Crockett, San Antonio (210-225-6500; www.crocketthotel.com). Not fancy, but a stone's throw from the Alamo.
Menger, San Antonio (210-223-4361; www. mengerhotel.com). Claims to be the oldest hotel west of the Mississippi.
Fredericksburg Inn (830-997-0202; www.fredericksburg-inn.com). Comfortable and modern, near Admiral Nimitz's childhood home.
Do set an hour aside to see Alamo-The Price of Freedom in San Antonio's IMAX theater.
Do heed all the water-on-road warnings on the Texas Hill Country Trail.
Don't keep going straight at the crossroads in Bandera. Our route doglegs right and left.
Eat & drinkMi Tierra Cafe, San Antonio (210- 225-1262; www.mitierracafe.com). A landmark in Market Square since 1941. Locals rave about the Mexican barbecue.
Colonial Room, San Antonio (210- 223-4361; www. mengerhotel.com). Classy restaurant in a hotel whose guests have included Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
Rose Hill Manor, Stonewall (877-767-3445; www.rose-hill. com). The best food in the Hill Country.
Texas Travel (800-452- 9292; www.traveltex.com).
13 Days to Glory, Lon Tinkle, Texas University Press.
National Museum of the Pacific War (830-997- 4379; www.nimitz-museum.com).
What we drove
The Pontiac GTO is a classic front-engine, rear-drive American muscle car. The cherished stereotype depicts Texas as the bigger-is-better state, so the 6.0-liter V-8's 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque were delightfully appropriate. There are slicker six-speed manual gearboxes on the market, but all that torque virtually eliminates the need to downshift.