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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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Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

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Scenic Highway 112 aka the Kancamagus Highway aka the Kanc is a National Scenic Byway that traverses 34 miles of the beautiful White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.

You’re probably wondering why we chose to do a New England road trip when the leaves weren’t turning. The simple answer is: we didn’t want to fight the crowds.

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The White Mountains

As crowded as some of our destinations were during non-leaf peeping season, we can’t imagine what it is like in October when the trees turn. With that said, we were not disappointed in the least about seeing Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont on the cusp of autumn. Although we did see a few trees showing their colors, we thought the foliage was beautiful as it was – green. So now that we’ve cleared that up, hop on board, buckle up, and let’s do the Kanc.

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The Kancamagus (Can-cuh-ma-gus, sort of rhymes with August) Highway begins in Conway, New Hampshire, if you’re driving West, but a few miles up the road in North Conway, we decided to stop for lunch. Our pick: Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub. The weather was perfect, so we were able to sit on their patio, have a great burger, and enjoy the fresh air in the White Mountains. We are giving them a high five because their food and service was great. Thanks, Muddy Moose!

Back on the road in Conway, we stopped to see our first covered bridge.

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The Saco River Bridge was built in 1890 and spans – you guessed it – the Saco River.

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The Saco River as seen from the bridge.

Our next stop was the Saco Ranger Station. While a drive on the Kanc is free, a special pass is required for parking at the scenic areas. The ranger gave us a great map of the highway along with some other information, and he told us about the can’t-miss sights along the road. After that quick stop, we were off on our adventure.

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There are six National Forest campgrounds along the Kanc. All have potable water, bathrooms, parking, open fire places, and picnic tables. None of the campgrounds have RV hook-ups. Campsites are generally available from mid-May through mid-October, and most are only available on a first-come basis. Wood for campfires cannot be brought into the national forest. For information about camping on the Kanc, contact the White Mountain National Forest Ranger District. Additional campgrounds and hotels are available in Conway, North Conway, and Lincoln.

Albany Covered Bridge

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The White Mountain National Forest Covered Bridge was constructed by the Town of Albany in 1858 and renovated in 1970.

Lower Falls Scenic Area

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Scenic falls on the Swift River

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area

We spent about an hour at Rocky Gorge. The area had well maintained walking trails, a bridge, rocks, pools, and even a small flume. This was one of our favorite stops along the Kanc.

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A small flume at Rocky Gorge

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The (rock filled) Swift River at Rocky Gorge

Russell-Colbath House Site

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The Russell-Colbath House, a historic farmhouse that sits near the Kancamagus Highway

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Across from the house is a small cemetery that is still maintained by the Town of Albany. What is it about old cemeteries that piques our interest? The age of the graves, perhaps, or maybe it’s the interesting headstones. Doesn’t it make you wonder who these people were, and wouldn’t you like to know their stories?

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Many of the graves in this cemetery are marked simply by fieldstones, such as the two in the right foreground.

And, here is the interesting but sad story of Ruth Russell Colbath, the wife of Thomas Colbath. For the rest of her life, Ruth maintained her family home and the farm with the help of her children and a local handyman. No one ever solved the mystery of what Thomas was doing for all those years.IMG_7632 (1)

Sabbaday Falls

This was our favorite stop on along the highway. The hike to the falls was wonderful, and the falls… well, see for yourself.

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Sabbaday Falls

The earthy scent of the lush, green forest and the crashing of the water on the rocks. That’s our kind of hike, and we loved every minute of our time here. The US Forest Service has added bridges, stairs, and viewing areas for ease in accessing the falls. There is also a picnic area near the parking lot. The hike is about .6 miles round trip with a 75 foot elevation gain.

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Serene scene

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From Sugar Hill Overlook. A few of the trees are about to start changing into their fall colors.

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Here’s one getting a head start on its autumn colors.

Lincoln Woods

This is the trailhead into the Pemigewasset Wilderness and the Franconia Mountain Range. Apparently, this strenuous trail is not for the faint of heart.

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Suspension bridge over the Pemigewasset River

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The Pemigewasset River as seen from the bridge

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Look who we found near the parking lot!

At the end (or beginning, depending on which way you’re going) of the Kanc is the town of Lincoln, New Hampshire, which was our stop for the night.

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In Lincoln, we had dinner at Gordi’s Fish & Steak House. Does roasted beet salad sound good? Homemade clam chowder? Steak and baked potato? We loved their atmosphere, food, and service. This restaurant came highly recommended by the folks at our hotel, Holiday Inn Express. High fives, to Holiday Inn Express and to Gordi’s!

We’re at the end of this journey, but stop by again for more of our New England road trip, tips and tricks, and other exciting destinations. Become a follower on our site and on Facebook, and we would very much appreciate it if you would tell your friends about us.

