Travel the length and breadth of the Lone Star State
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Travel the length and breadth of the Lone Star State, on a tour of five iconic cities. From Dealey Plaza and the homestead of TV's 'Dallas', we explore the cowboy heydays of Fort Worth and the world's live music capital, Austin, before strolling through San Antonio's history and ending in futuristic Houston, the home of modern space travel.
Our American adventure begins with a flight from London Heathrow to Dallas, a thriving hub of popular culture in Texas. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel, the Aloft Dallas Downtown, enjoying the rest of the day free to unwind after our journey.
On Day 2, we take a guided tour of the city, with included entrance to the 6th Floor Museum. Situated on Dealey Plaza, the museum is housed in the former Texas School Book Depository building, from where Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JF Kennedy, and it is dedicated to this tragic historical moment.
After time to explore, we continue to the Southfork Ranch, the home of the hit television series, 'Dallas.' The famous residence of the Ewing family, the Southfork Ranch is often referred to as the 'world's most famous ranch', having welcomed fans of the show to explore its 63,000sq ft estate since 1985. We tour the mansion and enjoy a typical southern-style lunch here, before returning to our hotel, where the rest of the day is free to spend as you wish.
Travel back in time today, with a journey on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad in Grapevine. Pulled along by historic engines dating back to the early 20th century, the train carries us through the Cotton Belt Route to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where Texas' Wild West heritage is a living experience waiting to be explored. Packed with period features, the Stockyards pay testament to Fort Worth's place in the history of Texan livestock, which we discover during a guided tour. Aided by the railroads, the Fort Worth Stockyards were once the thriving capital of America's livestock trade, which is re-lived through the world's only twice-daily cattle drive, a truly authentic cowboy experience. Afterwards, we return to our Fort Worth hotel.
Today is free for you to explore the city 'where the West begins', Fort Worth. Attractions that pay homage to the town's wild routes are within a few miles of our hotel, including the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, where women who have helped shape the American West are honoured throughout its 33,000-square foot complex. From painter Georgia O'Keeffe, to writer Laura Ingalls Wilder and the infamous sharpshooter Annie Oakley, the women of the West are celebrated in this fascinating museum, which is part of the Will Rogers Memorial Center, a hub of Fort Worth's history and culture that draws 2 million visitors each year.
We leave Fort Worth behind today, as we journey on Amtrak's Texas Eagle service to Austin, the state's bustling capital. Also known as the 'live music capital of the world', Austin is vibrant with song each night, which you are free to enjoy this evening at one of the many bars that play host to live performances.
We discover Austin's charms today on a guided sightseeing tour of the city. With its incredible architecture, stunning lakes and southern hospitality atmosphere, Austin offers an array of sights to enjoy, from the iconic Texas State Capitol, completed in 1888 and still used a the centre of the state's legislature, to the scenic Lady Bird Lake, and the unique Pennybacker, or 360, Bridge - so nicknamed for its panoramic views.
Following the tour, you are free to explore the city at your own pace; perhaps take a taxi ride to the Zilker Botanical Garden, a verdant jewel of the city, situated on the south bank of the Colorado River. Featuring a variety of horticultural wonders, from native cacti to an authentic Japanese-style garden designed by Isamu Taniguchi in 1969, traditional rose beds and a glimpse into plant life from the age of the dinosaurs in the intriguing Hartman Prehistoric Garden, this scenic spot has plenty for nature lovers to enjoy. This evening is once again free for you to experience the live entertainment Austin is famed for.
Our journey continues by coach today to San Antonio, a colourful Texan city with a spirited Spanish vibe. We take a guided tour of San Antonio's highlights on arrival, including the UNESCO-listed Alamo missions and the vibrant El Mercado market. Established in the 18th century by Spanish priests, the five Catholic missions of the now world-famous Alamo are the first site in Texas to have been awarded UNESCO status, and each unique mission is a delight to discover. We also take a guided walk along the San Antonio River, which offers one of the most scenic waterfronts in the world.
Expanded in 2013, the official Riverwalk now includes 15 miles of paths for the intrepid to explore on foot, though we take in just a taster section of this breathtaking route. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ernie Pyle once described the Riverwalk as 'America's Venice', and as we stroll along the San Antonio's banks, past pretty waterfront cafés and bright parasols, it's clear why the famous pathways around the Downtown riverfront area earned this reputation. Following the tour, we check into our hotel, the historic Menger Hotel, situated on Alamo Plaza.
Day 8 is yours to spend as you wish; perhaps take the time to visit the San Fernando Cathedral, which features prominently in San Antonio's history. Dating back to the 18th century, San Fernando's is the city's oldest standing church, and also serves as the burial ground for many of the fighters from the Mexican War for Independence. The church also featured in the bloody Siege of the Alamo in 1836, as General Santa Anna declared that there would be no mercy inside its usually safe walls, with the flag of no quarter raised to indicate that San Fernando was suspending its sanctuary for the duration of the battle.
Leave San Antonio behind today, as we travel to Houston, the famous home of space travel. After time to settle in to our hotel, we take a guided tour of the city, including the NASA Space Center, where we have included entrance. Enjoy exploring the fascinating objects and exhibitions of America's intergalactic adventures. See the historic Mission Control of 'Houston, we have a problem' fame, alongside displays dedicated to NASA's history. Day 10 is free in Houston; perhaps make the most of tax-free shopping here.
We transfer to the airport today for our flight to London, where we arrive on Day 12.
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Travel the length and breadth of the Lone Star State