For many, bustling crowds and overflowing parking lots have become just part of the holidays. However, for those who are willing to make a drive, the holidays outside DFW prove to be not only worth the drive, but overflowing with a holiday experience outside of the same old gift box.
900 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704
Price: $5 adults on weekdays before 7 p.m./$8 adults nights and weekends/free children ages 12 and younger
Hours: Dec.12 to Dec. 24 – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is far from the standard shopping fare for those who enjoy variety. This year marks the 37th season for such an event and features more than 150 artists and artisans who have poured their talents into making unique and creative gifts for everyone on the list. Embracing the spirit of Austin, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar will be held at the Palmer Events Center and provides plenty of parking perfect for beating crowds and finding gifts that make up for the three-hour drive.
Historic Jefferson Railway
400 E. Austin St.
Jefferson, TX 76567
tickets.railoflights.com/Price: $18 for first class tickets/$15 for open hours/free children 4 and younger
Hours: Thurs to Sun beginning Dec. 22 – 6 p.m.; Fri and Sat – 7 p.m.Nestled in the Piney Woods of East Texas, the town of Jefferson and its historic train await. Riders will be visited by Santa Claus and his wife, and witness countless holiday activities including a German market, an angel tree and even the drop of a New Year’s ball for those riding after Dec. 27. Seating is limited, so buy tickets ahead of time.
2300 Ave. G
Anson, Texas 79501
www.ansoncowboyschristmasball.comPrice: $5 at the door
Hours: Dec. 20 to Dec. 22 – 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.For those who look forward to more than just shopping over the holidays and are ready to kick their city-slicker ways to the side, The Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball puts boring old family get togethers to shame. Out in Anson, Texas, about three hours from Dallas, folks kick up a sweat dancing to classics including “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and “Home On the Range.” They’ve been doing so since 1934. An event recreating the festive holiday ball held in the Old Star Hotel in 1885 during Anson’s beginnings, this is an event for those who wish to celebrate the holidays with music, movement and the Texas Christmas spirit.Related: Neiman Marcus & Target Combine For Holidays
Park Road 12
Washington, TX 77880
(936) 878-2214 x246
www.tpwd.state.tx.us/Price: $2 activity fee for ages 3 and older
Hours: Dec. 8 – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.Celebrate the holidays in the birthplace of Texas. After taking plenty of pictures with an 1850s Santa in this beautiful, historic setting, a candlelight Christmas event will be featured from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., stocked full with seasonal sensory experiences, a candlelit tour of Barrington Farm, Christmas readings, musket firing, live 19th-century music and dancing, cookies and hot cider by a bonfire.
205 S.W. Barnard St
Glen Rose, TX 76043
www.innontheriver.comClick here for rooms and pricingFor those who truly wish to be with only their families during the holidays, the Inn on the River is ideal. Less than two hours from Dallas or an hour from Fort Worth, it makes the isolated family holiday possible, offering the chance to rent out the entire inn and celebrate together without cooking, cleaning or crowded highways and stores. Including breakfast for up to 44 family members, cozy comfort and classically decorated rooms, this unique idea opens the doors to a real down-home family holiday event without the clean up.Related: 2012 DFW Holiday Theater Preview