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Photo courtesy of Rice Village

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. Fort Worth's WestBend center scoops location of buzzy ice cream concept. The WestBend mixed-use development in Fort Worth's University District is booming, and now there's a slew of new shops and businesses lined up to join the mix, including Van Leeuwen, New York-based ice cream company that makes dairy and especially ice creams. It's opening its first store in Fort Worth.

The Key Lime Pie at Anderson Distillery. Photo courtesy of Anderson Distilling

2. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 5 best new bars in the 'burbs. New bars open in Fort Worth on the regular, but the ‘burbs are also buzzing with new drinking destinations. Northeast Tarrant County, in particular is hot, with several swanky lounges and new sports bars recently opened for business. Here are five new bars to visit that are the worth the trek beyond the 820 loop.

Pizza with mushroom and shaved asparagus. Funky Picnic

3. Funky Fort Worth brewpub unveils speakeasy bar with pizza on the side. A Fort Worth restaurant is about to debut an ultra-trendy new spinoff. Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, the brewpub in the Near Southside, is opening a speakeasy bar and pizza kitchen called The Back Room at Funky Picnic, which will occupy the space right next door at 401 Bryan Ave. #109 that was previously occupied by Black Cat Pizza.

100 Things to Do in Fort Worth Before you Die will be released on September 25. Courtesy photo

4. Fort Worth author’s new book compiles ultimate bucket list of 100 things to do in Cowtown. If you’re out of ideas of things to do in Fort Worth, one local author has you covered. Celestina Blok has compiled her top recommendations in her new book, 100 Things to Do in Fort Worth Before You Die. The new title, which releases Sept. 25, covers the categories of food and drink, music and entertainment, outdoors and recreation, culture and history, and shopping and fashion.

Coco Gauff is one of the top-ranked singles and doubles players. Julian Finney/Getty Images

5. How to see Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek, and more WTA tennis stars compete in Fort Worth. Fresh off her US Open victory, the world's No. 1 female tennis player, Iga Swiatek, will lead the top eight singles players and doubles teams into Fort Worth next month for the 2022 Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals. The competition will take place October 31-November 7 at Dickies Arena, and tickets are now on sale.

Photo courtesy of GrapeFest

These are the 5 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

The first Oktoberfest event of the season happens this week, and it’s a big one that starts with a fun run. This week also brings the 36th annual edition of the largest wine festival in the Southwest. Save room for pumpkin beer and pie — the latter in the form of an inaugural pie-eating contest.

Wednesday, September 14

Hispanic Heritage Month at Central Market
Are you really into comida? The Texas gourmet grocer will showcase top-rated Hispanic brands from around the world for this month-long festival that kicks off Wednesday. New and noteworthy items available for purchase are Spanish-tenderized octopus, Chorizo de San Manuel from Edinburg, Texas, pastel de elote with buttery corn bread, sweetened condensed milk and white corn, and Mexican wedding cookies. The festival will run through October 11.

Thursday, September 15

GrapeFest
The largest wine festival of the Southwest returns for its 36th annual four-day run. Held in historic downtown Grapevine, GrapeFest features the best of Texas-grown wines, as well as guest wineries from the Sonoma Valley region in California and Sicily region of Italy. New this year is a cork shoot-off, charcuterie workshops, and VIP tasting experiences. Headlining acts include Texas country singer Jack Ingram (Saturday) and '80s pop star Taylor Dayne (Friday). GrapeFest opens at 11 am daily. Admission is free on Thursday and all day Friday until 5 pm. After that, adults are $10 ($5 for 62-plus and children 6-12). Note that admission does not include tasting experiences, including the popular People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, which is $25 per person (in advance) and booked in 90-minute increments throughout the weekend.

Saturday, September 17

Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest 5K
Now in its 13th year, the popular 5K race and post-party takes place Saturday morning right at the Rahr brewery. Registration includes an official race shirt, finisher medal, on-course whiskey shot by Acre Distilling Co., and finisher pint glass to be filled with three Rahr brews. Note that registration ($55) closes Friday at 5 pm and the race begins promptly Saturday at 8:30 am. The event will include stein-hoisting competitions, costume contests, and lots of live music.

Pumpkin Fest at Martin House Brewing Company
The Riverside brewery will drop three different pumpkin beers during this afternoon “almost-fall” festival. Go for face painting, pumpkin decorating, pumpkin chucking, kettle corn, food trucks, and live music. The $20 entry fee includes a pint glass and four pours. As always for Martin House Saturday events, kids are welcome.

Pie-Eating Contest at Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop
The Arlington outlet of this popular pie chain will host its inaugural pie-eating competition, where participants get to pick their pie. The entry fee is $7.50 per person ($8.50 for gluten-free pie, booked in advance). In a unique twist, a round will take place every 15 minutes and the number of participants in each round determines the size of the prize — which is more pie to take home. Large groups may book a time slot in advance. Rounds will run from 1-4 pm.

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.

Jon's Grille

Chef's long-awaited burger grill fires up this week's 5 most-read 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. Anticipated burger joint debuts and more Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of Fort Worth dining news includes some cool openings that have been in the works for a while, plus a few tasty new dishes and an enticing new beer. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

2. Girl Scouts unveil radical new flavor for 2023 cookie season in Fort Worth. The Girl Scouts are up to something radical: They're adding a new flavor for the 2023 season that's a spinoff of their trademark Thin Mints cookie. Called the Raspberry Rally, it's a thin, crispy cookie that looks and acts like a Thin Mint, with the same chocolaty coating. But instead of a minty center, it's infused with raspberry flavor.

