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Things to do in San Antonio: River Walk

San Antonio is one of the most historic cities in the United States, having been founded in 1718 when a Spanish expedition established the Mission San Antonio de Valero, now known as the Alamo. Soon after, a presidio (Spanish fort) named San Antonio de Bexar was established nearby and became the foundation of the city of San Antonio. The settlement served as the seat of the Spanish government in Texas until Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, and at that time San Antonio was home to about 2,500 residents. Today, San Antonio boasts a population of over 1.5 million making it the seventh largest city in the U.S. 

While San Antonio has grown by leaps and bounds, the modern city has managed to hold on to its roots. The culture, the history…it’s all still there, and San Antonio’s residents are proud to share it with their visitors. The River Walk is a great place to begin a tour of San Antonio, and what makes it even better is staying a few nights at one of the beautiful hotels right on the river. 

 A cruise on the San Antonio River is a must, especially for first time visitors who want to get an insider’s view of what the River Walk has to offer. The typical cruise will take about 35 minutes. General admission for narrated cruises cost $13.50 for adults and $7.50 for children. Shuttle boats, which are used to get up and down the 15-mile-long River Walk, cost $20.00 for a one-day pass, and multiple-day options are also available.

Museums, shopping, live entertainment, beautiful hotels, and upscale as well as funky bars can all be found on the San Antonio River Walk. Then there’s the outstanding food! Of course, everyone’s favorite in San Antonio is Mexican food, and there is plenty of that to go around.

There’s something special about sitting outside in the festive atmosphere while enjoying a cold drink and watching the other tourists cruise leisurely by on the river boats. We can’t recall ever having a bad meal on the River Walk, and we’re particularly fond of Casa Rio for Mexican food. It’s pictured at the top of the post with the pretty umbrellas. If traditional American fare is what you’re craving, try Dick’s Last Resort. Touting themselves as the shame o’ the river, Dick’s serves up some pretty good “grub and brews” by the rudest servers you’ll ever encounter. They’re a chain, rudeness is their schtick, and eating there can be a hilarious experience. 

See an interesting timeline about the development of the San Antonio River Walk here: https://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/about/our-history/

We love San Antonio any time of the year, but spring is our favorite time to visit. (That’s probably because we went there together in the spring for the first time when we were teenagers.) Summer temperatures can get pretty high, but the mild fall weather can be very nice. We’ve also visited there in December, and even then, the weather was comfortable for sitting outside. 

Nightlife abounds on the River Walk too. From laid-back dive bars to the rowdier dance halls as well as English and Irish pubs, everyone will find a place to eat, drink, and dance the night away. People ask if it’s safe, and we say yes – with some conditions. First and foremost, travelers should always be aware of their surroundings no matter where they are. While we feel safe on the River Walk at night (we have seen police officers patrolling on bikes and boats as well as on foot – day and night), we would not venture into darkened or unpopulated parts of the walk or any parts of the downtown area at night.  

This pretty stone bridge is now known as Selena Bridge. A scene from the movie Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez was filmed on this bridge.

The pretty bridges, the peaceful green-hued water, and the lush trees and plants make this the ideal place for a stroll anytime – day or night. Pop into the shops at Rivercenter, visit an art museum, stop in at one of the bodegas, browse the street vendors’ wares, and check out the restaurants’ menus, most of which are posted on the patios or entrances. Warning: it is very difficult to choose just one place to eat or just one souvenir! 

Tower of the Americas

Did you know that San Antonio was the site of a World’s Fair? HemisFair ’68 was held from April to October 1968, and today visitors can still visit HemisFair park which is just a short walk from the River Walk. The iconic, 750-foot Tower of the Americas is still a thrill for visitors who want to ride the elevator to the rotating restaurant at the top for great food and great views. The park also has a playground and splash pad for the kids, giant chess and checker boards, as well as flowing water features, fountains, walking paths, and green spaces. The park, a designated San Antonio Historic District, is also home to several State Archaeological Landmark buildings, and the Tower of the Americas has been nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wondering what’s near the River Walk for kids to do? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered:

