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Photo courtesy of TX Whiskey

Autumn often gets lost between long hot summers and the countdown to Christmas. But with consistently cool weather finally here and a couple weeks left in November to enjoy it, the time is right to sip something spirited and fall-spiced. Think rich bourbons, buttered rums, and flavors of pear and pumpkin. Throw on a sweater and check off these five Fort Worth bars for the best of fall cocktails.

Lockwood Distilling Co. Fort Worth
Celebrating its one-year anniversary since opening a location in Fort Worth, this Richardson-based distillery boasts its own portfolio of spirits. The lineup includes gin, straight bourbon whiskey, hibiscus flavored vodka, an array of rums, and the sweater weather fan-favorite bourbon cream liqueur (try it in coffee). All spirits are available for purchase by the bottle to-go (a great gift for at-home mixologists) but stay to find fall vibes at the bar. This month’s featured cocktail is called The Apple of My Rye, which combines straight rye whiskey, apple cider, brown sugar, and fall spices. Feel good about ordering it because a portion of this month’s sales from the cocktail will benefit Mindset Charities, which provides adaptive exercise for multiple sclerosis patients. Folks can also cozy up with new cocktails that will carry over into winter, including Not The Gumdrop Buttons made with bourbon, gingerbread syrup, and holiday spices, and The Nog Days Aren’t Over made with vanilla rum, eggnog, black walnut bitters, brown sugar, and sweet vermouth.

The Basement Lounge
The modern rustic underground bar on Camp Bowie Boulevard creates a cozy atmosphere with its warm fireplace, fluffy pillows, and a slew of cool weather-inspired cocktails. On the menu is Autumn in Ridglea, a bourbon whiskey beverage spiked with vanilla vodka and blended with pumpkin, brown sugar, and nutmeg. (Think pumpkin pie in a glass.) There’s also a fall spin on the classic old fashioned – the Beauregard Old Fashioned infuses Beauregard sweet potatoes with TX Whiskey, brown sugar, and baking spices. It’s served beautifully garnished with a dehydrated ribbon of sweet potato. Also don’t miss the Averna Antica, made with rye whiskey and served in a coupe glass combining hints of orange and licorice with notes of juniper, berries, cloves, and sage. The classic Smoked Old Fashioned, presented in a smoky glass box, is also good for warming up inside and out.

The Fitzgerald
Chef Ben Merritt is going strong at his Camp Bowie Boulevard coastal-inspired restaurant, The Fitzgerald. Weekend brunch is brand new here (it’s reminiscent of a Sunday in the French Quarter, minus the jazz trio) and with it comes new cocktails ideal for finding fall vibes. There’s Hot Buttered Rum made with demerara, spiced butter, and nutmeg; and the refreshing Café de Valencia, made with Valencia orange tequila, coffee liqueur, and cold brew coffee served frothy in a coupe glass. Also don’t miss the Apple Pie Old Fashioned made with bourbon and Granny Smith apples.

Whiskey Ranch
Any excuse to visit the sprawling Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., known as Whiskey Ranch, is a good one – especially when fall cocktails are calling. Visit the on-site Tavern bar for specialty libations perfect for sipping by the stone fireplace on the distillery’s ranch-inspired Back Porch. The current cocktail of the month – which may be served hot or cold – is the TX Cider, made simply with TX Whiskey, apple cider, maple syrup, and garnished with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. There’s also a Spiced Pear concoction infused with pineapple, fall-spiced syrup, and lemon; and the Pecan Old Fashioned made with TX Bourbon, brown sugar pecan simple syrup, and bitters. Cocktails also come with a sunset skyline view. Note that the Whiskey Ranch Tavern is open select Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and during special events.

