Coming from the northeast and heading southwest, I–35 slices through San Antonio, curving around its main downtown area, which is primarily composed of the region south and east of I–35, west of I–37, and north of I–10. The San Antonio River falls along the western part of downtown but makes a little loop into the downtown area around Market and Commerce Streets, producing the ideal conditions for a winding River Walk set a level below the main hubbub of traffic. That's not to say the River Walk is quiet. While the cars and horns are out of sight and earshot, the festive, largely developed River Walk is often bustling with people—both visitors and locals. All of San Antonio comes here to dine, shop, and eat with friends along the river's banks.
Four prime areas downtown are Alamo Plaza, Market Square, La Villita, and HemisFair Park. Alamo Plaza is, of course, where the Alamo is located, but it also serves as a bit of a town square, with many hotels (like the famous Menger Hotel) and tourist traps (such as the wax museum) either off the Plaza or nearby.
The River Walk, with its twisting way, is near all of these areas and connects many of the main sites visitors go to downtown. If downtown is San Antonio's heart, the river's many arms are its arteries, bringing everyone to where the action is.