  • Eat a great meal (they have a kid’s menu) and play arcade games at Dave & Buster’s – on the River Walk at Rivercenter
  • Have some fun building something and riding the rides at Legoland Discovery Center – on the River Walk at Rivercenter
  • Spend an afternoon at HemisFair Park’s amazing playground, giant sandbox, and splash pad – 0.9 miles
  • See what’s in the sea at Sea Life San Antonio Aquarium which is located close to HemisFair Park – 1.2 miles
  • Check out the hands-on interactive exhibits at the DoSeum – 2.8 miles 

Other exciting San Antonio attractions for the entire family: 

  • Get up close and personal with animals at the San Antonio Zoo – 4.5 miles
  • Extend your animal adventures to Seaworld with its sea life exhibits and Aquatica water park all in one place – 20 miles
  • Enjoy the thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas amusement park – 23 miles

La Antorcha de la Amistad

In addition to the attractions we’ve listed, there are numerous cultural, historical, and art museums in San Antonio. Many public art installations can be found around town too, such as the La Antorcha de la Amistad (Torch of Friendship) by Mexican artist Sebastian. The 65-foot, lipstick red sculpture was a gift to the City of San Antonio by the Mexican government in 2002 and represents two cultures and languages merging together as one. The sculpture is hard to miss in the heart of downtown, and glimpses of it can be seen from the River Walk.

If outdoor sports are your thing, there are several highly rated public golf courses in San Antonio. Fishing, swimming, and boating can be found at beautiful Canyon Lake located 1 hour north of the city. The San Antonio Spurs NBA team as well and a handful of other semi-professional and college sports teams provide plenty of excitement for sports fans. San Antonio also boasts botanical gardens, historic residential districts, historic churches and other historic buildings, as well as a market district. The UNESCO World Heritage Site: San Antonio Missions Historical Park is a national park site that should not be missed.

Read our post about the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and the Alamo here: https://oneforthemoneytwofortheroad.com/2022/06/01/san-antonio-missions/

As you can see, there truly is something for everyone in San Antonio. If you’ve never been there, we hope we have inspired you to visit, and if you have been there, go again! The city has so much history and culture to offer, and besides that, it’s just so much fun. Did we mention the food?

We’re going to close the post with some interesting facts about the San Antonio Express-News building which is located a couple of blocks from the River Walk.

Home to the San Antiono Express-News newspaper for more than 90 years, this beautiful Art Deco building was opened in 1929. The newspaper’s parent company, Hearst Corp., moved the newsroom and printing operation to other sites in 2020 and put this building on the market for sale. What intrigued us about the building was not just its historic beauty, but the bas-relief panel above the door. (What can we say…we love art!) It was sculpted by none other than Pompeo Coppini, the same artist who created the stunning Alamo Cenotaph. The carved stone panel (shown below) features images representing labor, education, enlightenment, truth, and justice. It is our understanding that in March 2022, the building was sold to a property development investment group from Austin. We will be anxious to see what they do with this fabulous property.

Thank you for joining us in San Antonio! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

Tower of the Americas and La Antorcha de la Amistad photos courtesy of Henry Becerra. 

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National Route 66 Museum

Where is it?

On Route 66, of course! Actually, it’s on a stretch of the original Route 66 in Elk City, Oklahoma. We plan to drive the entire route someday, but we’re settling for bits and pieces for the time being. This turned out to be a nice little piece of the route.

What’s it about?

It is a complex of five great museums all in one place. They include:  the National Route 66 Museum, National Transportation Museum, Farm and Ranch Museum, Blacksmith Museum, and the Old Town Museum which contains the Beutler Rodeo Hall. All sections are worth the stop. Below are some shots from the Route 66 Museum where there are different vignettes depicting what travelers would have seen in each of the eight states along the Mother Road.

We suspect there may still be some places like this one in New Mexico and Arizona, live rattlesnakes and all!

Crusin’ through the great state of Missouri. Gotta love those vintage cars!

“Are we there yet?”

Who napped in the back window on family vacations? Was the motel pool your entire reason for living? How about stopping at Stuckey’s for a pecan roll and a cheap souvenir? A&W root beers and burgers in the car anyone? Remember when motels had stationery and post cards in the rooms? And then there were those real live “trading posts” with that horrible-tasting rock candy and “authentic” turquoise jewelry. Oh, and Reptile Village, but our dads wouldn’t ever stop. Those were fun times, and this museum really brought back the memories for us, although some of it was way before our time.