The Usual
The OG of craft cocktail bars in Fort Worth, The Usual on West Magnolia Avenue has upped the bartending game in town since 2009. (Don’t ask for a pumpkin spice martini here.) Visit now to experience their fall menu of sophisticated cocktails with elaborate names, like Caught in the Rain. This one starts with apple brandy that’s stirred and shaken with coconut syrup, Bruto Americano bitter apertivo liqueur, and lime juice. Or try the mezcal-based La Pierda Claro, made with agave, celery, and cardamom bitters. This season’s Daiquiri special features aged rum, apple brandy, cinnamon syrup, and lime. Note that happy hour is all night Sunday and Monday, and 4-7 pm Tuesday through Friday.

Photo courtesy of TX Whiskey

Whiskey Ranch Maple Apple Cider, featuring TX Whiskey.

Photo courtesy of Nickel City

Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 5 spooktacular bars for Halloween sips

Where to drink

Halloween month is the ideal time for bars to jump on board a current Instagrammy pop-up trend in spooky fashion. While the haunted holiday is taking over a few Fort Worth establishments, others are launching Halloween-themed drinks – some sweet like trick-or-treat candy and others as scary as their horror flick inspirations. Here are five Fort Worth bars for grown-ups to celebrate ghoulish shenanigans all month long. Some are so close together, they'd make for a creepy crawl. The last one is a beer haunt with new Halloween brews.

Nickel City
The award for “spookiest bar in DFW” goes to Nickel City, the Austin-based neighborhood bar on South Main Street. Now through the end of the month, it's home to a super scary pop-up bar concept called Black Lagoon, currently appearing in just nine cities across the U.S. and Canada (but not in Dallas). Life-sized coffins, skeletons, and goth-themed décor combine to create a spooktacular atmosphere with Halloween-themed craft cocktails to match. Try the Screaming Banshee, made with gin, pineapple syrup, and Greek yogurt; or the Hellraiser, made with Hornitos tequila and spiced rum. Drinks are served in eerie glassware, like skulls and bony hands, which are also for sale. Monster mash to the beat of sinister Black Lagoon playlists while there. The pop-up will run through October 31.

Nickel City Black Lagoon Halloween pop-up Nickel City is one of just nine bars in the U.S. to host the Black Lagoon pop-up.Photo courtesy of Nickel City

Proper
This longtime Magnolia Avenue cocktail lounge – which sets a high bar for expertly crafted drinks – typically goes all out for Christmas with festive décor and libations. But this year owner Lisa Little-Adams is letting her team go wild with a Halloween pop-up themed after the cult favorite movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cocktails with ties to the movie include the Hot Dog – a nod to the star character, Dr. Frank N. Furter – made with vodka, pineapple, lime, tonic water, and bitters; the Hot Mess, made with tequila blanco, lime, peach puree, crème de cassis, and Tajin; and the Dammit Janet, made with gold rum, apple syrup, lemon, curacao, and walnut liqueur. The pop-up officially kicks off on October 17 and will run through Halloween.

Hot Dog cocktail, Proper The Hot Dog cocktail at Proper.Photo courtesy of Proper

Tarantula Tiki Lounge
Call this South Main Street tiki bar “Tarantula Terror Lounge” this month as the tropical drinking establishment has launched a full menu of creepy cocktails, shots, and party bowls for sharing. Morbid concoctions include the Ghoul Summer, made with two kinds of rum, banana, pineapple, coconut, and spices; and Mai Time to Die, a play on the traditional Mai Tai. Knock back the pink-hued Rocky Horror Picture Shot, or share the Ghouls Gone Wild – made with three rums, mango, guava, and passion fruit – with a friend or two.

Tarantula Tiki Lounge Ghoul Summer at Tarantula Tiki Lounge.Photo courtesy of Tarantula Tiki Lounge

The Back Room at Funky Picnic
This brand new South Fort Worth speakeasy, opened recently in the former Black Cat Pizza space (401 Bryan Ave.) by the owners of neighboring Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, serves cocktails, small plates, and wood-fired pizzas. The Back Room is strictly 21-and-up – but bring the fur babies because there’s a cute little covered pet-friendly patio. Drinks here are pretty, like the Trick-or-Treat Martini, a special this month featuring peanut butter-infused vodka, chocolate liqueur, chocolate syrup, and a graham cracker rimmed glass garnished with a toasted marshmallow. Try one during limited opening hours, which are Friday through Sunday from 3-11 pm.

Halloween cocktail The Back Room's Trick-or-Treat Martini.Photo courtesy of Funky Picnic

Martin House Brewing Company
The Sylvania Avenue brewery along the Trinity Trails – which has gained national attention for its quirky beer flavors – just brewed up four new Halloween-themed brews. Collectively called Marty’s Little Monsters, the limited releases are available on tap at the brewery and in a four-pack of cans in select stores. The lineup includes Battle Bats, a vanilla milkshake IPA; Gummy Ghost, a strawberry cream sour; Mr. Mummy, a vanilla toffee crunch stout; and Wicked Wolf, a peanut butter marshmallow blonde. The taproom is open daily, but expect a busy scene on Thursdays and Saturdays when the brewery sells $15 wristbands good for a souvenir pint glass and four 8-ounce pours.

Martin House Martin House has brewed up several new Halloween-time beers.Facebook/Martin House

Photo courtesy of Refinery 714

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

It’s a busy week in Fort Worth with fetes all around, including taco parties, trick-or-treat beer flights, a champagne dinner, and a boho-chic cowboy-themed pop-up with plenty of whiskey cocktails. Don’t miss the perfect taste of a fall with dinner on a farm or make plans for an annual outdoor cigar and spirits tasting that’s growing every year. The weather looks to be perfect for it all.

Tuesday, October 4

The Ultimate Taco Challenge at El Chingon
The Bledsoe Street Mexican restaurant and bar will celebrate National Taco Day with a taco-eating contest. Teams of four can compete to devour 42 tacos. Contestants will have four minutes and 20 seconds to do it, and the fastest team will $500 cash plus a coveted bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila to be served that night. Check-in for the contest starts at 7 pm and the challenge kicks off at 8 pm. Spectators can enjoy an array of other specials (starting at 3 pm), including a five-taco flight ($9.42), a tequila flight featuring Don Julio 1942, Azuñia, and Casa Noble ($35), a flight of three mini margaritas ($13), shots of Don Julio 1942 ($19.42), and half-off a selection of à la carte tacos.

Date Night Series: Bao Buns Cooking Class at The Table Market & Culinary Studio
Couples will learn how to make various bao buns – a popular Chinese street food – during this hands-on cooking class. On the menu is char sui pork bao and shiitake and water chestnuts bao. The $125 class fee is per couple, and folks may BYOB. Class starts at 6:30 pm.

Wednesday, October 5

Trick or Treat Flights at Martin House Brewing Company
The Riverside brewery popular for its creative lineup of flavors will launch four Halloween beers this week. Try them all in a flight of pours paired with candy. The brews include Battle Bats vanilla milkshake IPA, Gummy Ghost strawberry cream sour, Mr. Mummy vanilla toffee crunch stout, and Wicked Wolf peanut butter marshmallow blonde. Flights will be $15 and will come with a treat bag of Halloween candy. Visit from 4-9 pm.

Thursday, October 6

Veuve Clicquot Six-Course Pairing Dinner at B&B Butchers & Restaurant
The ultimate bubbly brand will be featured during this indulgent six-course dinner, set to take place in a private room at the posh Shops at Clearfork steakhouse. Highlights from the seafood-centric menu include oysters three ways, jumbo lump crab cocktail, and pan-seared sea scallops. Dinner is $260 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 6 pm.

Rhinestone Cowboy Kick-off Party at The Kimpton Harper
Break out the boots and bedazzlers for this boho-western meets disco-themed party that will celebrate the start of The Kimpton Harper’s new Pendleton Whisky pop-up. Located in Refinery 714, the downtown hotel’s 24th floor bar, the month-long pop-up experience will feature glitzy décor, feathers and floral, along with intricate cocktails made with Pendleton Whisky and its sister brand, Dobel Tequila. Try the Calamity Jane, a smoking libation made with rye whisky, dry vermouth, Aperol and yellow chartreuse, or the Lone Ranger, made with tequila topped with bubbles and served in a disco ball tumbler. The kick-off party will feature a costume contest and live DJ music starting at 7 pm. Refinery 714 will be from open from 5-11 pm.

Friday, October 7

Coffee and Tea Crawl
Hosted by the Arlington Public Library, this three-day coffee and tea crawl encourages participants to visit local Arlington coffee shops and bakeries. Hit all four and return your stamped postcard (available at each venue) to the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library for a free mug. Stops include Salter Bros. Coffee Roasters, Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery, White Rhino Coffee, and Inclusion Coffee. Any purchase at each location is good for a stamp, and the promotion runs through Sunday.

Saturday, October 8

Cowtown Taco Throwdown
The inaugural event set to take place at River Ranch Stockyards will feature local taco vendors who’ll showcase their taco best. Tickets ($20 for adults, $10 for kids 6-12) include two tacos with rice and beans, loaded salsa bar, and whiskey tasting (for adults). Or pay $49 for a VIP ticket that includes an open beer and margarita bar. The event will benefit Brotherhood for the Fallen, a non-profit that aids families of officers that have been killed in the line of duty. There’ll also be live music by the Steve Helms band. The party will run from 11 am-5 pm.

4th Annual Cigar & Spirits Tasting
To be held at Panther Island Pavilion, the fourth annual event hosted by Cigar & Spirits Magazine will feature a beer and wine garden, food trucks, live music, and more than 80 cigar and spirit brands to sample. Tickets are $100 per person and the party will run from 5-8:30 pm.

Nash Farm Harvest Moon Supper
Enjoy a 19th century-inspired farm menu during this evening dinner in the meadows of Grapevine’s Nash Farm. Guests will be serenaded by the Lone Star String Band. The $100 per-person ticket includes opening reception, wine paired with dinner, and a souvenir photo. The event begins at 6:30 pm.

These are the 8 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Steaks, brisket, and tacos – oh my! This week is packed with indulgences, including a meat tasting, bourbon-pairing dinner, taco and wine brunch, and even a pickle-themed bar crawl. There’s a 5K fun run in the middle of it that ends with ice cream and beer.

Tuesday, September 6

Meet our Meat at B&B Butchers & Restaurant
Pace yourself for 12 exclusive courses of cellar-cut meats during this once-monthly guided tasting event at the high-end steakhouse and butcher shop. “Meet our Meat” lets guests nosh their way through various dry-aged cuts leading up to the holy grail of beef — A5 certified Kobe beef. Wine pairings are included in the $375 per-person price (plus tax and gratuity). Dinner begins at 6:30 pm and will take place in The Butcher Shop.

Wednesday, September 7

MELT Party Run
This 5K fun run comes with beer and ice cream. MELT Ice Creams has partnered with Martin House Brewing Company to host a leisurely 5K run, where the race ends with a scoop of ice cream and three beers from the Riverside brewery. All sales from the run will be donated to The Birthday Party Project, an organization that provides underprivileged children with birthday parties. Adult registration is $35 and kids 12 and under can run for $10. The race begins and ends at Martin House Brewing Company. Packet pick-up is at 5:30 pm and the race start time is 6:30 pm.

Friday, September 9

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Dinner Hotel Vin’s Magnum Speakeasy
Indulge in 40-day dry-aged prime bone-in tenderloin, 50-day dry-aged prime strip loin, and 60-day dry-aged prime Delmonico rib eye during this luxurious Maker’s Mark bourbon-pairing dinner. All courses will be served with a different age and proof of Maker’s Mark bourbon. Guests will start with 30-day dry-aged smoked beef tartare. The dinner will take place in the Grapevine Hotel’s very hidden speakeasy called Magnum. Just look for the phone booth and pick up the phone for directions. Diner is $200 per person, plus tax and a service fee, and begins at 7 pm.

Saturday, September 10

Brisket U at Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Learn how to work a barbecue pit and craft the quintessential smoked brisket during this Saturday morning barbecue lesson. Participants will get schooled on pit types, brisket cuts, trim techniques, rubs and prep, wood selection and smoke profiles, managing a fire and pit chamber, timing, and properly slicing the end product. Class is $119 per person and will run from 9 am-12 pm.

Sunday, September 11

Guapo Taco Pop-Up Brunch at Rancho Loma Vineyards
Here’s a unique opportunity to experience the Mexican-style street food of Angel Fuentes, the chef behind the cult favorite Guapo Taco in Riverside. Fuentes will be on-site at the South Main Street district wine bar preparing a la carte brunch dishes. Reservations are available between 12-3 pm.

Fort Worth Pickle Crawl
Add “pickle” to the list of unique bar crawl themes. This bar-hopping excursion will take place in the West 7th Street district, where more than a half-dozen bars will present their pickle-infused best. Think pickle margaritas, pickle-infused bourbon, pickle shots, and more. There’ll also be pickle-themed food. Tickets are $19.99 and include a bar crawl map, wristband good for specials at each participating bar, and pickle shots and samples at entry. Check in begins at 2 pm at Bar 2909.

Monday, September 12

Autumn Moon Dinner at The Table
Known as the “Moon Festival,” the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar as a time for families to get together when the moon is at its fullest. Chef Hao Tran and Dixya Bhattarai will celebrate early with a multicourse dinner at The Table Market + Culinary Studio. Menu highlights include crab corn soup, beef and chive dumplings, tea smoked duck, and moon cakes with tea service. Dinner is $65 per person, including tax and fees, and begins at 6 pm. Note that the dinner is BYOB.

Negroni Week Pop-up at Proper Bar
Proper Bar on Magnolia gets into the spirit of Campari Negroni Week with a fun menu of Negronis and Campari-forward cocktails created for the occasion. From September 12-18, the bar will host a weeklong pop-up of classic and signature drinks, along with "Instaworthy" moments and swag to take home. Follow the bar on Instagram to find out what's coming.

Photo courtesy of Emporium Pies

These are the 7 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Halloween fans will be stoked about a super scary, immersive pop-up experience that’s set to debut at a popular Fort Worth bar this week. Less frightening festivities include a barbecue and beer pairing at a Tex-Mex hot spot, whiskey pairing dinner, boozy afternoon tea, and grand opening of a new outdoor bar. Save room for cake and pie, because two bakeries have big birthdays this week and they're hosting sweet celebrations for customers.

Wednesday, August 31

Birdie's Social Club Grand Opening
A veteran bar group in Fort Worth is debuting a new venue: Called Birdie's Social Club, it's in the Cultural District at a familiar address: 2736 W 6th St., IE, the space that was formerly Lola's. Birdie's is a casual, open-air concept, spanning the entire block between 5th and 6th streets, with three indoor and outdoor bars, multiple patios, food, drinks, and entertainment. The Grand Opening party on Wednesday will feature a live performance by the Powell Brothers, corn dogs from Fletcher's, and complimentary champagne from the Bubble Bus (while supplies last). It all gets started at 4 pm.

Thursday, September 1

Emporium Pies 10th Birthday
The Bishop Arts gourmet pie destination turns 10 years old on September 1, and there’ll be specials at all four DFW locations to celebrate. Visit for a slice of the limited edition Smorgasbord pie — a brownie pie with a graham cracker crust, marshmallow meringue, and festive sprinkles, available all of September. Emporium will also offer a one-day special Chicken Lickin savory pie, made with puff pastry filled with chicken, veggies and gravy. Emporium also has locations in Fort Worth, McKinney, and Deep Ellum.

Free Cake Day at Nothing Bundt Cakes
To celebrate the bundt chain’s 25th birthday, all Nothing Bundt Cake locations will give away free individually wrapped Confetti Bundlets to the first 250 customers. Nothing Bundt Cakes has locations in Fort Worth, Lake Worth, Southlake, Hurst, Burleson, and Arlington, as well as Dallas, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Lewisville, and Flower Mound, Allen, and .

Whiskey Dinner at Winewood Grill
The Grapevine steakhouse and fine wine destination will host a four-course whiskey-pairing dinner featuring Aberfeldy and Craigellachie brands. Courses include oysters Rockefeller, heirloom tomato and green apple caprese, rack of lamb with Brussels sprouts, and crème brulee. All courses will be paired with neat pours of scotch and whiskey. The dinner is $125 plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 6 pm.

Friday, September 2

Barbecue & Beer Pairing at El Chingon
The West 7th district Tex-Mex restaurant and late-night bar will toast to summer’s last hurrah with a barbecue and beer pairing special available all weekend long. Folks can order the Parrillada Chingon platter with carnitas, grilled steak skirt, grilled chicken breast and shrimp with peppers, queso fundido, and guacamole paired with a Dos Equis beer tower for $70. The entire ensemble serves two to four people and will be available Friday through Monday.

Saturday, September 3

Boozy Tea Party at Hooligan’s Pub
In conjunction with the final weekend of Arlington Museum of Art's "Disney Art from Private Collections" exhibition, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter will visit nearby Hooligan's Pub for high tea and Disney trivia. The $59.99 per-person ticket includes a glass of bubbly upon arrival along with a tea tower filled with quiche, puff pastries, mini sandwiches, scones, tarts, macarons, and more, paired with a Earl Grey tea-infused old fashioned. End the evening with another glass of bubbly. The event will run from 6-9 pm.

Sunday, September 4

Black Lagoon at Nickel City
Cue the horror music. Halloween arrives early this year thanks to a spooky pop-up bar set to debut at Nickel City. Called Black Lagoon, the immersive experience will take place in nine cities across North America, from Montreal to New York City. Guests can expect horrific décor, mysterious music, and creepy cocktails. Don't miss the Screaming Banshee, with gin, Giffard L'Abricot, pineapple syrup, and Greek yogurt; and the Hellraiser, with Hornitos, Chairman’s spiced rum, Cointreu, and spiced oat orgeat. Drinks will be served in custom glassware that will be available for purchase. Get a super scary sneak peek of the pop-up this Sunday from 6-10 pm.

Photo courtesy of Garrison Brothers

Texas' Garrison Brothers plots delicious bourbon takeover for September

Cheers, Y'all

Bourbon lovers, get ready: Garrison Brothers Distillery is launching its 2022 Bourbon Takeover of America on September 1.

The nationwide creative celebration of all things bourbon will run for the entire month of September, which also happens to be National Bourbon Heritage Month.

During that time, the award-winning, first-legal Texas whiskey distillery is partnering with America’s best bartenders and chefs from coast to coast to offer unique, limited-edition, bourbon-inspired cocktails and bites.

Wondering where to indulge in and around Dallas-Fort Worth? Here's your list:

Get even more out of the experience by downloading the Garrison Brothers Bourbon Takeover Passport App and then checking in with what you've just savored.

The more you check in, the more chances you have to be one of the 10 who wins the prize: a custom Garrison Brothers-branded barrel head serving tray, mixing glass, stirring spoon, and jigger.

The Garrison Brothers Bourbon Takeover Passport App is available for download in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Those 21 years of age and older are welcome to participate.

To find out more about 2022 Bourbon Takeover of America, go to www.bourbontakeover.com.

The celebration of all things bourbon will run for the entire month of September.

Photo courtesy of Garrison Brothers
The celebration of all things bourbon will run for the entire month of September.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Lightscape' shines bright in this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland. Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” which made its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.

2. Hoffbrau Steak fires up the grill for new location in Grapevine. A longtime steakhouse is coming to Grapevine: Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House, a small family-owned and -operated chain that's been in Dallas-Fort Worth for more than 40 years, will open a location November 28 at 700 W. State Hwy 114, previously home to a Brick House Tavern & Tap, which closed during the pandemic.

3. Yellowstone and 1883 stars cowboy up at Fort Worth gala honoring Taylor Sheridan. Fort Worth has always been "where the West begins," and now it's where TV's hottest Western drama begins, too. The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival Gala - held November 11 at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards - leaned hard into the city's connections to Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, with signs and programs that boasted "The Road to Yellowstone Began in Fort Worth."

4. Divine doughnuts and tempting tamales top this Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth has tidbits about doughnuts, Cajun food, vegan tamales, and gourmet ice cream, culled from press releases, social media, and the occasional hot tip. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. Here comes Santa House, back to Grapevine for a very charitable 2022 Christmas season. After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season. The half-acre property is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.

Texas parks beckon throughout 2022 holidays with festive events and peaceful escapes

If roasting ‘smores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Avoid the Black Friday madness with the 15th annual “Walk-off the Bird” Bird Walk, a 2.1-mile walk by the lakeshore at 9 am November 25. Bring your binoculars to relax and enjoy the bird life of the East Texas Pineywoods. At 2 pm the same day, enjoy a Fall in the Savannah fall foliage hike. Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive from November 25 to December 19. Come back December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 a.m. December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Walk off your Thanksgiving Day meal and explore nature in the cool fall air during the three-mile Thanksgiving Nature Walk 7:30-9 a.m. November 26. Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm. December 17.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
The park’s annual Gobble Till You Wobble hike November 25 has been canceled due to predicted rains. However, you can still follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 a.m. to noon December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Attend Deck the Halls, 10 am. to 3 pm November 26 to explore how early Texans at the Sauer-Beckmann Farm got ready for the holidays by stringing popcorn and decorating cookies to hang on their Christmas tree; learn how to make wreaths out of local cedar and dip candles as the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am to 2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
Take a Giving Thanks Guided Hike and learn how the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from 3-4 pm November 26. On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 p.m. December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm. December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2 to 5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Livingston State Park
Learn about your favorite Thanksgiving food (the turkey) during Campfire Turkey Talk on November 26. Rangers will cover the history of Thanksgiving, the habits and behaviors of wild turkeys, and share interesting facts about turkeys, including how it nearly became our national bird.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
Pack your Thanksgiving leftovers and hike 1.5 miles up to Aztec Caves during the park’s Turkey Trot at 11 am November 25. On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park 6-8 pm December 10.

Affluent Fort Worth neighbor leads list of lavish holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Flower Mound as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Flower Mound is $3,531 per person, the third highest in the nation.

The town's 2021 population of 77,243 (per the U.S. Census) boasts a median income $139,703 and earlier this year was named by Ventured.com as the richest city in Texas.

In spite of an increase over last year's gift list totals, Flower Mound dropped to the third spot after being ranked No. 1 last year with a budget of $3,427. Newton, Massachusetts (budget $4,233) and Palo Alto, California (budget $3,920) edged out the Texas city this year.

Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, but there's plenty of holiday cheer to be found in the report, and not just for Flower Mound Santa fans.

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

This could be good news if your Christmas wishes are on local shopping lists. Eight other North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Fort Worth landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890, while Dallas landed at No. 401 out of 558 cities with an average holiday budget of $845.

Elsewhere in Texas, spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Santa's bag could be a mixed bag in the Houston area with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.