Cobblestone walkways lead visitors to the river-level restaurants and shops. The river bubbles to the surface on the grounds of the University of the Incarnate Word and flows to downtown, threading its way through the city one level below the hustle and bustle of city streets. First called Yanaguana by the Payaya Indians, meaning "place of refreshing waters." Along the horseshoe shaped riverbend, the river is shaded by towering cypresses, oaks and willows and bordered by gardens of flowering ornamental plants.
River cruisers travel the River Walk's three miles past unique retail shops, restaurants and nightclubs.