where to travel right now
Snowy Hill Country mountain slides plus 9 more Texas travel tidbits for November
Thanksgiving is barely on the horizon, but places all over Texas are getting a head start on the holiday season's festivities. Can't decide where to take a quick vacation, road trip, or staycation? Here are 10 events, special celebrations, and hotel happenings to help plan a getaway in November.
One of the city's oldest hotels, The Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel, recently welcomed the arrival of its new royal mascot. The Baron of Austin is an ode to The Hippopotamus Lounge and Piano Bar, which previously occupied the second-story bar and terrace during the "early 20th century." To celebrate, the hotel has created the swanky "Baron of Austin Experience Package" in partnership with the Austin Zoo. Guests who book a stay in one of the luxurious suites using the promo code "BARON" will receive two free admission passes to the zoo, cocktail vouchers for "The Basking Baron" (a secret menu specialty cocktail from Stephen F's Bar and Terrace), and 10 percent of the proceeds from the stay will be donated to the zoo. Nightly rates for suites begin at the princely sum of $729.
The banks of Waller Creek will soon be aglow with illuminated art installations as part of Waterloo Greenway's free creek show, which has been a must-see annual event since 2014. Visitors can experience Austin in a whole new light and walk along 9th Street to Waterloo Park to experience the eye-catching artwork from November 10-18. This year's show features six new light-based art pieces created by local artists and designers. The show will run from 6 pm to 10 pm.
In the Hill Country
Texans on fall getaways will find a winter wonderland at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, starting already on November 11. The popular resort's Hill Country Christmas adventures are rolling out several familiar and brand new immersive experiences. Resort guests and visitors can slide down Snow Flow Mountain, sing their favorite holiday carols with Mrs. Claus, decorate gingerbread houses, participate in a Secret Santa Scavenger hunt, and more. Ticket prices range from from $12.99 to $39.99 for different activities, and bundle ticket pricing is available. The Hill Country Christmas experiences will run until December 31.
For even more Hill Country holiday revelry, travelers can take a spin on the ice rink at the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave, beginning November 10. The Galleria is bringing the wintery activity back this year after its highly successful debut season in 2022. The ice rink will be open daily at varying hours, and reservations are encouraged. Tickets for a 60-minute skate session are $15 each, which also includes the skate rental.
Weekend holiday events are also ramping up in the Gruene Historic District in New Braunfels, but visitors can catch live music in the small town every day, all year. The Grapevine Garden's monthly "Come and Taste It" event falls on November 16, and is open to the public for all to share in delightful Texas wines and craft beer. Riding in for some early Christmas cheer, Cowboy Kringle will visit Gruene for special photo sessions with families from November 18-19 and 24-26. If you're hanging around the small town on the first weekend for Cowboy Kringle, make sure to stick around for the Old Gruene Market Days to shop the many vendors selling handmade items and locally made food.
Around Central Texas
Waco's Fixer Upper royalty Chip and Joanna Gaines are resuming tours of their century-old "Cottonwood Castle," which they spent years renovating and showcased on TV last fall. One-hour, guided walking tours that explore its design and history will be offered Mondays through Saturdays, for a limited time. Tour tickets are available online in timed intervals from 9 am to 12:30 pm through January 31, 2024. Tickets are $50 (children under four are free), and groups of six or more can receive a 10 percent discount.
Just down the road, the Gaineses' fixed-up Hotel 1928 also officially opens for reservations on November 1. The 33-room, luxe boutique hotel sits in the historic Grand Karem Shrine Building in downtown Waco and is named for the year in which it was completed. Rates start at $375 per night. Hotel 1928 will get its own weekly TV series, Fixer Upper: The Hotel, beginning 8 pm November 8 on Magnolia Network.
In North Texas
Even before the official Christmas in the Fort Worth Stockyardscelebration in December, the holidays arrive with the Stockyards Rodeo Rink on November 20, and several other spirited Christmas activities. Santa's Grand Arrival Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place right after Thanksgiving on November 24, and visitors can grab photos with Cowboy Santa on Wednesdays through Sundays starting that same day until December 24. Mrs. Claus will hold her classic story time hour for families on Thanksgiving weekend and into December.
November 22, 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will acknowledge the sad occasion with a special exhibition opening November 8. "Two Days in Texas" will revisit the former president's November 1963 trip to Texas through eyewitness accounts and his own words. Original film footage, photographs, news articles, and more will be drawn from the museum’s collection of more than 95,000 artifacts relating to the assassination. Never-before-seen video of Kennedy's motorcade will also be debuted during the exhibition, which will run until June 16, 2024. "Two Days in Texas" is included with the price of admission ($18 for adults until December 31, and $22 beginning January 1, 2024).
The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas partnered with Texas-based design firm Rottet Studio for a multimillion-dollar renovation that, it promises, "redefines the standards of opulence." The hotel's public areas, Club Lounge, and all of the 218 guest rooms and suites have gotten their own upgrades with new luxurious amenities. The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas is offering a limited time “Destination Dallas” package to celebrate the renovations through March 31, 2024. Guests can book one of the hotel’s deluxe city-view guest rooms using the code "CUE" and receive breakfast for two, a surprise welcome amenity, a 20 percent discount on spa services, and two tickets for the JFK Trolley Tour. Room rates for the package begin at $1,079 per night in November.