7 Texas Hill Country towns transformed into twinkling holiday wonderlands
For Houstonians yearning to escape the big-city holiday bustle for some wide-open spaces and crisp winter air, it's time to head on a Texas road trip. Throughout December, the Hill Country rolls out the twinkle lights and garlands to give city slickers some yuletide razzle-dazzle. Unpack a cozy sweater, cue a playlist, and fire up the sleigh. These seven towns are so Christmas-cute, they could be the settings for Hallmark Channel movies.
Though much of the season is geared around kids, the many distilleries, wineries, and breweries clustered around Dripping Springs offer some holiday fun for the adults. Hire a van to bop around some of Texas' most spirited spots, including Jester King Brewery, Vista Brewing, Desert Door Sotol, and Deep Eddy Vodka. If nap time doesn't completely waylay plans, Christmas on Mercer on December 2 is the perfect place for some buzzed shopping.
With its historic buildings and rows of quaint shops, Fredericksburg always seems ready to break into an Irving Berlin ditty. During Christmastime, the streets erupt into a full production number. Through January 7, 2024, the town's market square hosts a daily lighting ceremony showcasing tales of Fredericksburg's German heritage and Christmas carols. The Marktplatz also offers an ice-skating rink and one of Texas' most dazzling selfie spots: a 26-foot tall wooden spinning Christmas pyramid.
Forget Stars Hollow. Rory and Lorelai Gilmore's hometown wishes it could conjure up half the Yuletide magic as this Austin suburb. Visit the weekend of December 1 and 2 to catch the annual Christmas Stroll. The town's downtown hosts a family-friendly festival with vendors, live music, a parade, and plenty of festive food each year. And the Snow in the Park event ensures a White Christmas.
Johnson City's reputation as the "twinkliest town in Texas" isn't a mere boast. Its downtown display, illuminated through January 7, 2024, is truly a spectacle with more than 2 million bulbs glittering in the night sky. The Blanco County Courthouse is the sparkling hub of several community events throughout the season. Don't miss the annual chili cook-off on December 9, sponsored by some of the Hill Country's best wineries and distilleries.
Sure, it sounds like a third grader's fever dream, but bumper cars on ice are actually a thing in Marble Falls — offering slip-sliding fun for those who have never heard of a salchow. Less bumpy are the other activities, from a pop-up s'mores bar on December 1 to weekend market days.
Maybe it's the easygoing river lifestyle, but New Braunfels has always played by its own rules. That's especially true during the holiday season, when kids are delighted by visits from the chaps-clad Cowboy Kringle instead of good ole Saint Nick. That individualistic spirit carries over to the town's schedule of events, including a one-person telling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on December 3 and caroling at the Natural Bridge Caverns.
This charming hamlet has no shortage of holiday diversions like the annual Trail of Lights, a walking tour running through December 26. But before the stroll, expect to open the wallet. Wimberley Square is teeming with one-of-a-kind shops selling everything from boho Western gear to French country home goods. The hospitality scene is no slouch, either. Grab a quick pie at Community Pizza or splurge on shellfish and champagne at RR12 Supper Club.