Texas in Winter is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. As the Lone Star State wraps itself in a mild winter blanket, visitors are treated to a unique and delightful experience that combines mild temperatures, cultural richness, and stunning natural beauty. This is personally my favorite time to visit Texas – without the heat and humidity of summer or the hurricanes of fall!
Texas in December is a captivating blend of holiday magic and Southern warmth. Throughout Texas in December, you’ll find a cornucopia of festivals and special events celebrating the season. Savor delicious Tex-Mex cuisine, attend holiday parades, and be serenaded by live music. From the Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston to the vibrant San Antonio River Walk lights, Texas knows how to celebrate winter in style.
Texas in January is where tranquility meets adventure. As the holiday crowds disperse, the Lone Star State promises a rejuvenating start to the year for visitors. Sip award-winning wines at boutique wineries, hike through state parks, and discover charming towns like Fredericksburg and Wimberley. Head south to the Gulf Coast, where winter brings migratory birds to the marshes and wetlands. The pace is relaxed, allowing you to savor every moment.
Texas in February offers the perfect canvas for a romantic getaway. With its mild winter weather and an array of enchanting destinations, the Lone Star State invites you to celebrate love in all its forms. From lovely hill country escapes to coastal sunsets, Texas sets the stage for a memorable romantic vacation. Explore amazing trip ideas with our list of top things to do in Texas in winter.
Best Winter Activities in Texas
Escape the snow, explore the Lone Star State, and enjoy the charms of this winter sun destination in the USA when you plan a Texas winter vacation.
Want to escape freezing temperatures and relax on the beach? Visit the Texas Gulf Coast! Love nature and the open roads? Hike in the scenic Hill Country or road trip to Big Bend in West Texas.
Obsessed with Christmas and want festive lights and holiday glamor? Look to Houston, Austin, or Dallas! Craving romance and history? Make a beeline for San Antonio.
There are as many winter vacations in Texas as there are types of travelers. Here is a list of best places to visit in Texas in December as well as festive things to do in Texas towns this holiday season.
Also Read: Ultimate Texas Road Trip Itinerary
San Antonio’s Luminous River Walk
Take a riverboat tour and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere. Attend the festive parades and you’ll understand why Christmas on the San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the best things to do in Texas in December.
Other seasonal attractions in San Antonio include ice skating in Travis Park, Alamo Christmas Lights, and holiday markets. The San Antonio Holiday celebrations continue from Thanksgiving to New Year, making winter a great time to visit this Texan city.
Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Christmas in San Antonio, Texas
Space-themed Lights in Houston
Space City aka Houston makes a perfect Texas winter getaway for families. When Houston gets all decked up for Christmas, it’s a pretty pretty sight. The highlight is the Galaxy Lights Holiday event at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston. This laser light display is on a scale beyond what most have seen before.
The Downtown Aquarium also puts on a stunning light show while Discovery Green is home to the largest outdoor ice rink in the Southwest. You can rent skates and enjoy a fun time with your loved ones at the rink. Visit on a week day for fewer crowds.
If you’re looking for cultural attractions, the Museum District won’t disappoint. Here you will find some of Texas’ premier museums including Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Children’s Museum Houston, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Houston is also home to some of the best golf courses in Texas plus has an amazing culinary scene.
Related Post: 20 Best Things to do for Christmas in Houston
Austin’s Live Music Serenade
The state capital, Austin, boasts a lively cultural scene all year round, and December is no exception. Discover the famous Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, where acres of dazzling lights create a magical experience. Enjoy live music at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, other coffee shops in the city, parks, and in artisan markets.
Austin’s live music scene is legendary, and January offers a more intimate experience without the crowds. Enjoy live performances at iconic venues like the Continental Club or explore the city’s vibrant arts district. Austin Free Week, a free week of live music at the city’s top venues, is amongst the best things to do in Texas in January.
Austin in February provides the perfect soundtrack to your romantic getaway. Discover hidden gems in intimate music venues, dance the night away, or enjoy a quiet evening with acoustic tunes. Use your time to sightsee Austin. Tour the Texas State Capitol. Check out Austin’s legendary nightlife.
Related Post: 10 Best Things to do for Christmas in Austin
Big City Lights in Dallas and Fort Worth
For a cosmopolitan winter experience, visit Dallas and Fort Worth. The city streets come alive with holiday lights, festivals, and cultural events. Visit the 12 Days of Christmas at Dallas Arboretum – one of the coolest things to do in December in Texas. Enjoy ice skating at Klyde Warren Park.
