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Photo courtesy of Fogo de Chão

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

More meat is the guiding principle at Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão, and despite an upcoming closure in Austin, it’s not letting up anytime soon. The restaurant is just relocating from 309 E. Third St. to a slightly more central spot blocks away at 200 Congress Ave., on the bottom floor of The Austonian, a residential tower that’s currently the second-tallest building in the city. It will include churrasco grilling in the main dining room, an outdoor patio, a full bar, and meat lockers for dry aging in-house. A portion of opening week sales will be donated to Keep Austin Fed. For now, the 3rd Street location is still accepting orders.

Other news and notes

The bake sale to put all others to shame, The Festive Mercantile & Chef Susan's Bake Sale, is leveraging award-winning treats by Luties’ pastry chef Susana Querejazu on November 27. The Commodore Perry Estate almost turns the sale into a festival, with lots of opportunities to hang out after snagging the most desirable pastries, including shopping at the Larder Mercantile, wreaths, coffee, whiskey, and more. The sale opens at 10 am and closes when goods sell out.

GivingTuesday, a different kind of winter holiday, happens on November 29 and encourages people to donate funds or time, partially through giving businesses a day to organize special campaigns. In Austin, nonprofit I Live Here I Give Here (ILHIGH) leads the Central Texas area, in a longer event from November 26 to December 2. In partnership with Good Work Austin (fighting food insecurity), 26 neighborhood restaurants will be donating a portion of sales, including Bento Picnic, Chez Zee, Epoch Coffee, Olamaie, The Cavalier, and many more. Full list at ilivehereigivehere.org, under “Dine out for a good cause.”

As many visit family for the holidays, it can be nice to celebrate home in Texas. On November 30, Austin institution The Driskill is putting together a four-course prix fixe of off-menu items by the hotel’s executive chef, Mark Dayanandan, with drink pairings by sotol-maker Desert Door. The four courses contain a lot more than four items, including stuffed quail, smoked gulf redfish pâté, and tomatillo berry compote. Tickets ($95) available on Tock.

Side Eye Pie, the wood-fired pizza truck at Meanwhile Brewing is offering a football special until January 2; every Monday night after 4 pm, two cheese or pepperoni pizzas will be $30. Although these pies are simple, Side Eye is known for serving up complex pies with lots of fresh and organic toppings, on dough made with local flour and yeast. The bar will be open for lots of beer selections, and other neighboring trucks serve barbecue, ice cream, and more.

As passers-by may have noticed, Japanese South Congress eatery Lucky Robot is bringing Christmas cheer to one of Austin’s busiest streets with the return of its holiday pop-up. Like the installment in 2021, this one brings a “canopy of garland,” with classic holiday decorations like giant gift boxes, Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights. In 2022, the decoration gets even bigger, with more than 1,000 hanging ornaments. It’s Christmas in Tokyo, in Austin.

Photo courtesy of Canje

2 Austin restaurants land on Esquire's prestigious best new restaurants list

simply the best

Esquire magazine has named three Texas restaurants to its list of The Best New Restaurants in America 2022, two from Austin and one from Houston.

They are: Canje, Austin chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s acclaimed Caribbean restaurant (No. 4); Tatemó, chef Emmanuel Chavez’s corn-obsessed tortilleria and Mexican restaurant in Houston (No. 19); and Birdie’s, Austin’s natural wine bar and cafe from husband-and-wife duo Arjav Ezekiel and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel (No. 25).

Four writers — Omar Mamoon, Joshua David Stein, former Esquire food and drink editor Jeff Gordinier, and culture and lifestyle director Kevin Sintumuang — created the list by traveling the country. They found themselves drawn to restaurants that told a chef’s personal story.

“We’re always hooked when there is soul and a story to go with delicious, inventive dishes,” Sintumuang writes. “It’s hard to deny the reflection of lived experience imbued in a menu, a wine list, a cocktail, atmosphere.”

