A Look Back: The River Walk

July 3, 2014 by Giselle Guadron

The San Antonio River Walk, one of our most recognized landmarks. Often being pointed out nationally as one of the must-see spots if you visit San Antonio.  There are imitations of the River Walk in other cities across the world, but none can compare to ours.

When you stroll down the River Walk, it’s hard to imagine it without any of the modernizations around it. The San Antonio River was a fresh water source for the Native Americans. They were able to survive with what they hunted and gathered from the Earth, with the river providing many necessities for them.  When the Spaniards found their way to Texas, while exploring northern Mexico, they found fertile soil, and a water source to help them with settlement and colonization.

Much has changed since those early days.  The River Walk, born in the 1920’s as a solution for flooding, has evolved into a place where you can dine, shop, walk and even enjoy recreational activities-all while basking in the ambiance of nature. The concept of the River Walk originated from San Antonio architect, Robert Hugman and throughout the years there have been new businesses and restaurants popping up along the river. There have also been expansions of the River Walk to allow you to explore even further.  Bill Lyons, Partner with Casa Rio and Schilo’s, says that “the expansion of the River Walk is good, sometimes it’s too crowded and that will diminish the quality of the experience so we need to spread it out.”

Casa-RioWhile walking and exploring in present conditions, it may be difficult to imagine all the history behind the River Walk. Did you know that the first business to open its doors to the river was Casa Rio?

They wanted to take advantage of the beauty of the river to create a unique dining experience.  In the beginning there were canoes, gondolas and even paddle boats.  These forerunners helped with the evolution of the river boats that are still used today.  Lyons’ grandfather came up with the idea of offering meals on the river boats. You’ve probably seen these dinner boats gliding along the river.

Don’t wait for an out-of-town guest to enjoy the River Walk.  If you don’t frequent downtown often, come on down and enjoy a Downtown Tuesday.  Downtown Tuesday’s include free parking at city-operated parking garages, parking lots and parking meters from 5 p.m.-2 a.m.  It doesn’t stop there.  Many local businesses provide a variety of specials and unique events on Tuesdays.  Travis Park hosts Movies by Moonlight, free movies in the park.  Lyons says, “Tuesday night free parking for locals-so they can get to know there way around downtown.”  Visit http://www.downtowntuesday.com for more information.

Mission Reach of the San Antonio River
Mission Reach of the San Antonio River

If you want to learn more history of San Antonio you can take a cruise on a river boat. If that’s not your cup of tea then you can rent kayaks or bikes in the Mission Reach or enjoy a stroll to the San Antonio Museum of Art on the Museum Reach.




Written by Giselle Guadron

Giselle Guadron is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication with a Public Relations concentration. Currently she is working at News 4 San Antonio and is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected]