Every summer you’ll hear a lot of Texans complaining about the heat, but the flip side of that coin is that Winters here tend to be pretty mild. While we don’t often get many white Christmases in the Lone Star State, sometimes we get some sun-shiny ones. Here in Texas, you can take vacations in the winter that might be unbearable during the hotter months of the year. So whether you’re looking for an exciting tourist spot or a serene, remote getaway, we’ve got you covered.
South Padre Island is the undisputed beach destination preferred by most Texans. You don’t have to wait until Summer to go there though. South Padre is just as beautiful in the Winter as in the Summer, and it’s less expensive and not as full of tourists. Whereas you might not want to jump into the gulf, it’s still pleasant enough for a stroll along the beach, or to take a picnic or a boat ride.
The Davis Mountains are a particularly special area of Texas. Because of its desert climate, West Texas gets both hot and cold extremes. Though its status as a desert means there is little precipitation, there are occasional snowstorms in the Davis mountains that blanket the beautiful Southwestern landscape in frosty white. You can stay in the historic Indian Lodge, birdwatch, stargaze, and hike all without getting heat exhaustion like you might during Summer.
Located in the big bend of the Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park is a must-see destination in Texas during Winter. Daytime temperatures hover in the 70s, which makes strenuous hikes unusually pleasant. Temperature can drop near freezing at night though, which makes it the perfect time to light a fire at your campsite and snuggle up.
Most folks probably think about visiting San Antonio during the Summer months, but the Riverwalk is also a great place to go during the Winter. Every year the trees lining the San Antonio River are wound with millions of glittering and colorful Christmas lights which reflect off the water creating a winter wonderland. Also, hotels on the Riverwalk drop in price during the offseason, so it’s easier on your bank account.
Each December the historic streets of Galveston are transformed into a Victorian world as Dickens on the Strand descends upon the Gulf city. A visit to Galveston during the winter, even if you miss Dickens on the Strand is still like traveling back in time. Galveston is full of historical quirks and attractions like the Opera House and the Moody Mansion that are fantastic places to visit in the cold months.
Far West Texas is a study in contrasts. Both hot and cold, both desolate and beautiful, both remote and heavily traveled. The tiny town of Marfa has received a lot of recognition lately for its art installations as well as its mysterious Marfa lights. Visiting Marfa in the Winter means you get the intrigue of West Texas without the intense heat, and you can still do, well, pretty much everything you do there in the Summer.
If you enjoy bass fishing then you’ve got to head down south to the Falcon Reservoir (also known as Falcon Lake). The reservoir is on the Rio Grande, and it offers amazing fishing during the Winter. You’re likely to catch an enormous largemouth bass, but you could also nab alligator gar, catfish or crappie. Winter is a great time to go down here because it won’t be as hot as other times of the year, but it certainly won’t be as cold as it is on Lake Fork near Dallas. Also, the fishing doesn’t suffer for the change in weather.
Seminole Canyon in South Texas near Comstock is a beautiful place to visit during the Winter months. The hike out to view the ancient pictographs in the park is much more enjoyable when the weather is cool, and you can stand to stay out there longer as well.
Probably the most unspoiled beach in the state of Texas, the Padre Island National Seashore on North Padre Island is 70 miles of undeveloped barrier island where you can see exotic sea birds, sea turtles and all manner of ocean life. Though parts of the seashore were damaged in Hurricane Harvey, the park remains open at 15 sites. Though Winter can be windy, there are certain sights you can only see in the winter, like the rare release of cold-stunned sea turtles that the NPS rescues throughout the season.
Just down the road from South Padre you’ll find the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. At Laguna Atascosa you can enjoy hunting, fishing and bird watching during Winter without getting heat stroke. You might even spot an endangered ocelot while you’re there! You could also head over to Boca Chica Beach to see the same gorgeous blue waters of South Padre without all the crowds or souvenir shops.