Although it’s unlikely you’ll find snow or frosty Christmas weather in Texas, that doesn’t mean the holidays aren’t celebrated in a big way in the Lone Star State. Google “Christmas towns in Texas” and there is a handful that always makes the list, such as Fredericksburg and Grapevine.
While those, and many other communities, are great places to soak up Texas Christmas cheer, these three underrated Texas Christmas towns are festive enough to earn a spot on your list of places to visit.
I was hosted by Visit Georgetown for two days. Georgetown is 128 miles from my home and I’ve driven by countless times without stopping. They invited me to come and check out what their city has to offer and I’m happy I said “yes.” Now I have the opportunity to share a bit of what I learned with you.
Georgetown self-proclaims to be the “most beautiful town square in Texas” and I’d say they’re not wrong. Georgetown is located 28 miles north of Austin, so you could establish your hub in the Austin metro area and explore Georgetown from there. However, I don’t recommend you do that. Georgetown has its personality and I think you’ll have a better stay if you immerse yourself fully in the small-town hospitality while you’re enjoying their robust list of holiday festivities.
The festivities in Georgetown start early with Santa himself joining city and county officials to flip the switch to light the square after Thanksgiving. The square stays beautifully lit at night through New Year’s Eve. The Christmas Stroll on the Square happens in early December, with vendors, musical entertainment, a parade, and more.
Enjoy strolling through the town, shopping, and admiring the lights all season long. If you need a bit of “extra cheer” to keep you warm, the various wine bars located along the square offer to-go cups, so you can sip as you take in the fantastic atmosphere. Visitors to Georgetown throughout the holiday season can enjoy the Christmas Festival at Sweet Eats Farm all season long.
Parks Along San Gabriel River
Here you’ll find games, festive food and drinks, and a giant gingerbread house. Georgetown also has several parks situated along the San Gabriel River that are great for walking off your holiday treats or just taking in the scenery. Garey Park, San Gabriel Park, and Blue Hole Park all have lovely walking trails that are open all year round, although I’ll warn you, a peep at Blue Hole Park will entice you to plan a repeat trip for when it’s warm enough for swimming.
Pro Tip: Although I’ve honed in on Christmas-specific activities, Georgetown also has a solid list of fall festivals and activities, so if you’re scouting out things to plug into your calendar for 2023, check out Visit Georgetown’s event schedule for September through November, too.
2. New Braunfels
The German heritage of New Braunfels, located 48 miles from Austin and 31 miles from San Antonio, really shines during Christmas. The walkable town square has lots of side streets to explore and this small city goes all out when it comes to holiday decorations. During warmer months, New Braunfels is known for its access to the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers, both popular spots for tubing. Even though central Texas’ winters are pretty mild, it’s usually too cold to get in the river but that’s okay because the holidays bring tons of extra fun and activities.
The Christmas fun in New Braunfels starts in mid-November and continues right up to the holiday. Perhaps the most anticipated event is Wassailfest, where businesses and nonprofit groups compete to see who can make the best wassail, which is a traditional hot, German-spiced cider. Other events include home tours, caroling, a jingle bell run, musical performances, and a visit from “Cowboy Kringle.” The calendar of holiday events can be found here, so just line up what’s happening when you plan to visit and you’re sure to find something that will put you in the holiday spirit.
Natural Bridge Caverns
If you want to see spectacular holiday light displays, New Braunfels is home to both Santa’s Ranch and Natural Bridge Caverns. Santa’s Ranch is a seasonal, drive-through light display. Natural Bridge Caverns, which offers year-round cavern tours and surface fun, puts on Christmas at the Caverns, which includes caroling 180 feet below ground, a trail of lights, festive food and drinks, and more.
Gonzales is located 65 miles from Austin and 74 miles from San Antonio. It’s a charming small city that is most famous for being the location where Texas’ battle for independence from Mexico started. Although San Antonio and the historic Battle of the Alamo are what sticks in most peoples’ minds when it comes to Texas independence, a dispute over a canon is what got things started. If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to carve out time to check out the Gonzales Memorial Museum during your stay.
Gonzales has a charming downtown area positioned around a central square. Decked out for the holidays with lights and other festive accouterments, Gonzales is a fun place to browse local boutiques and soak in the atmosphere. The city’s annual winter celebration, Winterfest, takes place in early December.
Winterfest includes activities such as ice skating, carriage rides, a chili cook-off, and a Christmas parade. There are dozens of historic homes surrounding the square that are beautifully lit up for the holidays. Home tours are traditionally available through the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce during Winterfest. If you’d like to arrange a tour at another time, they may be able to assist you in setting that up.
Pioneer Village Living History Center
Pioneer Village Living History Center is another fantastic place to go to get into the holiday spirit in Gonzales. This open-air museum has a collection of historic structures that illustrate what life was like for settlers in the mid-to-late 1800s. Their “Stars in the Village” Christmas event includes activities such as popping corn over an open fire, ornament making, musical entertainment, and of course, a visit from Santa. Stars in the Village takes place on December 3, 9, and 10. If you’re not able to make it out during their holiday event, Pioneer Village is still a don’t-miss and is fun to explore during daylight hours.