In the state known as “The Lone Star,” the last month of the year presents travelers with a plethora of possibilities to enjoy vacations filled with fun and excitement.
While Texas does have its fair share of holiday-themed events, such as enormous bazaars, holiday wine trails, and millions of Christmas lights, the state’s mild winters make it an excellent destination for a wide variety of winter holidays.
When planning a trip to Texas in the month of December, here are some of the best sites to visit and activities to participate in, including festivals with a Victorian theme, stargazing, and bird watching.
Best Places to Visit in Texas in December
Plan your winter activities with the help of our list of the best things to do in Texas during the colder months, whether you’re a long-time local searching for something fresh to experience or a visitor from another state hoping to avoid the winter weather in Texas.
1. The Hill Country of Texas
During the month of December, “holiday trails” can be found all around the state of Texas. A lighted holiday-themed path may be found in virtually every region of the state, from the sleepy town of Jefferson in East Texas to the city of Texarkana on the Texas–Arkansas border to the picturesque Texas Hill Country.
The Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail is one of the most well-known and well-liked of these trails, and it passes through the central Texas communities of Bandera, Boerne, Burnet, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Goldwaite, Johnson City, Llano, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, and Wimberley. It is among the most well-known and well-liked of these trails.
2. Galveston, Texas
Galveston’s Dickens on the Strand is one of the year’s most interesting and unusual events, and it takes place in Texas. People dressed as characters from Charles Dickens’ works take over Galveston’s historic strand during this annual celebration.
Visitors will feel as though they have traveled back in time to the Victorian era at this winter festival, which features street sellers with push carts working amongst caroling and street musicians, as well as a Royal Menagerie Petting Zoo where youngsters can occupy themselves.
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Visitors who come to the Dickens on the Strand festival dressed as one of Charles Dickens’ characters or in clothing from the Victorian era are eligible for a discount on the price of entry to the event. Every year, the festival takes place over the first weekend in December, and there are numerous related events.
3. Greater Dallas and Fort Worth
During the month of December, Texas plays host to a wide variety of sporting events, in addition to the countless activities that center on the holiday season or are associated to it.
The BMW Dallas Marathon, which is consistently ranked among the most attended running competitions of the year, takes place throughout the month of December each and every year.
In addition, there are a few college football bowl games that take place in the state of Texas during the month of December. These games include the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, the Texas Bowl in Houston, and the Brut Sun Bowl in El Paso.
Exciting things happen in Houston throughout the winter. The weather in Houston, which is generally warm and damp, is typically dry and pleasant, with highs in the middle 60s, which makes it more enjoyable to spend time outside.
In addition, there are hundreds of acres of green spaces and miles of bike trails, so there are lots of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Exploring the city’s urban parks, such as Discovery Green, strolling around the Museum District, and enjoying any one of the city’s many patio pubs and restaurants are all more pleasurable and comfortable options during a trip in the month of December.
5. The Austin
It should not come as a surprise that Austin ushers in the holiday season with a rush of over-the-top festivities, considering the city is famous for its massive festivals and robust live music scene.
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is the most popular event that takes place each December. The Palmer Events Center is transformed into a large market that also features an art and music festival for the approximately two weeks leading up to Christmas.
6. San Antonio (Texas)
During Fiesta and the summer months, San Antonio’s famous riverwalk is a popular destination. However, the month of December is the best time to visit the riverwalk because of all of the entertaining activities that are held there.
More than 122,000 holiday lights are strung throughout the river between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. These lights hang and drip from the many bridges and bald cypress trees along the waterway.
7. The Island of South Padre
This island in south Texas maintains a temperate paradise even as the rest of the country experiences bitter cold. “Winter Texans” make their annual migration to the coast in December with the intention of basking in the sun for three to four months.
During this time of year, bird-watching is the activity that draws the most visitors. Because birds, like people, migrate south throughout the winter in search of warmer temperatures, the number of birds that live on the island has practically doubled as a result of this phenomenon.
8. El Paso: The Central Business District of El Paso, Texas
El Paso is one of the best spots in Texas to beat the gloomy winter days due to the fact that the city receives an average of more than 300 days of sunshine each year.
The city receives less than 10 inches of precipitation a year (compared to Houston’s 45+), providing wonderful, dry relief from the sleet and slush that plague northern regions in December.
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Winter average temperatures can drop between 30 and 60 degrees in the city, making it slightly colder than east Texas.
9. Laughing Gull at Corpus Christi
Due to its close proximity to San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, all of which are accessible by car in a reasonable amount of time, Corpus Christi is a popular coastal destination in central Texas that is ideal for any winter vacation.
Even though it is December, the city’s near-constant mild climate and proximity to some of the region’s best shorelines, such as Padre Island and Port Aransas, make it an excellent beach destination.
10. The National Park of Big Bend
This enormous national park is situated along the Rio Grande River and provides access to more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) of hiking paths.
Big Bend in December is the best time of year to go stargazing because of the clear skies and the abundance of beautiful views and photo opportunities during the day.
Big Bend National Park is one of just approximately a dozen parks in the world to have received gold-tier accreditation from the International Dark Sky Association. The park is home to some of the darkest skies that can be found in the United States.
The winter season in Texas is one of the most beautiful times to visit the state. When compared to the northern states, the winter in Texas is mild and conducive to activities that take place outside. The evening low temperature in Texas almost seldom drops below freezing, which means that the state almost never sees snow.
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