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.

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Break out the Tents! Exploring the Great Outdoors in Central Texas


Break out the Tents! Exploring the Great Outdoors in Central Texas

As fall finally approaches and those scorching Texas temperatures finally cool off, it’s the perfect time to make plans to visit one of the many state parks right here in Central Texas. Whether you like to camp or spend the day exploring, these hidden gems offer the chance to appreciate the natural beauty of Central Texas without traveling far from home. Grab your hiking boots and get ready to roast some marshmallows.

Lower-McKinney-Falls

Photo courtesy of McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls is the closest State Park to Austin and has all the natural beauty you could wish for but still close to home. Campsites are large and have a picnic table and fire pit. Located at the confluence of Onion and Williamson creeks, the park is a great place for swimming and hiking, and the falls are especially scenic after a good rain. You can also pay a visit to “Old Baldy,” a 500+ year-old, 103 food tall cypress tree, one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land in Texas. At only 25 minutes away from Plum Creek, this park offers a natural escape without a long-distance road trip beforehand.

texas parks

Photo courtesy of Bastrop State Park

Bastrop State Park

Bastrop State Park offers a magnificent bike trail through the Lost Pines of East Central Texas, in addition to swimming, hiking, and golf. The park has rebounded after the devastating 2011 wildfire, and nearly all of the trails, campsites, and facilities have reopened to the public. Cabins and facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s are still standing and available for group rental, or for those wishing to experience a bit of history while enjoying the outdoors. You can also rent a canoe or a barbeque pit at the park and spend the day enjoying the natural wonder of the Lost Pines at Bastrop or neighboring Buescher State Park. The park also features scenic drives, if you’d prefer to experience the great outdoors from the comfort of your own vehicle.

PedernalesFalls1TXDOT

Photo courtesy of Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is a favorite for family hikes, featuring an easy 7-mile trail that winds along small canyons created by the Mescal and Tobacco creeks. Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country west of Austin, Pedernales Falls is a great place for camping, mountain biking, fishing, bird watching, and more. The campground is spacious and well-kept, and offers campers a peaceful escape in a uniquely beautiful setting. The Pedernales River also offers some great swimming, tubing, and wading for cooling off after a day exploring the natural wonders. A quarter mile nature trail also leads to a scenic overlook of Twin Falls, perfect for capturing those postcard moments or just enjoying the breathtaking view. For equestrians, the park can also be explored on horseback on the rugged, 10 mile trail that winds up and down the hillsides.

Lockhart-2902

Photo courtesy of Lockhart State Park

Lockhart State Park

Southeast of Kyle, Lockhart State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family, including picnicking, camping, fishing, hiking, and more.  With nice hiking trails and several dams and fishing holes, this park is a great place to make a day trip or to camp for the night. The park also features a nine-hole golf course, the only staff-kept course in the Texas State Parks System, and a park swimming pool. RV travelers are welcome as well as traditional campers, and there is a CCC built recreation hall that can be rented for group events. And if you get tired of roasted marshmallows, the famous BBQ joints in Lockhart are only minutes away.

Want more to explore? Check out the Texas State Parks map on their website and plan your own adventure.

Local Art and Flea Markets Near Plum Creek


The local art community in Central Texas is unique in that it has the funky flavor of Austin but also a whole heap of southern, Texas charm. There are numerous venues in and around Kyle at which local artists and craftspeople share their creations with the community. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, paintings, sculptures or antiques, these markets will offer you the chance to find the hidden treasure you’re looking for.

 san marcos

Photo courtesy of Art Squared Arts Market

Art Squared Arts Market

The Art Squared Arts Market in San Marcos happens every second Saturday. From humble beginnings in 2012, this market has grown and moved to the San Marcos Downtown Square, where it offers emerging and established artists a platform to exhibit and sell their handcrafted art. The market is open from 9am to 4pm and also features live music, so bring a lawn chair or blanket to enjoy a day of music and art. If you’re an artist looking for a place to sell your wares, applications for booths are open for future Art Squared events.

kyle flea market

Photo courtesy of Austin 360

Kyle Flea Market

Right here in Kyle the Kyle Flea Market is open on weekends from 9am to 5pm. Known for it’s weird, surprising, and sometimes messy shopping, this market certainly has a lot of character. Established in 1980, the Kyle Flea Market is a place for the people in the community to buy, sell, and trade virtually anything and everything. The market also features Open-Air Swap Meet tables in front of the facility, available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A variety of restaurants throughout the market also offer hungry shoppers a place to grab a bite while browsing the collection of dusty treasures.

austin art market

Photo courtesy of http://www.firstthursdayaustin.com/

First Thursday

On a daily basis, South Congress Avenue in Austin often features mini-bazaars of locally-made arts and crafts, but First Thursday is the time when the artists really come out and make a showing. Held on the first Thursday of every month, this market / festival gives Austin artists and small businesses a chance to showcase their creativity in the middle of the bustling South Congress Avenue. At this market you can find all manner of handmade goods, from finely crafted jewelry to unique screen-printed t-shirts and much more. As a bonus, many of the well-known businesses on South Congress stay open late so you can enjoy all the funky shopping and dining this iconic Austin street offers well into the night.

