On the Road: San Antonio, Texas Hill Country and Austin
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.
Rating (4.77)
Program No. 10459RJ
7 days
Starts at
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7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 4 L 5 D
Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Barge Ride, SAGA Show
San Antonio, Texas
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Walking up/down stairs and steps outdoors; getting on/off a river barge.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to Road Scholar’s reserved conference room on the 4th floor to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. Following Registration, 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. Periods in the daily 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. Next, our knowledgeable Group Leader will give us an overview of San Antonio, explaining how the River Walk was developed and providing a short explanation about how various cultures converged on the area to make it the special place it is today. At 5:30 p.m., you are welcome to enjoy the “Kickback” reception on the 2nd floor of the hotel, with free hot food and cold drinks. We will continue to get acquainted over our group dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant featuring a variety of entrée choices; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll step outside to the River Walk — the heart of the city — for a private, narrated barge ride on the San Antonio River, located 20 feet below street level and just steps from the famed Alamo. We’ll see how stone pathways connect shops, restaurants, hotels, and museums with a blend of historic and modern architecture. The barge driver will talk about the history of the area and the buildings we pass as we float along the river, gaining an appreciation for the depth and breadth of the history that resonates over centuries. Those who like can walk across the plaza to San Fernando Cathedral, adjacent to the hotel, and see it during a light show put together by French artist Xavier De Richemont. This quarter-hour show tells the story of San Antonio from its beginnings to the present day. The cathedral was built from 1738-50 by settlers from the Canary Islands who had been granted land by Spain’s King Philip V. Mexican general 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.

Texas History, Cathedral, Downtown, Alamo
San Antonio, Texas
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Getting on/off a public bus. Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 2 hours in museums; stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, bagels, toast, muffins, jellies and jams, oatmeal, cold cereal, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll be joined by an award-winning university Professor Emeritus who will lead us on an enthralling, fast-paced, 2-hour journey through Texas history from its earliest beginnings to the modern day. Since the first footsteps of the Spanish Conquistadors landed on the soil of Texas more than 500 years ago, there have been fascinating stories of conflicts and compromises, love affairs and bitter hatreds among the many peoples of Texas. We will be drawn into the lives of those early citizens and find ourselves torn by the same challenging choices that the people of the day had to make in order to survive. These stories of the past will help us understand the Texas we will see over the next few days. We’ll then set out with a local expert on a walking field trip to observe and appreciate the wide variety of architectural styles in downtown San Antonio. We’ll explore San Fernando Cathedral, founded in 1731, the oldest continually operating religious community in Texas. We’ll also learn about efforts of the historical conservation society in preserving the city’s past while encouraging new development.

Lunch: At a nearby restaurant, we’ll have a luncheon buffet with salads, soups, a custom made-to order pasta bar, terrific desserts, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our field trip and explore some of San Antonio’s most iconic sites. We’ll also learn about the development of the River Walk and its impact on the transformation of the area before moving on to the Alamo. 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 the gallant defense by 182 Texans against Gen. Santa Anna’s army in 1836, “Remember the Alamo!” became a rallying cry for Texas independence. We’ll hear the story then have some time to go inside to visit the Shrine, view artifacts, and watch a short movie. We’ll also visit The Menger, the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi. Established in 1859, it set the standard of luxury for its day. Among the historic events that took place here, Teddy Roosevelt recruited his “Rough Riders” cavalry brigade. 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.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel featuring a variety of entrée choices; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.

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

Spanish Missions, West Side, Marketplace, Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg/Johnson City
Inn on Barons Creek

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; drive about 120 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 1 mile, standing up to an hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board our private motorcoach, and head out to San Antonio Mission National Historic Park for an exploration of the missions that make up the complex. With local experts, we’ll learn about the early settlement and efforts of the Spanish to convert people to the church and an agricultural form of life. In particular, we’ll observe the beauty of Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo, the Queen of the Missions, restored by the WPA in the 1930s. We’ll see how Spaniards used “acequia” irrigation systems to develop self-sustaining agricultural communities along the San Antonio River. We’ll also hear about the city’s progress in efforts to make this area a United Nations World Heritage site. We’ll then visit the city’s historically rich West Side to learn more about Hispanic culture. Amid colorful murals, our Group Leader will share information about governmental efforts to help some of the area’s poorest residents. We’ll find out why so many San Antonio residents and politicians are proud of their West Side roots.

