A few weeks ago we took my mom's advice and decided to visit downtown San Antonio on a Sunday. We actually took Sunday and Monday in order to take advantage of the hop on / hop off tour from downtown. I was hoping we could catch the trolley at one of the missions near us, but after calling the company to confirm this idea it was out - we had to brave our way downtown.
I do recommend going on a Sunday. The traffic wasn't too bad and we were able to find parking.
We bought hop on / hop off tickets for the Alamo trolley on Sunday and got our second day passes for Monday. It was late afternoon so for this first trip around we just road the trolley for the one-hour tour and decided where we wanted to go the next day.
The trolleys were all handicapped accessible, and that's important for those of us with more advanced lipedema. If you're traveling in a wheelchair or scooter, all the trolleys had wheelchair lifts. Some people got on the trolley then sat in a regular seat after boarding. Others sat in the back of the trolley in their chair.
We toured the Alamo that evening then came back for the downtown trek on Monday.
Our first stop was the King William neighborhood. We had an hour in this historic neighborhood. We walked past several historic homes and passed a few that were open to the public and made some plans to return on another day to tour the homes and grounds. We also walked along a portion of the RiverWalk, an 18 mile stretch of bike and walking paths that lead from downtown San Antonio along the river towards the missions outside of town.
The Riverwalk is very wide, accepting wheelchairs and powerchairs easily. However, not all access points to the walkway offers ramps for easy ingress / egress. There are maps of the Riverwalk so you can see what areas have handicapped ramp access available.
We also visited Mercado, an indoor mall with several interesting Mexican imports. We're planning to go back for Christmas gifts. Then we hit the Main Plaza where we walked along the riverwalk some more.
One of the highlights was our boat tour along the river. As Bexar County residents, we even got a discount on our ticket. The sun was setting and the day was cooling off - the perfect time to be on the water. We saw several places we're looking forward to visiting on another trip and we learned a lot about the downtown area and the river. And I'm thankful that the tour guide mentioned getting to Hemisphere Park via the Riverwalk - a quick 5 minute walk and we were there instead of a 20 minute walk on the busy streets above.
The website for San Antonio Cruises says all boats are ADA accessible. Be aware that the boats can be pretty crowded. As you can imagine, they want to fill every seat. There are handrails for stepping in and out of the boats and the steps weren't too steep.
We ended our day of sightseeing walking through Hemisphere Park, the site of the 1968 World's Fair. We walked over to the Tower of the Americas but didn't go up. It's on our list for next time. I did make reservations for a birthday lunch at the Chart House restaurant, a revolving restaurant at the top of the Tower.
Some tips for traveling downtown:
Parking - know where you want to park. All lots have a fee, but the ones run by the city are less than a private lot. If there is an event going on the parking may be more than listed. I started with the BestParking.com website and found a lot near the downtown area where we needed to be. It was a city lot and cost $2.50. We'd originally paid $10 to park on Sunday, so knowing about these other lots was definitely worth it. The website gives the address of the lot and I found it easily using Google Navigator on my phone. If you're staying in a hotel, walk downtown if you can or see if your hotel offers a shuttle into the area. If you need handicapped accessibility, be aware that some of the cheaper lots may be several blocks from downtown.
Wear good shoes.
Restrooms can be difficult to find. On Sunday there were portable toilets set up but they were gone on Monday. If you're a paying customer, you're welcome to use the restrooms in the businesses downtown, but many have signs stating that there are no public restrooms.
Check out the rest of the pictures from our Alamo / San Antonio trip in the album on DropBox.