Many of San Antonio’s sights are located near the famous River Walk and can easily be reached by foot and/or riverboat. So, stay in a hotel on or near the River Walk and join in all or some of this four-mile walking tour to visit 11 San Antonio sights. These sights include The Alamo, the most visited historic landmark in all of Texas; the Menger Hotel where future United States President Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders; the San Antonio River Walk; and more historic sights, museums, attractions, and dining options. Hear more details by listening to the accompanying podcast by clicking on the audio bar at the end of this article. Follow along with the included maps interactively by searching “San Antonio” on walkli.com. Begin the walk and the map stops at The Alamo.
The Alamo (Map Point A)
Learn about the history of Texas and San Antonio by visiting The Alamo, a former Franciscan mission. There is no charge to enter the building where a group of Texan volunteer soldiers, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett, fought Mexican invaders in February of 1836. Though vastly outnumbered, the Texans held The Alamo for 13 days before they were overpowered. The Battle of the Alamo became a symbol of resistance to oppression in the struggle for independence for Texas. The cry, “Remember The Alamo,” was implored as Texas eventually gained its independence from Mexico in late 1836.
The Alamo is open from September 5th through May 25th from 9 am until 5:30 pm. It is open May 26th through September 4th from 9 am to 7:00 pm. It is open every day except Christmas Day, December 25th.
There is a one-hour guided tour offered throughout the day for $15 per adult. To reserve tickets or for more information about visiting The Alamo, check the official website at:
The Menger Hotel (Map Point B)
From the entrance of the Alamo, walk two blocks to the left to the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi, the Menger Hotel. Be sure to check out the famous Menger Bar where Theodore Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders, soldiers that he would lead in the Spanish-American War before later becoming President of the United States. Other United States Presidents have also been guests of the Menger Hotel, including Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, William McKinley, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Other famous guests have included Sam Houston, Robert E. Lee, and Oscar Wilde. Learn more about the history of the hotel at the official website:
Battle for Texas: The Experience (Map Point C)
Learn even more about The Alamo and Texas history at the Battle for Texas: The Experience, located on the lower level in the Rivercenter Mall. The attraction is an immersive museum that showcases a comprehensive collection of Alamo artifacts, larger than the collection at The Alamo. Visit 11 themed galleries and get to know Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston and other heroes along the way, step into Mexican General Santa Anna’s tent, and make your way through “The Gauntlet” as the Battle of the Alamo takes shape around you. The attraction includes a finale video celebrating Texas pride. To learn more about the experience or to purchase tickets ($19.50 for adults and $14.50 for children 6-13), check the official website:
To reach Battle for Texas: The Experience from the Menger Hotel, walk to the left of the hotel on East Crockett Street. Turn left at Alamo Plaza, and left on East Commerce Street. Enter the Rivercenter Mall on the left and proceed to the lower level.
River Boat Tour of San Antonio River Walk (Map Point D)
Walk through the mall or to the left on Commerce Street to the River Tours River Walk Rivercenter Tour boarding area and take a $12, one-hour boat tour of the river that runs through most of the River Walk. From Commerce Street, walk down the steps just as you cross over the river.
San Antonio River Walk (Map Point E)
Even if you don’t stop to take a River Boat Tour of River Walk, stay on the lower level and walk along the most exciting part of the River Walk. From the boat boarding area, walk along the San Antonio River beside the mall and continue underneath Commerce Street and turn to the right to keep the river on your left. Walk beside restaurants and shops in this busy, exciting area of the San Antonio River.
The Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum (Map Point F)
Next, walk up the steps to the right just past the Hyatt Regency to North Presa Street and turn right. Walk one block to the Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum on the left at East Houston Street. The Buckhorn Saloon dates back to 1881, when
Albert Friedrich, began to accept horns and antlers in exchange for a free beer or whiskey from his newly opened bar. The Buckhorn collection grew to become one of the world’s most unique and largest collections of horns and antlers.
Albert’s wife began to accept jars of rattlesnake rattles in exchange for a drink. She would use these to create works of art that, to this day, can be seen on display at The Buckhorn. In 1956, the Lone Star Brewery of San Antonio purchased The Buckhorn and built a facility to house the original bar and collection that would serve as their hospitality and sampling room.
