Thursday, November 17, 2011

Walking the Walk: Museum Reach

Most visitors to San Antonio have seen the downtown section of the Riverwalk with all the restaurants and bars.  While that's a beautiful and fun spot, my favorite for walking is the Museum Reach to the north.

Also called the Urban Section, it was designed by local firm Ford, Powell & Carson.  Landscaping and public art were considered from the beginning of the planning process.  The result is an urban walking trail that integrates beautifully with its surroundings.
Opened in 2009, it's a great place to enjoy the river in a less crowded, more natural setting.  An important plus is that you can begin your walk at the beautiful Pearl Brewery complex where parking is plentiful and free.  I previously posted about The Pearl when I attended The Herb Market in October.  I recently stopped in to enjoy a walk and see how the drought had affected the plantings.

Starting in the parking lot, the great landscaping is worth taking in

Down the steps and onto the walkway heading south at river level, the cannas are still blooming despite some chilly weather.  In typical San Antonio Riverwalk style, there are no rails along the water. 

To the left is a hillside of limestone slabs and grasses.

This sedge is nice and green despite the drought

This groundcover looks like Creeping Daisy (Wedelia trilobata) and it's also doing really well here.  Looks as if it could take over a small area quickly though

Up ahead, these asters catch my attention.  Very pretty and bright on an overcast day

Next are two faux bois benches by local artist Carlos Cortes.     

Impressive natural detail

Sidewalk segments are marked with different textures, this wavy river pattern is my favorite

Across the river from the benches is a large grotto installation also by Carlos Cortes.

Along the way a water habitat section is left more natural for aquatic plants and wildlife.

Crossing under I-35 there are colorful fish sculptures hanging from the bridge.  These are lit at night as are most of the art pieces along this section of the Riverwalk.  This sign tells about the Mexican Freetail Bats living under the bridge and shows how the fish look at night.

These guys definitely look much better in person

There are several crossover points for pedestrians with clear wayfinding signage

Today I'll take the Newell Avenue bridge which has been nicely restored.  The style reflects that of the nearby San Antonio Museum of Art housed in a former brewery building

This bridge was used for rolling barrels from one section of the Pearl Brewery to another

Across the bridge and heading back north, there's still plenty to see and an opportunity to view the opposite bank.  Looking across at the stacked stones of the water habitat.

Arriving at the grotto and enjoying the fanciful construction

 Stairs up to ground level

The entrance from above, into the mouth of a gargoyle


From here you can see both benches at once and the faux bois palapa from the same artist

Another view of the asters from across the way, this bright cloudy day brings out reflections of color not seen on a full sun day

Metalwork art bridge detail

More beautiful plant combinations along the east facing riverbank


Russelia looks its best draping over these rock ledges at eye level

Another example of the excellent signage, except no distances listed.  Be prepared for a hike if you plan to walk to the zoo from here!

Looking across to the west facing bank, there are missing plants and the rosemary is brown.  These slopes were covered with vines last year.

This is the east facing bank but it looks like the moisture doesn't hold here either.  Crews have begun replacing lost plants, so these areas will likely be spruced up soon.

The Rio Taxi from downtown has stops all along the way or you can flag them down.  These folks have just celebrated a birthday at a nearby restaurant

A very pretty way to finish this walk.  There's a turning basin for the boats, a waterfall, and a group of bald cypress trees. The bald cypress is the signature tree of the Riverwalk.

This tour covered about half the Museum Reach segment.  There's a lot more to cover and I plan to post other parts of the Riverwalk in the future.


  1. They did a great job with the design and landscaping. I love the naturalized look.

  2. As many times as we've been to the Riverwalk, we've never been on this part.
    We'll have to fix that.

  3. I am there! (well, on my next trip) It all looks great, but the paving with the wave pattern is amazing - that is some fancy concrete form work! I definitely recall the Carlos Cortes work elsewhere in SA. I especially like that you show how the plant masses work throughout, against each other or walls, water, etc.

    The slopes along the area - seems they can do something else. That is the spot for smaller, drought-hardy plants, not higher water use plants like lawns or larger trees.

    Brown rosemary...that IS dry!

  4. Great post. I love the new parts of the river. Have you been to the Mission Reach section? I walked it this summer (it was WAY too hot) but it was gorgeous! Anyone who hasn't visited San Antonio in a while and is into gardening will love it. Even if you aren't into plants, it's refreshing and beautiful.

  5. Thanks RW and Linda for your comments.

    DD - They probably thought they were planting drought hardy plants just as I did two years ago. We've all had some learning to do. Good to know you don't plan to skip SA in the future.

    Abbey - Thanks, I've seen just a bit of the Mission Reach so far but loved how they've opened up space around the missions. My plan is to cover the entire Riverwalk over time. No deadline of course.

  6. Shirley thanks for the tour. I moved from satx in 2000. Guess I've missed a lot. Greggo.

  7. I've never seen this area before. Thanks for the tour. It looks like a lovely area to walk, especially this time of year.

  8. Great tour with pictures! We walk this section of the river at lunch and while I've taken my camera with me to catch the interesting creatures, we're going to fast to get great shots like you've shared. Glad to find another San Antonio blogger.

  9. Thanks Pam and Greggo - There are a lot of beautiful places both new and old here in SA and I plan to post as often as possible about this beautiful city.

    Mandy - Thanks, how nice that you can enjoy this spot on a regular basis.


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