2020 Great American Get-To-Gather in San Antonio

Road Scholar 21173


Join us for our gala event in San Antonio! From Hill Country to the River Walk, you’ll go big in this bold and exciting city.

At a Glance
Celebrate the spirit of San Antonio — and Road Scholar — as you join us for a week of fellowship, learning and fun in the heart of Texas! We’ve planned an amazing array of in-depth lectures, field trips and activities — plus a final night gala with music and cultural dancers. There is something for everyone, as you experience the best of Road Scholar in San Antonio.

Keep the Pace: Must be able to climb up and down stairs every day to access river walk area of city and restaurants. Must be able to board public bus, trolley and charter bus with minimal assistance. Walking up to two miles and standing in museum for 1-2 hours a day.

Best of all, you'll...
* Join experts for explorations of San Antonio’s greatest landmarks, including the Alamo, King William Historic District, the missions and historic La Villita.
* Delight in the masterpieces of the McNay Museum of Art, explore San Antonio’s beautiful River Walk and learn about the German heritage of Fredericksburg.
* Visit the earliest Spanish settlements in the area, choose a field trip that interests you and enjoy a Mexican feast with a mariachi performance.

General Notes: Large-group program with max of 140; smaller groups for activities.

This trip was moved from 2022 to 2020 to "replace" an expensive cruise.

Day 1 – San Antonio – Orientation - Dinner
Based on 2019 schedules, dates would be ~Jan 22 - Jan 29.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.; earlier check-in may be available for those with earlier arrival times. Air below is from 2018.

(D) Only a short round-trip flight to San Antonio and return. Schedule the shuttle for about 9:15.

United UA 2017Houston – San Antonio12:00 – 1:03 1:03

Take a long 10-mile taxi ride to the hotel for check-in from 3:00pm. Program Registration: 4:30 p.m. come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. Orientation. The Group Leader will review the up-to-date program schedule, and answer questions. Breakfast each day is in the hotel (later morning on weekends), with lunch and dinner at restaurants in the downtown and River Walk areas.

Each day at 5:30 p.m., the hotel has a reception on the second floor to which all are invited for free with a rotating menu of hot food and cold beverages. Save room for dinner!

In the hotel ballroom on the fourth floor, we will have a catered buffet dinner. During dinner, we will enjoy listening to Conjunto music, a unique blend of sounds from Northern Mexico and the U.S. The performers will tell us about this form of music in a brief presentation. Hotel: Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk for all nights

Day 2 – Texas History, Alamo, Menger Hotel, Dia de los Muertos
Activity note: Getting on/off public transportation. Walking up to 2 miles, standing 1-2 hours. Climbing up/down stairs to River Walk area of city and restaurants.

(BLD) In the hotel’s second floor mezzanine, have what you like from the breakfast buffet. Then in the hotel ballroom, an expert from St. Philip's College will explain why Texas is the most universally famous place in America in a two-hour lecture of Texas history focusing on the sweeping events and fascinating characters that make Texas the amazing place it is: what John Steinbeck described as "a state of mind…a mystique closely approximating a religion…the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.”

At a historic hotel near Alamo Plaza, we will have a buffet lunch. We’ll embark on a walking field trip with by 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.

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 of the Alamo, then visit the Shrine, view artifacts, and watch a short movie.

The Menger, the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi, was established in 1859 and 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. We’ll understand more about Texas pride as we visit these historic sites.

Late afternoon, we’ll board a river barge for a narrated ride and learn how the city was able to turn a flood control project into a beautiful attraction that has become the center point of the city. We’ll see how stone pathways connect shops, restaurants, hotels and museums with a blend of historic and modern architecture that resonate the depth of this centuries-old metropolis.

At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated dinner. Afterwards, wondering why you've seen sugar skulls and altars with flowers and personal items around town? You've arrived during the celebration of Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Learn from a lifetime resident of the city about the ways people honor their ancestors and deceased family members.

Day 3 – LBJ’s Legacy, Lunch at El Mercado, Art Museum, Barge Ride
Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, standing 1-2 hours.

(BLD) Hotel buffet breakfast. We’ll meet in the ballroom with a university professor whose area of expertise is late 20th century U.S. history. We'll learn about the broad panorama of legislation passed in the 1960s during the Johnson administration. President Johnson's vision for a more just and honorable country contributed to the passage of the most important civil rights legislation of the century including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

At a favorite restaurant in El Mercado — the largest Mexican marketplace in the country — we’ll have a traditional Tex-Mex meal. Mariachi entertainment will enliven our enjoyment.

We’ll board a motorcoach for a field trip to the McNay Museum of Art, a Spanish Colonial Revival-style home which opened as the first museum of modern art in Texas in 1954. During a docent-led exploration, we will see why visitors are captivated by magnificent works of art by modern masters.

We will see the San Antonio Public Library, an architecturally striking vibrant red building designed by renowned architect Ricardo Legoretta. We’ll take in the building’s crowning artistic jewel, the colorful Fiesta Tower by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. The tower, comprised of 900-plus unique hand-blown glass ornaments, rises nearly 27 feet from the library’s atrium. Back at the hotel, don’t forget the hotel’s daily reception on the 2nd floor featuring free hot food and cold drinks.

At a restaurant atop a bank building, we’ll have a plated meal. Enjoy great views of the city at night.

Day 4 – LBJ Home, Fredericksburg, Ranch BBQ Dinner & Dance
Activity note: Driving about 75 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking 1-2 miles, standing in museum 1-2 hours.

