San Antonio: The River Walk and the Alamo

Kelsey P. Gonzalez October 27, 2010 No Comments

San Antonio Texas

San Antonio, TX

On our recent trip to Austin Texas, one of the must-sees on my list was San Antonio.  I figured my last vacation to the city didn’t count as I was only three years old at the time!  I have pictures of myself running around the Alamo, chasing birds and felt it would be kind of cool to see my three-year old running around doing the same thing.  So, on the fourth day of our visit to Texas my little family and my mother-in-law hopped in the car and made the hour and half drive to visit historic San Antonio.  

The first thing we found upon arriving at the city was that we were once again faced with a parking situation, (see the article Downtown Austin and the Children’s Museum).  Just like in Austin, we had to either park in one of the very limited spots along the street or pay to park in a lot or garage.  We ended up parking in a large lot (it was only $5 so that wasn’t bad) about a block from the Alamo.  I strapped our three-month old into her front pack, plopped my son into a borrowed stroller and off we went!  

The River Walk San Antonio Texas

The River Walk in San Antonio, TX.


As it was already after twelve o’clock by the time we arrived, we decided to head straight for the River Walk (about 3 ½ blocks from our parking lot), to eat before checking out the Alamo.  I had a few limited memories of my last visit to the Alamo, but I had absolutely none of the River Walk and I was taken off guard by just how beautiful it was!  To access it from the street, we had to head down two flights of stairs before emerging onto the scene below.  There we saw the San Antonio River winding along serenely between the shops, hotels, and restaurants that line its rock-walled banks.  Stone bridges arched over the water at intervals allowing pedestrian crossing from one side to the other while long, flat tour boats drifted past on the river below.  Large trees provided both ambiance and shade as they hung over the water and walkways along side it.  

River Walk San Antonio Texas with Family

Myself, my husband, son, daughter, and mother-in-law at the River Walk in San Antonio, TX


We walked along the river a short ways before picking a small Mexican restaurant for lunch and seating ourselves at a table next to the river.  As we ate, our son pointed out a Mariachi group strolling down the walkway.  He’s been quite taken with that style of music ever since attending a wedding in Acapulco more than a year ago and was excited to see that they were coming our way.  They stop and play only when someone “hires” them and fortunately, a table next to ours decided that they’d like to be serenaded.  This group had only string instruments with them but they were absolutely wonderful!  Our son had a blast dancing next to the table while they played their two songs before moving on.  

When we’d finished our lunch, we went out to explore the rest of the River Walk.  After passing a number of quaint restaurants and river-front hotels, we decided to cross a bridge to the other side.  There we found the ticket booth for the boat rides.  Although we were very tempted to take one,  (adult tickets were $8.25 and child tickets ages 1-5 were only $2), we weren’t all that sure that our three-year old would sit still during the 35 minute ride.  

Tour boat at the River Walk San Antonio

Tour boat at the River Walk. Photo courtesy of


Even though he loved pointing out every single boat that floated past us (and there had to be a million of them), we weren’t sure that we were up to trying one ourselves.  Instead we continued on down the walkway until we came to a series of small shops selling everything from candy and souvenirs to clothing and sunglasses.  We enjoyed browsing for a while then decided it was time to head back up to the street and the Alamo. 

The Alamo, San Antonio Texas

The Alamo, San Antonio, TX.


We’d been warned before visiting the Alamo that it was “a lot smaller than it looks.”  This was true in some ways but not in others.  The front of the Alamo itself sits in a short plaza just off the street, on the other side of which are a number of restaurants, museums, and hotels.  Once you step inside the Alamo Shrine or walk through the gates on either side of it though, the grounds are actually fairly extensive.  They’re also very beautiful.  Green grass covers the lawns and large draping trees hang over the sidewalks and benches set around them.  At the very back of the property is a kind of “rest area” with a picnic table, benches, vending machines, and the bathrooms.  It’s a great place to sit and enjoy the view of the grounds.  We walked the outside perimeter of the Alamo property (while our son chased the birds), before heading into the buildings.  A large gift shop and museum sits just next to the Alamo Shrine and we walked through there first then headed over to the shrine itself.  There are no pictures allowed inside this building or inside the Long Barracks, so be warned!  We saw a curator reprimand a tourist from all the way across the room for taking a picture of one of the displays!  

Alamo San Antonio Texas Chasing Birds

Our son chasing the birds in the "rest area" at the Alamo.


While our son did a great job at not touching anything he wasn’t supposed to, the Alamo didn’t have anything that was particularly interesting to a three-year old.  My husband, my mother-in-law, and I enjoyed the buildings and history very much but our son had a lot more fun walking around the grounds and laughing at the birds.  He also liked looking at some of the swords and guns in the display cases, but my husband had to carry him so he could be up high enough to see.  He did like the gift shop as well though since a number of the little Texas related novelties and Alamo toys they had were more at his eye level.  

I felt our entire San Antonio experience was very family friendly.  Though we did have to park in a paid lot, it wasn’t far from either of our destinations and really our son would have done fine even without a stroller.  All of the restaurants along the River Walk had outside seating which was perfect because it gave our son something to look at and talk about while we waited for our food and ate lunch.  There were no lines to wait in or buses to take so the entire day was fairly relaxing and very enjoyable.  We’re looking forward to taking our kids back and doing it all again when our daughter is old enough to enjoy it too!

avatarAbout the Author:

Kelsey lives in Southern Utah with her husband, their 3-year old son, and their newborn daughter. They enjoy the adventure of exploring new places together and love building memories through family travel.

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