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5 Hidden Gems on San Antonio’s Riverwalk

Hotel Contessa

5 Hidden Gems on San Antonio’s Riverwalk

Hotel Contessa
5 Hidden Gems on
San Antonio’s Riverwalk
There’s more to the “Venice of Texas” than just shops and restaurants, Tex-Mex plates, and margaritas. You just need to know where to look.
Erin Mahoney

The Riverwalk is known as a mecca for food, drinks, and shopping in San Antonio, but it is the little, often overlooked details that make this area a cultural haven. From street art to romantic superstitions, here are a few of our favorite hidden attractions.

Marriage Island

This heart-shaped island, located in front of Hotel Contessa, has become a staple in the San Antonio wedding circuit. An average of 225 intimate weddings (the island can only hold 20 people) take place on the island each year. It’s believed that the venue brings luck to all newlyweds who host their ceremony here – perhaps because of its longwinded history (a Father Damian Massanet conducted the first Catholic mass there in 1691), or the seemingly magic giant Cypress with roots that make up much of the island. 

Tiny Graffiti Dude

You’ve probably heard of Banksy, the mercurial artist who made street art a household concept, but you’ve probably never heard of San Antonio’s own elusive street artist. Scattered across pillars and under bridges on the Riverwalk, these “Tiny Dude” paintings of miniature cowboys appear in the night, though no one knows who does it or even how many there are in total. If you happen across one, snap a picture, as they are difficult to find and easy to miss. 

South Floodgate Bridge

What may just look like a simple – yet beautiful – arched stone bridge with unique circular details is actually now a designated national historic civil engineering landmark. When it was built in 1941, the bridge and floodgate were part of a massive project to correct deadly flooding in downtown San Antonio. While the water is now controlled by a dam on Nueva Street, without this first floodgate, the Riverwalk of today might have looked very different.

Hispanic Elvis

For almost eight years, this secretive Elvis impersonator has biked (in full regalia) into downtown from his West Side home to delight locals and tourists with his antics. Armed with a plastic guitar and, occasionally, a boom box loaded with the King’s greatest hits, Hispanic Elvis can be found moonwalking, sliding, and hip rolling all around the Riverwalk or at one of his favorite haunts, Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia, where he dances along to the nightly mariachi band.  

Romantic Lock Bridge

If you never had the chance to visit Ponts des Arts, better known as Paris’s Love Lock Bridge, before it was dismantled in 2015, the Riverwalk has recently acquired its own version. Located on a nondescript fence along the banks of the river, near Bexar County Courthouse Wedding Chapel, hundreds – maybe even thousands – of colorful locks are marked with couples’ initials and anniversary dates. In order to make it official, you must throw the key into the river – it symbolizes forever locking your love and wishes together.