We were recently back in Austin, Texas visiting a cousin Michelle who lives there. Once again we greatly enjoyed our walks along the banks of Labybird Lake (Lake Austin) and Kate couldn’t get enough of the vegan food scene (especilly Capital Bakery and Arlos).
Michelle was very keen to show us the downtown area of nearby San Antonio ( 1.5 hours drive south of Austin) for an afternoon. She described it as being a modern twist on Venice, Italy!
The downtown area is has a network of shallow man made canals lined with restaurants and boutique stores. The water that feeds the canals comes from a natural spring some 4 miles away and the river walk was built back in the 1940’s. It has a great lively atmosphere and is popular with locals and visitors alike. We went on a sunny Sunday afternoon and obviously thousands of other people had the same idea. It was very difficult to find a park with many of the parking buildings being full already. next time we’ll go during the week or earlier in the day.
Although the canals are shallow you obviously have to be very aware of where your young children are at all times. Also, because the canal shopping/restaurant area is below street level and there a steep stepped foot bridges across the canals, it is not the easiest place for the elderly and disabled to negotiate. We had a two large baby strollers with us and we got down to the canal level via the elevators at the Westin Riverwalk Hotel, otherwise it would have been difficult.
The canals are plied by many small cruise boats that give a 30-35 min tour (US$10 for adults, $4 children 1-5, $7 senior citizens) with live comentary. I enjoyed the cruise – it did feel lot like Disneyland though!
One of the things we passed was an outdoor amphitheater at a bend in a canal. A crowd of people were enjoying the sun and a free performance by entertainers onstage on the opposite side of the water.
We enjoyed a late lunch at a popular Italian restaurant with river views, followed by an ice cream from this fabulous shop of Autumn treats.
The large trees that line and hang over the canals drip with colourful lights all year round which creates both a spectacular and romantic scene at night.
Trees dripping with lights and the historic Esquire Tavern
We visited Austin and San Antonio in late October and the weather was fabulous. The Spring and Autumn months would be the best time to visit the San Antonio River Walk area because at these times of year it is pleasant to eat outside. It would be way too hot to do so in the brutal Texas summer heat. Beware, being right by the water there were a few mosquitos about. We came unprepared and Kate got a number of bites.