The River Walk is paddling in new opportunities in 2020.

For the first time in 30 years, kayaking will be allowed through the River Walk’s scenic business district, where countless postcards and San Antonio snapshots have taken place.

Kayaking on other extensions of the San Antonio River, like the King William District and Mission Reach, has been a popular activity, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. You were, however, not allowed access to the world-famous business district, where the hotels and restaurants are located.

RELATED: I kayaked on the San Antonio River in the King William Historic District, here’s what you need to know


“This is a whole new route, a whole new ball game,” said San Antonio River Walk Association Executive Director Maggie Thompson.

The River Walk barges have total rights to the area, but the Go Rio Cruises are now starting boat tours at noon, giving kayakers a rare chance to paddle what’s been called “America’s Venice,” Thompson said.

Through the Mission Adventure Tours, kayakers will launch from the Tobin Center at 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday in October and costs $50 per person for the kayak, paddles and life jacket. The tour lasts two hours.

Thompson said adventurers can bring their own kayak and life vest for a launch fee of $15. Thompson says this month is a trial run, adding the first weekend went “really well.”

The association, which works to promote, protect and preserve San Antonio’s emerald jewel, relies on events for funding, Thompson said. Much of the River Walk’s programming has been canceled due to the pandemic. Thompson said the city suggested the idea of kayaking on River Walk proper as a way to generate revenue.

The 4-mile route is unguided, so kayakers can adventure at their own pace. The association says the trip is perfect for beginners and families.

She says the Tobin Center offers parking for a charge, but the Central Library, which is a short walk away, also has some spots for $5.

Mission Kayak is staggering groups to ensure social distancing at the launch point. The company is accommodating kayaking groups between 6 to 10 people.

As for the water, Thompson says most of the route, which is referred to as the “Horsehoe” is 3- to 4-feet deep. However the area near the launch point can be 25- to 30-feet deep. Kayakers must remain seated at all times.

Thompson says the rental company has more than 30 kayaks available daily.  Those interested in taking advantage of the rare opportunity can book their tour on The San Antonio River Walk Association website. Time slots are available through the end of the month, according to the calendar.

Madalyn Mendoza covers news and puro pop culture for MySA.com | [email protected] | @maddyskye

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