There’s so much to love about Austin, Texas! It’s known as the Live Music Capital of the World® and boasts plenty of excellent, unique attractions. They have craft beer from over 50 different breweries, and the scenery is something to behold.
It’s no concrete jungle, with vast parks and nature reserves to be found close to the city center. So it’s great for both indoor and outdoor entertainment alike.
And although there’s a case to be made that Austin Texas is a great place to be all year round, you’d have to admit there’s something very special about being in Austin Texas at Christmastime. The place really comes alive. Best of all, it’s not just bars, clubs and drinking.
There are loads of family-friendly activities to enjoy that the kids are sure to remember forever more. Making memories! The place is brimming with fun activities every winter, and we’d had trouble narrowing down our favorites to a modest shortlist.
But we did it, and the descriptions of them are coming up very shortly. If you can’t stay with family or friends, there are some great accommodation options available that are worth looking into.
Please have a look through, and pick out what you’d most like to do, so you can start planning your itinerary for your stay. With any luck, you may be able to fit lots of fun activities for your trip during your stay.
You’re sure to be amazed at everything Austin, Texas has to offer in the way of celebrating such a festive season. Enjoy!
The Holiday Season In Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas may be home to typical hot southern weather most of the year, but come the run-up to the festive period, it’s a veritable winter wonderland. Complete with an ice skating rink, dazzling lights, impressive skylines, it’s such a great place to be.
You’ll be dying to tell your friends and family how much fun you had, but more, so you’ll be dying to pay another visit. Many of the festive winter activities coming up are actually available through most of the winter.
So feel free to spend plenty of time there and to visit at a time that’s convenient to you. And without further ado, let’s get down to the details!
11 Fun And Festive Things To Do In Austin, Texas To Add To Your Bucket List
And now for the article’s main attraction, here are a whopping 11 different super fun activities to take part in and enjoy during the festive holidays and in particular the Christmas period.
This is such a great treat for young kids – there’s a Christmas tree that’s a whopping 50 fee tall, one and a half million Christmas lights, and more.
As you drive through the meandering country roads, you’ll be in awe of all the wonderful drive-through tunnels and their amazing animated displays of all kinds.
Before you get going, I totally recommend stopping by the concession stand first to treat the family to some amazing Texan holiday snacks, including the likes of homemade hot cocoa, roasted pecan nuts, and fresh kettle corn!
The ranch is usually open to the public for a whopping 2 whole months or so over the Christmas period, starting in November, and running right the way through to the new year.
What’s more, the tickets are very reasonably priced, and it’s priced per car rather than per person, so if there are a lot of you, it’s an absolute bargain.
I don’t know about you, but whenever we’ve attempted to make a gingerbread house using a special kit at home, it’s invariably always a disaster from start to finish.
If you take your group to Thinkery Children’s Museum, however, you can attend one of their annual hour-long gingerbread house workshops, for expert tuition for gingerbread house makers of all ages and skill levels.
When you book your workshop, the team will customize a gingerbread tool kit based on the age of the youngest in the party and their skill level, which is a touch you’ll be grateful for.
The fresh gingerbread arrives courtesy of La Mexicana Bakery, and there are also plenty of frosting and candies to go around.
While everyone waits for their gingerbread house to set, you get to wander around the rest of the museum and check out all the different arts and science exhibits, including some super fun hands-on interactive elements!
The price tag is an absolute steal – especially when you consider that the cost also covers access to the whole museum as well. Plus, adults can go in at the same price as the kids.
The kids will love this – you board a vintage train, meander through scenic Texas countryside with views of farms and cute Christmas lights. It’s like being on the magical Polar Express – but even better!
Why? Because Santa himself will stop by each and every car, posing for photos and selfies with everyone on board, and regaling the passengers with the enchanting tales of the Austin’s famous North Pole Flyer.
And the fun doesn’t stop there! Guests will also be serenaded by festive carol singers, and you may even spot Mrs Claus coming around with some freshly baked cookies! The coach tickets include access to the concession car for yummy treats, snacks, and drinks.
While those who pay more can get unlimited hot chocolate throughout the journey. Highly recommended! The trip has limited availability, so be sure to book your seats before they all get taken up.
You know what? You haven’t tasted hot chocolate until you’ve tasted Mozart’s Coffee Roasters hot chocolate! It’s simply to die for. You get to sip a bottomless hot chocolate on the most beautiful outdoor patio overlooking views of the scenic Lake Austin.
It’s not just coffee and chocolate available, however – there’s also freshly baked brownies and cookies to sink your teeth into.
And if all that’s not enough, you’ll find there’s occasionally an annual lights show to marvel at in the evenings, where you will be treated to wonderful live music, and watch the Christmas decorations dance along to the rhythm.
The light show tends to run from about mid-November through to the first week of January. You will need to book your time there in advance, of course, but reservations are very reasonably priced, and it’s absolutely worth every cent!
