Heart of Texas

For many snowbirds the heart of Texas is a good place to outlast the chill of Arctic cold fronts. While not as consistently warm as the desert Southwest or Southern Florida, January's in Texas can feel like spring in Northern Minnesota.

And in the middle of it all sits San Antonio, a jumping off spot for opportunities to drive north to Austin, northwest to Fredricksburg and the hill country, or south to Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast. Almost all the RV parks in the region are open throughout the winter and it's a good idea to call ahead to determine availability as many are near capacity with season-long guests. Spending a sunny day, or just an afternoon in downtown San Antonio in January can be a delight. During the week, the parking lot at the Alamo Dome is a perfect place to dock your RV and it's a little less than a short mile walk into downtown.

Your first stop should be the obligatory trip to the Alamo. For what has become an American historical icon (cue John Wayne and Fess Parker) you'll learn that the building and compound fell into disrepair and mis-use for many decades. Far from a shrine, the Alamo languished as a warehouse. But, over the years the Texans have restored and burnished the legend that now sits in the center of one of the most charming and successful urban redevelopment efforts in the country.

The Alamo with another large building behind it.

A clean-up and diversion of the San Antonio river now flows through manicured canals in downtown. It's called the Riverwalk and brings back notes of Venice (yes, the real one in Italy) and Disney World (the not real one in Orlando). Restaurants, shops and hotels line the canals and a tasty lunch on the patio at one of the many restaurants offers a wonderfully relaxing dining experience where you watch the Texas equivalent of the Venetian vaparettos motor along the canal filled with sightseers.

Large home with palm trees lining the landscaping.

River flowing through the buildings downtown.

After lunch you may want to loosen your belt, but tighten up the laces of your walking shoes and follow the Riverwalk pathway clockwise which will lead you to the San Antonio river and south to the historic King William neighborhood. Most tourists don't seem to get past the Alamo and restaurants, but going further yields even greater rewards. Walking along the river in the warm afternoon sun is wonderfully peaceful and when you come to the King William neighborhood (well-marked with signs) make it a point to walk through a few blocks of these turn of the century homes that pay tribute to old southern architecture with colonnades.

Riverwalk pathways among restaurants and buildings.