Have you ever found yourself stuck in Dallas during Austin’s biggest festivals? Ever regretted planning your trip to San Antonio right in the middle of the Houston Rodeo? In Texas, the cities are just as diverse as the seasons of the year. This guide outlines which season goes best with each of the state’s most popular cities, so you can have the best time in Texas year-round.
Spring in Houston
Spring is Texas’s finest time. Wildflowers bloom along every highway, the weather is arguably perfect for a few short weeks, and the cowboys come to town for local rodeos. For a great springtime in Texas, hang out around Houston.
To see flowers in every color of the rainbow, drive on Highway 290 though Chappell Hill and Brenham. Fields of green grass are replaced by swaths of yellow, orange, pink, and purple blooms. Once you catch sight of a bluebonnet meadow, you’d be hard-pressed to not stop and have a photo op on the side of the road. (Don’t pick any wildflowers—it’s illegal!)
Stop into Old Town Spring, just 30 minutes north of the city, for lunch at CorkScrew BBQ. This restaurant placed at #7 on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas list. Enough said.
The Houston Rodeo is the largest livestock show and rodeo in the world. Spend a March day noshing on turkey legs the size of your face, cheering on piglets in a pig race, riding the Ferris wheel to the top, and browsing aisles and aisles of cows, pigs, and mutton. Then, find your seat in the massive NRG Stadium to watch heart-stopping shows of bull riding and barreling before an amazing concert.
Summer in San Antonio
Don’t let the thermostat scare you away from Texas in the summertime—there’s still plenty of fun to be had, especially in San Antonio.
Take a River Cruise along the famous River Walk to learn its history and to keep cool on the water. A nighttime ride will keep you out of the sun, and you’ll be able to admire all of the lights sparkling along the canal.
Celebrate this all-American season with a big ol’ burger. The brisket burger with pork belly at Folc earned the #1 spot on Texas Monthly’s 50 Best Burgers list, so spend a pretty penny on the ultimate messy, dripping, decadent hamburger. Come hungry, leave happier than you ever thought possible.
Drive up to New Braunfels to beat the heat at Schlitterbahn. This water park includes the Master Blaster, a six-story tall uphill water coaster that consistently wins the top spot for America’s best water ride. There are dozens of rides here to keep you cool on the hottest of summer days.
Visit the historic Gruene Hall (pronounced green) for an evening of Texas two-stepping. Built in 1878, this is the oldest dance hall in the state. Carve your name into an old wooden picnic table and swing around the dance floor all night long.
Fall in Austin
Austin’s calendar is jam-packed in the fall, making it the best place in Texas to spend the season. There’s something for everyone during an autumn in Austin.
The leaves may not always change color, but there’s always plenty of burnt orange in Austin. Throw on your boots and catch a Longhorn football game at the UT campus. Win or lose, it’s a sight to see the September sun setting over DKR Stadium and a sea of horns up in the air.
If you’re looking for some of Austin’s famous live music, snag some tickets to Austin City Limits. Dozens of acts jam out in Zilker Park for two unforgettable weekends every October, making Austin the most essential destination on your fall itinerary.
Spend Halloween downtown to discover just how weird the city can be under the eerie cover of night. Nearly every bar in Austin offers special tricks and treats for the holiday, so grab your best costume and get spooky.
In November, take advantage of the perfect autumnal temps. Stroll around the hip neighborhoods and studios of local artists on the East Austin Studio Tour, or lace up your sneakers and go for a hike along the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Winter in Dallas
During the most wonderful time of the year, you’ll want to go somewhere as far north as possible to maximize the chance of a little Texas snow. Spend the holidays around Dallas!
With the help of a few million colorful lights, Six Flags Over Texas is transformed every winter into Holiday in the Park. Sled down a snowy hill and decorate sugar cookies before enjoying some serious rollercoasters that may be even better than Santa’s sleigh.
Venture into the Bishop Arts District to check names off your gift-giving list in over 60 independent boutiques. In need of a Christmas card backdrop? Come here to pose with bright red and green marquee letters spelling out Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animal (a nod to holiday classic Home Alone 2).
Grab your holiday honey and catch the Texas Ballet Theater’s production of The Nutcracker. The beautiful Winspear Opera House is a stunning setting for this dreamy ballet. You’ll be envisioning dancing sugarplums and candy canes in no time.
This trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the Christmas Capital of Texas, aka Grapevine. This suburb is nestled between Dallas and Fort Worth, but come December, it feels like the North Pole. You’ll find an ice sculpture maze, train rides filled with elves, live reindeer, and thousands of sparkling lights.
–By Kristen Olson