Fall Fun and Festivals in Central Texas


With fall in full swing in the Central Texas Hill Country, there are a number of fun fall activities happening in and around the city of Kyle. If you’re looking for a weekend day trip with the family or just an afternoon of fun, these fall festivities are Central Texas staples that delight both locals and visitors alike.

Renaissance Festival

Photo courtesy CBS Houston, ROBERT FRANCOIS/AFP/Getty Images

Texas Renaissance Festival

The Texas Renaissance Festival is a longstanding Central Texas fall tradition. Located between Houston and Kyle, the fair celebrates all things medieval, with food, games, rides and more. Known as the largest Renaissance theme park in the country, the Texas Renaissance Festival recreates the look and feel of a 16th century British village. From daring knights to fair maidens, kings and queens to Shakespeare himself, this festival invites the whole family to take a step into history. This year the festival will feature themed weekends, including Roman Bacchanal, Barbarian Invasion, Celtic Christmas, and more. The festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and is open Saturdays and Sundays until November 30th, 2014.

Wursfest

Photo courtesy USA Today

Wurstfest

Another iconic fall festival, Wurstfest in New Braunfels is a haven for German culture and food. For 10 days in November, the Wursfest Grounds in Landa Park will be filled with sausage, beer, music and more. Newly expanded for 2014, this year’s Wurstfest will be the biggest ever, with a marketplace, additional live music stages and a vast selection of local craft beers as well as German brews. Originally just a sausage-centric festival, Wursfest has expanded to attract tens of thousands of visitors each year. Located just 30 minutes south of Kyle, Wursfest opens on November 7th and goes until the 16th.

Chuy's Christmas Parade

Photo courtesy Chuy’s Christmas Parade

Chuys Christmas Parade

Christmas comes early in Austin with Chuy’s annual Christmas Parade. Held in the heart of downtown Austin on Congress Avenue, this parade features floats, giant balloons, and, of course, Santa Claus. Attendees of the parade are encouraged to bring a toy to donate to Operation Blue Santa to help bring Christmas gifts to kids throughout the area who otherwise would go without. It’s a fun way to celebrate the start of the holiday season, Texas style. The Chuy’s Christmas Parade takes place at 11 a.m. on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, November 29th, 2014.

Celebrate Pi Day (3.14) with Delicious Baked Goods Around Central Texas


Happy Pi Day tomorrow, Central Texas! In celebration of March 14, the day the world celebrates one of the most widely-known mathematical constants (3.14), take a bite out of the diameter of some delicious baked goods at some of the best pi(e) establishments in Central Texas – one of which is located right here in Kyle!

Central Texas Pies

For decades, the Texas Pie Company has baked fresh homestyle pies, casseroles and other delicious baked goods in the heart of downtown Kyle. The pie recipes used at Texas Pie Company have been handed down through the generations of Chef Julie Albertson’s family, and have been tantalizing the taste buds of Kyle residents and people all over Central Texas for years. Their pies are renowned in Central TX – and they have a larger-than-life pie as their storefront landmark, so it’s an impossible spot to miss. Not only does the Texas Pie Company offer some of the best pies in Central Texas, they are a full-service restaurant too – serving daily lunch specials, casseroles, fresh made sandwiches, salads and many other desserts every day. They also offer a pickup and shipping service for their baked goods so people who don’t live in Kyle can still enjoy the sweet goodness of the Texas Pie Company.

North of Kyle, Marble Fall’s Blue Bonnet Café is another favorite pie establishment in Central Texas. Since 1929, the Blue Bonnet Café has been a community hot spot in Marble Falls – both for residents of the area and for travelers just passing through. They have a range of food options available for lunch and dinner, but pies are by far the fan favorite. As a Yelp reviewer put it: “This is the pie capital of Texas! My personal preference is to order as many slices of pie as possible and skip everything else.” Blue Bonnet Café even has a Pie Happy Hour every afternoon during the week from 3-5 p.m. For this happy hour, the Blue Bonnet Cafe produces about 75-100 pies every daily, with that amount nearly doubling on the weekend!

