Quantcast
Photo courtesy of Lafayette Travel

It's worth it to visit Lafayette, Louisiana, any time of year, but come December through February and you’ll be treated to a winter wonderland — with mild temperatures that barely fall into the 30s and 40s.

Use this guide to start planning your winter getaway to the Happiest City in America.

Cajun & Creole Christmas
The holiday season in Acadiana is filled with all things merry and bright, from twinkling light displays and holiday markets to concerts, foodie events, tree lightings, parades, carolers, and even a tour of homes. You can see a full list of November and December events here.

In the last decade or so, Cajun and zydeco music enthusiasts from all over the country have made Lafayette the place to be for dancing while ushering in the coming year. From the Wednesday before NYE through the big night itself, dancehalls are filled with the happy feet of both visitors and locals two-stepping and waltzing across the floor.

Mid-Winter Fair Rodeo
Celebrating its 70th birthday, Louisiana’s most famous and longest-running rodeo returns to the Blackham Coliseum January 5-8, 2023, and features the world's greatest rodeo competitors, livestock, and entertainers. Watch as the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls compete for cash prizes in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronco riding, calf and team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding.

Opelousas Gumbo Cook-off
If you find yourself with a hankering for some great gumbo on the last Saturday in January, get your fill at the annual Gumbo Cook-Off in Opelousas. It's $50 to compete, but free to watch and sample.

Then, dance it all off with a full lineup of live Cajun and zydeco music. The best part? All proceeds from the cook-off benefit a child whose family is burdened with medical-related expenses.

Cinema On The Bayou Film Festival
The 18th Cinema On the Bayou Film Festival is happening from January 25-February 1, 2023. Cinema on the Bayou presents U.S. and Louisiana premieres of more than 200 new, cutting-edge fiction and non-fiction films from around the world, laced with Cajun culture's unique cuisine and great music.

Mardi Gras
The holiday season culminates in purple, green, and gold splendor for Mardi Gras on February 21, 2023. In Louisiana, Mardi Gras is actually a state holiday!

Between the official start of "Mardi Gras season" on January 6 (aka Twelfth Night) and February 21, revelers from all over the world come to participate in parades, balls, and beads. In the countryside, the unique and colorful rural celebrations such as the "courir," or Mardi Gras run, date back to the founding of the Cajun settlements.

In the days leading up to Mardi Gras, the area’s dancehalls and bars feature a plethora of Acadiana’s hottest Cajun and zydeco bands playing to packed dance floors of locals and visitors alike. Additionally, Lafayette’s answer to New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras Indians parade and perform on Mardi Gras day in spectacular hand-crafted costumes, intricately festooned with beads and feathers.

Wintertime is fun time in Lafayette, and the festive spirit is everywhere. Red and green Christmas decorations give way to the purple, green, and gold of Mardi Gras, and the revelry continues. Come and join the celebration by planning your visit here.

Photo courtesy of Lafayette Travel

Winter is a colorful time to visit Lafayette, Louisiana.

Photo courtesy of RVshare

Head out on a fall haul in a luxe RV to experience the Hill Country

On the Road

It’s the season of tailgates and football, parties and potlucks, changing leaves and twinkling lights — and, of course, pumpkin spice.

But these last two months of the year in Texas are also prime time for getting back in touch with nature after a long, hot summer.

Reward yourself for surviving the swelter with the ultimate Hill Country glamping getaway. And don’t you worry if that Instagrammable teepee or yurt you’ve hearted is all booked up. There’s another way to make a resy at any of mother nature’s Texas gems: via luxury RV.

This transportable luxe accommodation means you can road-trip it to any number of places, and RVshare has your fall haul handled. The RV rental company brings more than 100,000 high-end models to the table, each boasting a range of styles, amenities, and sizes.

They even have a delivery option, where they’ll drive your RV of choice to your destination and set the whole thing up. Because glamping shouldn’t involve a single ounce of elbow grease.