Delve into history in downtown Dallas. Visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, where you can explore the legacy of President John F. Kennedy. Discover the city’s thriving arts scene and world-class museums. See marine life at the Dallas World Aquarium. Other Dallas activities include mural hunting in Deep Ellum and shopping in Bishops Arts District.
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 in winter. Fort Worth is also home to many year round attractions including the famous Fort Worth Stockyards, art festivals, and Sundance Square.
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 for your winter trip! Galveston, Texas draws large crowds in summer but the beach town is equally popular in Texas winters.
One of the top spots to visit on Galveston Island is Moody Gardens. This attraction has a host of festive events including screenings of holiday movies and lights displays. Wondering what to do in Texas in December for snow lovers? Plan a trip to Iceland Ice Sculpture Festival. This holiday event has breathtaking ice sculptures in a frozen tent that will have you shivering in no time! It’s easy to see why Moody Gardens is popular with families.
Other Galveston winter attractions include Dickens on the Strand holiday festival, beaches, birding, and fresh seafood. Galveston Island, with its historic charm and seaside allure, also offers a perfect backdrop for a romantic escape in February. Take a sunset stroll along the Seawall, ride the iconic Pleasure Pier Ferris wheel, and explore the historic Strand District. The gentle Gulf breeze and the sound of waves crashing set the mood for love.
Related Post: Best Things to do in Galveston
Winter Adventures in Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country is one of our favorite winter getaways in Texas. The rolling hills turn a beautiful shade of orange as the leaves fall from oak, cottonwood, and maple trees in late November to early December. That’s right, fall comes pretty late here and you can often see a splash of color well into the holiday season.
The charming towns in Texas Hill Country like Fredericksburg and New Braunfels come alive with holiday-themed events and offer a cozy and festive atmosphere. Spectacular lights displays such as Johnson City Lights offer fun activities for all visitors. But a visit to the Hill Country in winter is not just about holiday events.
Browse through art galleries and play a round of golf. Enjoy intimate, candlelit dinners at award-winning restaurants in picturesque towns like Wimberley or Boerne. Explore vineyards and wineries, where you can savor local wines and enjoy scenic views. Shop for antiques and souvenirs and hike in the Texas Hill Country state parks. 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 in winter.
South Padre Island’s Mild Winter Retreat
Head south to the Texas Gulf Coast, where winter brings mild temperatures and a perfect opportunity to enjoy the pristine beaches. South Padre Island offers dolphin cruises, birdwatching spots, and windswept beaches while Port Isabel invites you to climb its historic lighthouse.
Spending a relaxing day on the beach at South Padre Island with a book in hand is my idea of a perfect Texas winter day!
The island enjoys warm weather even during the winter months. Popular activities in South Padre include hiking the boardwalk trails at SoPadre Birding and Nature Center, ATV riding over the sand dunes, surfing, or paddle boarding over the bay. Try your hand at fishing or simply soak in the coastal serenity.
Christmas time in South Padre Island is an especially fun time to visit. You can watch boat parades, marvel at holiday sandcastles, and enjoy delicious seafood. Wish to skip the peak crowds? Plan a trip to South Padre in January! You will get better deals on hotels and attractions plus have the beach to yourselves. Overall, the island is a great place to spend the winter in Texas – ask the countless Winter Texans who make a temporary home here!
Nature’s Beauty in West Texas
Venture west to discover the breathtaking landscapes of West Texas. Beautiful Big Bend National Park is one of the best places to visit in Texas in winter. With cooler temperatures, hiking becomes a pleasure, and the starry night skies are a breathtaking sight. Witness the rugged beauty of the Chisos Mountains, Chihuahuan desert, and the winding Rio Grande.
The Big Bend region in February is particularly stunning. During the day, admire the famed chisos bluebonnets scattered across the landscape. By night, snuggle up under a blanket and gaze at the Milky Way as it stretches across the desert sky. It’s a truly magical experience for couples.
West Texas road trip is filled with many other attractions. The charming town of Marfa beckons with its eclectic art installations and mysterious Marfa lights. Further west, you’ll discover the enchanting towns of Alpine and Marathon, nestled amidst mountains, offering a relaxed atmosphere and cultural experiences.
And don’t forget to explore the rugged beauty of Big Bend Ranch State Park, where the desert meets the river, providing endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and outdoor adventures.
