Restful Retreat in Picturesque Hill Country
Schnitzel and sauerkraut are on the menu at Alsatian Restaurant, the onsite eatery at Hotel Alsace & Spa. But the view from the windows here—rugged hills covered with scraggly grasses and succulents under a vast open sky—seems better suited to a Western than an Oktoberfest celebration. The restaurant’s menu pays homage to the German and French roots of Castroville, which is located about 26 miles west of San Antonio.
Perched on a knoll overlooking miles of scenic hill country, the hotel features 38 guest rooms under its long bonnet roof. French doors in each room open onto a private balcony offering panoramic views of the landscape. At the onsite Spa at Hotel Alsace, you can choose from an array of soothing treatments, including hot-stone massages and custom facials.
In the morning, visit Alsatian Restaurant to enjoy the included breakfast buffet. With this Groupon, you’ll also have 1 day’s access to the restaurant’s salad bar and lunch buffet—a smorgasbord of offerings ranging from authentic Alsatian beef bourguignon to fried tilapia and mashed potatoes.
Castroville, Texas: French-Influenced Town near San Antonio
Located a half-hour west of San Antonio, on the banks of the Medina River, Castroville bills itself as “the Little Alsace of Texas” (it was founded by immigrants from Alsace, France, in 1844). The town provides a somewhat-unexpected contrast to San Antonio’s Tex-Mex culture, with dozens of carefully maintained historical structures that exude a distinctly French flair. The oldest of these, the Steinbach House, was built in France in the 17th century. In 1998 it was shipped, piece by piece to Castroville, where it’s now a public museum. Throughout the town are more than 50 historical homes and cottages, as well as antique shops and restaurants serving traditional German and French cuisine.
From here you can take US 90 east to San Antonio, home to Texas’s most popular attraction, the San Antonio River Walk. Located one story below street level, the waterway is flanked on either side by stone pathways, quiet waterfalls, and towering cypress trees. The winding river-walk path reveals a few surprises along the way, such as picturesque restaurants, public art installations, and cardboard cutouts of Davy Crockett. A new extension connects the river walk to the four-story San Antonio Museum of Art, where you’ll find more than 25,000 sculptures and paintings that range from Roman antiquities to contemporary art.
Neighboring the river walk is another popular site: the Alamo, a symbol of Texas independence since the eponymous 1836 battle. It’s one of five historic Spanish missions clustered around the San Antonio River. The largest, Mission San José, lies just 5 miles south of downtown. While not nearly as popular as the Alamo, the other missions are well worth a visit, as each settlement provides a glimpse of what life may have been like in early 18th-century Texas.