Need some travel inspo? Check out this short list of the Hill Country’s gifts to Texas and hit the road.

Canyon Lake
Recognized as “The Jewel” of the Texas Hill Country, Canyon Lake is located along the Guadalupe River and is known for its superior water recreation options. But there are plenty of hiking trails and parks, too, along with a golf course.

When you go, you’ll want to book some space at Mystic Quarry Resort, which is a mod Texas glamping and RV destination. In addition to super-cool surrounds, you’ll find all the little luxuries there like an onsite shuttle bus, fitness center, yard games, dog parks, special events, and more.

Lake Pointe RV Resort and Condominiums is another hidden oasis in the area, with 50-plus acres of boating, water skiing, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing within easy reach. Many of the RV sites come with lake views, too.

Lost Maples State Natural Area
Celebrated for its changing fall colors, Los Maples State Natural Area is a sight to behold. While there, you’ll also see steep canyon walls and the scenic Sabinal River along 10 miles of trails, including a loop that takes you along the top of a 2,200-foot cliff.

Thirty campsites are available in the natural area, or you can set up camp in the Utopia Oaks RV Park, which boasts inspiring scenery, mountain views, and wildlife, too.

While in Utopia, head to The Laurel Tree to savor a glorious menu every Saturday. You can also reserve their treehouse for a one-of-a-kind private dinner. Or stop in for classic diner fare at Lost Maples Café — don’t skip their sky-high meringue pies.

Texas Wine Trail
The Hill Country also lays claim to more than 50 wineries and vineyards — dubbed the Texas Wine Trail — and Fredericksburg is home base for many of them.

Leave the RV at Bending Oaks Ranch RV Resort — a 21-and-over, tree-saturated haven complete with Longhorn cattle and local music performances — and check out the town’s quaint German architecture, cuisine, and shopping before hitting the trail.

Also nearby is the Texas Wine Country Jellystone Park, a family-friendly option with mini golf, a jumping pillow, and more. And the Vineyards of Fredericksburg is a new outpost to park that RV, and it comes with a side of incredible views along with amenities like fire pits on every site, disc golf, and more.

Hill Country Craft Beer Trail
The hopheads can also get their fill on the Beer Trail. New Braunfels is your starting point — and don’t miss Texas’s oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall, while you’re in town. They have live music every night.

Park your RV at the quirky-cool resort called Camp Fimfo, where you have direct access to the Guadalupe River, which is year-round hot spot for fly fishing. Or set out on one of the river’s paddling trails. When you’re not on the water, check out Fimfo’s onsite activities, including mini golf, gem mining, retro yard games, and sports courts.

Lake Bastrop North Shore and South Shore State Park
Surrounding the 900-acre Lake Bastrop on the north shore and south shore, both of these Lake Bastrop park outposts come correct for RVs. They’re the perfect places to pull in for fishing and water recreation, and canoe, kayak, and SUP rentals are readily available. By land, there are miles of hike and bike trails where you can experience the beauty of the Lost Pines region firsthand.

At the North Shore, swing by Base Camp Deli for curated picnic bundles. And on the South Shore, you’ll find mini golf and a volleyball court, too.

If you’re looking for a few other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop, you’re not far from several breweries and taprooms. Also, Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and the Iron Bridge Icehouse (open weekends only!) are both on the banks of the Colorado River and serve great food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

McKinney Falls State Park
For a rural-meets-urban vibe, McKinney Falls State Park is within Austin city limits but you’ll still feel fully immersed in nature, with nearly nine miles of trails as well the background sounds of Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools.

Campsites are fully equipped and ready to go in the park. Plus, you can always head into downtown Austin for dinner and live music if you need a break from all that nature.

--

Founded in 2013, RVshare is the largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace and can help you secure everything from a travel trailer to a luxury motorhome, all backed with extraordinary customer service from the RVshare team. Renters get payment and fraud protection, plus 24/7 emergency roadside service and even free delivery where available. Pets are welcome in specified vehicles. To rent an RV for your next glamping trip, click here.

