Austin might be lacking in cold weather and snow (thank god) but it is in no way lacking Holiday cheer. Christmas in Austin is one of my favorite times of the year (second to full on 100+ degree summers). The holiday spirit is everywhere, some of my favorite places transform into winter wonderlands for the season. It’s the best of both worlds- a touch of my northeastern home without the actual snow and cold weather!
Here is a compilation of just a few of my favorite things to do in Austin during the holidays, I end up going out every night and lacking sleep just to experience the holiday transformations before they’re over until next year.
Trail of Lights (December 10- December 23): walk through the pretty Christmas lit trail at Zilker Park, see Santa’s workshop and definitely get the popcorn! Bonus points for bringing your own “hot chocolate.”
COTA Winter Wonderland (thru December 30): because it’s new, it’s not as great as trail of lights (yet), but they do have a petting zoo! You can walk out on the racetrack and admire all of the Christmas lights- I absolutely love this idea!
Mozart’s Coffee: Three holiday songs synced with Christmas lights, playing every fifteen minutes (opposed to the previous year’s schedule of once at the top of every hour). Siting on the deck with a cup of hot chocolate and one of their delicious pastries will for sure get you in the holiday spirit!
Life Size Gingerbread House: stop into the Westin and admire the adorable gingerbread house. Afterwards, take the elevator to the rooftop to see the most gorgeous sunset in Austin!
Santa’s Ranch (College Station): although this one is a few hours outside of Austin, it’s a very popular spot and worth the road trip. It’s an elevated Trail of Lights experience where you can also see Santa!
Texas Stars Hockey Game!
Decorate (and clean up) your own Christmas tree on 360: Have you ever driven 360 during the winter and seen the little trees decorated with ornaments? Well, you can do that yourself! Just make sure you go back and clean it up!
Ice Skating: Whole Foods is transformed into an ice skating rink! Make sure to stop by and experience what’s its like to ice skate in Texas!
Johnson City Lights: When the sun goes down, the small town square in Johnson City is magical, you really need to go see it for yourself! (Pro Tip: get a beer to go from Pecan Street Brewery!)
Miracle on 5th Street: The Roosevelt Room is transformed into a Christmas bar with inspired cocktails, music, lights and Elf playing on repeat!
LaLa’s Little Nugget: My personal favorite, Lala’s is a bar that looks like it threw up Christmas. You can come here year round and count down the days until Christmas!
37th Street Lights: The homes on 37th street get real weird with it, it’s something you just have to see for yourself!
Tree Lightings: Many of the local hotels and neighborhoods host tree lighting specials! My favorites are The Driskill, because its gorgeous, and The Hotel Granduca, they have free mulled wine and Christmas cookies!
Armadillo Christmas Spectacular: So many small, local businesses participate in various ‘Sip & Shops’ throughout the city! I’ve seen them everywhere from the Palmer Events Center to Rainey Street. Get some of that holiday shopping done while supporting local small businesses!
Now that you know where to get your Christmas fix- grab your friends, make some eggnog and listen to Pandora’s Christmas Radio. Get in the holiday spirit and spread some Christmas cheer!!
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