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On the Road: San Antonio, Texas Hill Country and Austin

Program No. 10459RJ
Explore Texas with experts on a bigger-than-life adventure as you discover Tex-Mex in San Antonio, learn about music and politics in Austin and visit LBJ's Hill Country ranch.
7 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at

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DATES & starting prices
Feb 19 - Feb 25, 2023
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Mar 26 - Apr 1, 2023
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Apr 16 - Apr 22, 2023
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Oct 15 - Oct 21, 2023
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Nov 12 - Nov 18, 2023
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DATES & starting prices
Feb 19 - Feb 25, 2023
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Mar 26 - Apr 1, 2023
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Apr 16 - Apr 22, 2023
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Oct 15 - Oct 21, 2023
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Nov 12 - Nov 18, 2023
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At a Glance

Is everything bigger in the Lone Star State? Or is it just a big myth? Learn just how normal Texans really are on this adventure exploring Texas history, culture and politics — from richly diverse San Antonio to the LBJ Ranch in Hill Country to the state capital of Austin. The Old West’s six-guns are gone, but influences of the 26 ethnic groups that settled Texas beckon at every turn.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to three miles daily. Must be able to climb stairs and board motor coach with minimal assistance. Standing in museums for up to two hours a day.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Take a study cruise along the River Walk in festive San Antonio to find out how the city blends new development with historic preservation of cultural treasures.
  • Delve into the life of our 36th president at the LBJ ranch and its Hereford cattle on the banks of the Pedernales River.
  • Get the “low-down” on politics in Austin, and find out why the city is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World” with a private performance from a Grammy award winning artist.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Carolina Castillo Crimm
A retired professor of history, Dr. Caroline Castillo Crimm won many local and state-wide awards, including the prestigious Piper Award as one of the best teachers in Texas. Dedicated to Texas and Hispanic culture, her Spanish family came to Texas originally in 1792 although she was born and raised in Mexico City. The author of “De Leon: A Tejano Family History,” she has appeared on PBS and “The History Channel.”