Photo courtesy of Margaritaville Lake Resort

Fall into fun this autumn at Margaritaville Lake Resort in Lake Conroe

No Passport Required

Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. The calendar at the Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe is jam-packed with plenty of events and activities this fall that will keep the good times rolling.

Photo courtesy of Margaritaville Lake Resort

Every hour is happy hour at Margaritaville Lake Resort.

Receive a $100 resort credit per day at all the restaurants and bars the resort offers. You can also receive 25 percent off at St. Somewhere Spa, 25 percent off on a round of golf, and 25 percent off a boat rental with the resort’s special promotion “No Passport Required.”

Below are a few of the events and activities on tap at Margaritaville Lake Resort this fall:

Wine Pairing Dinner
Raise a glass to fall on October 19 with wines from Bernhardt Winery paired with tantalizing Margaritaville-inspired dishes. The fixed menu includes Ahi tuna tostada, burrata caprese salad, steak au poivre, and tiramisu. Special Margaritaville-branded wines also will be available. The cost is $90 per person. Call 1-877-286-9590 to reserve your spot today.

Halloween at Margaritaville Lake Resort
Pack up your costumes and treat your family to a Halloween like no other. It’s not a trick — with two heated pools, two hot tubs, and a variety of Halloween activities planned, there’s no end to the frightening fun. Make a weekend out of it and have a scary good time all weekend long. On October 29, there will be trick-or-treating throughout the resort for the kids, a family costume contest, and so much more.

Margaritaville 5K
Lace up your sneakers and escape to paradise on November 19 from 8-11 am. Boasting more than 20,000 acres of glassy waters surrounded by lush, green golf courses, Lake Conroe is the perfect setting for a gorgeous run. For more information and to register, visit here.

LandShark Bar & Grill and Boathouse Bar & Lounge Happy Hours
Every hour is happy hour at Margaritaville Lake Resort. Check out this variety of food and drink specials, available four nights a week from 4-7 pm:

  • Margaritaville Mondays
  • Taco Tuesday
  • Ladies Happy Hour (Wednesdays)
  • Texan Night (Thursdays)

Sing your heart out every Thursday night from 8-11 pm in the LandShark Bar & Grill. Enjoy refreshing cocktails and beers on tap plus a variety of bar bites. To learn more, visit the website.

Golf and Spa Happy Hours
From 11 am-2 pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays, The Club at Margaritaville Lake Resort offers golfing Happy Hour, which includes a golf cart and greens fees for $45. The friendly resort course meanders through a landscape of tall pines, sandy beaches, and cascading waterfalls that create one of the most enjoyable golfing experiences in Montgomery County.

If golfing isn’t your kind of margarita, spend happy hour at St. Somewhere Spa. Relax and renew with discounts on several spa treatments booked between 12 pm and 3:59 pm, Sunday through Thursday. Find more details on the website.

Football and playoff baseball in Boathouse and LandShark
Watch as your favorite baseball team makes a bid for the World Series or your favorite football team runs for the end zone. Gather your friends and settle in for an afternoon of fall sports at Boathouse Bar & Lounge or LandShark Bar & Grill all season long.

Thanksgiving 2022
This year, let Margaritaville Lake Resort do the cooking. Make plans to join the resort for Thanksgiving and bask in tranquil views of Lake Conroe as you enjoy some of your traditional favorites. Refreshing fall cocktails, Blood Marys, and mimosas are on the menu for $19-plus. Adults are $69 and up, children are $30 and up, and children 5 and under are complimentary. Members receive a 20 percent discount, and reservations are highly encouraged — please call 1-877-286-9590.

For these events and more activities happening this fall at Margaritaville Lake Resort, visit here.

