision committee for their recent $71 million dollar expansion. I don't know of any place else that uses the opinions of those with a ground floor history to shape its future.
Another memorable person invited us to enjoy the greatest steak on the river at the Lone Star Cafe. He was not wrong. I really just wanted to sit on a street level balcony and overlook the river. Having a great steak was a bonus.
On our last day I wanted to have a last beer at the very posh Hyatt Regency. They have an elegant glass balcony overlooking the atrium. I spotted some lights outside the opposite door and I wanted to check them out. I hate to miss anything when I travel.
I found the Beir Garten Riverwalk. The place was virtually empty and seemed like a much more appropriate end to this visit. We had the full attention of the waitress who helped me find two of the finest beers I've had then basically hang out with us a while. She was telling us how they had just started up the place and it was very quickly catching on even though the location is a bit hard to find. She was also the perfect example of how friendly and welcoming this town is. Before I left, all the tables were filled and she was much busier but still with a huge smile for every table.
When I go back - I think this is the place I will start - I hope I can get a seat by then. If I took a photo of everyone who made this trip special I would have run out my memory card. Even to the guy sweeping the porch at our hotel who jogged over to open the door for us and asked with interest how we were enjoying our stay. I am almost certain he did not own the hotel but with four full days of that kind of universal, city wide pride and pleasantness it's easy for me to say - Go to San Antonio! - Stay on the river!
[click here] to see many more photos of my visit and take a look at my other posts from San Antonio.