San Antonio is a fun, pet friendly vacation destination. With the famous River Walk park stretching 15 miles, you’ll love exploring all the neighborhoods and historic sites along the way!
Founded as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost in 1718, San Antonio became the first chartered civil settlement in present-day Texas in 1731. For the history buffs among us, there’s a lot to see!
Now San Antonio is among the nation’s fastest-growing cities. But the downtown area is still easily walkable with your pet. And our favorite way to explore the city is on foot (and paw).
San Antonio’s Pet Friendly River Walk
Ages ago, when Rod and I first visited the San Antonio, the River Walk was a fun, slightly seedy, tourist destination. Since then, initiatives have extended and beautified this spectacular urban oasis.
The original U-shaped section, packed with bars, restaurants, hotels, and crowds, still anchors the River Walk. But now the park stretches runs 15 miles, following the course of the river. Providing access to some of the city’s most precious historical and cultural sites, the pet friendly San Antonio River Walk is one of the most unique urban parks in the country and the most popular attraction in Texas!
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Our favorite part of visiting the San Antonio River Walk is that it’s 100% pet friendly! Pets must be leashed, of course. And care should be taken in congested areas for the safety of both your pet and other visitors. Please remember to pick up after your pets! Waste stations and trash receptacles can be found along the way.
The River Walk open 365 days a year, and most of it can be accessed 24 hours a day. The exception is the Mission Reach natural area, which is open during daylight hours.
Unfortunately, the riverboat tours you’ll see cruising by don’t allow pets. But you and your dog can navigate the river via standup paddleboard, kayak, or canoe! Check out the King William Paddling Trail for more information.
There is no “best” place to start exploring the River Walk. And, if you have time, every section is worth a visit! But if you have to choose a few, below you’ll find a few of our favorites.
The King William District
One section of the River Walk we never miss is just south of downtown in the King William Historic District. Some of the city’s oldest and loveliest historic homes are located here. And you can catch glimpses of them from the path.
The Downtown Loop
No visit to the River Walk would be complete without strolling the downtown loop! It’s an easy walk from the King William District and it’s the most popular section of the River Walk.
If your dog or cat doesn’t like crowds, plan your visit for a weekday. Or go early in the morning on a weekend, before the traffic picks up.
Visiting the downtown loop early in the day is lovely, with lots of benches to sit and enjoy the scenery. The gardens in this section shine in a rainbow of colors in the spring. And this is the area where the annual Holiday River Parade and Lighting festival takes place just after Thanksgiving.
If you’re sniffing for a place to eat, and are lucky enough to have a social dog, head over to Rita’s on the River, where dogs have their own menu.
Or ask at the patios of the other restaurants. Many will be happy to welcome you and your pets.
The Pearl District
North of downtown, the River Walk passes through the hip and trendy Pearl District. This pedestrian-friendly neighborhood has a nice selection of restaurants, several of which have pet friendly patios.
There’s also a grocery store for picnic supplies, interesting boutiques, and a bakery with macaroons to die for! You’ll also find public restrooms and bike rentals here, in case you’d like to explore more of the River Walk than is possible on foot.
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Going Beyond The River Walk
It would be easy to spend your entire vacation in pet friendly San Antonio on the River Walk. But this city has a lot more to offer! Here are some other places in San Antonio that you and your pet will want to check out.
Between downtown and the King William District is La Vallita (The Little Village). This was one of the original settlements of San Antonio and is surrounded by a thick, protective wall.
The adobe houses within the walls have been restored and now contain shops, galleries, and small restaurants. We’ve found that most places are happy to welcome your pets to browse with you. Just be sure to ask first.
La Villita’s open plazas and narrow streets offer plenty of places to rest in the shade and think about what life might have been like for those early pioneers.
King William Historic District Walking Tour
For and excellent walking tour beyond the River Walk, head back to the King William District. This area was settled by successful German merchants in the late 1800s, and most of the homes are still privately owned.
Pick up a walking tour map in front of the Anton Wulff House (pictured below) at 107 King William Street (corner of King Williams and South St. Mary’s Streets). Then stroll the quiet neighborhood streets. The map provides a paragraph or two on the history of each of the 46 homes on the tour.
We spent a sunny morning admiring all the different design styles and learning a bit about the area’s history. If you or your pup gets thirsty, there is a doggy and human water fountain in King William Park near the bandstand.
The Carl H. Guenther House and Pioneer Flower Mills are conveniently located about half way through the tour. The grounds are not pet friendly, but there is a restaurant (open Wednesday-Sunday) where you can pick up something to go.
We took turns waiting with the dogs while the other one went inside to look around the open areas of the house and place our order. (Note: the peach tea and strudel are amazing!)
San Fernando Cathedral
Cathedrals don’t usually make appearances on our blog, because they’re rarely pet friendly. But the gorgeous piazza in front of San Fernando Cathedral deserves a mention.
This is the perfect place to settle with lunch or a cup of coffee and do a little people watching. Or you can read the intriguing history of the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the U.S. as you rest in the shadow of its spires.
A trip to pet friendly San Antonio requires a stop to admire the 750-foot Tower of the Americas in HemisFair Park. The tower makes this 92-acre park a cinch to find from anywhere in the city.
Created for the 1968 World’s Fair, the views from the tower’s observation deck and restaurant must be spectacular. But the tower is not pet friendly. So, we enjoyed this green oasis in the city from the ground – admiring the tower and the fountain gardens around its base.
Planning Your Trip
Just 80 miles south of Austin, pet friendly San Antonio is perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. We hope our experience encourages you to explore more with your furry travel companion!
Where To Stay
Finding pet friendly hotels in San Antonio isn’t a problem – there are more than 100 listed on the GoPetFriendly.com website. We’d suggest choosing one near the River Walk so you can leave your car parked and enjoy walking the city. This will also give you easy access to the many pet friendly restaurants located near the River Walk.
If you’re looking for a pet friendly campground or RV park in San Antonio, there are also plenty to choose from.
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Best Time To Go
November through April is a delightful time to visit pet friendly San Antonio, when temperature range from a balmy 60s into the low 80s.
But if you brave the Texas summer heat, you’ll find lots of special events. And plentiful tree cover along the River Walk helps to shade your strolls.
We hope our visit to San Antonio has inspired you to make a trip of your own! If you find a pet friendly place that we missed, please leave your tips below.