Texas Dream Destinations For Families, Holiday Edition

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Do you remember the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with Clark and his eccentric family?  I do.  Having the maiden name Griswold myself, I couldn’t have escaped them if I wanted to!  Maybe it’s the last name or perhaps the way Clark goes overboard trying to win his family into the holiday spirit, either way, I have always felt akin to them.  I am fascinated and amazed at the elegance and extravagance this season brings forth and I hope my family will fall in love with the traditions we create and someday pass them on to their own children.

Here in Texas, everything’s bigger!  It’s not only the state’s motto, it’s its creed.   This time of the year, that means spectacular light displays, over-the-top Christmas programming, and the best family memories ever!  If you want a chance to discover a Texas size holiday yourself, be sure to visit at least one of the outstanding resorts or hotels listed below!

Gaylord Texan, Grapevine

I can’t even begin to describe how thrilling the Gaylord Texan is at Christmas time without shivering in excitement.  The entire resort is transformed into a magical land of enchantment from their 52 rotating Christmas trees to their 1.5 million lights, life-size gingerbread house, 12,000 ornaments, and Santa Claus too.  Their very popular attraction, ICE!, features Dream Works’ Shrek The Halls, and includes colorful ice sculptures carved from 2 million pounds of ice!  A few other activities are Kung Fu Panda’s Awesome Snow Tubing, Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating, Character Meet & Greets (Shrek, Alex the Lion, King Julien and the Penguins, and Po) and Santa Land with stilt walkers, singing cowboys, electric trains, and more!  If you can’t make it this year, put this resort on your bucket list!

Read what a few of our readers had to say about Gaylord Texan.


Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin

Barton Creek Resort & Spa is one of my all-time favorite family-friendly resorts!  My family and I planned a trip to Austin to explore and sight-see, but with the hiking trail, scavenger hunt, mini golf, swimming pool and Barton Kid’s Club, we never left the resort!  It wasn’t until we checked out of the hotel that we actually explored the city.  At Christmas time, Barton Creek adds a giant 3,800 square foot ice skating rink surrounded by 200,000 twinkling lights… doesn’t that sound magical?!  And if that’s not enough, Barton Creek donates a portion of the ice skating proceeds to Make A Wish Foundation; helping to grant dreams to children with life-threatening illnesses.

Read my complete review of Barton Creek Resort & Spa, and review of Barton Kid’s Club.


JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, San Antonio

Want to visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves?  How about reindeer?  At JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, you can see them all and even join them for breakfast!  Plan the day with your family making keepsake ornaments, taking a hayride, working on a gingerbread craft, taking the polar plunge, writing a letter to Santa, and participating in the resort art walk.  The adults (no, they haven’t forgotten about you) can tee-up at the 36-hole TPC golf course and then get pampered with a sugar cookie body scrub or chocolate candy cane pedicure.  And just before the elves tuck your little ones in, stop by a restaurant for a special off their special holiday menu- like the Rudolphtini (little red nose at bottom of glass)- sorry Rudolph!

To find out more about JW Marriott, read reviews on Trekaroo.  Be sure to also read reviews of their Kid’s Club.

Moody Garden’s Hotel, Houston

If you’re looking for a mile long trail with more than a million lights in 100 sound-enhanced and animated displays, next to a four diamond hotel overlooking the gulf coast, then look no further than Moody Garden’s Hotel.  Guests will be enchanted by the live entertainment, a large outdoor ice skating rink, holiday films, and pictures with Santa; not to mention the 10-story 4D rainforest pyramid, with sloths and monkeys (to name a few) or the equally large 3D aquarium with touch tanks, sharks, sea turtles, eels and more.  Plan on spending a week there, you’re going to need it!

Share the scoop about Moody’s Garden Hotel.

The Westin La Cantera Resort, San Antonio

Mix a little Texas culture into your Christmas during the Legendary Holidays program at the Westin La Cantera Resort!  The Bandera Cowboy sings and tells holiday stories while introducing the lore and legends of La Cantera. The program concludes with “snow” magically falling from the sky as the choir begins to sing a holiday song at the top of Plaza San Saba.  Families can also take a trip to the North Pole to create arts and crafts, take a photo with Santa, skate on the 1,200-square-foot synthetic iceless skating rink, and visit The Magik Theatre’s performance of “A Pirates Holiday” based on the classic holiday story T’was the Night Before Christmas.

Been there?  Share your thoughts with other trekaroo users.

Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine

 It’s snowing…indoors!!  At Great Wolf Lodge, there isn’t only a water park indoors. During the holiday’s, it snows in the lobby!  Great Wolf Lodge will impress you the moment you step out of your car with its enormous wolf statues at the entrance of the hotel, but its grandeur doesn’t end there.  The lobby is a giant forest complete with a tree house and large picture windows looking down into the water park.  My children loved the wolf walk, where they learned how to howl like wolves, and the pajama story time.  In addition to the normal activities, children can walk inside the life-size gingerbread house, race a polar bear down a waterslide, meet Santa, and attend the North Pole University!  Be prepared though, your children will be talking about this trip for years to come!

To learn more about Great Wolf Lodge, read the full review.

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, Austin

For a bird’s eye view of Christmas, the New York Audubon Society joins the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines to introduce the Christmas Bird Count!  Bird lovers of all ages can enjoy keynote speakers, crafts, activities, and excursions.  Then at night, snuggle up to your special someone (which could be a pajama clad kiddo), and enjoy an evening campfire with complimentary s’mores!

Been there?  Write a review for the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines.


Trekaroo’s helping taking the stress out of the Holidays. 

Find your city’s holiday activities as you check out our 2012 Holiday Activity Guide.
Need a travel-savvy gift?  Our Holiday Gift Guide is full of our favorites.


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About the author

Heather Reed has been a Trekaroo Superoo since 2010. She and her husband have 4 children, one with special needs, and love to get outdoors and discover new places! Google+
1 Response
  1. Tina

    Gaylord Texan, Grapevine just got on my bucket list!! WOW!

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