Outside in the sunshine, we walked around the “old town” exhibits and looked in all the windows. Below are a couple of shots.

Wonder what the gas prices were back in this gas station’s heyday?

More of the old town. Each building is furnished with items the businesses would have had way back when, and all can be viewed through the storefront windows. There’s even a country doctor’s office complete with creepy medical instruments.

We fell in love with the sculpture (below) in front of the Old Town Museum. The museum building had once been the home of a family who owned department stores in western Oklahoma. The first floor depicts how some of the early residents would have lived. The second floor is dedicated to the the Beutler family who own a ranch north of Elk City and have raised champion rodeo stock for almost 100 years. This museum was worth the admission fee by itself.

His name was Commotion, and he was the Beutler brothers three time world champion bucking horse.

“Commotion” from a different angle. It is a beautiful bronze sculpture by T.D. Kelsey of Guthrie, Texas.

Click here for an interesting read about this multi-faceted artist: https://www.tdkelsey.com/the-artist

The museum complex admission is (currently) $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for children 6-16. Children 5 and under are admitted free. For AAA members and people over 60, it is $4.00. (We paid $4.00 each, but we’re not saying which discount we got!)

In closing, we would recommend a stop here for travelers who have a couple of hours to spend. And if you’re already traveling the Mother Road (or even I-40), a stop here is a great way to get out of the car for a time, take a relaxing stroll through the complex, and learn something new while you’re at it!

Thank you for stopping by our site, and we hope you come back again for more road trip stops, Quick Stops, Wish We Were There Wednesdays, and lots of other good stuff. We appreciate you more than you know, and we would love to hear from you so feel free to comment below. We can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter @KellyeHefner.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

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Wish We Were There Wednesday: Feathers and Fur – The Sequel

We’ve got more feathered and furred animals for y’all from our latest Texas Hill Country road trip. Enjoy!

Trees full of buzzards. We have no idea what they were doing. Probably just waiting for their next public service project. Did a U-turn on a skinny little backroad to photograph them. Don’t tell anybody, but we’re kind of intrigued by buzzards.
We’re not real sure what longhorns do these days except lay around and wait for somebody to take their picture… At least they posed even if they didn’t smile. (We know the correct word is “lie”, but we don’t really care about proper grammar when we’re talking about lazy cows.)
Mrs. Cardinal! We were excited to get a picture of her because we don’t see that many girl cardinals. When we do see one, they are too busy to sit still long enough for us to get the shot. Isn’t she a little darlin’?
Not exactly what you’d expect to see on a Texas ranch, but there it is in black and white…
These little birds are so cute – until some interloper tries to eat from the same feeder, then all heck breaks loose, and the little beasts turn into dive bombing, raging, fighting machines! Is its tongue out? Are their beaks like straws? Do they ever stop flying long enough to sleep? Hello…any hummingbird experts out there?
Now this is what you’d expect to see on a Texas ranch – the LBJ Ranch specifically. If you look closely, you’ll see that it has a number on its horns. We want to know how they get them to sit still long enough to be numbered. Wait…do cows sit? If you have ever seen a sitting cow, raise your hand.
Neither feathered nor furred, it is a ‘dilla butt! Armadillos might have some fur somewhere, though. Have any of y’all ever picked one up and looked?
This is a fish. It does not have feathers or fur either, but it does have fins.
These sheep…
We think you’re a real handsome guy, but we’re not lady turkeys… sorry 🙁
You don’t see too many bison around central Texas, but here’s one at LBJ State Park in Stonewall. Still think they would stink. Not getting close enough to find out…
Just a plain ol’ mallard, but we thought he was pretty. And he let us take his picture. And he hangs out on the San Antonio River Walk… so, yeah…
Some of y’all might think this is a weird picture – we do. But how often do you get a cell phone shot of a White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth at a grocery store? Uh-huh, that’s what we thought…

Thank you so much for stopping by! We hope you will come back again for more road trips, Quick Stops and other good stuff. Subscribe to become a follower so you never miss a post – just hit that button on the right side of the page. Likes, shares, and comments are very much appreciated.

Happy hump day, everyone!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022