Sing carols, twirl on ice, enjoy spectacular festive displays and get into the spirit of the season. We have your top tips for exploring Austin with your kids during the holiday season.

Salt Lick BBQ Gingerbread House
Salt Lick BBQ Gingerbread House. Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Austin.

Visit Santa

Families can visit Santa in many spots in Austin, but some of our favorites are on the City Terrace at the Long Center; “beneath the tree” at the Domain throughout the season; at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin during their Gingerbread Village Open House; at the Caswell House; and on the North Pole Flyer, run by the Austin Steam Train Association (reserve tickets in advance).

See Holiday Lights

The Austin Trail of Lights, each December in Zilker Park, is truly an Austin tradition. Head to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and stroll through the gardens decked out in holiday lights during Luminations, where holiday music and free taffy add to the festivities. Peppermint Parkway at COTA is a bright holiday festival featuring a 1-mile driving circuit of lights, musical stages and more. At Mozart’s Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin, sip on a steaming cup of hot chocolate while watching the dazzling lights display, which is choreographed to lively music.

Woman dressed as elf in front of Chuys holiday float with Santa
Chuy's Parade. Credit Kim Maguire Photography.

Give Back

Want to teach your kids about the importance of helping those less fortunate? Head to Congress Avenue each November for the annual Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade. Parade attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy (or several) to donate to Operation Blue Santa. Want to volunteer for a charity as a family? Mobile Loaves and Fishes, an organization that provides food, clothing and resources for the homeless, has volunteer opportunities available. Even more give back ideas are on Giving City’s website.

Sing Carols

Love to sing or just want to do something new this year? Join in the annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll on December 4, culminating in the lighting of the tree in front of the Texas State Capitol. Chorus Austin hosts the Sing-It-Yourself Messiah on December 11 (along with more holiday performances) and Conspirare invites you to the annual Big Sing!.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Courtesy of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

Go Shopping

Austin and the surrounding area are filled with holiday markets and bazaars. Make sure to check out Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Blue Genie Art Bazaar, and for Austin gifts, visit our Visitor Center.

See a Show

Experience a holiday performance with your family. ZACH revives the classic A Christmas Carol and gives it a modern twist, with performances from November through January. The Long Center for the Performing Arts hosts Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker, Conspirare Christmas and more.

Looking for more ideas? Explore VisitAustin.org/Austin-Holiday for more events, deals and hotel booking!

Contributed by Katie Cook.