Later, Mary Friedrich Rogers, granddaughter of Albert Friedrich, and her husband, Wallace purchased the Buckhorn collection. They moved the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, its entire collection, and the original cherry-wood bar with marble columns to its current location.
In 2006, The Texas Ranger Museum was added onto the attraction. The Texas Ranger Museum features hundreds of authentic Texas Ranger artifacts including automatic handguns, shotguns, badges and more. The museum also features an exhibit featuring San Antonio at the turn of the century in Ranger Town. It includes a jail cell, blacksmith, and a replica of the Bonnie & Clyde getaway car.
The complex includes a bar, café and gift shop, as well as the museums. There is a charge of $19.99 for adults, and $14.99 for children ages 3 to 11 to enter the museums. For the latest information, check the official website of the complex here:
San Antonio River Walk Restaurants (Map Point G)
Return to the River Walk via the steps at North Presa near the Hyatt Regency. Cross over the San Antonio River at the first River Walk bridge to the right. One restaurant choice on the right, Boudro’s, features guacamole dip and chips prepared table side. Stop and enjoy lunch or a snack here or at one of the many restaurants in this section of the San Antonio River Walk.
For more information about Boudro’s and the recipe for their guacamole dip, check the official website here:
Little Rhein Steak House (Map Point H)
Cross back over the bridge over the San Antonio River Walk, and turn right. Walk with the river to your right, crossing the bridge over the river and continuing past the Hilton Palacio del Rio until reaching the Little Rhein Steak House on the hill to the left.
Native American Indians founded a settlement here in the 1500s, and in the early 18th century Spanish soldiers and Canary Islanders established a village on the site. The Mexican General Santa Anna encamped here during the battle of the Alamo.
The Little Rhein Steak House is located in the house on the hill above the river, Bombach House. It is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.
During the 19th century, German immigrants designated this area as the Little Rhein district. Otto Bombach, a carpenter, built the first two-story home here for his family in 1847. The Bombach House later became a boarding house, a grocery store and bar, a private school, and a hangout for desperados.
The Little Rhein Steak House has now been serving steaks and other fine dining menu items nightly for over 50 years. For reservations and more information, check the restaurant’s official website here:
Arneson River Theater (Map Point I)
Continue walking in the same direction past the Little Rhein Steakhouse to the Arneson River Theater. This outdoor performance theater was built in 1939-1941 by the United States Works Progress Administration (WPA) to help provide jobs for Americans during the Great Depression.
The theater is named after Edwin Arneson, the WPA engineer who helped funding for the project, including the River Walk project itself. He is known as the “Father of the River Walk.” The river separates the seating area from the stage on the opposite side of the river. Look across the river at the bells on the stage. They were rung for the first time in honor of Mr. Arneson.
The theater is used for concerts, plays, dance, and opera. You may recognize the bells, the stage, the theater, and several other San Antonio landmarks were featured in the popular 2000 comedy film, “Miss Congeniality,” starring American actress Sandra Bullock.
La Villita Historic Arts District (Map Point J)
Walk up the steps of the seating area of the Arneson River Theater to La Villita Historic Arts District. San Antonio’s oldest neighborhood is now filled with shops and galleries.
The Village Gallery is just past the public restrooms at the top of the steps behind the upper entrance to the Arneson River Theater at the intersection of King Philip V and Villita Street.
La Villita Café is one block farther down King Philip V to the right. It is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Read about all La Villita has to offer at the official website:
Briscoe Western Art Museum (Map Point K)
Walk back on King Philip V to the Arneson Theatre. Take the steps to the river and cross the bridge. Turn left to walk with the river on your left along the River Walk. The entrance to the Briscoe Western Art Museum will be on the right.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum houses art and artifacts reflecting the history and culture of the American West. The collection includes Santa Anna’s sword, Pancho Villa’s Saddle, and a sculpture garden depicting icons of the American West.