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Floyd Domino
Floyd Domino View biography
Floyd Domino is an American musician known for his work in the genre of Western swing. Born in California, Floyd’s close association with Western swing coincided when he joined the group Asleep at the Wheel at 19. After seven years with the band, he still joins them for featured performances. While Floyd is widely recognized for the revival of Western swing, he began his career in jazz, boogie-woogie, swing and blues piano. The Floyd Domino Jazz Trio showcases a unique blend of jazz and blues.
Profile Image of Carolina Crimm
Carolina Castillo Crimm View biography
A retired professor of history, Dr. Caroline Castillo Crimm won many local and state-wide awards, including the prestigious Piper Award as one of the best teachers in Texas. Dedicated to Texas and Hispanic culture, her Spanish family came to Texas originally in 1792 although she was born and raised in Mexico City. The author of “De Leon: A Tejano Family History,” she has appeared on PBS and “The History Channel.”
Profile Image of Richard Roberts
Richard Roberts View biography
Richard Roberts is a longtime Austin resident and music aficionado who expertly tells the story of the Live Music Capital of the World. His method? Richard interviewed musicians, club owners and poster artists and distilled the history of Austin music into a concise and entertaining exploration of the sights where it all began!
Profile Image of Tom Alter
Tom Alter is an assistant professor at Texas State University where he specializes in labor and Texas history. He received his BA in history from Indiana University, his MA in history from Texas State University, and his PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Tom is the author of “Toward a Cooperative Commonwealth: The Transplanted Roots of Farmer-Labor Radicalism in Texas” (University of Illinois Press, 2022).
Profile Image of Sheila Mehta
Sheila Mehta View biography
Sheila Mehta, a recent addition to the LBJ Presidential Library, has spent her career in education. She joined the Library after almost 15 years as a high school social studies teacher. Her academic background lies in U.S. history, social studies, and relationships between conflict and society. Sheila helps visitors, students, and educators learn more about the Johnson administration and nuances of the 1960s, complementing the Library’s mission to be a “center for intellectual activity… while meeting the challenges of a changing world.”
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Alamo Remembered, Tejano Accounts & Perspectives
by Timothy M. Matovina
Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer
by Skip Hollandsworth
Before Jack the Ripper mutilated prostitutes in the dark corners of London in the late 19th-century, Austin, TX, was besieged by a vicious killer whose victims were African American servants. He cut up women with an axe to the head and left them bloody in their beds. Racism delayed justice for a year. Black men became so terrified of the police that they rubbed their feet and legs with asafoetida, a natural paste slaves had used when running away from their masters to throw off bloodhounds. This is a painstakingly researched book written by a Texas native that examines prejudices, which still keep justice at bay.
Three Roads to the Alamo, the Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis
by William C. Davis
Big, Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas
by Harrigan, Stephen
Written by a great story teller, this readable, monumental work is exactly what the title implies: a comprehensive history of Texas complete with wonderful historic photographs and a focus on the stories of individual people. Not for the fainthearted, the time invested in reading this is well-spent. Actually, the book is so readable that devouring it is a pleasure. It has been described as “a must read for Texas aficionados.”
Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream: The Most Revealing Portrait of a President and Presidential Power Ever Written
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Widely praised and enormously popular, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream is a work of biography like few others. With uncanny insight and a richly engrossing style, the author renders LBJ in all his vibrant, conflicted humanity.
Austin City Limits: 25 Years of American Music
by John T. Davis
This book documents in words and pictures, anecdotes and behind-the-scenes images, the performances of the more than five hundred stellar recording artists who have appeared on the show. This book features a foreword by Lyle Lovett and over 200 color illustrations.
Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws That Changed America
by Nick Kotz
Lyndon Baines Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., were thrust together in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Both men sensed a historic opportunity and began a delicate dance of accommodation that moved them, and the entire nation, toward the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Drawing on a wealth of newly available sources -- Johnson's taped telephone conversations, voluminous FBI wiretap logs, previously secret communications between the FBI and the president -- Nick Kotz gives us a dramatic narrative, rich in dialogue, that presents this momentous period with thrilling immediacy. Judgment Days offers needed perspective on a presidency too often linked solely to the tragedy of Vietnam.
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
by S. C. Gwynne
S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas
by Jeffrey Stuart Kerr
The founding of Austin sparked one of the Republic’s first great political battles, pitting against each other two Texas titans: Lamar, who in less than a year had risen to vice president from army private, and Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto and a man both loved and hated throughout the Republic.
Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth
by Burrough, Brian, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford
Reviled by some and applauded by others, this controversial popular history focuses on factors related to the history of the Alamo. A saucy, journalistic-style read, it provides a perspective on how Texans think, information about the current redesign of Alamo Plaza, and a great bibliography for further study.
Friedrichsburg: Colony of the German Furstenverein
by Friedrich Armand Strubberg and James C. Kearney
Texas, My Texas: Musings of the Rambling Boy
by Lonn Taylor
In a collection of essays about Texas gathered from his West Texas newspaper column, Lonn Taylor traverses the very best of Texas geography, Texas history, and Texas personalities. In a state so famous for its pride, Taylor manages to write a very honest, witty, and wise book about Texas past and Texas present.
As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda
by Gail Collins
Gail Collins, the best-selling author and columnist for the New York Times, visited Texas and discovered that in Texas, where Bush, Cheney, Rove, & Perry had created a conservative political agenda that is now sweeping the country and defining our national identity. Through its vigorous support of banking deregulation, lax environmental standards, and draconian tax cuts, through its fierce championing of states rights, gun ownership, and, of course, sexual abstinence, Texas, with Governor Rick Perry’s presidential ambitions, has become the bellwether of a far-reaching national movement that continues to have profound social and economic consequences for us all. Like it or not, as Texas goes, so goes the nation.
Gates of the Alamo (historically accurate novel)
by Stephen Harrigan
A huge, riveting, deeply imagined novel about the siege and fall of the Alamo in 1836--an event that formed the consciousness of Texas and that resonates through American history--The Gates of the Alamo follows the lives of three people whose fates become bound to the now-fabled Texas fort.
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7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Cathedral light show
San Antonio, Texas
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your Road Scholar name tag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. 4:00 p.m. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. The Group Leader will give us presentation on San Antonio, explaining how the River Walk was developed and explaining how various cultures converged on the area to make it the unique place that it is today. Each evening, the hotel in San Antonio hosts a complimentary “kickback” reception with a rotating variety of food and drink daily from 5:30-7:00 p.m. on the second floor. Everyone is invited.