austin flea market

Photo courtesy of http://www.austincountry.citymax.com/page/page/2934940.htm

Austin Country Flea Market

The Austin Country Flea Market is one of the oldest and largest flea markets in Central Texas. Just North of Austin, this veteran flea market is listed as #8 on Travel Channel’s Top 10 World’s Best Flea Markets. With 300 vendor spaces, the variety of the market is both vast and eclectic. Besides the expected handicrafts, there is also furniture, clothing, garage sales, auto accessories, and just about everything else you might never have known you needed. With live music every weekend, you could lose hours browsing the huge selection. The Austin Country Flea Market is open Saturday and Sunday, 10:00am to 6:00pm all year round.

Austin Art Market

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/23rdstreetartistsmarket

23rd Street Artist’s Market

You might not even notice this little market tucked away between 23rd and 24th streets on the Drag, but the 23rd Street Artist’s Market is an Austin staple. Also called the Renaissance Market, this little outcropping of vendors is surrounded by murals and is located right across from UT’s campus. Open since the 1970s, this market showcases some of the most essential Austin flavor and some of the best local art finds. Open daily but busiest on weekends, this small market is a local institution and a great place to experience what the art community of Austin has to offer.

Tee Off at these Beautiful Golf Courses in Central Texas


What better way to spend the dwindling days of summer than with 18 holes on some of Central Texas’s scenic golf courses? The area around Plum Creek features a wide variety of courses to challenge and delight every player, whatever their skill level or taste. Whether it’s to talk business or just to relax and play, these nearby courses will allow you to enjoy the Texas Hill Country at its finest.

Central Texas Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Grey Rock Golf Club

Grey Rock Golf Club

Just South of Austin, The Grey Rock Golf Club offers world class amenities only 30 minutes away from Plum Creek. With a spacious clubhouse nestled in a grove of live oaks, it’s a picturesque venue, great for relaxing after a round on the course, or for holding an event. The club also boats extensive practice facilities, with a well maintained putting green and driving range. With a friendly staff and a great layout, this course promises a superb golfing experience surrounded by the gorgeous Central Texas scenery.

Central Texas Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Landa Park Golf Course

Landa Park Golf Course

Landa Park Golf Course in New Braunfels is located adjacent the serene Comal River. Known for being well manicured and maintained, this course also is often visited by local wildlife such as deer and wild turkeys. With a challenging layout and a beautiful setting, this course truly showcases the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country. A great choice for golf outside of the immediate Austin area, the river setting is what truly makes this course stand out.

Central Texas Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Plum Creek Golf Club

Plum Creek Golf Club

Right here in Plum Creek, the Plum Creek Golf Course offers a high-caliber golf experience just minutes away from home. This Texas-sized course on over 200 acres offers challenging play with unique character in the heart of the Plum Creek community. Seeded to stay green all year round, this course is one of the best in the area and also home to the Texas State Men’s and Women’s golf teams. Designed so that no two fairways touch, and with black tees at a challenging 7100+ yards, Plum Creek offers a distinctive golf experience that all players will enjoy.

Central Texas Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Clay-Kizer Golf Course

Clay-Kizer Golf Course

As Austin’s largest municipal golf complex, the Clay-Kizer facility offers players 36 holes on two courses in South Austin. These small courses are known for being reasonably priced and well maintained, and suitable for players of all levels. With tree-lined fairways surrounded by Williamson Creek, these courses offer a variety of play at one convenient location. Five sets of tees make the course the right challenge every player. An Austin staple since 1974, these muni courses are a great golf experience at an affordable price.

Central Texas Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Fazio Foothills at Barton Creek

Fazio Foothills at Barton Creek

One of the most highly rated courses in all of Texas, the Fazio Foothills at Barton Creek offers a stunning experience in the heart of Austin. Known as the hardest of the four Barton Creek courses, nearly every hole of The Foothills boasts fabulous, postcard-worthy views. Though the Fazio Canyons is the signature course at Barton Creek, The Foothills is a local favorite as well. This premiere course features waterfalls and caves and takes advantage of the best of Central Texas’s natural features. It’s a little pricier, but the resort facilities and unforgettable layout are worth it. Ranked first in Golfweek’s 50 Best Resort Courses in the US and also named the Best Resort Course in Texas by Golf Digest, this course is one of Central Texas’s must-plays.

Romance in Nature: Spending Valentine’s Day Outdoors in Central Texas


It’s that time of year again – Valentine’s Day is around the corner and as you’re researching fun, romantic things to do with that special someone, Plum Creek has compiled a list of ways to show your love for your honey and the beauty of nature in Central Texas.

