Texans may prefer a pickup to a one-horse open sleigh, but that won't stop any of us from dashing around the state this season. But instead of going to grandmother's house, consider checking into a fabulous hotel to make spirits bright. Not just any hotel, though. Here are places that stage Texas-worthy celebrations perfect for a holiday getaway.
Boardwalk Inn — Kemah
The Kemah Boardwalk provides a great spot to catch the area’s Christmas Boat Parade, held Saturday, December 14, starting at 6:30 pm. Hundreds of brightly decorated power and sailboats float down the Clear Lake channel from South Shore Harbour Marina and Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay. Stay at the Boardwalk Inn and also take in Jingle on the Boardwalk, December 7, 8, 14, 15, and 22. It includes shopping, a variety of live entertainment, activities, pictures with Santa, and more.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa — San Antonio
At the ritzy JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, new activities for this year’s holidays include Santa's Workshop with children’s activities such as writing letters to Santa, making snow globes, and painting clay ornaments. Kids also can search for toy elves on the Elfie Selfie Scavenger Hunt. Other festivities include JW Elf tuck-ins, JW Elf Express train car making, certified JW Elf classes, a polar bear plunge challenge, a Sandy Snowman Building Contest every Saturday morning, and Sunday Brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus at 18 Oaks restaurant.
Hilton Americas — Houston
The Hilton Americas lobby transforms into a lighted wonderland, complete with gingerbread walls spanning the lobby and a holiday chocolate display made from more than 2.5 tons and 6.5 million calories of chocolate. Have Breakfast with Santa on Saturday and Sunday mornings December 7 through 22 — photos and cookie decorating included. Just steps away, Discovery Green offers ice skating every day through February 2, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Saturdays now through Christmas, Santa Claus hits the ice from 5 to 6 pm. Also nearby in Hermann Square is the setting for a Gingerbread Build-Off competition on Saturday, December 7, from 10 am to 5 pm.
Hilton Anatole — Dallas
The Hilton Anatole transforms its outdoor area into Peppermint Park, a winter wonderland with train rides; light displays; photos with Santa; and a variety of activities from face painting to miniature golf, s’mores, and contests. Open 5 to 9 pm to all hotel guests. A Breakfast with Santa package available weekends from now through December 22 includes late check-out, breakfast for two adults and two children with Santa, complimentary entrance into Peppermint Park, and holiday movie night. VIP Experience weekends include a meet-and-greet reception with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a photo with Santa, cookies and refreshments, breakfast with Santa, entrance into Peppermint Park, holiday movie night, valet parking, and late check-out.
Hotel Galvez — Galveston
Hotel Galvez & Spa hosts its 12th annual Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration Friday, November 29, at 6 pm, a free family event kicking off the holiday season on the island. Enjoy performances from The Nutcracker, area choirs, dance groups, and the Galveston Community Band. Downtown Lantern and Lights is already underway, and includes a timed laser light show illuminated on the American National Insurance Company building. Watch it from The Rooftop Bar at The Tremont House, and stop by the special Polar Express-themed gingerbread house on public display in the Tremont lobby.
Hotel Van Zandt — Austin
An adult take on the holidays, Geraldine’s restaurant on the fourth floor of this Rainey Street hotel stages a South Pole-style pop-up December 17 to 21 starting at 6 pm. It features a snow machine, igloo lounges on the pool deck, an artisan market, holiday-themed cocktails, appearance by Southern Santa, and Geraldine’s annual Motown Christmas performance. Igloos, available by reservation for up to eight, are decked out in “TexMas” décor and complete with record players, board games, and more.
Gaylord Texan — Grapevine
Gaylord Texan resort creates a 125-acre winter wonderland including millions of twinkling lights; 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice for ICE! Featuring a Charlie Brown Christmas; a tubing hill made from 2 million pounds of snow; more than 200 Christmas trees, including one 54 feet tall; an outdoor ice-skating rink; and extravagant decorations including miniature train sets, 25-foot-tall Nutcrackers, wreaths, and more. Activities include breakfast with Charlie Brown, gingerbread decorating, and reading with Mrs. Claus. The over-21 crowd can chill out in the ice bar. Runs through January 5, 2020.
Stagecoach Inn — Salado
Make Stagecoach Inn your home base for Salado’s annual 12 Nights of Christmas Stroll December 6-8 and 13-15. The weekends feature live entertainment, a Nativity performance, and a lighted holiday parade along Main Street. Carolers and other special activities happen at the historic inn, which was extensively renovated in 2018. Stagecoach Inn guests enjoy complimentary mulled wine, hot toddies, or hot cocoa with marshmallows; and comfy Mexican blankets in each room; photos with the seasonal decor; and Santa’s Workshop on December 15. Built in 1861 and once a stop on the Chisholm Trail, the Inn also houses the oldest restaurant in the Lone Star State, which serves a sumptuous Christmas dinner buffet.
Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort — Boerne
Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, owned by country music legend George Strait, offers special holiday experiences such as Breakfast With Santa on Saturday, November 30 from 8 to 11 am, which includes a special breakfast menu and photos. Reservations are required; call 855-399-6851. The resort also gets gussied up Texas style and serves a Christmas Prime Rib Dinner on the big day. Enjoy outdoor activities such as paddling, hiking, and fishing, plus shopping in downtown Boerne and visits to the numerous area wineries.