As the holidays and year's end quickly approach, you may be pondering what to do with a few of those extra vacation days. From winter wonderlands to romantic treehouses, we have rounded up 10 of the best holiday getaways in the Lone Star State.
Distance from Dallas: 23 miles
Travel time: 25 minutes
First on our list is the Gaylord Texan by Marriott, just northwest of Dallas in Grapevine. If you are looking for a place for the whole family, their Lone Star Christmas is blanketed with more than 2 million twinkle lights and a ton of holiday decorations. While it's likely to be balmy outside, inside a massive enclosure the Gaylord offers ice skating, snow tubing and pictures with Santa. Be sure to check out the Ice! Sculpture attraction that includes more than 2 million pounds of ice, hand carved by 140 Chinese artisans. Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa as you travel through this chilly, 9-degree, enclosed storytelling adventure featuring the theme "Twas the Night Before Christmas." The Gaylord Texan’s Christmas decor and lights are already up and come down Jan. 1.
Texas State Railroad — The Polar Express
All aboard the Texas State Railroad
Distance from Dallas: 116 miles
Travel time: 1 hour and 55 minutes
Journey to the North Pole this winter with the help of the Texas State Railroad. Departing from the Palestine Station near Rusk, guests will jump into the pages of the famous Christmas children’s book while the music of the motion-picture soundtrack fills the cars. Once at the North Pole, Santa and his elves board the train and give each child the first gift of Christmas, a silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. Once you've had your fill of Christmas cheer, head back to the Texas State Railroad campgrounds tucked in the Piney Woods for the unique experience of staying at a historic railroad. Pajamas are encouraged. We also suggest bringing along plenty of DEET.
Distance from Dallas: 262 miles
Travel time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
If you are looking for a quiet, quaint holiday getaway, the small, German-influenced town of Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country is a top contender. Fredericksburg honors German traditions and holiday spectacles during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Visit the many shops on Main Street and head to Marktplatz to marvel at the 26-foot German Christmas pyramid. Stay at one of the many bed-and-breakfasts and treat yourself to a weekend of relaxation. Be sure to visit the Fredericksburg Trade Days to pick up any last-minute gifts. Once well rested, head out to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 17 miles north of Fredericksburg, to explore is one of the largest underground rock formations to be uncovered by erosion.
Galveston Island is a fun and unexpected place to spend the holidays.
Distance from Dallas: 294 miles
Travel time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Next on our list is Galveston Island. While many venture to the beach during the busy summer season, the island springs to life once more during the cooler months. One of the major highlights is Dickens on the Strand during the first weekend in December. Take a step back into 19th century England as the square transforms into a Victorian-inspired holiday getaway. The annual festival features holiday food and drinks, entertainment and more to kick off the “Winter Wonder Island.” Like the Gaylord Texan Christmas ice display, Galveston also hosts Ice Land at Moody Gardens, where 30 internationally acclaimed carvers join forces to shave over 2 million pounds of ice into delicate sculptures. Offering more than 50 days of holiday magic, Galveston makes the list for a family friendly getaway.
Distance from Dallas: 520 miles
Travel time: 7 hours, 49 minutes
Southwest meets art in the small town of Marfa, and while it may not have a typical holiday vibe, it offers a welcome opportunity to reconnect with nature. Treat yourself to a night under the stars in one of El Cosmico's fabulous glamping (that's luxury camping) accommodations, including festive tents complete with heated mattresses. If you really want to get away from it all, make your way to the Chinati Hot Springs, which claim to have healing powers. If the idea of El Cosmico suits your taste but Marfa's too far of a trek, check out one of its sister properties in San Antonio or Austin.
River Road Treehouses make for a great escape
Distance from Dallas: 242 miles
Travel time: 3 hours, 41 minutes
Have a cozy and romantic getaway to the River Road Treehouses just outside of Austin on the Guadalupe River, where you can enjoy the majestic 80-foot cypress trees from the comfort of a private treehouse. You'll have easy access to nearby New Braunfels and Canyon Lake. For something a little different, head to the Natural Bridge Caverns, a natural wonder that turns into a holiday spectacular every winter. Experience the 12 days of Christmas as guests embark on a caroling extravaganza through the caverns.
Take a cooking class at the Blair House Inn.
Distance from Dallas: 232 miles
Travel time: 3 hours, 36 minutes
If small town charm and artsy vibes are what you're after this holiday season, then visit Wimberley, a small town nestled between Austin and San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country. Although Wimberley and New Braunfels are close, each town warrants a trip. Stay at the Blair House Inn for fine cuisine and an upscale bed-and-breakfast experience. Each room at the inn has different decorations, but all offer tranquility. Plus, the Blair House Inn has a cooking school. Wimberley is also home to many art galleries. Be sure to stop by the annual Parade of Lights, now in its 14th year, which draws visitors from all over Central Texas.
Distance from Dallas: 274 miles
Travel time: 4 hours, 8 minutes
There is plenty to do during the winter months in San Antonio, whether you fancy football games or are looking for a relaxing weekend of wining and dining. For an Instagram-worthy outing, visit the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and enjoy the picture-perfect Holidays in Bloom display; it’s free with general admission. Not feeling floral? No problem. Grab a bite to eat at one of San Antonio's many good restaurants in time for the sun to set. Walk off dinner on the famous River Walk as boating carolers sing along the lighted river each evening in December.
A house on 37th Street in Austin
Distance from Dallas: 195 miles
Travel time: 2 hours, 59 minutes
As we all know, Austin is a little weird and proud of it, but that doesn’t stop Austin from making our list of best winter weekend getaways. If you are in the mood for a little history lesson, try staying at the historic Driskill Hotel, nestled in the heart of downtown Austin. Completed in 1886, the Driskill is the oldest hotel in operation in the city. Austin is also home to a unique holiday display: 37th Street is residential street on which neighbors put on a massive light display that attracts thousands from all over Texas. It's been a tradition for more than 20 years.
Bryan and College Station
A giant gingerbread house at Disney World; Bryan broke records with its own last year.
Distance from Dallas: 180 miles
Travel time: 2 hours, 49 minutes
They say everything's bigger in Texas, and the towns of Bryan and College Station know what that means during the winter season. Just 90 miles northwest of Houston, these towns offer some of the biggest holiday displays in Texas. Santa’s Wonderland in College Station spans more than 37 acres and has more than 2.5 million lights this year. You'll be feeling cozy from the comfort of your car as you travel through the mile-long attraction of lights. In 2013, Bryan earned the world record for the largest gingerbread house ever created. And while that will be hard to top in 2017, the cheery character of the city remains the same. For a romantic stay, check out the 7F Lodge, which has amenities that will have anyone in the mistletoe mood.