Where to Spend Thanksgiving in Texas

Lights, Parades, and Football Make for a Festive Texas Holiday

If you're in the Lone Star State over Thanksgiving weekend, you won't lack for entertaining events to get you into the holiday spirit. Visit a zoo in Houston, join a charity run in Austin, watch the Cowboys play in Dallas, and see the festive holiday lights everywhere. 

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    Run in Austin

    Turkey Trot
    Courtesy of Turkey Trot

    Austin is the state capital and a popular travel destination for Texans and out-of-state visitors, as well. Austin has a reputation for excellent live music, an expansive art scene, outdoor adventures, and more. Late November weather in the Austin area can be quite pleasant. Every year on Thanksgiving Day, Austin is home to the Turkey Trot, the largest 5-mile run in Texas with more than 20,000 participants. The event also includes a 1-mile walk and a Kids' K, so every member of the family can join in the fun. All proceeds go to Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit that provides education and support to help people become self-sufficient.

  • 02 of 05

    Touch Down in Dallas

    Dallas skyline
    skeeze / Pixabay

    The Big D is a vibrant city with many modern attractions, as well as natural features such as lakes and parks. But when you think Dallas, it's the Cowboys that come to mind. Every year on Thanksgiving Day, the Dallas Cowboys football team plays host to a visiting NFL opponent. Travel packages are available that include game tickets and hotel stays. And, right next door in Fort Worth, the annual Parade of Lights is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Do some Christmas shopping, dine downtown, and enjoy this illuminated kick-off to the holiday season.

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    HEB Houston Parade
    Richard Carson / DPWPR

    Over Thanksgiving weekend, when the holiday season officially kicks off, Houston really comes into its own. For more than six decades, the HEB Holiday Parade on Thanksgiving morning in downtown Houston puts the city in the holiday spirit. Then, on Thanksgiving Day night, catch the Uptown Holiday Lighting event when Santa lights 80 trees on Post Oak Boulevard with thousands of twinkling lights followed by a fireworks display. Treat the whole family to a trip to the Houston Zoo for Zoo Lights, the annual holiday event that transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland with two million LED lights that illuminate the pathways and old oak trees.

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    Get Spooked in Salado

    Stagecoach Inn
    Richard Cummins / Getty Images

    For a destination with a much slower pace, the historic village of Salado offers visitors an ideal Thanksgiving weekend getaway. Founded in 1859, Salado is now home to charming B&Bs, quaint shops, dynamic water gardens, carriage tours, and even a ghost walk. Every Saturday in November, including Thanksgiving weekend, you can join the Salado Ghostwalk for a lantern-lit stroll down the town's historic Main Street. Hear tales of cowboys, buried treasure, and of course, ghosts. For a daytime treat, take the family to scenic Chalkridge Falls Park, which offers a moderate-rated, 3-mile roundtrip hiking trail that features a waterfall.

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    San Antonio Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas, United States of America, North America
    Jim Nix / Getty Images

    San Antonio's historic streets and famous River Walk become especially festive during the holiday season. The annual Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Festival is held the day after Thanksgiving and kicks off the season with thousands of lights that illuminate the River Walk. Don't miss the decorated floats that wind along the river in the unique nighttime river parade. The event also includes a performance of Christmas music. Free viewing areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can purchase advance tickets for guaranteed seats.