Courtesy of Camp Margaritaville

New Galveston-area beach club and RV resort revs up with Texas-sized pool, restaurant, dog parks, and more

Wastin' away

An RV resort near Galveston Island is getting a major upgrade. After a comprehensive series of renovations, the property currently known as Bolivar Beach Club & RV Resort will become Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach.

Located on Bolivar Peninsula, the 150-acre property features ocean views and over 200 RV parking spots. The facility also features a concert venue, "Texas-sized" pool with swim-up bar pool-side cabanas, and a turf playing field. Upgrades will include the addition of the Fins Bar & Grill restaurant and a bar called License to Chill.

RV drivers will find amenities such as electric, water and sewer hookups, complimentary Wi-Fi, dog parks, a gym, and facilities for showering and doing laundry. The location gives visitors close proximity to 27 miles of beaches along the peninsula.

"We’ve seen incredible success and excitement around our existing Camp Margaritaville RV Resort locations and are thrilled to expand our presence in the state of Texas,” Margaritaville COO Brad Schwaeble said in a statement. “As more and more people are finding new ways to travel and explore, Camp Margaritaville Crystal Beach will provide everything needed for a getaway for all ages.”

Camp Margaritaville joins the company's existing Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe. Opened in the summer of 2020, it features 335 suites, an 18-hole golf course, a three-acre waterpark with a lazy river and outdoor pools, and more.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

6 perfect weekend trips from Houston for a true Texas getaway

Post-Summer Plans

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement.

Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take one (or more) as a just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of 5 Airstream campers, 2 cabins, or 6 safari style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop, including a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, BBQ grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls
Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.
Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock

3 unexpected — but delicious and fun — reasons to travel to Lubbock

1, 2, 3

Looking for a getaway that's full of music, wine, and good food? Look no further than Lubbock, a northwest Texas city that has all this and so much more.

Wine country
The Lubbock area is located within the Texas High Plains AVA, which accounts for 90 percent of all Texas wine grapes grown and produced.

With more than a dozen wineries, and six award-winning wineries in the Lubbock area, wine tastings are available for all palate preferences.

Drop in for a glass or two at Burklee Hill Vineyards and McPherson Cellars, the latter of which is owned by winemaker Kim McPherson, a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist.

Just outside of city limits, Reddy Vineyards, Llano Estacado, and English Newsom Cellars offer full tastings and tours of the vineyards on property.

Llano Estacado is the second oldest winery in the state and hosts multiple wine festivals per year, including Grape Day, an annual event in October that celebrates the end of harvest season.

High Plains cuisine
You'll find that the food here offers a distinct West Texas flare that pays tribute to the ingredients grown and raised in the area.

Not only does the locale have a large influence on the dishes served in local restaurants around town, but Lubbock’s diverse culture is also on display in each plate.

From La Diosa Cellars, a Spanish tapas restaurant, to Llano Cubano, a Cuban food truck, the offerings for dining in Lubbock are as extensive as they are rich.

Restaurants of note include The Nicolett — home to chef Finn Walter, a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas — Dirk’s, The West Table, Claraboya, Thai Pepper, Stella’s, Evie Mae’s BBQ, and Rave On at The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences.

Standing ovation
Music lovers and theatergoers will be thrilled with the diverse lineup of performances onstage in Lubbock nightly. From Broadway performances like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen to national headlining acts like Tim Allen and Lady A, the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences offers shows for all preferences.

As the birthplace of Buddy Holly, Lubbock is no stranger to good music and local talent. The legacy of Lubbock legends such as Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, Waylon Jennings, and Josh Abbott take center stage at one of the many music festivals, including JABFest in October.

Fun fact: Lubbock currently boasts the most live music venues per capita in the Lone Star State.

To start planning your itinerary of Lubbock's restaurants, wineries, and attractions, head over to VisitLubbock.org.

La Diosa Cellars serves a stellar Sunday brunch.

Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock
La Diosa Cellars serves a stellar Sunday brunch.
Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

---

Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.