Editor's Note

Stepping Out in San Antonio

In which we learn that the Riverwalk is much more than a tourist trap.

By Catherine Matusow December 29, 2017 Published in the January 2018 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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The Riverwalk in San Antonio does not disappoint.

Image: Shutterstock

For this month’s cover feature on long weekends, I got to take a foodie trip to San Antonio, which was wonderful, and not just because I was forced to cheat on my diet the entire time.

These days San Antonio offers lots of fascinating places to eat beyond the classic Tex-Mex and chili purveyors many Houstonians know and love, and these were the restaurants I sought out and sampled. They were new, surprising, and worth every calorie. But my husband and I made the great discovery of the trip while trying to work off the resulting calories: the Riverwalk.

We probably wouldn’t have bothered had we not been staying essentially right on top of it, at the Hotel Valencia. I’d been to the Riverwalk as a child and once in college, and—in what turned out to be a hopelessly out-of-date dismissal—considered the network of walkways and bridges hugging the San Antonio River a story below the city streets little more than a tourist trap.

But each day of the trip, feeling guilty after all of those glorious carbs, we took epic walks along the water. We forgot we were exercising as we explored impeccably maintained stone pathways, taking in the lush landscaping, colonial architecture, public artwork and bubbling water features as we wandered along under the cypress trees lining the waterway. The Riverwalk goes on, and on, past the Pearl District and zoo and art museum, downtown, and the centuries-old missions, so we took a different route each time. If I lived in San Antonio, I’d get my steps in by strolling there every day.

The serendipity of travel may be my favorite thing about it. One morning, we happened upon the historic riverside home of my old college buddy, Josie, which I’d never visited but recognized from a Facebook photo. I wandered up to see if she was home. She opened the door immediately, and I embraced a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We headed out to the Pearl the next night and caught up over perfect San Antonio margaritas.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, you really can’t beat the classics.

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