Nature lovers will adore this beautiful little corner of the University of Texas called The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It’s the Texas official botanical garden and arboretum.There are a whopping 900 different species of native Texas plants and trees to take in.
As you may well imagine, it looks absolutely stunning in spring, summer and fall. But, you may be surprised to hear, it also looks amazing in the winter, too.
This is because during the festive period, the gardens are aglow with winter magic, with thousands of lanterns overhead and lining all the paths. It’s a great place to take a stroll in the evening for an hour and gaze upon the wonderful light displays.
And there are activities to enjoy as well – art installations, listening to live music playing, and more. An excellent spot for a romantic date!
And to make your time there even more special, why not indulge in roasting your very own s’mores at the dedicated s’mores bar, or treat yourselves to some warming hot chocolate as you take in the delights.
The event usually runs for about two months, starting in early December and running through to the end of January. The tickets are very reasonably priced, especially for kids under the age of 18.
Austin, Texas is lucky enough to be home to the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park. This trail of lights is composed of a whopping two million lights and more than 70 tunnels lit up with artificial stars. It really is remarkable.
It’s one of the city’s longest running annual traditions, and has won various awards over the years, such as USA Today’s Top 10 Best Public Holiday Lights Displays in the United States, and Best Family Festival.
Some years it’s drive-through only, but if you have a vehicle with a fold-down roof it’s just as spectacular as it would be on foot. You even have the option of tuning your car radio to learn some of the history behind the tradition, and listen to popular holiday hits as you go.
There are several food trucks dotted around the vicinity, so you don’t need to worry about going hungry, and you are certain to find something great to eat. The event usually opens to the public in December and runs through to the first week of January.
Austin, Texas is also home to the iconic Christmas tree of Zilker Park. It towers a staggering 155 feet above those people enjoying the park. Every November, at the end of the month, this gigantic Christmas tree is lit up with a whopping 39 strings of colored lights.
It’s not just some flashy neon decoration. Traditionally, prior to the 20th century, this used to be a popular form of street lighting in such cities. A refurbished moonlight tower, if you will.
Such a great way to ensure that passers-by remain safe and out of harm’s way until daylight returns. And due to the sheer size of the tree, when viewed from a distance all lit up, it looks like another skyscraper, really in keeping with the city landscape.
This is one of the few remaining moonlight towers of its kind, so whenever you’re in the area, be sure to stop by – such a phenomenon is not to be missed.
You may have been ice skating before – but you’ve never been ice skating like this – on a rooftop no less!
In downtown Austin, if you head over to Whole Foods Market Lamar, you will find that on the rooftop, there’s a large ice skating rink, where, for a small fee, you can have fun ice skating while enjoying a spectacular view at the same time.
It’s absolutely magical, and not to be missed. Central Texas just doesn’t get a lot of snow, but having a skating rink with real ice like this one is such a welcome thing to enjoy. It’s open to the public from late November through to mid-January.
You can grab tickets at the door, or save money by reserving them beforehand, and this includes the skate rental, and you’re permitted to skate your heart away until they close for the day.
This is just such a great place to go in the run-up to Christmas, to get all those special trinkets bought ready for your family and friends on the big day.
There are rows and rows of beautiful decked-out stalls featuring all kinds of wonderful handmade goods, stunning artwork, personalized treasures, and so much more. But there’s more to it than that.
The Armadillo Bazaar has a warm and welcoming feel, and even has local musicians playing for the crowds as they shop, and no one would think twice if they spotted you dancing your heart away while you’re there. In fact, they are likely to join you.
It is such a great way to support local businesses and independent artists. I only wish it was there for a longer period each year. It tends to take place for the 10 days or so between mid-December and Christmas day.
Did you know they’ve got a little bit of Europe right here in Texas? And there’s a lot less traveling required to get there! There’s a German-Texas Christmas market that boasts the best of both worlds German and Texan culture, effectively becoming one.
There’s that typical larger-than life Texas ambience, but they have such wonderful German trinkets and ornaments that you will just love. All authentic, genuine, and handcrafted. It’s a superb idea for a unique gift that’s also a way to remember the German heritage in central Texas.
You’ll also have the opportunity to sample some Glühwein, which is a very flavorful German mulled wine. And if German culture is your thing, you may also be interested in checking out nearby Fredericksburg (Also check out Best Airbnb In Fredericksburg), the most well known Texas’ German town.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the famous annual Trail of Lights Fun Run. Runners start at the iconic Zilker tree and run for just over 2 miles under and around the most spectacular trail of lights. Such a great way to warm in the winter.
And if that in itself is not rewarding enough, at the finish line, runners are met with food trucks to refuel. Not to mention live music, dancing, and even festive fairground rides to boot!
I hope you’ve enjoyed going through what’s worth checking out in Austin, Texas in the festive period. But more, so I hope that you can pack as much in as many fun activities as you can. You don’t want to miss out. You only live once, remember.
But even if you don’t get to stay as long as you’d like, you’re sure to have a great time – enjoy! Don’t wait – get to the Lone Star state! Happy holidays to y’all!
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