Vacationing in Texas During November

Whooping Cranes
Aransas NWR

Because Texas covers such as wide geographic area, seasonal change doesn't necessarily happen simultaneously across the state. But, once Halloween is over, fall is truly in full swing across the state of Texas.

November, of course, is best known for the Thanksgiving holiday. While there are plenty of great Thanksgiving parades, celebrations and activities across Texas (more on that later), there are also lots of things to see and do in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

The generally cooler temperatures that settle over Texas during early November are inviting for outdoor enthusiasts. And, there are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities to be had this month. Fall birding in Texas is outstanding, both because of the number of available species as well as the comfortable temperatures. By the end of November, there should be some whooping cranes on their winter homes in the Coastal Bend. Additionally, fall fishing will be in full swing. Hiking, camping and rock climbing are also popular fall outdoor activities in Texas.

Football is the main focus of many in Texas during November. High school football playoffs are in full swing by Thanksgiving. Of course the annual Dallas Cowboy game on Thanksgiving Day is a tradition for Cowboy fans across the country.

Thanksgiving Day parades are also popular in Texas. Chief among these annual events is the HEB Holiday Parade held Thanksgiving morning in Houston. However, dozens of small towns across the Lone Star State stage Thanksgiving Day parades of various sizes, each of which has its own unique character and charm.

Immediately after Thanksgiving, the holiday season switches gears. In fact, over Thanksgiving weekend, two things happen - the year's first Christmas parades are held and holiday light trails illuminate the Texas landscape. In Austin, Chuy's Christmas Parade is always held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Not only is this Texas's earliest Christmas parade, it is also a fundraiser for Operation Blue, which provides toys to needy children in the Austin area. Texas also is home to many impressive Holiday Light Trails.

Among some of the biggest and brightest are Cleburne's Whistle Stop Christmas, College Station's Santa's Wonderland, the Twice as Bright Festival of Lights in Texarkana, the Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail, and Jefferson's Holiday Trail of Lights. In Ft. Worth, the Ft. Worth Parade of Lights kicks off the holiday season the day following Thanksgiving.

As if this weren't enough, November is also host to a number of great festivals and events. One of the most anticipated events of the year is the Terlingua International Chili Cookoff, which is always held the first Saturday in November in tiny Terlingua. As CASA sanctioned event, the Terlingua International Chili Cookoff is considered one of the most prestigious chili cookoffs in the country. Although it is held in November, WurstFest is essentially an Oktoberfest and is one of the largest German heritage festivals in the nation.

Held in the heavily Germanic influenced Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, WurstFest features live polka music, as well as plenty of sausage, strudel, pretzels and just about any other German treat can imagine. Other popular November festivals in Texas are the Nine Flags Festival in Nacogdoches, Austin's Celtic Festival, and the George West Storyfest.

So, while Thanksgiving gets the headlines in November, it is far from the only happening in Texas. There are a number of quality activities and festivals scattered throughout the month. The pleasant fall weather is a bonus.