Central Texas Pies

Photo courtesy of the Austin Chronicle

So, this Friday, enjoy Pi(e) Day in Central Texas with some favorite local establishments. You think you can wolf down 3.14 pies over the course of the day?

 

Hill Country Lights for the Holidays


Chilly nights in December are the perfect time for packing up your family and friends to explore some of the beautiful holiday light displays available across Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country. The annual Texas Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail is an assemblage of  lighting displays from small towns throughout the region, including  Austin, Bandera, Blanco, Boerne, Burnet, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, Marble Falls and Wimberley. To help you navigate the displays, the lighting trail website offers a helpful map and schedule of events and activities in each city.

Bandera is one of the stops on the Regional Lighting Trail, and, as the ‘Cowboy Capital of Texas’, Bandera will be hosting its annual Christmas Singing in the Saddle event at the Longhorn Saloon tomorrow evening, December 18th. Visitors are encouraged to bring, or rent horses, for Christmas caroling down Main Street at this event, and there will be hot chocolate and sweet treats available for visitors at the end of the parade ride.

While Fredericksburg, Texas is a popular getaway year-round, the town is extra special during the holiday season. Over the course of the holidays, Fredericksburg’s unique German heritage is on display with holiday décor, which includes a 26-foot-tall Christmas Pyramid at the town’s Marktplatz. Other attractions include an outdoor ice skating rink, 150 specialty shops with crafts from local artists, 75 restaurants serving everything from traditional German cuisine to unique Hill Country dishes, and over 400 bed and breakfast options for overnight guests.

Central Texas holiday

Photo courtesy of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce

Just down the road from Fredericksburg, the Johnson City courthouse lighting display is one of the largest lighting displays in the state. Millions of lights cover the historic Blanco County Courthouse, creating a visual treat.  The lights are up until January 1st, and the inside of the courthouse is open on Saturday and Sunday nights throughout December from 6:00-9:00 p.m. for photos in front of the large Christmas tree, and the local Garden Club will be on hand to sell crafts and ornaments.

Located on Highway 281, just 40 miles west of Austin, Blanco, Texas celebrates the holiday season with the lighting of Blanco’s downtown Bindsiel Park. The park lights are open for holiday visitors until January 6th and, while in Blanco, visitors can enjoy the many antique shops and boutiques along the courthouse square as well. Another notable lighted courthouse in the area is the historic Burnet County Courthouse in Burnet, Texas, which shines  with thousands of white lights all over the building’s façade. Burnet is also home to a massive 18-foot multi-color Christmas tree, which is perfect for photo ops.  The Burnet lighting display is open nightly until January 1st.

Since 1991, the Marble Falls Walkway of Lights has also delighted visitors of all ages. Over 2 million lights dot  150+ decorated sculptures, which create a magical reflection on the waters of Lake Marble Falls. This enchanting self-guided tour is open nightly beginning at 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. until January 1st.

Central Texas holiday

Photo courtesy of the Marble Falls Walkway of Lights Facebook Page

Also just outside of Austin, Wimberley hosts its 16th Annual Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens. This year’s trail features 8 acres of glowing displays decorated by local businesses and community groups, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to celebrate the season every Friday and Saturday evening until Christmas.  Nearby, in Austin, the beloved Trail of Lights at Zilker Park is open nightly until December 22nd, with an exciting schedule of entertainment from local bands.

Holidays in the Hill Country are unlike any other celebration. The region offers free, easily accessible lighting displays and events sure to charm visitors of all ages.  So pack up your crew this weekend and experience the joy of the season.

Elgin and Bastrop This Holiday Season


Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm is open for business. The Christmas tree farm has been a beloved Central Texas tradition since it opened as a small retirement business in 1984; and today, the farm has the largest selection of Christmas trees in Central Texas.  Each year the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm plants over 6,000-7,000 seedlings, and they have multiple fields that they sell from each year. Their farm has a variety of different trees, including Virginia Pines, Loblolly Pines, Leyland Cypresses and pre-cut Fraser Fir Trees, and not only are you getting an authentic, Central Texas-grown Christmas tree  at their farm, you’re getting an experience along with it as well! The farm  features fun, family-friendly activities including a petting zoo, scenic hayrides, mazes, a Christmas Cottage and a children’s playground. They’re open every day until 5:30 p.m., except later on Thursdays and Fridays, when they’re open until 8:30 p.m.

