There’s a certain magic that happens when the beauty of nature meets the vibrancy of modern amenities, and the West’s river walks are a true testament to this. These pedestrian-friendly waterfront walkways connect lively downtowns and urban centers with natural settings, allowing groups to be immersed in all that destinations have to offer.
Perhaps one of the most iconic river walks is the San Antonio River Walk in San Antonio, Texas, a 15-mile series of walkways along the San Antonio River. Also known as the Paseo del Río, the river walk is dotted with shops, restaurants, and many other attractions. Along the path, postcard-perfect settings unveil themselves—brightly colored umbrellas shelter alfresco diners, river barges carry passengers on guided tours, and public art showcases the city’s creative spirit. Beyond the bustling downtown section of the route, the river walk stretches north to popular museums, including the San Antonio Museum of Art, The Witte Museum, and the McNay Art Museum. South of the downtown area, the path leads to four of the five UNESCO World Heritage-designated San Antonio Missions (the fifth mission, the Alamo, is located near the downtown section of the river walk). And if there’s not already enough to draw groups to the river, events throughout the year, like the Ford Parade of Lanterns, the SpiritLandia (Day of the Dead) River Parade, and the Ford Holiday River Parade, are sure to entertain.
Meanwhile, Reno, Nevada’s Riverwalk District pairs shops, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and lodging properties with the natural beauty and recreation opportunities of the Truckee River, connecting the western edge of Reno’s Idlewild Park to downtown’s Wingfield Park. Crowds flock to the area for events like the monthlong Artown festival, monthly wine walks, and the Great Eldorado BBQ, Blues, and Brews Festival, but the river corridor is an epicenter of arts, culture, and heritage year-round. Beyond hosting shopping and dining experiences, the path leads to the eclectic Brüka Theatre, the Truckee River Whitewater Park, Greater Nevada Field, the National Automobile Museum, and more.
Farther west, Napa, California, makes the case that a river walk’s allure isn’t defined by its distance. Although only a few blocks long, the Napa River Promenade runs alongside the Napa River and exudes the charm of wine country in an urban setting. The waterfront pathway winds through downtown’s European-style atmosphere, where shops, restaurants, and hotels welcome visitors to stay awhile, and Venetian gondolas float nearby. Groups can gather for photo ops at public art installations and catch live music performances at Veterans Park on select days.
Heading north to Vancouver, Washington, the mighty Columbia River flows past the downtown area, and the 7-acre Waterfront Park and the surrounding mixed-use waterfront development extend the city’s downtown core to the riverfront. The park is home to a state-of-the-art, 90-foot cable-stayed pier, as well as parks, fountains, an interactive water feature, and green spaces. Throughout the waterfront development, groups can grab a bite to eat at a variety of restaurants, sip a local brew or Washington-made wine, or choose to extend their stay at a waterfront hotel, all while watching sailboats glide down the river.
Written by Courtney Birchmeier
Main Image: Riverwalk District; Credit: VisitRenoTahoe.com