In Houston, Stein hails Tatemó for the many ways Chavez incorporates heirloom corn into the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu, praising dishes such as totopos, consommé, and a quesadilla. “Corn has always been a character actor. Here it’s the leading man,” he writes.

Turning to Austin, Sintumuang notes that Canje goes to extreme lengths to deliver traditional Caribbean flavors — flying in cassareep for its signature wild boar pepper pot, and fermenting the marinade for its jerk chicken, a process chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph shared with CultureMap at the Southern Smoke Festival. Canje’s lively atmosphere adds to Sintumuang’s experience.

“And as the night rolls by, it can all start to feel like a celebration. Welcome to the party,” he writes.

Not only does Esquire include Birdie’s on the list, but wine director Arjav Ezekiel earns the title of “Wine Guru of the Year.” Sintumuang praises Ezekiel for his list of “approachable yet thrilling low-intervention wines” that both tasty and approachable.

Similarly, the magazine hails the restaurant’s counter service approach as a way to offer better wages to its staff and praises chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel’s eclectic menu. “The lines are worth it for the food, a casual refined mix of American, a little Italian, a little French, that all makes you want to linger a little longer into the warm Austin night and order another bottle,” he writes.

Esquire’s acclaim is only the most recent time both Birdie’s and Canje have made best new restaurant lists, following similar nods from Texas Monthly and Bon Appetit. The New York Times also included Birdie’s on its 2021 list of the 50 American restaurants it’s “most excited about right now.”

Texas French Bread

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Texas French Bread makes triumphant return

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Texas French Bread can’t stop making news, returning triumphantly from a large fire — with support from lots of very loyal customers — frequenting farmers markets, and finally setting up a new food trailer. The Airstream is open in the beautiful garden that the bakery previously rented at 2900 Rio Grande St., every day except Monday from 8 am to 2 pm. The kitchen opens at 10 am. All items are first-come, first-serve until the trailer runs out. Customers can get coffee, sack lunches, and the great bakes they’ve been missing. The company commented on Instagram that plans to rebuild are “still up in the air.”

Mini golf and snacks are a match made in nostalgia heaven, but Dirdie Birdie is really kicking that combo up a notch. The restaurant, full bar, and indoor mini golf course is opening on November 18, thanks especially to work by Chef Nic Yanes of very chic, relatively affordable restaurants Juniper and Uncle Nicky's. The adult-focused 12-hole course contains lots of references to Austin, and is “almost like an interactive art gallery,” according to a note from a publicist. Check it out at 10910 Domain Drive. Check the website for hours over Thanksgiving, and expect regular opening hours to resume the following week.

The Toasted Yolk Café arrived in the Austin area for the first time on November 14, at 14105 Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Cedar Park. This giant breakfast and lunch spot (at 5,178 square feet) serves all the classics and, of course, a lot of eggs, but it also offers a full bar, nine TVs, online check-in, and a to-go area. The restaurant donated 10 percent of its opening day sales to The Dog Alliance. Although it’s new in Austin, the chain already has 28 restaurants, mostly in Texas, and lists 16 more coming soon including one in Lakeway. Visit at 14105 Ronald Reagan Boulevard from 7 am to 3 pm every day. Medical professionals in uniform or with ID receive half off drinks from Monday to Thursday until 10 am.

Other news and notes

Geraldine’s, the bar and restaurant at Hotel Van Zandt, is turning seven and celebrating on November 17. To celebrate, it’s relaunching Birds, Bubbles + Blues, a Thursday-night event featuring the restaurant’s spicy fried chicken, sparkling wine specials, and Austin-based blues musicians. The Geraldine’s menu is all about upscale southern foods — often with an interesting twist — so this fried chicken shouldn’t be missed, ambience aside.

On November 20, Aviary Wine & Kitchen will spin out into a series of special Sunday services: Aviary will be manning an all-day happy hour (3-9 pm), and a rotating list of guest chefs will be stepping in to take over the kitchen for pop-ups. That means $2 off glasses of wine, $10 off bottles, and $2 off beer, while chefs from around Austin regale diners with special 4-6 menu items. First Elementary ATX visits, then Che Cazzo, Chef’s Kiss, Penang Shack, and Elementary ATX once more, finishing out the series on December 18. Walk-up service only.

As if we needed any more reasons to fall in love with Camp Lucy, the Hill Country event venue is hosting its 2nd annual Christmas Chili Cook-Off on December 4. The Sacred Oaks venue is an unreasonably beautiful place to be tasting professional and amateur chilis, with whiskey, an open bar with holiday cocktails, a holiday market, a s’mores table, live music, donations for Helping Hands Pantry, and more. All this happens from 3-6 pm. Tickets ($70 over age 21, $45 under) available on Eventbrite.

Photo courtesy of Yasmeen Magar

8 things to know in Austin food right now: Hot bar hosts industry night pop-up

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Famously, the restaurant industry is always battling to keep passion alive and restaurants funded, despite very tricky financial standards. Bar Peached, the cocktail-forward sister eatery to the Peached Tortilla, is hosting an industry night on its usual night off, Monday, November 14. Event curators were given free rein to make any weird drinks they’ve always loved, resulting in an eight-drink special menu featuring items like black pepper and stone fruit pit (consider that Peached). Half of sales from the Chef Bar pop-up (6-11 pm) will pay the staff at the event. Everyone is invited, and other industry professionals are especially encouraged to visit.

Happy Lemon, a boba chain from Taiwan, is opening its first Austin location the weekend of November 12. This is part of a larger-scale Texas takeover, with nine locations already in Dallas and Houston, and more planned soon according to an Instagram post in August. The most recent new location before Austin was in Plano a little more than a month before. The shop is celebrating the grand opening on Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am to 9 pm, with buy-one-get-one drinks and free tote bags for the first 100 customers. Happy Lemon Austin is located at 2501 W Parmer Lane, Suite 650.

Other news and notes

Watertrade, the Japanese-style cocktail bar inside omakase restaurant Otoko, is known for its sleek, modern atmosphere and, of course, its Japanese ingredients. Now it may be known for something exclusive; its own private-label sake. Revenge of the Third Son, brewed in Kyoto and inspired by Otoko chef Yoshi Okai, has “gentle ginjo aromas & a dry, crisp, yet matured aftertaste,” according to a press release. It is available to try at Watertrade and Otoko, or to purchase by the bottle in gift sets (starting at $120) via Tock.

On November 10 from 7-11 pm, the American Cancer Society is hosting its second annual Thomas J. Henry Fork Cancer fundraiser, which doubles as a tasting event for several highly-regarded Austin restaurants including Loro, Via 313, Juliet Italian Kitchen, TenTen, and Intero. Supporting entertainment at The Belmont includes live music, a silent auction, and live screen printing by Feels So Good. There are still plenty of tickets ($95 general admission) on GiveSmart.

Speaking of those screen printers and record label, Feels So Good, the recent rebrand is not complete without an official party at FSG Fest on November 12. The multifaceted festival mostly focuses on music (of course), but has plenty of food and drink options planned. There will be four food trucks on-site: Hajima Food Truck, Austin Oyster Co, Fase Cafe, and the Corn Dog Company. Plus, there will be free beverages while supplies last, and some of the proceeds will benefit the Austin Music Foundation. Tickets ($20 in advance) available at fsgprints.com.

Future Front ATX, the events superstars behind Front Fest, are doing it again with a four-weekend market at Ani’s Day and Night. The house-turned-coffee shop and miniature food truck park are making space from November 12 to December 3 for rotating brunch and drink specials, goods by women and LGBTQ+ makers, DJ sets, and “surprise pop-ups.” There are more than 400 vendors participating in 2022. More information about the Front Market at thefrontmarket.com.

