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Golf with spouse? Ace it with trip to Texas

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Readers who have followed my stories about the annual golf excursions I take with my son to Texas Hill Country often ask about my opinions regarding trips to the destination with their spouses.

Spending a golf vacation with a grown-up son is an entirely different experience than holidaying with my wife.

She would not likely enjoy a breakfast of cold leftover pizza from the night before. She would not pass up on shopping on the biggest shopping day of the year, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, known by Americans as Black Friday.

For certain, the idea of looking forward to 7 a.m. tee times when there is a decided bit of chill lingering in the air would not be an acceptable option.

Come to think of it, on this one I might agree with her more than my son.

Even though we have chosen other areas in southern United States, with a trip to Jamaica planned for this year, there are many reasons we have repeated our South Texas Hill Country journeys most often.

While ours may be the 'guys' week away, it truly is an excellent destination for couples, golf groups, and long-stay snowbirds looking for moderate pricing in quality accommodation.

San Antonio has a unique personality.

Like so many states that border on Mexico, Spanish and English voices mingle in restaurants, retail outlets and tourist locations. Likewise the cuisine tends to be blends from both north and south of the border creating a unique taste that is often defined as TexMex.

Seen as a symbol of American determination to fight for freedom at all costs, in the heart of San Antonio is the Alamo, one of the most visited icons in America.

It was here where the legendary Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie made their last stand in 1836 against the far superior army, led by the Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Even though he would brag that the costly battle in his troop's losses was of little consequence, it would lead to a new determination in what was known as the Texas Revolution, which would result in the absolute defeat of the Mexican army only a few months later.

The region has already become a destination for long stay visitors from Canada and the northern states of the U.S. While days can occasionally be cool in mid-winter, for the most part it offers a temperate climate, with all kinds of accommodations at extremely attractive winter prices.

During our visits we have often dined on the outside patios in restaurants we have chosen. Most of our golf games have been in short sleeves, and frequently we have found it too hot as we explored some of the more popular sites in the area.

Strategically situated between San Antonio and Austin is one of the largest pair of outlet malls in America.

Located directly across from each other, the San Marcos and Tanger outlet malls offer almost 250 brand name stores that range through low-, mid-, and luxury-priced options. These malls cover a large area. On one of the trips when we did shop on Black Friday, our strategy was to meet back at our vehicle every couple of hours and then move it to strategically access another area.

Whenever we have gone back there is always one major highlight that attracts us beyond the golf.

City planners from around the world travel to San Antonio for the ingredients which they can use to copy the success of their world famous Riverwalk.

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On our most recent trip we took the dinner cruise along the eight-kilometre canal that makes up the Riverwalk with the meal served by Boudro's, the restaurant that we have patronized at least once on every trip we have taken.

The Riverwalk is the ultimate gathering centre for residents as well as tourists because of its complete array of shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences available.

The entire area around San Antonio is rich in history, and for golfers especially, it offers an abundance of golf tracks available at prices to suit most budgets and golf skill levels.

It is the home of the Valero Texas Open Greg Norman designed TPC Oaks course on the edge of the city. It also features several dozen scenic or challenging courses nearby.

Over the three visits Carey and I made we have golfed on at least 12 of the courses which are most popular for visitors, in addition to the three truly amazing courses of the Horseshoe Bay Resort overlooking Lake LBJ , designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr.

We have found a number of traditional Mexican restaurants in addition to the now popular Tex Mex options.

We have stayed in moderate properties like the Staybridge Suites that offer free breakfasts and happy hours, as well the more luxurious offerings of the Marriott Hill Country Resort adjacent to the TPC golf courses.

We have stayed at hotels on the Riverwalk as well as the further afield Horseshoe Bay Marriott. And we have happily done our own thing in condominiums at the Tapatio Springs Golf Resort.

In Texas Golf Vacation, we discovered a company that has created packages especially for Canadians, with pricing in Canadian dollars. (www.texasgolfvacation.com)

If you go you will find them a truly hospitable group.

Forward your travel questions to askjourneys@journeystravel.com. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 13, 2012 D4

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