Central Texas Valentines Day

Photo courtesy of the Adventure Journal

Botanical gardens are cheap and romantic date option, and Kyle is bounded by two beautiful botanical gardens to the north and the south. The Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin is a serene and peaceful date spot located in Central Austin in close proximity to other outdoor hot spots, like Barton Springs Pool and Zilker Park. The 30-acre facility features a number of theme gardens, with romantic nooks and crannies for intimate moments, tinkling waterfalls, ponds and other hidden gems, Of course, the best time for the garden is the spring, once it starts getting warmer, but there is still beauty to be found. The Garden’s proximity to many other date spots is an added bonus – Zilker Park, Barton Springs, great restaurants and bars along South Lamar, and more.

Austin Valentines Day

Photo courtesy of Austin Texas.gov

San Antonio also has a couple of flower gardens, including the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Tea Gardens. Both are located near each other, in Central San Antonio. The Tea Gardens is a quiet and lush area that contains a large open-air pagoda, as well as koi ponds and a waterfall. It is such a beautiful and romantic space that it is a San Antonio favorite for weddings and engagement photography, so you know it’ll facilitate flying sparks. Plus, it’s near the sprawling Brackenridge Park, the San Antonio Zoo and the Pearl Brewery.

Central Texas Valentines Day

Photo courtesy of Expedia.com

Elsewhere in Central Texas, there are scenic Hill Country drives, wine country and Valentine’s Day specials out in Fredericksburg, countless cute and interesting restaurants, breweries, day spas and more. Pick your location of choice – goodness knows pretty much every town in Central Texas and the Hill Country has something beautiful or something going on – and do a little research. There are plenty of ways to love your honey and love the beauty of nature. And if it turns out to be cold on Valentine’s Day weekend, there’s no short supply of indoor date ideas either!

Indoor Kid-Friendly Locations for those Cold Central Texas Weekends


The weather in Central Texas has been unseasonably cold this January with two “snow days” happening here within the past week! And while more snow and ice seems unlikely – considering it’s been a few years since we’ve even seen snow flurries of this magnitude until now– we’ve compiled some indoor kid-friendly activities in the Central Texas area to keep your kiddos entertained for the rest of the winter – so they aren’t stuck in front of a screen the next time the temperature drops too far for outdoor fun.

Here in Kyle, The Jumpy Place is a great place to take elementary-age kids. It’s a socks-only inflatable play center for children 10 and under – just south and across the highway from Plum Creek. They do both advance parties and walk-ins, so those weekends where you just want to get your kids out of the house but don’t want to venture too far from home, The Jumpy Place is a great start. They even have free wifi and coffee for parents – so, you can have some fun relaxing while your kid bounces all that energy out. Who’ll enjoy it more? Depends on how badly you need that grown-up coffee time.

Central Texas Activities

Photo courtesy of The Jumpy Place

This November, if all goes well, residents of Kyle will have even more indoor entertainment options available within the city limits – with the opening of Texas Cinema’s entertainment complex at Kohler’s Crossing and I-35, just minutes away from Plum Creek. The 75,000 square-foot facility would include 14-lanes of bowling, a two-story laser tag arena, over 40 arcade games, a restaurant and a bar and 12 movie auditoriums. Currently, the project is slated to open in November, so once the weather starts turning cold again, there should be additional entertainment options available in Kyle for adults and kids alike, all in one location!

Central Texas Activities

Photo courtesy of Little Austinite

Until then, residents of Kyle and Central Texas have other indoor entertainment resources within 20 minutes from home. While Buda’s Cabela’s might not be top of mind when it comes to indoor entertainment, the outdoor retail giant is a kid’s education and entertainment hub, even if you don’t buy a thing! A huge animal-based diorama is the centerpiece of the store, and consists of various animals standing on a mountain, as if in their natural habitat. The display can be viewed from both the lower and upper levels of the store, and is surrounded by a pond, complete with live trout! Cabelas also has a large walk-through aquarium section and two other dioramas. Not to mention an in-store restaurant with exotic fare such as elk, bison and wild boar sandwiches, and a general store that sells old-fashioned candy (like fudge). If that’s not an afternoon of fun for your little one, who knows what is!

Central Texas Kids Activities

Photo courtesy of Austin Mod House

Further north in Austin, the Southpark Meadows Gatti Town is another fantastic place to take the kids to play indoors. The restaurant features over 9,000-square-feet of the latest video and redemption games, electric bumper cars and mini bowling, not to mention all you can eat and drink buffet. Gatti Town dining rooms also come complete with big-screen TVs, and a variety of dining areas including a sports room and a fun flicks room for family entertainment. So bring a book, a friend or your iPad and set the kids loose after stuffing them full of pizza and you’ll have some tuckered out kiddos at the end of the afternoon.

Also in South Austin: Blazer Tag, The Art Garage, Westgate Lanes

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.