Uchi has a busy five days of collabs coming up. Fierce Whiskers Distillery is hosting a sold-out preview of Uchi’s new yakitori eatery, Uchiba, on November 13. Next, on November 16 and 17, Asian smokehouse Loro is teaming up with the sushi restaurant to create an exclusive tasting menu ($74.95) with items like edamame jalapeño hummus and sesame pecan noodles. The dinners will be at Loro, does not accept reservations.

Desert Door Texas Sotol is also busy, but that’s not news for the event-happy distillery. From November 16 to 20, Desert Door is celebrating its fifth anniversary with $5 ranch waters, samples in the tasting room, food by Lo Salvaje, and live music to keep the party going. RSVP on Eventbrite. The sotol distillery recently partnered with Garrison Brothers, a bourbon distillery, to make sotol finished in bourbon barrels called Midnight Cowboy ($75). The public is invited to the Desert Door facility to celebrate that achievement, too, from November 10 to 13. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Photo courtesy of The Bird & Crown

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Hot chicken concept pops up for one night only

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Chef Laila Bazahm, who landed in Austin at Eberly after her own restaurant, Hawker 45, earned international acclaim, is branching out for a one-night-only pop-up on November 19 at Central Machine Works. The Bird & Crown serves hot chicken in three sandwiches inspired by Filipino, Korean, and Indian flavors. These sandwiches have the basics — namely crispy chicken and something to cool things down — with big twists in flavor like pickled papaya slaw, gochujang, and mint chutney. The pop-up opens at 4:30 pm and closes when it sells out.

It’s a lovely idea to spend more time with senior citizens, but not always at the top of everyone’s mind. Plus, is it weird to show up for a meal just because? Chef Stephan Pyles, a staggering 12-time James Beard Award nominee, is opening his next restaurant in a luxury senior living center: the Hacienda at Georgetown. Called Alma, the restaurant’s goal is to bring organic traffic across many age demographics to the community, closing the social gap many seniors feel with the rest of the community and adding real culinary value to the experience.

High-tech shuffleboard bar Electric Shuffle opens on Rainey Street on November 4, making Austin the second US location for this London venue. The proprietary technology makes scoring tournaments easy for large groups, and injects some novelty into an old tradition. This bar is designed to accommodate plans for the whole night, with upscale cocktails and bar food, including seven types of pizza and an elaborate brunch (charcuterie and a whole lot of prosecco). Book at electricshuffleusa.com.

Other news and notes

A “hyper-seasonal” menu hits Local Foods as fall progresses, with at least a dozen new options, many featuring nearby vendors. HiFi Mycology continues to take Austin by storm, this time with lion’s mane mushrooms in a “Fall Power Bowl.” The “Autumn Mac & Cheese” sounds like the ultimate comfort food with Mill-King Mornay and apples, and things take a German twist with Falcon Lake Farms pork schnitzel. To celebrate, take 25 percent off all food and beverage after 4 pm, from now until November 15. Online orders use code “dinner” at localfoodstexas.com.

Loro, the Asian smokehouse and bar by chef Tyson Cole and pitmaster Aaron Franklin, also added some permanent new menu items. Like many barbecue joints, Loro offers an à la carte list of meats, sandwiches, and sides, so these won’t really compete with most favorite orders. That includes Thai peanuts with nam tok and lime leaf, a smoked three bean salad with chilies, a key lime pie, and a caramelized onion-cheddar burger available for a discount during happy hour.

I thought the Christmas memes would start after Thanksgiving, but at 11:59 pm on Halloween, they were already here. Black Rock Coffee Bar is right on schedule, it seems, with a new roster of four holiday drinks, from a caramel and eggnog latte to a more surprising orange marmalade energy drink. Also on the list are a peppermint white mocha and a “Christmas cookie cold brew” with macadamia, vanilla foam, and holiday sprinkles. Heartwarming, but chilled.