3. Kimbell Art Museum celebrates 50th anniversary with a week of free events for Fort Worth. Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum is celebrating its milestone 50th birthday this fall, and everyone's invited to the party — even the kids. On October 4, 1972, the Kimbell opened the Louis I. Kahn building to great acclaim. Accordingly, the week of October 4-9 will be prime celebration week for the city's premier art museum, with the biggest event happening Saturday, October 8.

4. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 8 best bars for '90s-cool espresso martinis. Call it a comeback. The espresso martini, the hottest drink in the current world of cocktails originated in the 1980s and picked up steam in the '90s, and its recent resurgence has bar owners scrambling to stock coupe glasses and coffee beans. Here are eight of the best hot spots to sip them in Fort Worth.

5. Distillery and grill in Roanoke fulfills all your eating and drinking needs. The city of Roanoke is home to an ambitious new spot that's a restaurant and distillery in one. Called Anderson Distillery and Grill, it just opened at 400 S. Oak St., right by Roanoke City Hall, where it's serving a roster of spirits made in-house, along with cocktails and a menu of bites.

There's a new burger in town.

Jon's Grille
There's a new burger in town.
Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts unveil radical new flavor for 2023 cookie season in Fort Worth

Cookie News

The Girl Scouts are up to something radical: According to a release from Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and Girl Scouts of the USA, they're adding a new flavor for the 2023 season that's a spinoff of their trademark Thin Mints cookie.

Called the Raspberry Rally, it's a thin, crispy cookie that looks and acts like a Thin Mint, with the same chocolaty coating. But instead of a minty center, it's infused with raspberry flavor. Gasp.

They're calling it a sister to the Thin Mint but everyone knows that the Thin Mint is an only child and has no siblings.

The new raspberry-flavored cookie will be available to consumers nationally during the 2023 Girl Scout Cookie season, alongside favorites like Thin Mints and Samoas. But it will be available online only, the first Girl Scout cookie lineup to be thusly sold, with the idea that it will enhance Girl Scout e-commerce sales and entrepreneurial skills.

It will also be available in limited quantities, so stand by for some frenzied online ordering once the season begins.

The release recounts the myriad pluses of the Girl Scouts cookies program, not that anyone needs persuasion, I mean all you have to say is cookies, but here goes:

  • One-hundred percent of proceeds raised from in-person and online cookie orders directly benefit local councils and troops.
  • Girl Scouts learn leadership, problem-solving, and community building through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, resulting in an invaluable experience that cultivates an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit.
  • The Girl Scout Cookie Program encourages girls to be risk takers, to think outside of the box, and to be confident in their own abilities.

The program embraces the understanding of the world of business, money management, and entrepreneurship. Cookie Business badges range anywhere from goal setting to learning effective in-person and online sales pitches, using market research, creating business plans, and implementing digital marketing campaigns.

There's also the fact that it's just fun to get something that isn't readily available 365 days per year.

This is not the first new flavor the Girl Scouts have introduced. Who could forget Adventurefuls, the brownie-inspired cookie with caramel-flavored crème and sea salt they introduced for the 2022 season? Still available, btw.

"The Raspberry Rally is the perfect addition to our delicious line up of Girl Scout Cookies," said Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. "When you purchase a box of Girl Scout Cookies, you are fueling girls’ learning and development through incredible leadership development programs. All proceeds stay local and support troops in your community with essential funds to power unique opportunities and adventures for their girls."

While Girl Scout Cookies will be available for online-only purchases starting in December, the official start to Cookie Season is Friday, January 13 in Northeast Texas; visit www.girlscoutcookies.org to sign up to be notified as soon as Raspberry Rally and other Girl Scout Cookies are on sale.

Mexican Inn

Restaurant news sizzles in this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

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. Don't read this roundup of Fort Worth restaurant news on an empty stomach. Maybe grab a snack because this roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth is brimming with tasty tidbits: exciting new openings, beloved reopenings, promising new menus, enticing new cocktails, and alluring new limited-edition items. Here's the latest Fort Worth restaurant news.

2. 6 top snow cone stands for an icy sweet treat around Fort Worth. An oasis of relief on a sizzling day can be found by way of the classic snow cone stand. With soft and fluffy shaved ice and so many refreshing flavor options, snow cones provide for a nostalgic taste of a hot summer night. Here are six must-visit Fort Worth snow cone stands.

3. Concert review: Garth Brooks thanks DFW at AT&T Stadium show in Arlington. Seven years after his last area appearance, country singer Garth Brooks returned to North Texas on July 30, performing an electrifying two-hour concert that was as much a raucous, career-spanning show as it was a thank-you letter to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

4. Top 5 revelations from Garth Brooks' Arlington show press conference. One day before his sold-out show on July 30 at AT&T Stadium, country megastar Garth Brooks was doing what Garth Brooks always does the day before a show: meeting up with the media. These are the top five things the country superstar shared.

5. Authorities charge man with arson for grass fires in northwest Fort Worth. A man was arrested on Thursday, July 28 for setting multiple fires in Fort Worth. Julio Frausto, 32, was charged with one count of second-degree felony Arson, one count of second-degree felony Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Information, and one count of misdemeanor Evading Arrest or Detention.

Pretty enchilada at Mexican Inn Cafe.

Mexican Inn
Pretty enchilada at Mexican Inn Cafe.
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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.