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Our Favorite Stretch of the San Antonio River Walk

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In the 1930s, meteorologist Isaac Cline famously said, “Texas is a land of eternal drought interrupted occasionally by Biblical floods.” That has certainly been true this month–and this time those floods hit very close to home. This week we planned to hop in the car with Tiki and Barli and, as part of GoPetFriendly’s Virtual Road Trip, explore the San Antonio River Walk, one of our favorite places. However, a historic flood in the Hill Country changed our plans, and has us walking down memory lane to a previous trip to San Antonio with Irie and Tiki.

The San Antonio River Walk was selected by GoPetFriendly’s Amy Burkert as Texas’s top pet-friendly attraction in her new guide, The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip. The beautifully-illustrated guide to the lower 48 states and Washington, DC takes a look at her choice of each state’s #1 pet-friendly attraction.

If you’re new to our sites, you may not know that we lost Irie to cancer in March, which made remembering this trip to San Antonio extra special. In looking back through our River Walk photos, some of Amy’s advice in The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip especially rang true:

Take a long weekend to visit a spot or two; plan a week-long road trip and see a few more. When you’re looking back in the rear view mirror, you’ll be glad you did.

I am definitely glad we did.

I hope you’ll enjoy our trip to a very special stretch of the San Antonio River Walk.

Where Should You Take Your Dogs on the San Antonio River Walk?

Think of the San Antonio River Walk and you probably picture its most iconic section: the original downtown section. Through the years, we’ve covered this area, with its multitude of restaurants, hotels, shops and even guided barge tours–in several of our Texas guidebooks (and nearly every time the publisher has opted for a River Walk photo for the cover.)

We absolutely love the downtown River Walk, and have so many good memories of trips to this area. The Paseo del Rio, as it’s also called, is a European-style promenade that lies below street level. Part of an urban renovation project decades ago, the River Walk is a San Antonio must-see. Its winding sidewalks, which follow an arm of the San Antonio River, are lined with specialty shops, sidewalk cafes, luxury hotels, art galleries, and bars. (You’ll also see open-air barges touring the river; unfortunately these are not dog-friendly.) Like New Orleans’s Bourbon Street, this area of San Antonio has an atmosphere all its own. Arched bridges (the best known is the Selena Bridge) connect the two sides of the walk, so visitors never have to venture up to street level.

Quite a few of the hotels and many of the patio restaurants–including the River Walk’s first restaurant, Casa Rio, which opened in 1946–are dog-friendly, but pedestrian traffic on the Paseo del Rio can be intense, especially when large conventions are in town or during holiday periods.

So where do we choose with our dogs? When we take our dogs to San Antonio, we prefer the quieter Museum Reach area of the River Walk:

Connecting the downtown River Walk with the San Antonio Museum of Art, this 1.33-mile extension is a quiet walkway lined with artwork and native plants. And while this stretch of the River Walk is far newer than its downtown neighbor, you’ll find history here as well.

The Museum Reach is home to the 22-acre Pearl, the site of the Pearl Brewery (first named City Brewery), which opened here in 1884.

The Pearl Brewery closed it doors here in 2001 but the location soon began a new and exciting chapter as both a culinary and cultural destination–and one that’s incredibly dog friendly. Home of the third campus of The Culinary Institute of America, the Pearl is well-known for its restaurants, farmer’s market, and famous tamale festival every December. Enjoy authentic Mexican street food at the dog-friendly La Gloria restaurant whose patio overlooks the river:

Once lunch is done, descend the stairs to the river level…

As I mentioned, this portion of the River Walk is a night and day contrast with the bustling downtown Paseo del Rio. In the shadow of the Pearl smokestack and Hotel Emma, located in the historic brewhouse and named for the woman who took over the brewery upon her husband’s death, this stretch of the River Walk is perfect for strolling the nice, wide sidewalks with your dog.

Irie spotted some local wildlife as well!

You’ll find details of the Pearl district’s pet policy on their website but, in general, all dogs must be leashed, current on rabies vaccine, and, of course, you must pick up after your dog.

On our next trip to San Antonio (once the rain finally stops!), we’re hoping to explore the third and newest stretch of the River Walk with Tiki and our puppy, Barli: the Mission Reach. This is the least developed portion of the river, extending south from downtown: 

This eight-mile stretch of the San Antonio River connects four of the five UNESCO status San Antonio Missions: Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission Espada, Mission San Jose, and Mission Concepcion. (Wonder what the fifth mission is? It’s The Alamo, just one block from the downtown portion of the River Walk.) The grounds of each of the four missions are dog-friendly; dogs cannot enter any of the buildings. (If you’re downtown, however, be aware that dogs cannot get closer to the Alamo than the outer sidewalk.)

Whichever section of the River Walk you choose for your next San Antonio getaway, we hope you and your dog will return home with some great memories like those we enjoyed re-living in this virtual road trip!

Hop Around and Enjoy More of the Virtual Road Trip!

Oct 20: US!

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