Lunch: In a popular restaurant in the largest Mexican marketplace in the U.S., we’ll have an authentic Tex-Mex meal; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll ride through Texas Hill Country to Fredericksburg where our Group Leader will provide some information on the town. Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 by a German aristocrat who was also a peacemaker with the local Comanche. We’ll check in to our hotel with time to freshen up and relax or go out a bit before dinner.

Dinner: At a local Bavarian style restaurant, we’ll enjoy traditional German fare (a lighter vegetarian choice available).

Evening: At leisure. Relax in the hotel or go out to explore independently as you like. In addition to the city’s breweries, there is a thriving wine industry. You might like to find a tasting room or explore the city’s other points of interest. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

Pacific War Museum, LBJ Ranch, Barbecue Dinner, Austin
Austin, Texas
Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking 2-3 miles throughout the day; standing in museums up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel on the 1st floor, the breakfast buffet offers a variety of choices.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll take a field trip to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. This is the only museum in the continental United States dedicated solely to the battles of the Pacific theater during World War II. During this self-directed exploration we will immerse ourselves in Pacific history and gain an increased appreciation for the contributions of those who served as we learn more about American and Japanese cultures in that era.

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: Our next field trip is to the LBJ Ranch along the banks of the Pedernales River where Hereford cattle, white-tailed deer, and turkey abound. We’ll stop at the visitor center to learn about LBJ’s home, and then visit the residence, lovingly restored to its 1960s appearance and opened to the public following the death of Mrs. Johnson. We’ll then depart for Austin.

Dinner: At one of Texas’ top barbecue joints, we’ll savor smoked barbecue and fixin’s at their best with a choice of several meats and side dishes; coffee, tea, water include, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Arriving in Austin, we’ll check into our hotel, located near many downtown night spots. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

Texas Politics, LBJ Presidential Library
Austin, Texas
Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a city bus. Walking up to 2 miles; standing in museum up to 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will travel to the University of Texas for a presentation by a university professor on Texas political traditions. We’ll examine the colorful history of Texas’ political past and present to understand how the evolution of political parties changed the face of Texas politics. Find out how a state once full of “yellow dog Democrats” became one of the most conservative “red” states in national politics, now possibly trending to purple.

Lunch: At a café on the University of Texas campus we’ll go through the line and select what we want.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll visit the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. With an archivist, we’ll learn the history of presidential museums and libraries in the U.S., as well as the origins of the LBJ museum, the first to be located on a university campus. We’ll listen to recordings made during Johnson’s years in the White House that reveal much about his personality and style and indicate why he was able to rise to power and accomplish what he did during his career. As we explore the library and museum, we’ll learn more about Lyndon Johnson the man, and the impact that his programs still have on society today. The 50th anniversary of the passage of Great Society legislation was in 2014. After our visit, there will be some free time to see other sites in downtown Austin, such as the nearby Bullock Texas History Museum. You might like to explore the 4th Street or 6th Street districts or the trendy South Congress district.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. There are many restaurants near our hotel in downtown Austin near the new warehouse district.

Inside Austin, Musical Performance, Downtown, State Capitol
Austin, Texas
Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off public transportation. Standing in a museum 2-3 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local humorist who will tell us all about Texas’ most liberal city, its traditions, institutions, and why locals work so hard to “Keep Austin Weird.” After a short break, we’ll enjoy a live music performance from award winning local musicians. As we enjoy the music, we’ll hear stories and find out why Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

Lunch: At a historic hotel.

Afternoon: We’ll head out on a walking field trip with a local expert to explore Austin’s downtown area and learn more about the city’s history. We’ll walk down a bit of Sixth Street and stop in the historic Driskill Hotel, then walk by the newly developed City Hall and Austin City Limits studio. We’ll then take public transportation to the largest state capitol in the country to admire its Renaissance Revival architecture and granite masonry as we hear more about Texas history and the politics that shaped the state’s identity. We’ll learn how Texans used inmate labor and massive land trades to finance construction of the magnificent building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dinner: At a restaurant in downtown Austin, we’ll have a festive farewell dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends as we celebrate the end of a week of learning and fun.

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

Program Concludes
Austin, Texas

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

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!

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