Central Texas

Photo courtesy of YNN

Elgin is a bit of a drive from Kyle for a Christmas tree. (And totally worth it, for the experience of the farm and the smell of fresh pine in your home throughout the holiday season.) But if you need another reason to make the journey worth your while, Bastrop is hosting their annual Lost Pines Christmas celebration this weekend (Thursday , December 12th through Sunday, December 15th). Each day of the holiday party offers something different and unique, including stargazing and other activites at McKinney Rough Nature Park, the Christmas Street Market in downtown Bastrop, Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Bastrop Public Library, an array of shows and performances including The Nutcracker, as well as lighted Christmas parades, the Bastrop River of Lights and more.

More than 30 family-friendly activities occur throughout the four day weekend, and each event is distinctly and uniquely Bastrop. Visit the Lost Pines Christmas website for a full schedule and details about the event. It’s a great way to have some holiday fun away from home, for a day or for the weekend!

Central Texas holidays

Bastrop River of Lights courtesy of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce

Pumpkin Patches, Haunted Houses and More Halloween Fun Around Central Texas


Halloween is less than a week away, and we’re sure that by now, your house is decorated, you’ve watched The Nightmare Before Christmas at least once or twice, and you’ve mastered your costume, or at least have an idea of what to do. If not, you can always scrape together something from Goodwill or your closet, right?  If you’ve done all of the above (or even if you haven’t) and you’re looking for some fall and Halloween-related activities, there are a TON of things to do in Central Texas to help get you outside and into the spirit of the fall.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of the Kyle United Methodist Church Facebook page

One great way to do so is to visit a pumpkin patch. Kyle has its own at the Kyle United Methodist Church, which is open for your pumpkin pleasure until Halloween day. The patch’s hours are 2:30 p.m. to dusk, Monday – Friday; 9 a.m. to dusk, Saturday; and noon to dusk on Sunday. When the season started, KUMC had over 1,300 pumpkins to choose from, and, with such a starting collection, there are still plenty of pumpkins for you and your family to carve or paint. If you’re up for more of an adventure, or just want to get out-of-town for some fun, Sweetberry Farm in Marble Falls and the Barton Hill Farms in Bastrop both offer more fall fun than just pumpkin patches. Sweetberry Farms’ festivities take place 6 days a week (save for Wednesday) and includes scarecrow hayrides, corn mazes for all ages, a petting zoo, ice cream, picnics and more. Parking and entrance to the farm is free, but there are some small charges for the activities. More information about Sweetberry Farm is available here. And info about Barton Hill Farms’ fall festivities, here.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Barton Hills Farm Corn Maze via Hilltop Views

Haunted Houses are also fun ways to get in the spirit, and the area around Kyle is known for having some scary ones. Up in Austin, the House of Torment was recently voted one of the scariest haunted houses in the NATION by Haunt World. Three different haunted houses make up the House of Torment, and general admission to all three of them is just $24.99. House of Torment is open nightly until Halloween, and after Halloween they’re open on Fridays and Saturdays until November 16th. You probably want to keep the kids at home for this one though, as it’s a pretty rough ride – but maybe you’ve got a trooper with nerves of steel who can handle the spookiness Other area haunted houses include the Shivers Haunted House and the 13th Floor Haunted House, both a little further away in San Antonio.

For a little tamer Halloween fun, the Kyle public library is hosting a Halloween movie night and a Halloween story time  the Tuesday and Wednesday before the big day. And the “R We There Yet Mom” blog has a robust list of family-friendly events taking place throughout the month across Central Texas, including the Halloween Children’s Concert from the Austin Symphony on October 27th, Goblins in the Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in South Austin and the Umlauf’s Pumpkin Sculpting Competition.

So here’s to fall fun, being scared and eating lots of candy. Hope you and yours have a very Happy Halloween!

