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13 Best things to do in Texas in winter

Planning a trip south to escape the snow and looking for best things to do in Texas in winter?

The Lone Star State with its mild weather, spectacular Christmas celebrations, and plenty of attractions makes a perfect winter sun destination in the US.

There are plenty of choices for winter vacations in Texas for all types of travelers.

Also Read: Ultimate Texas Road Trip Itinerary

Wish to escape freezing temperatures and relax in the beach? Visit the Gulf Coast!

Need vacation ideas for outdoor lovers? Hike in the scenic Hill Country or explore Big Bend.

Want festive lights and holiday glamor? Look to the Houston, Austin, or Dallas!

Need all of above plus romance and history? Make a beeline for charming San Antonio.

Here is a list of our favorite places to visit in Texas in winter as well as festive things to do in Texas towns this holiday season.

Also Read: Best Places to Spend Christmas in Texas

Texas in Winter: Ultimate Attractions!

Visitors from all over the world have Texas on their bucket list.

Winter is a great time to visit Texas because of the mild weather, many events and happenings, and amazing destinations.

Here are our top favorite things to do in Texas during winter as well as amazing Texas winter vacations to enjoy your holiday.


Take a cruise on the San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio, Texas is one of the most popular Christmas destinations not only in America but also the world over.

The highlight of a winter trip to the city is the San Antonio River walk.

Millions of lights decorate the trees on the river banks and every building on the river walk is decorated with its own kind of Christmas finery.

The San Antonio River Walk has a special holiday buzz at night and you can see all the twinkling lights reflected in the water.

There’s plenty to do and see along the River walk including ice skating in Travis Park, boat trips, Christmas celebrations at the Alamo, food vendors and holiday markets, as well as the amazing River Parade.

The San Antonio holiday lights continue from Thanksgiving to New Year, making winter a great time to visit the city.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Christmas in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Riverwalk look stunning when decorated during the holiday season
San Antonio Riverwalk look stunning when decorated during the holiday season

Enjoy Galaxy Lights at Space Center, Houston

The vibrant City of Houston with its many attractions and holiday celebrations, makes a perfect Texas winter getaway for families.

Houston is decked up for Christmas with its famous downtown city skyline full of twinkling lights and a giant colorful tree in the center of downtown.

The Downtown Aquarium put on a stunning light show while Space Center Houston has special space themed fun interactive activities planned for kids.

Christmas in Houston is an amazing vacation for the whole family.

Plan a weekend sightseeing Austin

Austin, the capital of Texas, makes a perfect urban getaway during the holidays.

It offers a variety of attractions and things to do for all travelers.

Take a tour of the Texas state capitol. Enjoy the world famous live music scene in Austin. Take a stroll through Zilker Park.

Ring in the New Year while enjoying Austin’s legendary nightlife.

Of course, Austin also has many festive events for all ages.

An illuminated holiday light sign with bats reading Austin
Celebrating Christmas in Austin is an amazing experience

Enjoy beach life in Corpus Christi

The coastal town of Corpus Christi is one of the best places to visit in Texas during the winter.

The Texas beach town is decked up for Christmas and the Marina on Shoreline Blvd offers a spectacular view of the twinkling lights against the deep blue waters.

Take a walk on the beach, stroll around the Bayfront, have dinner at some of the best restaurants in town, go shopping at specialty stores, and visit local art galleries during your winter holiday.

Plan a trip off season in January to have the town to yourself.

Spend time in nature in the Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country is an amazing place to spend the winter season.

The hills turn a beautiful shade of orange as the leaves fall from oak, cottonwood, and maple trees.

That’s right, fall comes pretty late here and you might easily see a splash of color in the holiday season.

Also Read: Best Places to see fall in Texas

The small towns and cities in the Texas Hill Country, such as Fredericksburg and New Braunfels, come alive with holiday-themed events and festivals.

Spectacular lights displays such as Johnson City Lights offer fun activities for all.

But a visit to the Hill Country in winter is not just about holiday events.

There are several amazing things to do in the region year round.

Browse through art galleries, visit golf courses, and spend a romantic evening with your loved ones in these charming towns.

Shop for antiques and souvenirs; and off course, take a tour of the famous Hill Country wineries.

Texas parks such as Guadalupe River State Park and Garner State Park are perfect to visit over the winter break.

The weather from November to January is perfect to enjoy outdoor activities and scenic drives on your Central Texas road trip.

See ice sculptures on Galveston Island

Looking for the perfect blend of holiday spirit and beach activities in the Lone Star State?

Head to Galveston Island!

Galveston, Texas has always been popular during the warmer months of summer but the beach getaway is equally popular in winter.

Have fun on the beach or enjoy the festivities at Moody Gardens.

Also Read: Best Beaches to Visit in Texas

Moody Gardens has a host of festive events including light displays and Iceland ice sculpture festival which last well into January.

For more information, read our post on Best Things to do in Galveston.

