For a city best known for its past, San Antonio has made numerous forward-thinking changes over the last few years. Running through its vibrant downtown is the San Antonio River, which—believe it or not—is not man-made. What was once a 3-mile stretch of river downtown (known as the River Walk) has grown to 15 miles. It was expanded north in 2009 and south in 2013, giving each area its own distinct personality. Thirty-nine water taxi stops, more than 50 BCycle bike-share stations and miles of hiking trails grant visitors access to the River Walk, from the northernmost Museum Reach down to Mission Reach.
Steve Clanton, vice president of sales and services at the San Antonio CVB, says the $358 million expansion of the River Walk has attracted many groups, both new and repeat customers. “We’ve always referred to the downtown portion as the world’s largest hotel lobby,” he says. “[The River Walk] is a great place to network. It’s the focal point of the meetings experience.” This walkable section also links Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to thousands of hotel rooms, shops, restaurants and attractions to keep transportation costs low. With a $325 million renovation of the convention center—including the addition of the largest ballroom in Texas—finishing in January, it’s safe to say San Antonio wants to be remembered for more than The Alamo.