Late November to December is one of the most popular months to visit Big Bend, so make reservations in advance. In winter, a snow storm can dump several inches in Big Bend so be prepared for a diverse range of temperatures.
Birdwatching Paradise: Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Located along the scenic Gulf Coast of Texas, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge offers a captivating winter retreat for nature lovers and birdwatching enthusiasts.
One of the most popular aspects of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in winter is the arrival of the magnificent whooping cranes. These endangered birds migrate thousands of miles to their wintering grounds in the coastal marshes and prairies of Texas.
In addition to the whooping cranes, the refuge hosts a diverse array of bird species during the winter. Snow geese, sandhill cranes, and numerous species of waterfowl make the refuge their seasonal home. Visitors armed with binoculars and cameras can capture magnificent sights.
For photographers, Aransas Refuge is a dream come true. The winter light casts a soft and enchanting glow on the marshes and waterways, providing a perfect backdrop for capturing the beauty of both the wildlife and the landscape.
Beach Life in Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, known as the “Sparkling City by the Sea,” is a perfect destination year-round. However, it takes on a special charm during the winter months. When much of the country is shivering in the cold, Corpus Christi enjoys mild temperatures, making it an ideal winter getaway for those seeking a coastal escape without the crowds.
The beaches of Corpus Christi are one of the best things to do in Texas during winter. Take long walks along the sandy shores, collect seashells, or simply relax with a book while listening to the gentle waves. For the more adventurous, water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, and kiteboarding are popular options.
This Texas beach town also decks up prettily for Christmas. The Marina on Shoreline Blvd offers a spectacular view of the city’s twinkling holiday 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 early January to have the town to yourself.
Christmas in Grapevine
Grapevine, a perfect day trip away from Dallas, is known as the Christmas Capital of Texas. This city in North Texas transforms into a charming winter wonderland when the temperatures drop. It embraces the holiday season with open arms, offering a magical experience that combines traditional festive cheer with Texan flair.
During winter, the Main Street of Grapevine comes alive with more than a million lights and holiday festivities. It is a focal point for winter activities. Lined with quaint shops, boutiques, and restaurants, it’s the perfect place for holiday shopping and dining. The storefronts are decked out in festive decor, and carolers serenade visitors, making it feel like a scene from a holiday movie.
See the amazing Christmas lights in the historic downtown. Ride the North Pole Express operated by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Visit The Gaylord Texan Resort’s ICE! festival and see their giant Christmas tree made entirely of ice! Grapevine is also known for its wineries, and a winter visit is the perfect opportunity to savor local wines and culinary delights.
Amazing Texas Winter Vacations in East Texas
When winter arrives in East Texas, a serene and enchanting atmosphere descends upon the region, revealing a different kind of beauty that sets it apart from other destinations. The Piney Woods of East Texas take on a special allure in the mild winters.
The towering pine trees, adorned with a gentle dusting of frost on stormy days, create a picture-perfect scene. Take leisurely walks or hikes through the piney forests and breathe in the crisp winter air. Enjoy a scenic drive through the national forests of East Texas.
Caddo Lake, a mystical maze of bayous, cypress trees, and Spanish moss, is amazing to visit in the winter months. The absence of summer crowds allows you to better explore the waterways. Paddle through the bayou channels in Caddo Lake State Park and be enchanted by the hauntingly beautiful scenery.
Enjoy the charming Christmas festivities in Historic Jefferson or Marshall. Explore Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas. Go holiday shopping in Canton and admire the roses in Tyler. East Texas and the Piney Woods region is the perfect winter getaway for anyone looking to vacation off the beaten path.
Related Post: 18 Most Fun things to do in East Texas
Amarillo Road Trip Route 66
Texas Route 66, often referred to as the “Main Street of America,” is a historic highway that winds its way through the Lone Star State. While it’s often associated with summer road trips, this iconic route takes on a unique charm in the winter months.
If you’re looking for the best Texas winter destination with a chance of snow, then also Amarillo and Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle is a great option! 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.
Start your winter journey in Amarillo, known as the gateway to Texas Route 66. The city boasts its fair share of Route 66 history and attractions. Don’t miss the Cadillac Ranch, a whimsical art installation featuring a row of buried Cadillacs that visitors are encouraged to spray-paint. In the winter, you can create your own snow-covered masterpiece on vintage cars.
Continue to Shamrock or Adrian, which is the midpoint of the Mother Road. Take a detour to Palo Duro Canyon – better known as the Grand Canyon of Texas. Texas Route 66 offers a unique winter road trip experience, blending nostalgia, adventure, and small-town Americana.
