Sunday, January 13, 2013

Walking the Walk: River Walk from Navarro Street to Houston Street

This is the fourth in a series of posts covering the San Antonio River Walk which is one of our country's top tourist destinations and the #1 destination in Texas. Most visitors spend their time along the small section downtown known as the Paseo del Rio.  There's much more to the River Walk and I've set out to show you the entire 15 miles that most tourists miss and local residents enjoy.  My posts are covering the San Antonio River beginning at the Pearl Brewery on the north end and heading south to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

We'll begin today's walk at the Navarro Street Bridge and head south to Houston Street to the beginning of the popular Paseo del Rio loop through downtown.

The Navarro Street bridge is decorated with tile mosaics and is one of a series of pretty bridges crossing the river.

A stone arch marks the steps up to Navarro Street

The nearby bench is another example of faux bois art along the River Walk.

A creative mosaic bench is placed in front of the Southwest School of Art, and says in Latin "art is long, life is short".  The nearby Central Library is a good side trip too.  The entry plaza and outdoor spaces are undergoing renovation this year so I'll save those for a future post.

There are a number of mosaic installations on this section of the River Walk.  Here's a selection of favorites seen along the way.

This mosaic cleverly disguises a pipe hatch cover.

Rosemary blooms on a sunny wall.  I'd love to do this somewhere in my yard.

Augusta Street crosses on an old iron bridge, one of two still in use downtown.  I love the terracotta color with all the surrounding green.

A park occupies this sweeping river bend.

St. Mary's Street bridge fits right in with the beauty of this section of the river.

This map of the River Walk in mosaic tile is along the wall under the St. Mary's Street bridge.  It is a continuous work but I needed three photos to get it all in.  There's not much room to back up without falling in the river so most photos are close range.  On the right in the photo is the Museum Reach section where our tour began last year.  We are currently in the middle panel headed toward the the Alamo in the center.  Over to the left is the Mission Reach and the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park which is our eventual destination.

More views of trees and green along the river.

Approaching Soledad Street another faux bois bench appears.

Tête-à-tête in faux bois right on the river and quite romantic.

Ricki of Sprig to Twig commented on my last post that the River Walk gives our city a European look and I can certainly see why with scenes like these.

A tiny restaurant balcony on the river would be found in many European cities.

Downtown buildings are a mix of old and new such as this 1960s stair tower and tile inset on a city parking garage near the Pecan Street bridge.

As we enter the busier section downtown we see huge waterfall fountains at the Embassy Suites Hotel. The fountain as viewed through three stone arches which are about ten feet high.




More mix of old and new, the facade on this building along Houston Street was preserved as an entrance to the new office building behind it.

The mosaic columns  featured on the Houston Street bridge are a favorite of mine.  I'll save the detail on those for my next post because this is our turnaround for today.  At this point the River Walk can get confusing because the Paseo del Rio loops through downtown while the river bypass continues straight ahead where the loop will reconnect near Durango/Chavez Street.

This blooming Brugmansia near the bridge was mesmerizing to the tourists.

Now headed back north, we wave to the police officer keeping this area safe for walking.  There are also foot patrols and plenty of tour boats going by to keep an eye on things.

Star of Texas hibiscus bloom, we do love our stars here in Texas.

Another restaurant balcony, I liked the plants suspended from the wall.

How do they get the boats in the water?  Here's one option.

More of that tropical ambiance

Hotels are a big part of our landscape.  The bollards on this landing mark a Rio Taxi or tour barge stop.

The tour barges like this one will pick you up at designated hotels to begin your tour or you can catch the Rio Taxi marked with checkered flags on the back.

We are now back where we began north of Navarro Street, which concludes our walk for today.  I'll continue walking and posting more this spring.

I've had some questions from readers about distances and public transportation for visitors to the city.  This segment was about one-half mile/800 meters one way and the previous post from Brooklyn Avenue to Navarro Street covered about the same distance.  I walked these two on the same day and divided the posts to make them easier to read.  Taken together they give a good view of the transition from the new to the old segments of the River Walk north of downtown.

Navarro Street is about one mile/1600 meters from the Alamo so visitors staying downtown would need to plan at least a two-mile round trip.  In addition to the Rio Taxi, the VIA bus system has a downtown bus called the VIA Streetcar which will bring you out to this area of the River Walk.  There's also public transportation available for many of the popular attractions outside of downtown.  Information and day passes are available online and at information kiosks throughout the tourist areas.

I am enjoying this project immensely and look forward to exploring the areas that are new to me south of town.


  1. Another good tour.
    I didn't realize the River Walk went all the way to the missions.

    Thanks again for taking us along with you.

    1. The Mission Reach extension opened about two years ago and they added about two miles this year.

  2. I am really enjoying this series, thank you for taking the time to do it right. I've only explored a small chunk of the river walk and it's great fun to see the rest.

    1. Thank you DG, it's so nice to hear that this is fun for my readers as well. Your experience is typical and there is a lot to see and do in a small space which is why I set out to show the rest of the river.

  3. And to think people are happy to float the Rio Grande here! While I appreciate accurate and studied restorations of natural river corridors through a place, I also like well-designed, urban rivers like you are showing. Impressive tile work, not to mention all the Cortes fois du bois...saw one park with similar work by him when I was last in SA. All having me wonder what Austin will do to or with Waller Creek...

    1. The "before" was more urban dumping ground than natural river for a very long time prior this treatment so it is the best answer for this segment.

      As we head south we'll see the concrete and stone channel give way to natural banks and restoration of the natural landscape. No tour boats and the trail will move away from the river a bit too. They are still working on replacing invasives and random weedy bits with the appropriate native plants. It should get better each year.

  4. Is your city aware of the great travelogue you are producing. I can't help but think it will lure a new crop of vacationers.
    Oh, and thanks for the linky love.

    1. You're welcome Ricki, it was a good point and many cities around the world have sent delegations here to look at how we did this.

      There are plenty of professionals providing plenty of travel photos and videos for the visitor's bureau.

  5. I'm also enjoying this series. Sounds like a tourist could spend an entire day exploring the River Walk!

    1. There's enough in some areas to spend a day on just a small portion. It would take at least a day, maybe more to cover all 15 miles well.

  6. What a truly picturesque place. Beautiful tour and photos.

    1. Wow Donna, thank you. I enjoy seeing your photos of all the picturesque places you visit too.

  7. Love it ALL Shirley...but my fav is the arch is a framer. Great photos :)

    1. That's so nice Heather. Suitable for framing is a great compliment, of course our beautiful city makes it easy to find good views.

  8. Shirley, because my visits to San Antonio always were for work, I never saw the river and the walk the way you show them. Stunningly beautiful. How much I missed. Thank you.

  9. Wow!!! I am in love with the river walk! I have never been, but I actually dream of going there. It looks absolutely divine. And some nice palms too :)

  10. I haven't been back to SA since my cousin's wedding with a dinner boat ride on the river, back in the 60's. It's wonderful what they have done to beautify the river, and keep it in character with the history of the city, and native plants. I'm really impressed. Thanks for the tour!


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