Is The San Antonio Riverwalk Safe?

Stairs lead down to the Riverwalk, a lively San Antonio, Texas tourist attraction

One of San Antonio’s most famous attractions is the San Antonio Riverwalk, a meandering path that takes you along miles of scenic riverfront. But is the San Antonio Riverwalk safe?

The San Antonio Riverwalk is very safe. The Riverwalk is a bustling tourist attraction that is frequently patrolled by the San Antonio Police Department, which keeps a watchful eye on the crowds. An ingenious series of dams and tunnels prevent the river from flooding. So you’ll be safe on the Riverwalk. 

So how safe is San Antonio? Is the Riverwalk safe at night? Is the San Antonio River man-made? Read on to learn the answers to these questions about the Riverwalk and more.

The San Antonio Riverwalk

The San Antonio Riverwalk is a 15-mile-long urban walking path that follows the course of the San Antonio River as it winds through downtown. Visitors can take in the beautiful sights of the river while enjoying easy access to top-tier attractions, including the Alamo, a public art garden, and plenty of local food and drink. Also known as the Paseo Del Rio, the Riverwalk is one of the largest environmental attractions in the United States.

To get to the Riverwalk, simply head downtown and find one of the parking areas. Much of the Riverwalk is ADA-accessible, so visitors who have wheelchairs or other equipment can enjoy the splendor of the river too.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Riverwalk is to take a river cruise. If you’re a curious person who wants to know about the history of this area, take a narrated river cruise, where your captain will tell you all about San Antonio’s colorful past. If you just want to get from point A to B, many water taxis and ferries go from point to point along the Riverwalk.

The Riverwalk is a fun destination any time, but it hosts many major celebrations throughout the year. For example, there is an Armed Forces River Parade every July to celebrate our veterans, plus holiday celebrations, a Margarita Madness food tour, and artisan shows. The Riverwalk has something for everyone.

Boat carries sightseers past riverfront restaurant with outside dining under colorful umbrellas

Safety on the Riverwalk

But you might be wondering, is the Riverwalk safe? Unfortunately, major tourist attractions often attract nefarious characters like pickpockets, thieves, and muggers. So, how worried about your safety should you be on the Riverwalk?

San Antonio does have a relatively high crime rateSo while there are some thefts along the Riverwalk, your risk is not much greater than at any other major urban attraction. However, like with any statistical data, a deeper dive will help you decide your actual risk.

If you crave more details, the San Antonio Police Department has a LexisNexis map that allows you to filter crime data by location, crime type, date, and so on, so you can explore crime data in real-time to familiarize yourself with the area.

The San Antonio Police Department also posts its Uniform Crime Reports on a free, public web page. Violent crimes, such as robbery, assault, rape, and murder, are fairly uncommon in San Antonio.

According to the numbers, most of San Antonio’s crimes are small-scale petty thefts. These crimes are easy enough to avoid if you take some common-sense safety measures. Lock your car doors, keep valuables out of sight, and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave your purse, phone, wallet, or keys unattended in a bar or restaurant. Basic self-awareness will help prevent many crimes.

Police Presence in San Antonio

San Antonio is a well-policed city. The San Antonio Police Department has beat cops working on foot patrol and road patrol, plus bicycle units and special divisions that patrol locations like the Riverwalk.

The SAPD engages in traditional policing, but also engages in community outreach and community-based policing in an effort to cultivate a good relationship between the police and the community they serve.

If you need the SAPD in an emergency, dial 911. For non-emergency calls, dial 210-207-7273.

Stone walkway leads to arched bridge, on the right water cascades down a rock waterfall and on the left is the river

Personal Safety in San Antonio

If you happen to become sick or suffer an injury while visiting San Antonio, be assured that there are many fine hospitals in the city. The closest emergency rooms to downtown are the Baptist Medical Center Emergency Room and the Methodist Hospital Metropolitan Emergency Room.  

While the Riverwalk is very safe, you should be aware that many sections of the Riverwalk do not have railings preventing you from falling in. About 500 people a year end up falling into the river, but you can easily avoid falling in by using your common sense. Stay away from the river’s edge, don’t horse around on the embankments, and don’t try to reach into the river, and you should be okay.