November 8 is a big election day, with more than 50 races on some ballots. Voters can fuel up at Kerbey Lane Cafe — but only after voting — if they bring their “I Voted” sticker to claim a free pancake. (Those stickers are for reminding others to vote, so make sure yours is visible even after the pancake is gone.) Early voting ends on Friday, November 4, so any stickers saved from that round are valid to trade in as well. All locations are participating in the voting incentive.

Photo courtesy of Bakery Lorraine

7 spooky things to know in Austin food right now: Restaurants and bars bite into Halloween

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: There are so many Halloween weekend events offering delicious snacks to sink your fangs into, and cocktails to drive you to madness, we were spellbound. We have you covered with a special Halloween roundup of fun-scary food news.

Hotel Van Zandt's rooftop bar and restaurant, Geraldine's, has fun things going on every night through Halloween itself. On October 28 and 29 there are regularly scheduled nighttime live music sets, followed by the weekly jazz brunch on October 30. Then on Halloween one of Austin’s truly weirdest bands (fronted by puppets), Fragile Rock, puts on an emo show to remember. Reserve on OpenTable or hope for room at the bar.

We’ve heard of spending Christmas at Chinese restaurants, but how about Halloween? Old Thousand, always ready with holiday spirit, is hosting Goth Night on October 29 at its 11th Street location. The special menu is darkly creative, with black vinegar “Damned Dumplings,” “Sacrificial Lamb Bao,” a restorative-potion themed hot pot; black sesame Crème brûlée, and special on-theme cocktails. Call (737) 222-6637 to reserve.

Wes Anderson fans do not need Halloween as an excuse to dress in costume, but here’s one for inspiration. The Carpenter Hotel is dressing up in the style of the Grand Budapest Hotel — at least, culinarily — on October 29 for a six-course dinner (starting at $160 for two guests). These include unexpected but very friendly flavor combinations like savory apple and cheddar cookies and sausage with white beans, onion, and toast. Reserve on Eventbrite.

Few Halloween frights are as intimidating as trying to find a cool booze-free event, but fear not. Yacht Drops is a new sober cruise line on Lady Bird Lake, debuting October 29 with dancing, bites by Siete, non-alcoholic beers by Athletic Drinks, and zero proof whiskey and tequila by Spiritless. A portion of ticket sales benefits Keep Texas Waterways Clean. A costume contest and pro photographer ensure that your Halloween efforts are appreciated. Tickets ($75) on Eventbrite.

Now that Second Bar + Kitchen has taken over the rooftop bar at East Austin Hotel, the Halloween tradition is theirs to uphold. On October 29 from 4 pm to 12 am, the bar welcomes disguised and casual Austinites for a costume contest, dancing, and scary-delicious drinks: vampire's bite shots, mad eye mules, witch’s brews (“prosecco punch with worms”), and poisoned apples (with spiced rum, caramel, bourbon cream, and sour apple liqueur).

Fareground, the sunken downtown food hall, is hosting an all-ages event on October 30 for low-key vibes and maximum commitment to the theme. A screen outside will show Hocus Pocus for free, with seasonal concessions, popcorn, cotton candy, and $4 happy hour drinks. Vendors inside make this movie much yummier than most theaters, with a lot more variety, and will hand out candy for trick-or-treaters. The movie starts at 7 pm. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Whether you’re looking for luxe treats to wow party guests or delicious sweets to hoard at home, Bakery Lorraine at Domain Northside is ready. Until October 31, the bakery is sending out black cat tarts (chocolate mousse and vanilla filling), mummy tarts (lemon curd topped and meringue), phantom of the opera cake slices (pumpkin spice sponge cake and buttercream with dark chocolate glaze), and other cute, spooky pastries.

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Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Austin-area pig rescue wins Airbnb contest to build one-of-a-kind pig-themed guest house

This Place is a Pigsty

KVUE — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers, and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners is Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Tracey and Dan Illescas, founders of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to create a one-of-a-kind pig-shaped guest space. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct, and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100 percent volunteer run and 100 percent donation based.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Texas state parks beckon this holiday season with festive events and peaceful escapes

Silent nights

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.