Texas Holiday Guide: Attractions/Festival For Kids and Families

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Christmas Light Tours

Four Winds Carriage Company's team of majestic steeds has been clopping through the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex since 1997. Behind them, they pull everything from elegant private carriages to spacious wagons that can accommodate up to 14 riders. Each season, Four Winds creates custom routes to show off the city's finest locales. Come the holidays, for example, carriages make their way through Highland Park. Snuggled under blankets with their complimentary hot chocolate and listening to their favorite Christmas tunes, riders can marvel at the community's awe-inspiring light displays.

12 Days of Christmas Outdoor Exhibit at Dallas Arboretum

Spread across 66 acres on the shores of White Rock Lake, Dallas Arboretum's themed gardens showcase the broad biodiversity of Texas' unique climate. The gardens' lush plantings and eye-catching vistas have earned the arboretum numerous accolades, including being named one of "15 Breathtaking Botanical Gardens" by Architectural Digest and being listed as #1 as Top Attraction in Dallas on TripAdvisor. The newly opened A Tasteful Place, a 3.5 acre food and herb garden, features daily tastings, seasonal cooking demos and more. A Woman's Garden has won national acclaim for its garden rooms, reflecting pool, and floral displays. The Arboretum has three major festivals a year: Dallas Blooms, which showcases more than 500,000 spring blooming bulbs, Autumn at the Arboretum featuring The Pumpkin Village, and The 12 Days of Christmas display. Experience hands on activities in the Rory Meyer's Children's Adventure Garden, preschool- through middle-school-aged kids can immerse themselves in indoor and outdoor science.

Peppermint Park

At Peppermint Park, kids and adults alike live out a trip to the North Pole right in the heart of Dallas. There, they enjoy an interactive holiday experience featuring everything from reindeer dance parties to holiday train rides. During elf school, for instance, kids can enroll to become honorary elves and learn the five things required to become an elf while receiving a diploma upon graduation. At the Kids Kraft Workshop, meanwhile, kids can create and take home a special keepsake reminding them of the event such as handmade ornaments or holiday snow globes. Afterwards, the penguin show treats families to animated penguins performing a variety of singing and dancing as they compete to become the best performer in Santa's big show.

North Pole Flyer Train

Austin Steam Train Association recreates steam-era railroading for guests who want a taste of the picturesque past. Rides aboard its diesel locomotive often include stops in Bertram to admire a restored 1912 train depot. Guests can ride in authentic cars from a variety of different historic trains. Lean back on the Buckeye Trail excursion coach car. The diesel also hosts a variety of special events, including murder-mystery parties, wine-tasting rides, and a once-a-year, kid-friendly adventure led by Thomas the Tank Engine.

When workers aren't running the trains, they're working on rebuilding them. The association originally began with the goal of refurbishing a Southern Pacific 786 locomotive that had sat in Austin park for 30 years. It aims to get the locomotive back to working condition so it can sound its whistle across the countryside once again.

Holiday Wonder

Polar bears and penguins playfully slipping through a winter wonderland create a picturesque scene. These animals love the cold weather, and you will love the beautifully lit scene of these beautiful winter creatures.

When the holiday season arrives, the grand atrium of the Gaylord Texan Resort might be the most festive place on Earth—save for Santa's sock drawer. Artists work year-round designing the indoor wonderland, from the 54-foot Christmas tree to the 2 million twinkling lights, 15,000 ornaments, and a seemingly endless chain of miniature train cars that will dazzle guests at the holiday spectacle.

Of course, these features are but a merry prelude to the main attraction: the ice sculptures. More than 40 master ice carvers create these intricate and colorful sculptures before visitors' very eyes, transforming more than 2 million pounds of ice into beloved Christmas characters, including snowmen, bears, and Santa himself. Warm parkas are provided for all guests, as the attraction is kept at a wintry 9 degrees.

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