Winter is a wonderful time to visit Texas. Many areas of Texas are full of holiday cheer and wonderment during the winter. Holiday parades, holiday light trails, and world-class shopping are just a few of the reasons people visit these Texas winter vacation destinations. In many instances, the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape is also a huge draw during the winter months.
Dallas generally gets more snow than any other major Texas city, giving visitors the best opportunity to experience a "white Christmas" or just to have fun in the snow during the winter months. There is also world class shopping, ice skating, and more great winter vacation activities available in Dallas. Additionally, the Dallas-Ft Worth area is home to some of the state's biggest and best holiday parades. The centerpiece of Dallas' holiday season is the annual Children's Hospital Christmas Parade (formerly the Neiman-Marcus/Adolphus Children's Parade). In neighboring Ft. Worth, the Ft.Worth Parade of Lights kicks off the holiday season in the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth area. Having been held over Thanksgiving Day Weekend for nearly 30 years, the Ft Worth Parade of Lights features over 100 lighted parade entries and signals the start to the holiday light season. Big D NYE is a great way to ring in the New Year, while the annual Cotton Bowl college football game is always staged the first week of January.
San Antonio has long been one of Texas' top tourist destinations. With a myriad of attractions and top-shelf festivals staged throughout the year, it is little wonder the Alamo City draws a crowd. However, San Antonio is much more than a summer family vacation spot. In fact, one of the best times of the year to visit San Antonio is the holiday season. Every year, the RiverWalk is lit the day after Thanksgiving. Once lit, the RiverWalk and the surrounding area around downtown San Antonio is illuminated every night through January 1. This is one of the most impressive holiday light displays in all of Texas. The Valero Alamo Bowl college football game is also held during the holiday season, as is Carnival de San Antonio, one of the state's largest New Year's celebrations.
Austin is the major Texas city which offers winter visitors the most outdoor recreation during the winter months. Set among the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country, Austin is also one of the most scenic cities during the winter. The relatively mild temperatures during this time of year are inviting to outdoor enthusiasts, as are the changing colors of the leaves and landscape. During November and December, hiking, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, fishing, and hunting are all popular activities around Austin, and in many instances, holiday traditions. Those willing to tour the immediate Hill Country area just outside Austin may enjoy taking in the annual Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail, which encompasses the Texas Hill Country communities of Boerne, Burnet, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Goldwaite, Johnson City, Llano, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, Round Mountain and Wimberley.
Set among the Franklin Mountains in West Texas, El Paso is breathtaking during the winter months. The annual Sun Bowl college football game and preceding Sun Bowl parade are huge draws to Texas' westernmost city over the winter months. And Winterfest, an annual festival with activities such as ice skating, a parade, tree lighting, holiday movies, and more, takes place from mid-November to early January.
Winter is also a great time to visit the nearby state parks, such as Hueco Tanks State Park, where visitors can take in the beauty of the winter landscape and see some of the oldest pictographs in North America etched on the cave walls inside the park.
Houston is a sight to see during the winter months. Like many other Texas cities, Houston has an elaborate holiday lighting scene. In fact, Houston has numerous areas that are lit seasonally between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Among the best—and most anticipated—lightings in the Greater Houston Area each year are the Galleria Area Christmas Lights, The Woodlands Christmas Light Trail, the Sugarland Christmas Lights, River Oaks Christmas Lights, and the Katy Christmas Lights. Of course, for many the holiday seasons means shopping, and it's hard to argue Houston offers some of the best shopping not only in Texas, but in the nation. The world famous Galleria Mall, along with Katy Mills Mall and the Woodlands Mall, offer shoppers a wide variety of shops and restaurants to choose from. The area surrounding the Galleria Mall is also filled with numerous merchant shops not found elsewhere in the state.