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They Paved Paradise And Then Dug Tunnels To Access It Again. Seriously, San Antonio. That’s A LOT Of Work.

It’s during times like these — when the sky is gray and it’s kind of blustery and the color of the air itself seems cast in that hazy shade of winter — when I like to reminisce on happier times.

Warmer times.

Times like this past summer when I visited my dear friend Stacy in San Antonio.

I’ve told you before how great it is to find yourself a local when you travel — someone who can show you the sweaty armpits of a place and not just its glossy, airbrushed facade.

And just why would you want to see the sweaty armpits?

Because, my friends, the armpits are what make it interesting. The armpits are where the real people live and work and play.

But it’s good to see the touristy bits too, because — obviously — you can’t really experience a place without also seeing what makes it popular.

This is why, despite the ungodly heat and humidity emanating seemingly from the surface of the earth itself, we left the quiet sanctity of Madhatters Tea House in the King William Historic District in search of The River Walk.

At first glance, the bowels of downtown San Antonio seem like the congested, twisting maze of any other metropolitan area. Towering skyscrapers and bustling taxis and besuited individuals clambering to get to the office on time.

Except it’s hot. Crazy hot. And humid. Especially in July. And most of the buildings are the color of sand, as though they can emulate dryness if they try hard enough to look like the desert, but alas. Damp is damp. And that city is downright wet.

During our quick, surficial driving tour, we passed large sandy buildings.


And famous sandy buildings.

Alamo San Antonio

But there’s a whole other city below those streets — a respite from the heat and the sun. Just find yourself a place to park, and look for the signs.


There are several different access points from which you can descend below the surface. The way down can feel almost eerie in places, like you’re headed somewhere you’re not supposed to go — where you might run into sewer people or rats or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


I hadn’t been to San Antonio since I was a kid, and for some reason I remembered the entire River Walk as this massive, bustling place where all of the city’s occupants converged to move and eat and shop like ants in their maze of tunnels, and maybe it’s like that at night, but during the day, there’s respite.


Quiet, shady places away from the noise, like underground parks.


Stacy enjoying a quiet moment.


Me and my massive hunk of leg. Looking at this photo makes me realize I might be getting too old for short shorts. But, shhhh. Don’t tell my ego.


My tour guide. And a duck.


As we ambled along the water, our first sign that we were headed towards a more vivacious section of the walk was this:


When random strangers strike a pose — it’s my favorite thing.

Following the boat towards civilization, we eventually emerged onto the main artery, where restaurants and shops and colorful umbrellas abound.


After a couple of hours down there, it was difficult to remember we were actually below street level without the occasional look up.


Our running joke was that Stacy kept asking if I was drinking enough water. She was very concerned about staying hydrated, and I kept laughing her off until it felt, in fact, like I was going to pass out. Turns out it doesn’t matter how short my shorts — extreme heat and I do not get along.

So. If you get a chance to visit The River Walk during the heart of summer, remember three things: Drink plenty of water, always sneak into fancy hotel restrooms, and please.


Do NOT fall in that river. No matter how hot you are.


You have been warned.




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Huh. This place wasn’t even on my radar, but now I want to go.


I love it when that happens!

Lisa Fulton

Agreed. Especially after seeing some of those photos, San Antonio seems like a very unique place!! :) I can’t wait to travel again! (I just spent a good amount of time in the Greater Detroit area and loved it…AND the snow!) LOL!


It is definitely a great place! Sometimes it seems like Austin hogs all of the Texas attention, but San Antonio is super unique with some really great neighborhoods.

Detroit, huh? I’ve only seen their airport. But then, I don’t love snow. ;)


I have been to San Antonio once, but it was 35 years ago. I remember going to the Riverwalk but I also remember being forced to eat a really weird tuna sandwich (it had apples and sprouts for god sake) which I would love today! I love the photos of the back of the building with the distressed wood! I am going to visit Oklahoma City for the first time in March and spending time with a total local for precisely the reasons you named – it is the best way to go!


Isn’t it funny how the things we turned our noses up at as kids turn appealing when we get older? It’s great because it opens us up to new things, but I also HATE it because we have to admit our parents were right. ;) I saw Oklahoma City I think on the same family road trip we were on when we went to San Antonio. It was 1998, and all I remember was the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. So. I’m guessing you’re going to have a better time than that!

Chris P.

Perfect time to visit San Antonio is between Thanksgiving and New Years! See the millions of Christmas lights all around the trees and buildings around the river walk. Plus the weather is great at that time. I should know. I am one of the boat captains you took a picture of! ;)


This comment just completely made my day. How on earth did you stumble across this post??! Thanks for being an amazing tour guide, entertaining those both on — and off — the boat! :)

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