San Antonio River Walk Bus Tours – City Sightseeing Double Decker and Alamo Trolley – Which One is Better?

Update: See the 2015 Post HERE!

We visit the San Antonio River Walk a couple times a year.  We stay in a hotel on the river walk, walk around the restaurants and shops, visit the Children’s Museum, and take a tour.  We let the kids pick the type of tour on each trip.  In the past, we’ve taken the boat tours and boat taxi.  For details, go HERE.  This time, we had a request for a bus tour.

In San Antonio, there are 2 types of bus tours.  There is the big red Double Decker and the Alamo Trolley tours.  So what is the difference?

City Sightseeing Double Decker San Antonio has buses near the Alamo Plaza, Market Square and HemisFair Park.  Tours start every 30 to 60 minutes and you just hop on an pay on board.  You can sit down low or up high and listen to the recorded commentary.  These buses are open air and are not heated.  As of this posting, adults are $19.95 and kids (ages 6 to 14) are $10.95.  This tour stays in the immediate downtown area and take about 1 hour.

The Alamo Trolly has trollies parked outside the Alamo.  Inside the Alamo Visitor Center you can buy tickets for the tour.  The tour leaves every 45 minutes and last for 60 minutes.  The tour visits the Alamo, IMAX Theatre Rivercenter, Hemisfair Park, Tower of the Americas, River Walk, Institute of Texan Cultures, La Villita, Market Square, San Fernando Cathedral, the Mission Trail and is lead by a tour guide. If you purchase the Hop Pass, you can hop on and off of the trolley all day.   The trolleys are heated and air conditioned.  As of this posting, adults are $19.95 and kids (3-11) are $8.95.  For the Hop Pass, adults are $24.95 and kids are $11.95.

The better tour seems to be the Alamo Trolley tour because it visits more of the city, it is led by a real person and you can hop off and on all day if you want to tour each stop.  However, the Double Decker has a lot going for it.  First, it is a double decker.  Had the weather been good, my kids would have insisted on this tour.  Second, the loop is shorter, so if your kids melt down halfway through, you are not stuck in the middle of nowhere.  Finally, if your kids are under 6, they ride free.

Since it was rainy, we chose the Alamo Trolley tour.  We purchased tickets for 2 adults, 2 kids and the baby rode for free.  We could have  folded up the stroller and brought it on board but decided to just leave it at the Alamo Visitor Center, behind the counter.  Food and drinks were allowed on the bus and the only rule was that a parent needed to sit on the outside of the kids, so they did not slide off of the benches.

My big kids were surprisingly calm on the entire trip.  They drew pictures of everything we saw along the way.  Even baby James did a good job.  He was certain he should walk around the moving trolley but I was, by some miracle, able to convince him to look for birds and squirrels out the window.  The tour guide gave us information along the way and parked periodically take questions.  The only time he did not talk was the 2 minutes we were on the interstate.

By the end of the tour we had a good summary of the history of San Antonio and had all of our questions answered.  We gave the driver a small tip and he made a big deal over the kids as we jumped off the bus.

Next time around we’ll jump off at the Market Square so we can tour the farmers market.  From here, we’ll either walk back to the Alamo or make sure with have the Hop Pass.

If you are looking for information on the boat tours, go HERE.  We like all the tours.  The boats are very unique to San Antonio, but once you’ve done them, why not try the bus tour?   If Alamo Charlie is your driver, tell him we said “hi!”.


Comments

  1. We chose to do the two day hop on hop off pass. There were a few things about this company that I loved and a few things that could use improvement. The schedule was easy to follow although in my experience the trolley was rarely at it’s destination when it was supposed to be there, it was usually late. It’s…

  2. Went on the double-decker tour around San Antonio & overall it was good. Two of the 3 tour guides were great…the black guy and the Hispanic guy (sorry, I didn’t get their names) were funny and very passionate about their love for this great city. The 3rd guy (who was white) was just okay & didn’t seem to put much…

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