Dinner: Catered welcome dinner at the hotel.

Evening: We’ll set out with our Group Leader to San Fernando Cathedral for an outdoor light show by French artist Xavier De Richemont. This 24 minute show tells the story of San Antonio from its beginnings to present day. Take the rest of the evening to continue getting to know your fellow participants, relax, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day ahead.

Texas History, Alamo-Downtown, River Barge Cruise
San Antonio, Texas
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Getting on/off a public bus. Walking up to 3 miles, climbing up/down stairs to access River Walk area, standing in museum up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel’s second floor mezzanine.

Morning: Since Spanish Conquistadors first landed on this soil more than 500 years ago, there have been fascinating stories of conflicts and compromises, love affairs and bitter hatreds among our many peoples. A noted professor will lead us on an enthralling, fast-paced, two-hour journey through Texas history from its earliest beginnings to the modern day. We will be drawn into the lives of those early citizens and find ourselves torn by the challenging choices people of the day had to make in order to survive. Those never-to-be-forgotten stories of the past will help us understand the Texas we will see over the next few days. Next, we’ll set out on a walking field trip with a local expert to San Fernando Cathedral and step back in time to the 18th century Spanish colonial era. The cathedral was built from 1738-50 by settlers from the Canary Islands who had been granted land by Spain’s King Philip V. The cathedral is the oldest religious community in Texas and is still an active parish of the Archdiocese of San Antonio Santa Anna raised the red flag of “no quarter” from the church tower during the siege of the Alamo. One of the most interesting of the cathedral’s holdings is what purports to be the final resting place of Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie. We will gain an appreciation for the efforts of the historical conservation society in preserving the city’s past while encouraging new development.

Lunch: We’ll stop at a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will continue our walking exploration of downtown San Antonio with our local expert. The Spanish colonial mission we know as the Alamo was established in 1718, and moved to its current location in 1724. Its history is fascinating and complex. After its gallant defense by 182 Texans against General Santa Anna’s army in 1836, “Remember the Alamo!” became a rallying cry for Texas independence. We'll hear the story of the Alamo, then visit the Shrine, view artifacts, and watch a short movie. We will also visit the historic Menger hotel, across the plaza from the Alamo. The Menger, the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi, was established in 1859 and set the standard of luxury for its day. Historic events that took place here include Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders cavalry brigade recruitment. Our expert will take us inside for a peek at the elaborately appointed lobbies and the Menger bar, to see memorabilia from TR's time. We’ll understand more about Texas pride as we visit these historic sites. From here, we will have some free time to explore the area independently or return to the hotel on foot along the river.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Stepping outside to the River Walk— the heart of the city — we'll catch a narrated barge ride on the San Antonio River, located 20 feet below street level and just steps from the famed Alamo. We will learn about the history of the area and the blend of old and new from our barge driver as we float along the river. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

Spanish Missions, West Side, Fredericksburg, Texas Politics
Fredericksburg/Johnson City
Fredericksburg Inn & Suites

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 80 miles, approximately 2 hours over the course of the day. Walking up to 2 miles; standing up to 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board a motorcoach and ride to San Antonio Mission National Historical Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Led by our expert Group Leader, we’ll explore the missions that make up this complex and learn about the early settlement and efforts of the Spanish to convert local people to the Roman Catholic Church and an agricultural form of life. We’ll see how the Spanish used “acequia” (irrigation systems) to develop self-sustaining agricultural communities along the San Antonio River. Among the highlights is Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo — the so-called “Queen of the Missions” — carefully restored by the WPA in the 1930s.

Lunch: We will ride to the largest Mexican marketplace in the U.S., and have an authentic Tex-Mex meal at one of San Antonio’s most popular restaurants.

