San Antonio Riverwalk: Visiting with Kids
by Stacy Curtis
The San Antonio Riverwalk was what I most looked forward to on this vacation. Unfortunately, the "walk" part didn't sound so fun for my 'tweens with whom I'd just been outlet shopping. Compromise was in order. We hopped a trolley to the Riverwalk for a Saturday night dinner only, and would return Monday morning for a boat tour when it was less crowded, more leisurely.
After descending the stairs to river-level, we waded through the busy crowd to the first restaurant we saw—Cafe Olé—and ordered in less than 30 minutes. Gaily dressed waitresses balancing 40 ounce drinks weaved the food around and about. The girls chose simple quesadillas and I ordered my personal style of Mexican food....fajitas, no veggies (I'm a confessed meat-atarian).
Knowing we wouldn't be taking the walking tour allowed us to relax and soak up the ambiance: shoppers, merchants, hostesses, patrons, all amidst colorful signs, flora, fauna, and lively Spanish music. This was the Riverwalk I wanted my girls to experience! We returned to our B&B satiated.
After trolleying to the Riverwalk again Monday morning, we purchased Rio San Antonio riverboat tickets to experience the grandeur of the Riverwalk from the water. Our knowledgeable captain explained the architecture, history, and culture (surprising how much German influence exists there) as we putted through the various legs of the Riverwalk. Shade from the trees and buildings kept the temperature within reason.
We souvenir-shopped at merchants sighted during the boat ride. There's quite a variety! Pedestrian traffic was fairly light and we spent an enjoyable morning perusing gift shops and admiring views before heading back home.
Next time, we may choose to be enveloped by boisterous evening crowds, take in a play at the river theater, or attend one of the many events throughout the year. This vacation, however, we chose a short, family-friendly Riverwalk experience and it suited us just fine.
In preparing for our trip, I discovered several tips that may help you in planning for yours. If you've been to the Riverwalk with kids, feel free to comment below and share your ideas.
- Check out the Convention & Visitors Bureau ahead of time. They have a comprehensive list of activities, calendar of events, coupons, and a wealth of information to help you plan your trip.
- Get tickets and take the river boat ride first ($8.25 general admission, $2 for children ages 1-5). Not only will you familiarize yourself with the shops and hotels, you'll hear some wonderful history from the riverboat cap'ns. Yes, they're entertaining, but they want you to know the Riverwalk's unique origins and milestones too.
- On the boat ride, keep your camera out and ready at all times (but keep it secured with a strap). Photo-worthy scenes are around every bend! By the way, they drain the river the first week in January to dredge the mud and dropped items. #1 on the list each year? Bicycles! I assume next year they'll find Natalie's brand new sunglasses as well.
- Naturally, weekday mornings are the best times to visit the Riverwalk if you'd like to avoid a crowd of people. Spring and Fall, the mild temperatures make the Riverwalk great to experience because of the awesome weather. You might also want to consider November and December when the Riverwalk lights up with their holiday light spectacular.
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©2011, Stacy Curtis.
Stacy Curtis is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas.