Pack up the family for 8 free winter-break events at Texas state parks
When the presents are opened and Christmas is over, many families will be looking for ways to spend the rest of winter break. What’s a parent to do but plan a family getaway to a Texas state park? With several holiday-themed events taking place through the New Year, there are many reasons to take a road trip. Even more, all events are free with park admission. Here’s to exploring the outdoors a little more in 2019.
Christmas Critters at Hill Country State Natural Area
Santa’s reindeer aren’t the only animals that have been out on Christmas Eve. Learn to identify wildlife by observing paw prints and poop at this exploration of Merrick Mile, an easy-moderate trail in the Texas Hill Country. The hike will run from 2 to 3 pm on Christmas Day, and participants should meet at park headquarters.
Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt at Buescher State Park
Follow the clues to find 10 ornaments hidden around Buescher State Park, located in the pretty pine trees just east of Austin. The final clue will lead hikers to a prize. While the hike is fairly easy, some ornaments may lead participants down trails, so wear your hiking shoes. The scavenger hunt will begin at Buescher State Park headquarters with the first ornament and clue. While there, stop by neighboring Bastrop State Park for another ornament scavenger hunt called Fa La La through the Pines. Both hunts run through January 2.
History in Lights at Goliad State Park
An exhibit of lights and shadows will tell the story behind the Mission Espiritu Santo at Goliad State Park in Southeast Texas. Enjoy an evening stroll on the same path taken by Native Americans and Franciscans Priests long ago. The walk begins at 6 pm daily through December 31.
Beachcoming 101 at Galveston Island State Park
It’s a wintertime treasure hunt down on the beach, where participants will explore the calm shores for shells and other seaside finds. Huns will take place December 29, January 1, and January 5. Dress for chilly weather and be ready to get your feet wet. Don’t forget a bucket for collecting. Meet at the day use beach parking at 10 am and to pick up hunting equipment. The hunt will run until 11 am. Stay the night for the Star Party happening at 5 pm January 1, where participants will learn astronomy basics during a beachside night hike.
Nature Craft-ivities at Lake Livingston State Park
Guests can get creative making nature-themed crafts at this East Texas park. On December 29, participants will create a model of the solar system. There’ll be fun and educational games, too. The event will run from 1 to 2 pm.
Holiday Stargazing at Lockhart State Park
Long winter nights provide for perfect stargazing. On December 29, a Park Ranger will give a telescope tour of the stars, planets, galaxies, and constellations at this Hill Country state park. Participants are welcome to drop by anytime from 7 to 8:30 pm. Bring a blanket and your own binoculars if you have a pair.
Black Light Hike & Scavenger Hunt at Midnight at Fort Parker State Park
On December 31, arrive at 10:30 pm for an easy half-mile hike, then welcome the New Year at midnight around a campfire with hot chocolate and cookies. There’ll also be a New Year’s-themed scavenger hunt and trail-viewing via black light. The park is located just east of Waco.
First Day Hike
Parks all over the state are encouraging families to be active together on the first day of the year. First Day Hikes will take place at most Texas State Parks, including Enchanted Rock State Park, Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, Goose Island State Park, Blanco State Park, Inks Lake State Park, and many others. Find all First Day Hike events here.