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Day 1 – San Antonio – Riverwalk Hotel
Arrive in San Antonio, TX and check into your Riverwalk hotel for a three night stay. The Riverwalk shines bright as thousands of colorful lights are displayed along the banks and in the tall Cypress trees. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Day 2 – San Antonio – City Tour & Riverwalk Cruise
After breakfast, meet your local guide for a San Antonio City tour to include San Fernando Cathedral, Walking tour of King William Historic District and a driving tour of the city. You then have time at El Mercado for lunch and shopping on your own.
This afternoon enjoy a scenic cruise on the River Walk and afterwards you will have free time at the River Walk. This evening, enjoy delicious Tex-Mex Cuisine. Strolling Mariachis are common accompaniments and add that extra touch, providing the perfect festive atmosphere. Ole! (B)
Day 3 – San Antonio – The Alamo & Enchilada School
This morning begins with a guided tour of the San Antonio Missions. See what life was like in the 18th century, and how these important religious sites have earned their status in the world. Next, visit the Institute of Texan Cultures. Learn the stories of immigrants from around the globe who settled in Texas and contributed to what is today the 15th largest economy in the world. This afternoon, you visit the Historic Alamo, the sight of the famous losing battle that helped secure Texas’ independence from Mexico.
Tonight’s dinner is in a classroom, complete with a cooking demonstration. You will learn how to make the perfect Enchilada paired with the perfect margaritas. This class includes cooking instruction where you learn to make Enchilada Verdes and Margaritas , you will sample both. End with fabulous tres leches cake, and a souvenir recipe card. (B,D)
Day 4 – South Padre Island
Today, you travel to South Padre Island, 34 miles of beautiful white sand and clear emerald waters. South Padre Island is one of the world’s most exquisite barrier islands. Before checking in to your hotel, stop by the Visitors Center for a warm welcome. Check into your oceanfront resort for a three night stay. Enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening upon arrival. (B,D)
Day 5 – South Padre Island – Beach Time & Dolphin Cruise
Following breakfast, the morning and afternoon is yours. Spend time at the beach or visit the local attractions. This evening, you enjoy a Sunset Dolphin Cruise. South Texas is a year-round home to several large pods of dolphins. Share the thrill of meeting bottle-nose and spinner dolphins in the wild and experience the unique bond and kinship they inspire in mankind. After the cruise, dinner is on your own. (B)
Day 6 –South Padre Island – Bird-Watching & Sea Turtles
After breakfast this morning, you visit the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, the Rio Grande Valley’s premier destination for birdwatching. Your naturalist will take you on an informative walk at the bayfront boardwalks with extra time to explore the nature center, a five story tower with spectacular views of Laguna Madre, beaches & dunes of South Padre Island, the Gulf of Mexico, & the South Padre Island Skyline.
Then visit the world renowned Sea Turtle Inc. Founded in 1977 by Ila Loetscher, better known as “The Turtle Lady,” the organization has dedicated itself to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles. Sea Turtle Inc. is instrumental in bringing back the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle from the brink of extinction. Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. (B)
Day 7 – Corpus Christi – The King Ranch
Following breakfast, depart for Corpus Christi. Along the way, you will visit the largest ranch in Texas. The King Ranch comprises 825,000 acres and was founded in 1853 by Captain Richard King and Gideon K. Lewis. Your guide will explain the history and the modern day workings of the Ranch. Ring the cook’s dinner bell and experience a barbeque lunch at the historic King Ranch cowboy camphouse. Menu includes beef brisket and smoked sausage prepared over a mesquite wood fire, potato salad or coleslaw, campbeans, relishes, and beverage.
You then check into a beachfront hotel for a two night stay. Dinner is included tonight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 8 – Corpus Christi – USS Lexington – Padre Island National Seashore – Travel back in time aboard the famous U.S.S. Lexington. Featuring a flight simulator and on-board movies at the 3D Mega Theatre, your visit to this World War II naval aircraft carrier will be anything but ordinary. Explore the ship while gathering interesting facts during a self-guided tour.
Then you head to Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline lagoons in the world. The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. This evening, enjoy fresh gulf seafood dinner at the Water Street Market. (B,D)
Day 9 – Galveston – Texas Seaport Museum
After breakfast, you depart for Galveston, TX. On arrival, you will see the movie “The Great Storm.” The Great Storm, the story of the 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston Island has been digitally restored from its 35MM slide presentation to an advanced wide-screen, high definition format. This documentary shares personal stories of survivors and the recovery of Galveston following the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. This new HD version shows incredible detail and clarity in the black and white photos taken after the disaster and used in the documentary.
Next, experience the adventure of the high seas at the Texas Seaport Museum, home of the celebrated 1877 tall ship ELISSA. Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark which has also been designated one of America’s Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Walk ELISSA’s decks and imagine the days when daring sailors challenged the world’s oceans.
Then you check into your hotel on the beach for a two night stay. The hotel boasts a beautiful, botanic setting on 242 acres of natural Gulf scenery. From the moment you enter the open, airy lobby at the Galveston hotel, you will be mesmerized by the natural beauty of the lush tropical plants and lagoon with cascading waterfalls and fish indigenous to the Rainforest Pyramid. Dinner is included this evening at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 10 – Galveston – Rainforest Pyramid – Moody Gardens – Paddlewheel Boat Ride
– Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning. You then visit the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens featuring the rainforests of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This large collection of rainforest animals and plants gives you a rare, up close experience with endangered plants and animals. See Giant Amazon River Otters, Saki Monkeys, and Chinese Alligators. This is one of the truest replicas of a real rainforest.
Next, live the high-life on an hour-long cruise aboard a replica 1800’s paddlewheel boat. After the cruise, you will have the remainder of the day and evening on your own. (B)
Day 11 – Houston – Space Center & Aquarium
Today, you travel to Houston after breakfast. First stop is a visit to Space Center Houston, NASA Johnson Space Center, which is home to Mission Control and astronaut training. At Space Center Houston, you can experience space — from its compelling future to its exciting present and dramatic past. Space Center Houston is one of the only places on Earth where you can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock and take a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA. Enjoy a 90-minute tram tour followed by time to visit the exhibits and films that are available.
Next, head to the Downtown Aquarium and hop aboard the C.P. Huntington train and take a ride through the center of a 200,000-gallon shark tank for an up-close view of a variety of shark species. Tonight, you will enjoy dinner at the Aquarium. You will be seated around the 150,000 gallon aquarium with excellent views of reticulated rays, majestic sawfish, shovel-nosed guitarfish and other fascinating creatures as they swim right by your table. Then you check into your Houston hotel for the night. (B,D)
Day 12 – Depart for Home
After breakfast at the hotel this morning, you meet your guide for a tour of Houston. Your guide will take you through this wonderful city showing you the most interesting aspects of Space City USA. Then you will depart for home. (B)