Padre Island National Seashore Beach Camping
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!
Winter is an exceptional time for birdwatching at Padre Island National Seashore. As thousands of migratory birds make their way to the Gulf Coast, the seashore becomes a prime spot for ornithologists and bird enthusiasts.
You’ll have the chance to spot a wide variety of bird species, including sandhill cranes, white pelicans, and countless shorebirds. Be sure to bring binoculars and stop at the Visitor Centre for information on recent sightings.
Padre Island also offers visitors some of the best fishing in America. Winter beachcombing is popular on the expansive, pristine beaches of Padre Island. The cool sea breeze and gentle waves create the perfect atmosphere for a peaceful walk along the shore.
Camping on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore Texas is also an incredible experience. You can see the stars at night and wake up to golden orange sunsets.
Family Friendly Winter Vacation in Waco
Waco, Texas, may be best known as the home of the famous Magnolia Market, but this vibrant city has much more to offer, especially in the wintertime. When the weather turns crisp and the holiday season is in full swing, Waco becomes a cozy and charming destination, perfect for a winter getaway.
For a truly unique experience, visit the Waco mammoth National Monument. The site preserves the fossils of Columbian mammoths, making it one of the most significant Ice Age paleontological finds in the world. Kids love seeing the remains of these prehistoric elephants.
The town is also home to the Dr. Pepper Museum, where you can learn about the iconic soda’s history and enjoy a refreshing drink. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum offers a fascinating look at the storied history of the Texas Rangers.
Magnolia Market at the Silos hosts an amazing Christmas event which includes lights, music, and shopping. You can also take a cruise on the Brazos River or enjoy the paddling trails in Waco. After all, the city is one of the best kayaking destinations in Texas and a favorite with outdoor lovers.
Waco, Texas, in winter offers a delightful blend of shopping, culture, outdoor exploration, and festive charm. It is our favorite family vacation spot, especially in the winter holidays.
Western Getaway in El Paso
El Paso, located in the westernmost corner of Texas, is a hidden treasure for winter travelers. While many associate Texas with warm temperatures year-round, El Paso offers a unique and delightful winter experience that combines mild weather, cultural richness, and stunning landscapes.
Popular 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, and 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.
The Rio Grande River, which forms the border between the United States and Mexico, provides a breathtaking backdrop for winter sunsets in El Paso. Find a scenic overlook or riverside park, and watch as the sun dips below the horizon, casting hues of pink and orange across the sky.
Remote Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Love the great outdoors? Seeking solitude at this time of year? Guadalupe Mountain National Park in West Texas is the perfect spot to visit. This national park sprawls over a remote part of Texas, close to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
One of the best ways to explore this national park is by hiking. Popular hikes include Guadalupe Peak trail, McKittrick Canyon Trail, and Devil’s Hall trail. You will also find guided tours for hiking the national park. The park is also a favorite with mountain bikers. You will also find several historic sites within the park.
Visit early December and you might even see fall foliage in the park. Skip the end of the year holiday crowds by camping in the park. January is the perfect time to scale Guadalupe Peak, the highest peak in Texas while on a February trip you can spot a lot of the park’s wildlife.
Lubbock Winter Trip
While Lubbock may not be the first place that comes to mind for a Texas winter vacation, this vibrant city offers plenty of things to do for visitors. January is the coldest month of the year in Lubbock, while December and February are more moderate.
Start your trip by exploring Buddy Holly Center. This attraction pays homage to Lubbock’s most famous son. On a visit, you can explore the life and music of the legendary musician, Buddy Holly, through exhibits, memorabilia, and interactive displays.
Take a stroll around the beautiful Texas Tech campus. The university boasts stunning architecture, a vibrant arts scene, and the National Ranching Heritage Center. Wine lovers will be delighted to know that Lubbock is part of the Texas High Plains AVA, known for its vineyards and wineries.
While the winter chill is in the air, Lubbock offers opportunities for outdoor adventures. Visit Buffalo Springs Lake for hiking and fishing or take a scenic drive through the surrounding scenery.
A Winter Wonderland in College Station
When winter arrives in College Station, Texas, a magical transformation takes place. This vibrant college town, home to Texas A&M University, becomes a winter wonderland filled with holiday cheer, festive activities, and a touch of enchantment. At the heart of it all is Santa’s Wonderland, a beloved holiday attraction that has been drawing visitors for years.