The museum is open daily from 10 am until at least 5 pm. Regular adult admission is $10. Children under age 12 are free. For more information, check the official website:
San Fernando Cathedral (Map Point L)
Exit back to the River Walk and continue with the San Antonio River on your left. Turn right when the river turns after passing the Homewood Suites. Take the Kallison Walk bridge over the river that will be to the left after you turn to the right.
Turn right onto Main Plaza, left onto Dolorosa, and right on South Main Avenue to reach the San Fernando Cathedral.
Step inside the San Fernando Cathedral. The Roman Catholic church faces San Antonio’s Main Plaza. Its dome is considered to be San Antonio’s cultural and geographical center.
One of the oldest cathedrals in the United States, the cathedral is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. Settlers from the Canary Islands built the original church between 1738 and 1750. The walls of the original church now form the sanctuary of the cathedral.
Notice the baptismal font. It was a gift from Charles III, who became King of Spain from 1759, is the oldest piece of liturgical furnishing in the cathedral.
The church has played an important role in the history of San Antonio. In 1831, Jim Bowie married Ursula de Veramendi in here. In 1836, Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna hoisted a flag of “no quarter” from the church’s tower, marking the beginning of the siege of the Alamo. Look for the marker commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II to the cathedral in 1987 during the only papal visit to Texas.
Be sure to notice the carved stone Stations of the Cross that were added in 1874. The stained glass windows were added in 1920.
The cathedral is open daily. Please be respectful during services, because this is an active church. The gift shop is open daily, as well. Check for mass times and visitation updates at the official website:
San Antonio Historic Market Square (Map Point M)
Walk four blocks from the cathedral away from the river on Commerce or Dolorosa to enjoy the sights and flavors of old Mexico at Historic Market Square. The area has been a favorite of locals and tourists since it was given to the original settlers for “their use and entertainment” by the King of Spain in 1730. Explore shops and stalls, many located in a festive indoor mall described as the largest Mexican market outside Mexico. Find authentic Talavera pottery, gifts and handcrafted works of art. Enjoy Mexican cuisine at Mi Tierra and La Margarita. There is also a Farmers Market Food Court and perhaps catch a show on the stage. San Antonio Historic Market Square is open daily from 10 am until 6 pm. For the latest information, check out the official website:
La Antorcha de la Amistad (Torch of Friendship) (Map Point N)
Walk back toward the river on Commerce Street. At the intersection with Alamo Street, notice La Antorcha de la Amistad (Torch of Friendship) in the center. The artist is world-renowned Mexican sculptor, Sebastián. The sculpture was commissioned by a group of Mexican businessmen living in the United States and friends of Mexico. It was presented as a gift from the Mexican government to the City of San Antonio in 2002 to symbolize the important friendship between the City of San Antonio and the country of Mexico.
St. Joseph Church (Map Point O)
Continue on Commerce Street to St. Joseph Church nestled in a cut out section of the newer Rivercenter Mall. The cornerstone the was laid in 1868 by a group of San Antonio’s German Catholic immigrants who wanted to worship in their own language. The stained glass windows were purchased in 1902 from the Emil Frei Art Glass Factory in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
In 1945, Joske’s Department Store wanted to purchase the Church and Rectory and grounds and use the land for its expansion program. The parishioners voted unanimously not to sell the church. Today St. Joseph Church is known as the “Jewel in the heart of San Antonio”. Learn more about the church at the official website:
Tower of the Americas (Map Point P)
Continue on Commerce Street and walk back down the steps at the River Walk. Turn left at the boat dock to walk along the river through the convention center passageway to the Tower of the Americas. Get a great view of San Antonio from the top of 750-foot tall tower. There is no charge to enjoy the view from the Chart House Restaurant or Bar 601 at the top of the tower. There is a $10 charge for adults, $6 for children ages 4-12, to visit the observation deck and enjoy the 4-D theater experience. For more information about the Tower of Americas, check the official website:
My family and I enjoyed visiting San Antonio as part of a family reunion. If you would like to listen to a podcast or check out my article of Tips for Traveling with Family and Friends, just click on the link below:
Remember to listen to the podcast below for more information about taking a perfect trip to San Antonio. Until next time, I hope all of your travel days are just perfect!