10 Christmas-Obsessed Texas Destinations to Visit This Holiday Season

Grinches need not apply.

With one holiday in the books and others fast approaching, it’s time to turn your attention from turkeys and gourds to gifts, twinkling lights, and elaborately decorated pine trees. All across Texas, there are ample opportunities to celebrate the magical season by immersing yourself in non-stop holiday cheer. From snow-tubing hills and drive-through light shows to markets hawking gifts and hot drinks, here are 10 of the most Christmas-obsessed destinations the Lone Star State has to offer.

Gaylord Texan christmas
Photo courtesy of Gaylord Texan

Now through January 2
Grapevine
Visiting the Gaylord Texan hotel during the holidays, whether for a weekend or an afternoon, is like getting joyfully pummeled in the face with a snowball wrapped in lights and delivered by gingerbread riding a one-horse open sleigh. The amount of activities is overwhelming, and there really is something for everyone, including a tubing track covered in real snow and an acrobatic Cirque show. What else? There’s an ice skating rink and plenty to drink. There are non-rhyming options, too, like photo-ops with Santa, DIY gingerbread houses, scavenger hunts, and a coordinated light show set to music. Be sure to pace yourself.

Peppermint Parkway dallas
Peppermint Parkway

Now through December 26
Austin
For most of the year, Circuit of the Americas is a Formula 1 track and concert venue. But during the holidays, it transforms into Peppermint Parkway, a decidedly different experience that involves a mile of holly-jolly displays, millions of lights, dancing elves, amusement rides, and a train. Drive through the decked out parkway to enjoy the sights from inside your car, then take a pit stop at the Peppermint Plaza, where you’ll find food, drinks, and Santa. If that’s not enough to hold you over until New Year’s, you can race go karts at speeds up to 55 mph or zoom through the air on a zip line.

Texas Christkindl Market
Texas Christkindl Market

Now through January 2
Arlington
Inspired by Arlington’s German sister city, Bad Königshofen, as well as holiday markets across Europe, the open-air Texas Christkindl Market features vendors selling gifts and crafts, plus traditional German food (think pork schnitzel, brats, potato pancakes) and glühwein, Germany’s aromatic take on mulled wine. New this year is Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey, which takes over Choctaw Stadium alongside the Christkindl Market. It’s an immersive, walk-through theater experience that’s fun for the whole family—especially if you’ve already polished off a few glasses of glühwein.

Prairie Lights dallas
Prairie Lights

Now through December 31
Grand Prairie
Get your tickets to Prairie Lights, then make your way to Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake. That’s where you’ll find the entrance to the two-mile drive-through path festooned with no less than four million glittering lights. We’re not astronauts, but we’d bet you can probably see it from space. Drive along to view hundreds of displays alongside and arching over the road. At the halfway point, hop out of your car to explore the Holiday Village, with carnival rides, concessions, and photos with Santa, before strapping back in to proceed through a massive, trippy light tunnel that signals your exit.

El Paso WinterFest texas
Photo courtesy of WinterFest

Now through January 2
El Paso
Downtown El Paso has been transformed into a winter wonderland for its annual WinterFest. The trees sparkle with lights, the ice skating rink buzzes with gliding revelers, and the Plaza Theater screens free holiday movies—yes, that includes Die Hard. Dine and drink at winter-themed cafés between taking in free concerts, or check out the Holiday Fiestas Food Fest, which brings a variety of food trucks and vendors to San Jacinto Plaza.

the adolphus dallas texas
The Adolphus

Now through January 30
Dallas
Reserve a spot on the Adolphus rooftop Wednesday through Saturday to hang out in a festive cabin or huddle inside a see-through igloo. Once situated, partake in a special menu featuring mulled wine, holiday cocktails, tableside s’mores, peppermint churros, and other fun seasonal treats. Each day also brings something new to the table, from live music and ugly sweater contests to a "Not So Silent Night" dance party.

Santa's Wonderland- A Texas Christmas Experience
Santa's Wonderland- A Texas Christmas Experience

Now through December 30
College Station
College Station is best known as the home of Texas A&M, but for five weeks each winter, a portion of the town turns into Santa’s Wonderland, complete with an ice skating rink, a walkable trail of lights, live music, s’more-ready fire pits, and a massive gingerbread land made from real gingerbread, icing, and candy. If you’re getting hungry, you’ll be pleased to know there’s definitely lots to eat. The Texas-themed menu is loaded with burgers, BBQ, and funnel cakes, plus craft beer and wine on tap to wash it all down.

Holiday in the Gardens dallas
Photo courtesy of Holiday in the Gardens

Now through January 2
Galveston
For a beachside yuletide celebration, head to Galveston’s Moody Gardens. The 242-acre amusement park is billed as the largest holiday destination in the Southwest. There’s a mile-long light display featuring two million lights, a four-story tall tree, and an “arctic slide” primed to shoot you down an icy ramp in a tube. At night, step into the Cirque Joyeux Holiday Show for an ultra-festive performance with acrobats and aerialists.

The San Antonio River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk

Now through January 9
San Antonio
There’s never a bad time to visit San Antonio, but the River Walk’s holiday lights make a strong case for a winter road trip. Stroll the promenade underneath illuminated cypress trees, which reflect off the water to give the whole strip a magical glow. Duck into shops and restaurants along the way to refuel as you make moves from downtown to the hip Pearl District one mile north.

Tomball German Festivals dallas texas
Tomball German Festivals

December 10 - 12
Tomball
Located just north of Houston, Tomball celebrates its German roots each year with a festival and open-air Christmas market. Nearly 200 vendors line the streets to sell handcrafted items and traditional foods while bands play on multiple stages and street performers entertain the crowds. Score a few gifts for the people on your list, or simply use that as a thinly veiled excuse to gorge yourself on schnitzel, brats, pretzels, and boots brimming with German beers.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering all things food, drinks, and travel. He’s written for The Dallas Morning News, Forbes, Liquor.com, Men’s Health, and Wine Enthusiast, and his extensive home bar is turning into a real Hoarders
situation.