San Antonio: Heart of the City, Heart of the Hill Country

All hat and no cattle? Not this adventure in the Lone Star State! Find out why San Antonio is true Texas as you explore the River Walk, enjoy authentic cuisine and learn about LBJ.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22272RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 3 L 3 D
Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San Antonio, TX
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00-4:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us in our hotel meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the 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: 4:00 p.m. 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. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will serve as our primary educational resource. 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 a 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 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: In the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting acquainted with your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Texas State of Mind, River Walk, Alamo, Menger, S.A. River
San Antonio, TX
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

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

Breakfast: Each day in the hotel’s second floor mezzanine, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as make-your-own Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, coffee and more.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a college professor who will explain why Texas is the most universally famous place in America in a two-hour lecture focusing on the sweeping events and fascinating characters that make this the amazing place it is. John Steinbeck once wrote, “I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.” Next we’ll embark on a field trip by foot with a local expert to 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.

Lunch: We’ll stop at a nearby restaurant for a buffet lunch with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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

Evening: We will regroup to hear about the interesting history of the San Antonio River. We’ll learn about the importance of the river in the city’s development and how what was once an ugly creek prone to flooding has become San Antonio’s best known achievement.

About LBJ, Barge Ride, Free Time
San Antonio, TX
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Getting on/off a river barge. Walking up to 1 mile; climbing up/down stairs to access River Walk area of city and restaurants.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In preparation for our field trip to the LBJ Ranch tomorrow, we’ll be joined by a university professor who is a specialist in late 20th century American history for a presentation on former President Lyndon B. Johnson and his administration. President Johnson’s vision for a more just and honorable country contributed to the passage of the most important civil rights legislation in the 20th century. We’ll hear how Texans celebrated this legacy on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the watershed legislation passed during the mid-1960s. After a short break, 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.

Lunch: At a restaurant on the river walk, we’ll have plated meals with a variety of entrée choices and beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: 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 have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

LBJ Ranch, Fredericksburg, Barbecue Dinner
San Antonio, TX
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 150 miles, approximately 4 hours, over the course of the day. Walking up to 2 miles, standing in museum up to 2 hours. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach at the hotel for a full day exploring Texas hill country. Our first stop will be the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park that 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 Lyndon, Lady Bird, and their Texas home. After our field trip, we’ll ride to Fredericksburg.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like at one of the many restaurants along Main Street in Fredericksburg.

Afternoon: Take this opportunity for self-directed exploration in Fredericksburg to see and do what interests you most. This small city founded by German settlers in 1846 is on the National Register of Historic Places. Our Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions, give directions, and provide brochures about local points of interest and restaurants. We recommend the National Museum of the Pacific War, located in the historic hotel run by the family of Admiral Chester Nimitz. Learn about the early history of the area at the Pioneer Museum Complex or the Vereins-Kirche (Society Church), the oldest public building in town.

Dinner: On the way back to San Antonio, we'll stop for a tasty barbecue dinner and some music in a quaint Hill Country town.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

Spanish Missions, Marketplace, Institute of Texan Cultures
San Antonio, TX
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles with several short rides during the day. Walking up to 2 miles; flat, paved sidewalks.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: 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., where we’ll have an authentic Tex-Mex meal at one of San Antonio’s most popular restaurants.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll ride to San Fernando Cathedral. We’ll step back in time with our Group Leader to the 18th century Spanish colonial era of San Antonio at San Fernando Cathedral. It 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. Next, we’ll take a short ride to the Institute of Texan Cultures, an educational center showcasing 26 different ethnic and cultural groups groups that settled the Texas frontier. The Institute of Texan Cultures is located downtown on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, a short walk from the Alamo and the River Walk. The HemisFair campus was built to host the 1968 World’s Fair and began the revitalization of the city. The 182,000-square-foot complex features 65,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and displays that tell the stories of Texans. We’ll return to the hotel via motorcoach after our field trips.

Dinner: We’ll walk a few blocks to a popular local restaurant and have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

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.

Program Concludes
San Antonio, TX

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!

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