We’re going to close this post with one more look at beautiful Sabbaday Falls.

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Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

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.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amarillo, Texas

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Not far from the halfway point on the old Route 66 lies the city of Amarillo, Texas. Today, I-40 bisects the city which is hard to miss on any mid-America east-west road trip. Amarillo is a classic, from it’s Route 66 historic area to its museums and quirky Americana. Road trippers will want to spend a day or more checking out everything this city has to offer.

On the beaten path…

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum

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For those who aren’t horse people (we aren’t) and especially for those who are, this is a fantastic experience! Located in a beautiful building at 2601 I-40 east (I-40 and Quarter Horse Drive), this museum and hall of fame is definitely worth a stop for an hour or two.

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Bloodlines from the first recorded quarter horse in America in the 1700s to present day are shown on the floor of the stunning Grand Hall.

Cadillac Ranch

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Ten old Cadillacs (we only captured seven of them due to mud) buried nose down in a field just west of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Bring your spray paint and leave your own mark on this American classic art installation.

 

Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum

Bring on the nostalgia – this place is fun and free! Located at 4341 Canyon Drive (off of I-27 and Georgia). Enter the RV dealership for an escort out to the museum. Below are some of the vintage RVs and motorcycles that are on display.

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Trivia: Wally Byam incorporated the Airstream travel trailer company in 1931.

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Happy Max. 1948 Flxible used in the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams.

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1918 Harley Davidson motorcycle with rare left-hand side car.

The Big Texan

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Other points of interest on the beaten path:

  • Route 66 Historic District – west of downtown, beginning at SW 6th Street and McMasters.
  • Amarillo Zoo – 700 Comanchero Trail.
  • Wonderland Amusement Park – 2601 Dumas Drive.

Off the beaten path…

Coyote Bluff Cafe

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Located at 2417 S Grand, this place has some of THE BEST BURGERS we’ve eaten anywhere! Love the laid-back atmosphere here, too. Arrive early for lunch. There are only twelve or thirteen tables and they fill up fast.

Helium Monument

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Officially called the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, the 60-foot tall stainless steel structure was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Four time capsules dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of natural resources are contained in the columns. The first capsule was opened in 1993, and the second in 2018. The other two will be opened on the hundredth, and thousandth anniversaries of the 1968 establishment of the monument. Amarillo is home to a former helium plant and the Texas panhandle once held most of the world’s helium reserves.

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Other points of interest off the beaten path:

  • Bill’s Backyard Classics. Classic car museum – 5309 S Washington Street.
  • Texas Air & Space Museum – 10001 American Drive.

Quirky…

Ozymandias on the Plains

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These “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” are located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-27 and Sundown Lane, south of town. We suspect that people are using their leftover spray paint from Cadillac Ranch to keep this sculpture colorful.

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Second Amendment Cowboy

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This big (muffler man) guy can be found next to the Cadillac RV park at 2601 Hope Road and the south I-40 frontage road, west of Amarillo and just east of the Cadillac Ranch. The site also includes three old Cadillacs that have mannequins of Willie Nelson, John Wayne, and Elvis sitting in the driver’s seats, and a gift shop. The marker in front of the cowboy is a faux historical marker that touts our Second Amendment right to bear arms, but surprisingly the cowboy does not have a gun. Side note: the RV park is fabulous!

Nearby points of interest…

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

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  • Website: Alibates Flint Quarries
  • Cost: free
  • Visitor center hours: daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Where: approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo off of Highway 136
  • Hiking trails
  • Ranger led tours of the quarries by reservation only

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Come here to learn about the Plains Indians who quarried the harder-than-steel flint to make arrowheads and spear points. Dating as far back as 13,000 years, flint from these quarries has been found far and wide. While at the visitor center, watch a film about the monument, and then enjoy the small museum.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

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  • Website: Lake Meredith
  • Cost: free entrance
  • Visitor center located in Fritch, Texas open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays
  • Where: seven minutes west of Fritch, Texas, which is approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo
  • Hiking, RV and tent camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting
  • Hotels, additional RV campgounds, restaurants, and groceries available in Fritch and in Borger, which is approximately 20 minutes east of Fritch

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Check with the park regarding lake levels and boat preparation before arrival. Hunters must comply with park and state regulations. Texas fishing licenses are required. Camping is free at all sites, except for the electric/water hook-up sites at Sanford-Yake. See the website for details.

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Other nearby points of interest:

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – approximately 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo. Beautiful Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. (We will cover Palo Duro Canyon in a separate post.)
  • Large Cross in Groom, Texas – approximately 45 minutes east of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Great stop with Stations of the Cross, which are life-size sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a visitor center that displays an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Okay, that’s going to do it for our Amarillo, Texas overview. We hope you enjoy your journey. We love that you joined us on ours. Please come back again! You never know where we’re going to take you. Until next time…

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.

©2019