Afternoon: We will drive through the city’s historically rich west side to learn more about Hispanic culture. Enjoy colorful murals while our group leader shares information about governmental efforts to help some of the area’s poorest residents. Find out why so many San Antonio residents and politicians are proud of their west side roots. We’ll reboard our motorcoach and ride into Texas Hill Country. As we’re arriving in Fredericksburg, the Group Leader will provide a brief orientation to the town. We’ll then check in to our hotel. There will be some time for independent exploration before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll hear from a local professor about Texas Political Traditions. Beginning in the late 1800s, Texas went from a sparsely populated agricultural state to an economic and political powerhouse by the early 1900s effecting national and global politics. Our expert will examine this rise and the look at the precursors and historic origins of today’s issues such as border control, abortion, union rights, and racial justice. Along the way we will encounter some of the colorful and unique individuals that make Texas politics stand out. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

Pacific War Museum, LBJ Ranch & Park, Arrive Austin
Austin, Texas
Courtyard Marriott Austin Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling approximately 90 miles for up to 3 hours over the course of the day. Standing in museums for up to 2 hours and walking up to 3 miles over the course of the day.

Breakfast: Hotel breakfast buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and ride to the National Museum of the Pacific War, the only museum in the continental United States dedicated solely to the battles of the Pacific theater during World War II. During our self-directed exploration, we will immerse ourselves in Pacific history and gain an increased appreciation for the contributions of those who served as we also learn about American and Japanese cultures of the time.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Fredericksburg. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will ride to Lyndon B Johnson National Historic Park along the banks of the Pedernales River where Hereford cattle, white-tailed deer, and turkey abound. The LBJ National Historical Park contains a visitor center, reconstructed boyhood home, cemetery, and the Johnson residence, known as the Texas White House. National Park Rangers will be on hand and tell us more about President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird, and their Texas home.

Dinner: We'll stop for a tasty barbecue dinner and some music in a quaint Hill Country town.

Evening: After dinner we will continue our ride to Austin, where we will check in to our hotel. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

Downtown Austin, Texas State Capitol, Free Time
Austin, Texas
Courtyard Marriott Austin Downtown

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; city streets and sidewalks, moderate elevation change.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll then head out with a local expert on a walking field trip to explore the downtown Austin area and learn about the city’s history and what life is like in what’s been called the ‘Live Music Capital of the World.’ We’ll walk down a bit of Sixth Street and stop in the historic Driskill Hotel that opened in 1887.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch we will walk to the nearby Texas State Capitol building for a docent-led exploration. The Texas Capitol is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to choose from among the choices near the new Warehouse District with many award-winning new restaurants. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions as well as how to get to the trendy South Congress area if you want to venture there.

Evening: At leisure.

Wildflower Center, LBJ Library, Live Music Performance
Austin, Texas
Courtyard Marriott Austin Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles throughout the day with several stops. Walking up to 200 yards to scenic overlook then 100+ stairs or walking up sloping terrain on uneven nature trail; walking up to 3 miles over the course of the day.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our day will focus on Austin. We’ll begin with a field trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which was founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes. The center, which is connected to the University of Texas at Austin, is referred to as the "Botanic Garden of Texas" for it's focus on conserving native plants; it is well-known for it's outreach programs, sustainable gardens, and research. We'll explore parts of the 284 acre center with our Group Leader. Riding on, we’ll see Austin from its highest point with a stop at Mount Bonnell. From this vantage point, we can see the city skyline to the east with Hill Country and the Colorado River to the west. We’ll then drive on to the University of Texas at Austin.

Lunch: In a café on the campus of the University of Texas, we’ll choose what we like from the cafeteria buffet.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we’ll visit the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. An archivist will give us a presentation on the history of presidential museums and libraries in the United States, as well as the origins of the LBJ Museum, the first to be located on a university campus. After the presentation, we’ll have an introduction to the library followed by time for independent exploration. We’ll be able to listen to recordings made during Johnson’s years in the White House that reveal much about his personality and style, and illustrate why he was able to rise to power and accomplish what he did during his career. We’ll be able to learn more about Lyndon Johnson, the man, and the impact his programs still have on society today, after the passage of Great Society legislation in the 1960s. We will return to the hotel by coach in the late afternoon. Back in the hotel, we’ll gather for a special treat as a Grammy-award winning musician gives us a private performance in our meeting room. As we enjoy the music, we’ll also learn what life is like for musicians in Austin.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
Austin, Texas

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.