Fall Vacation Ideas in Texas

Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the Lone Star State

Along with Texas' seasonably mild weather, a wide variety of things to do keeps visitors to the Lone Star State busy during the fall season: food, music, nature and, of course, football.

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    Dallas divide view point autumn of Colorado
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    New England isn't the only place to see colorful fall foliage in the United States. Portions of Texas actually see dramatic changes in foliage coloration. Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Texas Hill Country has the most vivid fall leaf coloration in the state. Lost Maples has a special stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples, which are protected here. The peak season for seeing the fall foliage in Texas is from mid-October through mid-November. Area accommodations fill up fast so make your plans early.

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    Close up of cowboy mascot under blue sky.
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    Running for 24 days through late-September and early-October, the State Fair of Texas in Dallas is the largest fair and stock show in the state. During the nearly month-long event, fairgoers enjoy everything from live music to carnival rides to art shows. Fair food ranges from the traditional corny dogs and turkey legs to fried jello—winner of the 2016 Best Tasting award. The highlight of the fair is the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game.

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    settings Jousting Knight
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    Although the Texas Renaissance Festival is most often associated with October, it actually begins the last day of September and runs through most of November over nine fall weekends, each with a different theme. The festival features New Market Village, a 55-acre English town recreated from the 16th century in Todd Mission, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Magicians, acrobats, jugglers, and dancers perform on 20 stages throughout the village. Workshops feature artisans demonstrating the arts of glassblowing, weaving, pottery making, blacksmithing, and more. 

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    Texas has a rich German heritage, which explains the numerous Oktoberfest events across the Lone Star State. Oktoberfest in downtown Fredericksburg is held the first week of October. Like all such celebrations, the event features German food, drink, and music. Listen to the oom-pah-pah at the ​OkTubaFest or enter the Hauptstrasse Chicken Dance on Main Street.

    Addison, Texas, also hosts an Oktoberfest celebration over a long weekend in mid-September. It is said to be an authentic recreation of the Munich Oktoberfest in Germany and features a dachshund parade, a yodeling contest, and of course, lots of beer.

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    Thanksgiving Day Parade
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    Having kicked off the holiday season in the Houston area for nearly six decades, the HEB Thanksgiving Day Parade has become as much of a tradition in southeast Texas as Thanksgiving Turkey and Christmas lights. Although the parade has changed names over the years, this is still the largest and longest-running Thanksgiving Day parade in Texas. The festivities kick off at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving morning in downtown Houston.

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    Female ruby throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, feeding on milkweed
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    Texas is the winter home for a variety of birds, many of them arriving in autumn, along with the year's first weather fronts. Each region of the state offers visitors different species to view. If you travel throughout the Lone Star State during fall, you will be able to see hundreds of bird species.

    Houston is positioned on the Central Flyway, so it is a hotspot for the fall migration, which often lasts through November. Hummingbird migration peaks in September, hawks can be spotted at the Smith Point Hawk Watch till mid-November, and barn and tree swallows can be seen along the Gulf Coast through October. 

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    Houston Oilers Game in the Astrodome
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    Every weekend throughout the fall from Thursday through Sunday, high school, college, and professional football games take place across the Lone Star State. The biggest weekend for Texas football occurs in November over Thanksgiving weekend. These games are popular with Texas residents and visitors alike. For some pigskin action in the Lone Star State, head to one of its famous football stadiums: Catch the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium or Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

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    Chilli con carne with kidney beans and bay leaves served in white casserole dish with lid on folded tea towel.
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    One of the most anticipated events of the fall season is the annual Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff, which is held on the first Saturday in November in the small town of Terlingua. For more than fifty years, the Terlingua International Chili Cookoff—one of the most prestigious chili ​cook-offs in the country—has been dishing up ribs, brisket, beans, black-eyed peas and, of course, chili.