As you enter this winter wonderland, you’re greeted by a dazzling display of millions of twinkling Christmas lights. Sip hot chocolate and take a stroll around this mesmerizing world of color and magic. Climb aboard a festive hay wagon and admire the thematic displays. Kids can meet Santa in person, share their wish lists, and take photos to capture the memory, making it a hit with families.
Sunny Days on San Jose Island
In southeast Texas, a ferry boat ride away from Port Aransas on Mustang Island, you will find the hidden gem of San Jose Island. This barrier island, part of the barrier island chain along the Gulf of Mexico, is home to several beautiful beaches and is a hotspot for shelling. Winter is the ideal time to enjoy long walks along the shore, collecting seashells, or simply relaxing by the water.
San Jose Island is renowned for its vibrant birdlife, and winter is a prime time for birdwatchers to visit. Winter also offers fantastic fishing opportunities in the waters surrounding San Jose Island. The Gulf teems with fish, making it a popular destination for anglers.
While the island is private, its beaches are free to visit for the public and you can take the boat from Port Aransas to enjoy a day trip to San Jose Island. Once on the island, you will feel far removed from civilization and realize why it’s one of our favorite winter destinations in Texas.
Washington’s Birthday Celebration in Laredo
February is one of the best times to visit Laredo for one reason – George Washington’s Birthday celebration! But first things first, just where is Laredo in Texas? Situated in the southern part of the state, along the border with Mexico, Laredo is a city steeped in rich history and vibrant culture.
Each year, Laredo hosts one of the largest and most renowned Washington’s Birthday celebrations in the United States. This month-long extravaganza, featuring parades, live music, reenactments, and dazzling fireworks, pays tribute to the nation’s founding father. It’s a fantastic time to immerse yourself in the unique blend of Texan and Mexican traditions that define Laredo’s character.
Winter Show in Round Top
Round Top, located midway between Houston and Austin, has become famous for its antique shows. The city draws collectors, dealers, and enthusiasts from all over the country. The town’s reputation as an antiques destination was solidified with the establishment of the Round Top Antiques Fair in the 1960s.
The Round Top Winter Show is a unique and compelling reason to visit during the winter months. At the show, you can shop a curated selection of antiques, vintage finds, and collectibles. The crisp air and occasional chill create the perfect atmosphere to shop for treasures.
Chills and Thrills in Glen Rose
Last but not the least – the Dinosaur capital of Texas! Glen Rose is a great spot to visit in the cooler months for families. One of the most iconic attractions is Dinosaur Valley State Park, amongst our favorite Texas State Parks.
Here, you can step back in time and follow in the footsteps of the magnificent creatures that once roamed this land. The winter season adds a layer of mystique to the park’s charm, as the cooler temperatures create a comfortable environment for exploring the numerous dinosaur tracks along the Paluxy River.
Other attractions include visiting the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to observe animals up close on a drive through safari. Dinosaur World is the perfect place to take kids to see prehistoric beasts. Downtown Glen Rose is a quaint town with boutique shops, cozy cafes, and restaurants serving up delicious Texan cuisine.
Weather in Texas in Winter
Weather-wise, winter is a great time to visit Texas. It offers a delightful surprise for first time visitors seeking a break from harsh, freezing temperatures. Texas’ winter season typically spans from December through February.
While winter weather can vary across this vast state, mild temperatures are a common theme. In the southern regions along the Gulf Coast and in cities like Houston and Corpus Christi, you can expect daytime highs in the 60s and 70s°F (15-25°C). Even in the northern parts of Texas, including Dallas and Fort Worth, winter days usually see temperatures in the 50s°F (10-15°C).
However, sudden winter storms dumping inches of snow across the whole state are also becoming increasingly common. Since we moved to Houston more than a decade ago, we have received snowfall over 8 times! Same goes for cities like Austin, San Antonio, and even Galveston. Alpine and Big Bend have had a big snow storm for Thanksgiving 2022.
What that means – dress in layers, pack for cool weather as well as sunny days, and keep an eye on the weather channel for sudden cold temperatures!
Whether you’re captivated by holiday lights, natural wonders, cultural experiences, or seeking a romantic getaway, Texas in winter has something special to offer. Embrace the warmth of Southern hospitality and the magic of each season. Plan your winter getaway to the Lone Star State and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
What are your favorite Texas winter destinations? Which Texas small towns are you visiting this winter? Let us know below.