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.

Advertisements

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.

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!

Central Texas Guide to Wildflower Season


Tis the season for wildflowers. And we sure live in the right place for them, don’t we? Every March and April, Central Texas becomes a little more beautiful, and a LOT more colorful, as wildflowers bloom in the green spaces along the highways and hills of the state. Of course, wildflower season varies from year to year (based on the weather and rain conditions), but with TxDOT  literally distributing over 300 pounds of wildflower seeds across the state each year, there’ll be plenty of natural eye candy for you this spring. So, to help you make the most of the wildflowers this season, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places for viewing them in Central Texas. But, really, the best way to experience the phenomenon is to hop in the car and wander around for yourself until you stumble upon a hidden gem.

Plum Creek, TX

In Fredericksburg, Willow City Loop is one of the most popular wildflower destinations in the Hill Country. The 13 mile drive meanders through some of the oldest and most unique geology in Central Texas; so naturally, the chiseled terrain is beautiful any time of year, just especially breathtaking in the spring. The two-lane road winds through the area’s canyons and hills, and offers stunning views of the landscape, as well as the area’s meadows, fully ablaze with color. Also in Fredericksburg, Hwy 965 on the way to Enchanted Rock offers prime wildflower viewing as well. Plus, the road takes you out to Enchanted Rock, which, in-and-of-itself is worth the drive.

West of Austin, Marble Falls and Burnet offer additional areas for experiencing the beauty of Central Texas’ wildflowers.  Located on Lake Marble Falls, just five minutes away from Lake LBJ, the wildflowers in Marble Falls are perfectly complemented by the area’s water offerings as well. While in the area, be sure to stop in at the Bluebonnet Café in Horseshoe Bay – a fitting place to fuel your eyes and your gas foot for the colorful adventure you’ve embarked upon. A short drive away from Marble Falls, Burnet is another beautiful wildflower destination in the area. In fact, it is officially recognized by the Texas legislature as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas. For other prime wildflower viewing in the area, check out Park Road 4 off Hwy 281 between Burnet and Marble Falls. You won’t be disappointed. And, while on Park Road 4, be sure to check out Longhorn Cavern State Park, which offers visitors an incredible underground and above ground cave experience.

Plum Creek, TX

If you’d rather experience the wildflowers on foot this year, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Wildseed Farms are incredible places to experience some color. Both places feature acres upon acres of open green (and multi-colored) space for exploring, and they also play host to various special events and activities throughout the year. Check out each of their websites for more information about their upcoming wildflower-related events and activities for the whole family.

Plum Creek, TX

If this isn’t enough wildflower info for your taste, TxDOT’s website is another great resource for wildflower information, including best places and times for viewing, as well as detailed descriptions of where to find the best spots this season.  With over 800,000 acres of open highway, more than 5,000 species of wildflowers and 30,000 pounds of seeds distributed each year, there should be plenty of beauty for you to experience and enjoy.