Photo Courtesy: Visit Grapevine, Gaylord Texan

Our fair city has its share of must-see holiday events: the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park and the Christmas Light Show at Mozart’s Coffee, just to name a few.

However, if you’ve been-there/done-that, there are some amazing things worth exploring across the rest of the Lone Star State. In the spirit of branching out & checking out happenings outside of Austin city limits, here is a guide to unique holiday festivities that are day-trip distance away. Or, spend the night and make a weekend out of it! I promise it will be worth the drive.

Santa’s Wonderland in College Station:

About a 2-hour drive away, our family decided to visit Santa’s Wonderland all in one evening. We left right after school on Friday, and then the kids fell asleep in the car on the way home. However, if we were to do it again, I would go on a day they offer early admission. See, if you go on certain Saturdays & other select dates during the season, they offer extra hours inside the gate. Then, you can get in a couple hours early and have more time to enjoy all their activities like tube down a hill of snow (Frostbite’s Mountain), meeting Santa at his cottage, and lots more. The one can’t-miss attraction is their Texas Christmas Experience — it’s like the Trail of Lights…but better! Take in a full 30-mins. of dazzling light displays set to festive music in one of two ways: via hayride or carriage (for the VIP treatment). It was so well done that I got teary-eyed at one part! It was nothing short of real-life Christmas magic.

Gaylord Texan’s “Lone Star Christmas” in Grapevine:

This Dallas-area resort does it up BIG for Christmas! 16 years running, the grandest holiday event in Texas features a 125-acre Winter Wonderland for families to enjoy; including millions of holiday lights, 15,000 ornaments, a 54-foot tall Christmas tree, and 25-foot tall toy soldiers, just to name a few. All of their holiday activities are open to overnight resort guests or local daytime visitors. From journeying through the 17,000-square-foot ICE! attraction (hand-carved by 40 Chinese ice artisans) and taking a thrilling ride down an 8-lane snow tubing hill made with real snow to skating on the outdoor ice rink or decorating gingerbread houses, there is something for all ages to enjoy.


Yes, we’ve got lots to do around the ATX, but traveling to extra-special Christmas attractions is an exciting way to spend all that ‘holiday togetherness’ time with each other.

Christmas Break is fast approaching, mamas…how are y’all going to fill the time?

These are just two options of many around Texas. Did I leave anything out? –Please share your recommendations in the comments! We didn’t event touch on Houston (I hear Moody Garden’s Festival of Lights in Galveston is spectacular!) or San Antiono (Holiday Lights on the Riverwalk is enchanting and FREE!)…maybe next year, right?!


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