Beautiful tropical waterfall at Moody Gardens Iceland in Galveston
Beautiful tropical waterfall at Moody Gardens Iceland in Galveston

Take the holiday train in Grapevine

Grapevine, a perfect day trip away from Dallas, is known as the Christmas capital of Texas.

During winter, this quaint town comes alive with more than a million lights and holiday festivities.

A visit to the Christmas Capital is a favorite with families because of the many fun things to do with kids in Grapevine.

From the amazing Christmas lights in the historic downtown district to the North Pole Express operated by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, the small town has plenty of holiday activities for all ages.

For something really unique visit The Gaylord Texan Resort’s ICE! which features a giant Christmas tree made entirely of ice!

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Polar Express in Palestine, Texas

Polar Express train ride steam engine photo op near Palestine Railroad Depot
Polar Express train ride steam engine photo op near Palestine Railroad Depot

Enjoy art and culture in Dallas

The Big D as well as nearby Fort Worth are extremely popular to visit during December.

A must visit attraction in Dallas is the Sixth Floor museum in Dealey Plaza where the assassination of JFK took place.

Other Dallas activities include mural hunting in Deep Ellum, shopping in Bishops Arts District, exploring the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, or spending a day at the many parks.

Fort Worth is famous for its annual Parade of Lights which is attended by thousands of people every year.

Take part in the fun activities for kids including ice skating, train rides, seeing Santa Claus, and more in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth is also home to many year round attractions including the famous stockyards,  art festivals, and Sundance Square.

Hike the trails in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park in West Texas is a great spot to visit in winter for nature lovers.

The Chisos Mountains and the Chihuahuan desert landscape in Big Bend offers stunning contrasts in colors.

Take a break from city life, enjoy wildlife, and hike to your heart content under clear blue skies in the national park.

The park is a favorite with kayakers, hikers, road trippers, mountain bikers, wildlife photographers, as well as nature lovers!

On your road trip to Big bend, you can also see surrounding small towns of Marfa, Marathon, and Alpine.

Late November to December is one of the most popular months to visit Big Bend, so we definitely recommend making reservations in advance.

In winter, you might see snowy conditions in Big Bend so be prepared for a range of temperatures.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park

Explore the attractions of East Texas

East Texas and the Piney Woods region is the perfect winter getaway for anyone looking to vacation off the beaten path.

There are plenty of things to do in East Texas, whether you love culture, arts, or the great outdoors.

Enjoy the charming Christmas festivities in Historic Jefferson or Marshall.

Take a kayak and explore the Big Cypress Bayou in Caddo Lake State Park.

The miles of beautiful forests, rivers and lakes as well as charming small towns such as Canton and Tyler make East Texas the perfect region to explore in winter.

Also Read: Best things to do in East Texas

Spend a relaxing day on the beach at South Padre Island

South Padre Island, located on the Gulf Coast of Southeast Texas, makes a great vacation destination.

The island enjoys warm weather even during the winter months.

Things to do in South Padre Island include exploring the Birding and Nature Center, lounging on the beach, ATV riding over the sand dunes, or renting a kayak to explore one of several bays.

Overall, the island is a great place to spend the winter in Texas.

Wish to skip the peak crowds? Plan a trip in January! You will get better deals on hotels and attractions at this time.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Camping on the beach in Texas

Road trip Route 66 to Amarillo

Looking for the best Texas winter destination with a chance of snow?

Plan a road trip to Amarillo and Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle!

The city often gets snow flurries and even an occasional snow storm in December and if you want even more snow, you can always hop across the border to Colorado.

On a visit, you will also be able to visit the famous Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Read our post on Best Things to do in Amarillo to plan your trip.

Enjoy the solitude on Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore is a great option for those looking for a relaxing winter vacation on the Texas Gulf Coast.

With its pristine beaches, sand dunes, diverse wildlife, excellent birding, and warm weather year-round it’s no wonder that this national park attracts over one million visitors every year!

Padre Island offers visitors some of the best fishing in America, pristine beaches perfect for sunbathing, and several campsites right by the water.

See mammoth skeletons in Waco

Waco is the perfect destination to visit in Texas during the winter.

The town is home to several attractions including Waco mammoth National Monument and the Dr. Pepper Museum.

Magnolia Market at the Silos hosts an amazing Christmas event which includes lights, music, and shopping.

You can take a cruise on the Brazos River or enjoy the paddling trails in Waco.

Waco is one of the best kayaking destinations in Texas and a favorite with paddlers.

Have a western holiday in El Paso

For a great time in West Texas, consider El Paso.

Things to do in El Paso include exploring the beautiful Franklin Mountains State Park, catching a show at the Plaza Theatre, shopping at the Mexican markets, or visiting Fort Bliss Military Base.

The city hosts lots of events during Christmas time and is great to visit in winter from November through January.

We hope you like the list of amazing Texas winter vacation destinations.