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Why I Love Houston: Easy Holiday Escapes!

Map out a holiday excursion to Austin, San Antonio, and Palestine for the Polar Express!

Welcome to my Why I Love Houston Series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town. 

Plan ahead to take a road trip during the holiday season with these amazing Texas destinations!

All aboard! Make your reservation for a seat on The Polar Express Train Ride in Palestine, Texas, approximately 2 1/2 hours from Houston. Departures run through December 28th and fill up fast so don’t miss out. Complimentary cookies and cocoa are served as the train makes its way to the North Pole for an on-board visit with Santa and the elves! Revisit this Christmas classic before your trip when Brazos Bookstore features The Polar Express at their Holiday Storytime on Saturday, December 17, 10:30 am. 

Feliz Navidad! Head to San Antonio for the city’s Fiesta de La Luminarias (Dec. 2-18) when the River Walk is illuminated by more than 2000 luminarias. Grown-ups can enjoy a cocktail at the Esquire Tavern, the oldest bar on the River Walk with the longest wooden bar top in the state! San Antonio’s SeaWorld hosts the largest display of lights in Texas with five million twinkling LED lights and Rudolph too! (Through Jan. 1). For a parade of lights on the water closer to home, visit Kemah for the annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Saturday, December 10th at 6 pm. More than 100 powerboats and sailboats decked out in Christmas cheer cruise the Clear Lake Channel to Galveston Bay. 

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright! Deep in the heart of Austin, Zilker Park is home to the Trail of Lights (December 10-23) where locals gather every Christmas to stroll the grounds full of sparkly displays, a lighted tunnel, and the stunning Zilker Christmas Tree. Kathlyn’s Tip: For a date night dinner in the Capitol City, make a reservation at Counter 3. FIVE. VII, owned by my talented friend Eric Earthman. The menu features seasonal, fixed course options in an intimate setting for a phenomenal dining experience. 

Happy Trails!


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