It’s a bit of an understatement to characterize winter in Texas as unpredictable. Come Christmas morning each year, you never know if you’ll be in a ski parka and jeans or shorts and a tank top. Typically sunny and hot days will follow freezing temperatures anyway. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to live locked up inside your house like a cave. Still, there are plenty of things you can still do in Texas during the winter months. Here are 10 pretty cool options.
The San Antonio Riverwalk
The Riverwalk is completely different in the winter. The giant trees that line the San Antonio River are filled with Christmas lights, creating a completely magical winter wonderland. You can do your Christmas shopping indoors at River Center Mall, or in the shops along the Riverwalk itself. Furthermore, the indoor areas provide relief from the tempestuous nature of Texas winters.
The Waterpark at the Villages
You may be used to the hot sun and the cool shade trees at Schlitterbahn, but this waterpark creates its own climate indoors. In Flint, Texas (near Tyler), you can go tubing in January! The Waterpark at the Villages is part of the Holiday Inn Club Vacation Villages Resort. Though the resort itself is for members only, the waterpark portion is open to the public. The prices are pretty reasonable too, at under $20 per ticket and $10 for extra days.
If you don’t associate Texas as a golfing destination, you should probably change your perspective. Texas is home to many lush golf courses which are incredible places to golf. Some of Texas’s private courses are among the best in the country, according to Golf Digest. However, if you’re not fortunate enough to have a membership to the Dallas National Golf Course, there are many other incredible public golf courses you can visit on one of Texas’s many dry Winter days. If you just want to practice your driving, you could check out Top Golf, which has locations in Allen, San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Dallas.
Texas State Aquarium
The State Aquarium in Corpus Christi is still open in the winter. While you might think of it as a nice respite from the Summer heat, it can also be a welcome relief from the volatility of winter weather. The Aquarium is totally self-supported and not-for-profit, and they are dedicated to conservationism of the ocean and sea life, so not only is it fun, it’s also a worthy cause.
Build a Bonfire
There’s nothing Texans love more than a nice evening with friends around a bonfire. Winter is the perfect time to do that because if it’s not cold, it’s wet and if it’s not wet it’s at least muddy. Gathering around a bonfire with a beverage and a guitar is a fantastic winter activity in the Lone Star State.
Winter is actually the best time to go fishing for Rainbow Trout in Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife department stocks rivers and lakes around the state with farm grown trout for the express purpose of attracting anglers.
I know, many of you are doing a double take after reading those words. We may not have frozen ponds, but that doesn’t mean there’s nowhere to ice skate in Texas. There are ice rinks all over the state if you look for them. In Houston you can ice skate at the Galleria Mall all year round. In Austin, the Chaparral Ice Rink is almost the only thing left of the old North Cross Mall. Residents of Allen, Texas can visit the Allen Community Ice Rink for their skating fun.
Birding – The Gulf Coast
Given its location in the southern United States, Texas is a prime bird watching location. The gulf coast is an especially busy birding spot this time of year with so many species in the midst of their Winter migrating patterns. Corpus and Galveston are great places to bird watch, as is Brazos Bend State Park, which is further inland.
Visit South Padre Island
No, really. South Padre Island is the closest thing you’ll get to Cozumel without leaving Texas. It’s just on this side of the Mexican border, and the winters are comparatively mild. The average temperature is 70, and while it may be too cold for swimming, the Schlitterbahn location in South Padre has an indoor section that’s pretty awesome. Also the hotel rooms are seriously affordable this time of year.
Visit a Winery – Fredericksburg
Texas winery tours aren’t just for Spring and Summer, wine is fabulous all year! There are several wineries in the Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg that you can visit during the winter for some incredible reds, delectable whites and one-of-a-kind mulled wines. Becker Vineyards is even hosting a boxing day celebration the day after Christmas featuring live celtic music on the veranda.