As a long time San Antonio resident (undergrad and first job,) I have been to the Riverwalk countless times. I even worked at Landry’s on the Riverwalk one summer. The Riverwalk is consistently ranked as the #1 tourist destination in Texas and it is easy to see why when you get there. If you only have a limited amount of time to spend there, without a doubt, you simply must purchase tickets for the San Antonio Riverboat Tours hosted by Go Rio Cruises. Tickets range from up to $12.00 for an adult and $6.00 for a child. They offer military and local resident discounts too! The boats leave every 15-20 minutes and the cruises are an absolute blast.
Along with funny quips and jokes, the tour guides highlight historically significant points of interest. Among my personal favorites is Arneson River Theater, frequently recognized as the bridge and stage that were used in the filming of Miss Congeniality and Selena; a huge trunk that sits high in the trees above the river leftover from the great flood of 1921; and Casa Rio which happens to sit on land that was granted to the city by the King of Spain in 1777!
If you are really feeling spicy, check out the dinner cruises where you and your date can enjoy a fine meal as you float along the river. This is an absolute blast. You take laps around the Riverwalk, stopping off every other lap to give the servers a chance to take up your dishes, refill your drinks, and bring out the next course. Highly, HIGHLY, recommended if your visit happens to coincide with cooler temperatures. Also, each riverboat tour is a completely different experience depending on your tour guide. They all add their own personal flavor and uniqueness to the tour.
My go-to strategy for ensuring visiting friends and relatives get the maximum San Antonio strategy was always a step dinner, late at night, strolling along the sidewalks of the river. You get bonus points if you happen to do this during the annual Festival of Lights where the city lines the Riverwalk with hundreds of thousands of stringing lights! Pick whatever restaurants you like, but staples that I came to love over my time there are as follows:
Appetizer: Boudros Texas Bistro – The Table Guacamole for 2!!! This will feed up to four actually. This appetizer put this place on the map in my humble opinion. The servers roll a table up right up in front of you and chop onions, tomatoes, and scoop out avocados right there. A little bit of a show and insight into how classic Texas guacamole is made (although my personal preference is just avocados, salt, and a lot of lime juice!)
For the main course, grab your check and stroll out to the Riverwalk and hang a left. Around the corner you will come across another one of my favorite restaurants in the city: Paesanos’s! Not for the entire menu, but for their ONE staple dish that they are known for – the famous Shrimp Paesano dish! Large, very delicately battered shrimp in an unreal lemon-butter-garlic sauce that is out of this world. I am serious. This is the best dinner plate on the Riverwalk. As much I hate to call them out, the Mexican restaurants on the Riverwalk can be pricey and there are much more authentic Mexican restaurants off the beaten path.
Dessert: Directly across the Riverwalk from Paesanos you will see Landry’s on the Riverwalk. Started by Tillman Fertitta, the “World’s Richest Restauranter” and owner of the Houston Rockets, Landry’s is an upscale seafood spot with one AMAZING dessert. The Landry’s Banana’s Foster is to die for. They roll it out to you and flambeaux the sucker right in front of you. Absolutely the perfect ending to the perfect step dinner.
My favorite strategy for the Riverwalk is not to go to only one place: visit and stroll along the sidewalk and take it ALL in. Many bars and pubs dot the Riverwalk, too, so Riverwalk bar hopping can be quite the experience. A note of caution, though, there are many areas of the Riverwalk where there is no rope barrier preventing one from slipping into the water. As a former server at Landry’s, I can confirm people falling into the river is much more common than one would think!