Four years ago, two members of my intern class, Karen and Victoria, and I visited San Antonio for a day of sightseeing and I wrote about it. If you read my blog post about road trips, you know that I am pretty familiar with visiting San Antonio. This past week, I went down with my boyfriend for a pit stop to Laredo to renew his SENTRI status–the purpose of the road trip–and while we spent two nights in San Antonio, we didn’t really find anything new to point out about the city. When I visited with Karen and Victoria, we did all the touristy things that really define the city, thus, I figured I would edit this existing post with some 2020 updates for anyone who has never visited. 🙂
Originally, we’d only planned on visiting The Alamo and doing a Riverwalk tour, but upon arrival, we stumbled upon a huge crowd and closed streets. We had no idea what was going on until a bystander informed us that the Western Heritage Parade & Cattle Drive was happening. I have no idea what the history behind the tradition entails, but I do know that I had never seen that many longhorns in one area in my entire life. Followed by the longhorns came a crowd of horses and even sheep WITH sheep dogs! This was oddly exciting for us because none of us had seen anything like this despite all being from the south. This parade is actually part of an annual event, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, which takes place every February. Though I am not sure if it will take place this upcoming February due to COVID, it continues to be a completely free, family-friendly outdoor event.
After this, we walked through The Alamo and took pictures outside, but given the fact that The Alamo is free, the line was entirely too long for how we planned to spend our few hours in San Antonio. We then took a long walk down The Riverwalk until we found where we could join a tour. The 35-minute tour wasn’t as great as I remembered from 7th grade, but I think that was partially because I couldn’t really hear our tour guide and it was extremely windy this day. I was glad I did it though! If you’re planning to visit San Antonio anytime soon, The Riverwalk is not only one of those you “have to do,” but also something that’s worth it; you’ll get some pretty views, it’s relaxing and it’s $13.50–it used to be $8.50, but the boats have been completely renovated and are a lot more festive. The tour has three pick-up areas along The Riverwalk for easy access too: in front of the Aztec Theatre, outside of The Hilton Palacio del Rio and near the Rivercenter Mall.
After the tour, we realized we didn’t have much to do with the amount of time we had left. We ended up just walking around, exploring the Rivercenter Mall and then getting some food. As expected, we ended up in a souvenir shop to kill some time and got some cute trinkets. We got a few more pictures and then we headed to the airport. Overall, it was a super fun trip and it made me appreciate one of the great cities in my home state.
If you visit during these times of COVID, pretty much everything operated as normal. Of course, you are required to wear masks to enter any buildings and most of the Riverwalk restaurants are open as usual with distanced outdoor seating. Personally, some of the seating was still too close for comfort, but many restaurants have more than one level for seating, so you can always opt for the less crowded section. If your accommodation is not within walking distance of the Riverwalk, we parked at SP+ Parking lot on Crockett Street which is closest to the Hard Rock Cafe; we went in the evening and it was $12 for a couple of hours, but during the daytime, it can be as cheap as $6-$8. Most ‘parking’ downtown is just for loading/unloading zones rather than street meters. We were even told by the staff at La Panaderia to wait in the Walgreens 15-minute loading zone for our curbside pickup order, so plan accordingly if you don’t want the hassle of navigating one-way streets for parking.
I have a vlog of my day-trip to San Antonio in 2018 and this is a great time to remind you all to subscribe to my YouTube channel as I will be posting the vlog from this week’s trip on Thursday, November 12, 2020, so stay tuned for that!
Reader’s Note: If you’re visiting San Antonio and you’re not planning to indulge in delicious Tex-Mex, I would highly recommend Landry’s Seafood. It’s the only restaurant where I have finished a full-course meal. It’s also along the Riverwalk so you can choose to sit outside which is beautifully lit at night.
Editor’s note (Nov 2020): From an accessibility point of view, I do believe there are elevators that allow people to get to the lower level of the Riverwalk. I have seen wheelchairs and strollers in all the years I have visited this city. However, I do not believe there are alternative access points besides the use of stairs if you want to dine at a higher level than the ground/river level; I would call ahead to be sure!