Road Trip Answers Fun Fact: The Esquire Tavern, located along the Riverwalk, is the oldest bar in San Antonio. It first opened in 1933, after prohibition ended, and it features the longest wooden bar in Texas

Other Posts of Interest

Is the San Antonio Riverwalk Safe at Night?

The San Antonio Riverwalk is safe at night. The Riverwalk is a major tourist attraction that is home to hundreds of small and large businesses that depend on safety to attract customers. 

Beautiful to walk at night with street lights illumining the path, trees and water

The Riverwalk is frequently patrolled by the San Antonio Police Department and by the San Antonio Park Police, who have an entire unit dedicated to the Riverwalk. As a result, the Riverwalk is a safe attraction.

That said, crime can happen even in the safest areas. The best way to avoid being a victim of crime is to take sensible precautions. Here are some tips to keep you safe on the Riverwalk:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t be staring at your phone or needlessly distracted.
  • If visiting a local bar or restaurant, don’t leave your drink unattended.
  • Don’t flash expensive possessions or large amounts of cash.
  • Don’t leave valuable items unattended.
  • Travel with a companion. Groups are more difficult to victimize.
  • Carry yourself with confidence.
  • Listen to your gut. If a person or situation makes you feel uncomfortable, head for a populated and brightly lit place.
Water cascades down concrete staircase into pool

Does the San Antonio Riverwalk Flood?

The San Antonio River has occasionally flooded in the past. Like any other river, a massive inundation of rainwater could easily make the San Antonio River slip her banks and flood the city. Today, however, the river is protected by an ingenious flood-protection system.

When the Riverwalk was designed in 1929, engineer Robert Hughman realized that flooding would deter tourists from visiting the area. As such, he incorporated 41 separate dams along the river that help maintain a stable water level. In addition, the dams divert excess water into a series of tunnels that lead away from downtown, helping to prevent flooding.

Does the system work? Yes! As recently as 2017, significant flood events that affected the San Antonio River did not cause flooding in any part of the Riverwalk or downtown San Antonio. So you are safe from floods on the Riverwalk.  

Is the San Antonio River Natural or Man-made?

The San Antonio River is a natural river. Originating from underground springs in San Antonio, the river naturally flows southwest, where it feeds into the Guadalupe River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Parts of the river have been dammed or diverted, but the actual river itself is naturally occurring and not man-made.

The San Antonio River has been an important site for human activity for hundreds and hundreds of years. Before Texas was Texas, the river was used by indigenous people, Spanish settlers, and Mexican nationals. Most famously, the San Antonio River runs very close to the Alamo, the famous fort that was home to a fierce battle during Texas’ war for independence.

Can You Walk to the Alamo from the Riverwalk?

The Alamo is a must see tourist attraction when visiting Texas

The Alamo is easily accessible from the San Antonio Riverwalk. This historical destination is located about 5 minutes away from the downtown reach of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Exit the Riverwalk on East Commerce Street and head west, then take a right on Alamo Plaza. The famous fort will be just under a quarter-mile up Alamo Plaza.

Within walking distance of the Alamo, visitors will also find many fabulous tourist attractions, including the Shops at Rivercenter shopping mall, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and a movie theater.

When is the Best Time to Visit San Antonio? 

The best time of year to visit San Antonio is during the off-season, between November and April. Visiting during the off-season lets you enjoy better weather, smaller crowds, and lower hotel prices. Plus, if you go during November or January, you can enjoy the scenic Holiday Lights that adorn the Riverwalk!

Many people go to San Antonio during the summer months, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Summer break tends to bring huge crowds, and it also brings Texas-style heat. So prepare for temperatures north of 100 degrees and humidity to match during the heat of the summer.

Rollin’ On The River

The San Antonio Riverwalk is one of Texas’ finest tourist attractions. Visitors can enjoy miles upon miles of beautifully decorated landscapes, retail, food, and bars while walking, bicycling, or even taking a cruise along the river. And best of all, the San Antonio Riverwalk is a very safe place to visit. So pack your cowboy hat and your Western boots, and get ready to walk the river – we’ll see you out there!

Photo of author


There are numerous natural and man-made wonders I'm ready to find and explore, from Maine's rugged coast to California's Big Sur cliffs and everywhere between.