Kyle Parks & Rec’s Outdoor Family Workshop and Geocaching in Central Texas


The cooler weather of the fall is here, which means it’s time to get out of the house and enjoy the time of year that’s meant for Central Texas. Rake some leaves, relax on a front porch in the crisp, autumn mornings, host a neighborhood block party, or coordinate a spontaneous flag football game in your neighborhood. Or better yet spend some time discovering some of the outdoor hidden gems sprinkled across Central Texas, just minutes away from home!

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Kyle Daily Photo

To start you off, the City of Kyle Parks & Recreation Department is hosting an Outdoor Family Workshop & Campout at Lake Kyle this weekend to celebrate the return of fall. The workshop is designed to get families outside to appreciate nature – and to introduce them to some fun, outdoor activities in the process. The stay-the-night workshop takes place this Saturday and Sunday, with instructional sessions scheduled throughout the day on Saturday. Families can choose to participate in the sessions, or, if you’d prefer, you can use the allotted session time to explore the Lake Kyle facility on your own.

Some really fun instructional sessions are planned for the day though, including geocaching, kayaking, air rifle shooting, archery, fishing, basic outdoor survival, camping 101, rock climbing and slacklining! And where else can you shoot a bow and arrow or go rock climbing so conveniently in Kyle? More information about the workshop, including registration information (just $10 a tent!) can be found on the Kyle Parks and Recreation Department’s website.

One of the Workshop & Campout’s session topics – geocaching – is a great way to organically discover some new and interesting outdoor marvels in Central Texas.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game that takes participants to special outdoor areas to discover beautiful views, breath-taking trees and scenery, and many other hidden gems. There are over 2 million geocaches all over the world, and all you need to take the journey is a GPS device or a GPS-enabled cell phone to help you navigate to the secret spots. Central Texas is replete with geocache spots, and there are multiple websites available to help with the process, including Central Texas Geocachers and Austin Explorer. There are tons of geocaching smartphone apps out there too – some free, others not – to make your exploration as simple and convenient as possible.

Plum Creek TX

Photo courtesy of Central Texas Geocachers

It’s a fun way to explore old haunts, and to discover new ones – so, some weekend this fall, put on some comfortable shoes, grab some sunscreen and load the family up for a day of outdoor exploration. Who knows what you might find?

 

Labor Day Festivals and Events in Central Texas


Monday is Labor Day – meaning the end of the summer, the beginning of fall, and a three day weekend to help ease you into the season. For Central Texans, Labor Day is usually still a scorcher, but there are many things you can do to celebrate in Central Texas, either for the day or for the weekend.

About an hour and a half west of Kyle, the Kerrville Fall Music Fundraiser celebrates the spirit of songwriting and drink-making at the Quiet Valley Ranch, Friday August 30th, to Sunday September 1st. The three-day event features tastings and seminars from some of Central Texas’ premiere wineries and breweries, along with performances from a number of local and regional songwriters. Performances will take place during the days and at night; but the wine and beer booths will only be set up during the night performances, from wineries and breweries hailing from all over the state – including Fredericksburg’s Pedernales Brewing Company, Austin‘s Independence Brewing Company, Messina Hof Winery, and Becker Vineyards, among others.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo by Susan Roads, courtesy of KerrvilleMusic.com

East of Kyle, the Fayette County Fair takes place in La Grange Thursday through Sunday on the Fayette County Fairgrounds. In its 86th year, the annual festival is an iconic Central Texas event, featuring agriculture and livestock shows, live music, a beauty pageant, a BBQ cook off, carnival rides and more. Tickets to the fair are $15 and include access to everything but the carnival rides. The carnival is open every evening from 6:00 to close, and all-you-can-ride wristbands are $35. On Sunday, bring 4 canned goods for the AMEN food pantry and get $5 off the carnival wristband, too. The perfect family-friendly Labor Day activity, just a little over an hour away from Kyle.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of The Katy News

For those who wish to stay in town this Labor Day, there are countless ways to celebrate at home, with the family and the neighbors. The Kyle Pool is open from 11-5 until Labor Day, after which it closes for the season, and, for Plum Creek residents, there is always Fergus and McNaughton Pools. Or you can have one final summer grill out with the neighbors.