(BLD) Hotel buffet breakfast. We will travel to Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park on Ladybird Lane in Johnson City. The complex contains a visitor center, reconstructed birthplace, cemetery, and the Johnsons’ residence, known as the Texas White House. The private quarters provide a more personal glimpse into the lives of the former President and First Lady. Park rangers will lead our exploration of the residence. We will then ride to Fredericksburg.

Lunch is on our own. Maybe skip lunch so I would have more time for the Museum. We will have time for personal independent exploration in this scenic Hill Country town of Fredericksburg. You might like to visit German historical sites, marketplaces, or the National Museum of the Pacific War located in the historic hotel run by the family of Admiral Chester Nimitz.

We will regroup and meet a rancher whose ranch has been in his family for decades. He'll tell us about the cattle industry in Texas and tell us about interesting geological features on his land. We'll have authentic Texas barbecue at a private party with other Road Scholars. We'll kick our heels up to tunes performed by a local band.

Day 5 – German Immigrants, Remarkable Women, King William, Cathedral
Activity note: Getting on/off public transportation. Walking up to 2 miles, standing 1-2 hours. Climbing up/down stairs to access River Walk area of city and restaurants.

(BLD) Hotel buffet breakfast. In the hotel ballroom, a local expert will tell us the intriguing story of German immigrant Mary Menger, who operated two large San Antonio enterprises in the mid-19th century and demonstrated that a woman could thrive during a time when men dominated local commerce. As a widow and single mother, Menger profited from both the Western Brewery and Menger Hotel and became San Antonio’s largest employer. After a short break, we'll hear an intriguing story of two women, one Hispanic and one Anglo, who faced the hardships of the Texas frontier during the nineteenth century. The way they faced adversity will reveal interesting cultural differences experienced by early Texans.

In the restaurant on the upper floors of historic Guenther House, we will have a delightful lunch. After eating, we’ll have some time to explore Guenther House on our own. What we see today began as a flour mill built by German immigrant Carl Hilmar Guenther in 1860.

Next, we will take a virtual trip back in time as experts lead us through an area settled in the mid-19th century by affluent Germans and named for King Wilhelm of Prussia. We’ll stroll through impressive houses designed in the Greek Revival, Victorian, and Italianate styles and get an inside look at the lifestyles of rich and famous San Antonio personalities from the late 1800s. We'll then go on an expert-led visit to the heart and soul of the city, the San Fernando Cathedral. Built in 1738, the cathedral is still in operation and has played an important role in the religious and secular history of the city.

Dinner is on our own.

Day 6 – Special Interest Field Trips, Free Time, Movie
Activity note: Lunch differs based on morning field trips. Special interest field trips involve walking. Nature walk 4-5 miles; paved, relatively flat walkway; Downtown walk- 2-3 miles on city sidewalks; West Side- ability to get on and off motor coach several times with minimal assistance.

(BLD) Hotel buffet breakfast. We will then select one of four available field trips:

1. Cooking Demonstration Class/West Side Murals.

2. Nature Walk/Bird Watching. We’ll go on an expert-led walk with a master naturalist alongside the San Antonio River extension trail to learn about the city's urban renewal efforts and to spot birds and other wildlife.

3. +++ Hispanic Culture/West Side. We’ll explore the city’s West Side, an area rarely visited by tourists, to learn more about the diversity of the city and view a cross-section of its many colorful murals. We’ll also visit a Mexican bakery; Our Lady of Guadalupe Church where Pope John Paul II held mass in 1987; and other places that are significant in the life of West Side residents.

4. Downtown Exploration. Visit the home of prominent Tejano Hero Jose Antonio Navarro, then a ten-block architectural walking tour seeing San Antonio's notable downtown treasures.

Lunch differs according to field trip choices:
1. At a local family-owned restaurant, we will enjoy a Mexican meal.
2. & 4. Returning to the hotel, we will have a meal including soup, salad, sandwiches, etc.
3. At a West Side restaurant, we will have a plated meal featuring authentic Tex-Mex foods

Afternoon is free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Dinner is on our own. Then in the hotel, we will have a screening of a Texas-themed movie.

Day 7 – Water Conservation, Missions, Institute of Texan Cultures
Activity note: Walking and standing to 1-2 hours in museums.

(BLD) Hotel buffet breakfast. San Antonio is a leader in conservation efforts for water and other natural resources. Local experts will join us in the hotel ballroom for an informative and entertaining presentation on the story of San Antonio’s successful water conservation efforts. We'll learn how a growing metropolitan area copes with a finite supply of water during one of the nation's worst droughts.

Then travel by private motorcoach to San Antonio Mission National Historic Park, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, to explore missions that make up the complex. With experts, we will learn about the early settlement and efforts of the Spanish to convert people to the Roman Catholic Church and an agricultural form of life. In particular, we will see the beauty of Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo — known as the Queen of the Missions — that was restored by the WPA in the 1930s. We’ll also learn about how Spaniards used irrigation (acequia) systems to develop self-sustaining agricultural communities along the San Antonio River.

Lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll choose from a wide variety of dishes. We will travel by motorcoach to the Institute of Texas Cultures (ITC) at Hemisfair Park. Operated by the University of Texas at San Antonio, the ITC fulfills its mandate as the state’s center for multicultural education by investigating the ethnic and cultural history of the state. We will examine displays about the 26 different ethnic and cultural groups that settled the Texas frontier with Road Scholar exclusive, after-hours admission to the museum and learn about the rich diversity of cultures that sent settlers to Texas.

Under the dome theater of the ITC, we will have a buffet meal. As we dine, we’ll enjoy a performance by musicians and dancers.

Day 8 – Program concludes
(B) Buffet breakfast. Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. This concludes our program.