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There are so many great places to live in Fort Worth that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Just southwest of downtown Fort Worth is Tanglewood, a neighborhood known for its family-friendliness, excellent schools, and deep sense of community.

Real estate professional Sharion Innis Bostic couldn’t agree more. The Fort Worth native has called this part of town home for more than 25 years, and says there is not a better place to live.

“We moved here because we wanted our children to go to exemplary, neighborhood schools where their friends were close by,” says Bostic. “This is a neighborhood where kids can still walk to school or ride their bike. The parks, bike trails, and community tennis courts make it a great place to get out and meet your neighbors, too.”

It's also a centrally located place where you can walk to shops and the grocery store — not to mention TCU and Colonial Country Club. The Stockyards are also just 15 minutes away, and Dickies Arena is only 10 minutes away.

As a former flight attendant, Bostic enjoyed buying and remodeling homes so much in her off time that eight years ago she decided to take her keen learnings and insights and pursue a full-time real estate career. Not only does she rely on her expertise in negotiating to assure that her clients have a smooth and rewarding experience, her background in visual marketing is also an asset.

When she’s not working, you might find Bostic with her husband and three daughters cheering on the Aggies or Horned Frogs. She also loves walking her Labradors along the Trinity Trails and attending events for The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth.

Bostic offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in and around Tanglewood. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Bostic suggests Jon's Grille, which is a ranch-to-table concept with an incredible BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) situation. Don’t skip their snacks either, where you can order such things as the Trainwreck (fries, tortilla chips, queso, chopped brisket, jalapeños, scallions, and cilantro) and elote fritters.

More legendary burgers can be had at Dutch’s, a neighborhood fave. And Charleston’s is another longtime local hangout for home cooking like meatloaf and chicken fried steak. For an upscale-yet-comfortable experience, Tavern is your place.

Where to play
Tanglewood is located near a branch of the Trinity River, so walking, running, or biking the Trinity Trails is a beautiful advantage of this neighborhood.

“You can also walk to The Shops at Clearfork, which is an upscale hub for shopping, entertaining, and dining,” says Bostic. “It’s so much fun!” She also loves playing tennis on the community courts.

What to see
The Cultural District is only five minutes away and has five award-winning museums within walking distance of each other, including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Kimbell Art Museum, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Where to live
Most of the properties are one- or two-story, traditional ranch-style homes that were built for families, according to Bostic. The homes are generally sited on spacious lots, ranging from one-third of an acre to three-quarters of an acre, and many have large trees, too.

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Sharion Bostic lives, works, and plays in Tanglewood. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email sbostic@briggsfreeman.com, or call 682-465-9674.

Walsh: A dreamy, new world-class neighborhood that thrives on community

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Fort Worth that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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While the term "master planned community" is frequently used, real estate professional Adrianne Holland, GRI, will tell you that Walsh is in a class of its own in this category.

Located in Fort Worth, the new, 7,200-acre development is one of the largest of its kind in a major U.S. city and includes commercial development, residential neighborhoods, and mixed-use areas.

“The developer invested in more than a decade of research and design to ensure every factor that makes a world-class neighborhood was planned out in detail,” says Holland, who was born and raised in Fort Worth. “This included many forward-thinking, long-term investments, such as a tree farm, integration with a top school district, 2,300 acres of green space, and some of the most advanced internet connectivity available in the United States.”

She’s so inspired by the area that she’s building her own custom home in Walsh and will be moving there in 2023.

“From creative neighborhood events that happen year-round to outstanding amenities and the friendly waves of passing golf carts, this neighborhood has a thriving community experience that is missing from so many others,” adds Holland.

One of her greatest joys is helping her clients find their perfect home, for whatever phase they are moving into in life. Another great joy? Halloween decorations! "My decorations definitely lean to scary rather than whimsical, and every year I try to build on what I did the year before," she says.

Holland is also a frozen yogurt aficionado — it's her "kryptonite" — and she will detour on road trips and block time to try new places.

Fro-yo aside, she offered up some of her personal favorites about life in Walsh. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
While Fort Worth is a mere 12 minutes away for anything you might be craving, Holland also suggests two excellent options even closer to Walsh: Fire Oak Grill in Weatherford and Railhead Smokehouse BBQ in Willow Park.

“Both places have Texas-style decor and laid-back ambiance," says Holland. "Definitely ask for my favorite off-the-menu item at Railhead: the fried turkey.”

Where to play
Walsh has 120 acres of green space in addition to a state-of-the-art Athletic Club with sport courts and two huge swimming pools.

But Holland’s go-to hangout is Lake Park — especially in the summer months — where you can rent a kayak, lounge in an Adirondack chair, or go for a swim in the nine-acre lake. There’s also a two-tiered, shaded playground with a cushioned floor to keep little ones safe while they play on swings, slides, and a globe spinner.

Holland also loves Makerspace, a creative lab and gathering place that provides innovative tools and technology like 3-D printers, robotics, laser cutters, woodworking tools, sewing equipment, and kid-friendly arts and crafts. Access to Makerspace is an included amenity for all Walsh residents.

What to see
“Don’t miss a chance to visit downtown Weatherford,” says Holland. “It has a rich Western and pioneer history that can be seen and explored in its downtown square and historic district.”

It’s also the Peach Capital of Texas, and there’s an annual Peach Festival where you can sample many fruity creations.

Where to live
Holland shares that Walsh allows future residents to select from a broad range of architectural styles, with one to suit almost any taste.

There are eight unique styles from which to choose: Colonial Revival, Mediterranean, midcentury modern, Arts and Crafts, modern farmhouse, Texas vernacular, transitional, and Tudor.

“The variety of architecture is so appealing, but if none of those styles perfectly match your taste there are custom-designated areas, such as Cline Park, that allow you to further customize your dream home,” adds Holland.

Holland represented the buyer of 2600 Paladora Drive, which is a quintessential example of a custom home in Walsh.

“Located in Cline Park, this modern hacienda home is elegant, timeless, and welcoming with its beautiful red tile roof, several alfresco gathering spaces, and a neutral color palette that garners a sense of relaxation,” she says.

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Adrianne Holland works and plays in Walsh. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email aholland@briggsfreeman.com, or call 817-988-7955.

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty

Agent Adrianne Holland.

Colonial: Historic character and friendly neighbors in the heart of Fort Worth

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Fort Worth that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Real estate advisor Raleigh Green considers the Colonial neighborhood of Fort Worth almost like a second home. Growing up, he spent a significant amount of time there at his grandparents’ and friends’ houses, and was always running up and down the streets to train for his high school and college track meets.

Green and his wife, Megan, who works with him, still have family members and close friends who live in Colonial, and they are constantly showing off the neighborhood to clients.

Born and raised in Fort Worth, Raleigh is active in the community and serves on several boards in Fort Worth. Fun fact: Raleigh’s community knowledge and associations have earned him the nickname “The Mayor of Fort Worth.”

“Location, location, location,” is a big advantage, according to the Greens, as Colonial is in the heart of Fort Worth and is close to Texas Christian University, shopping and dining in University Park Village, and several parks and bike paths along the Trinity River.

“Plus, Colonial has historic character, impressive architecture, and a true community of friendly, caring and respectful neighbors,” they add.

The neighborhood’s namesake Colonial Country Club is also attractive for homebuyers. The private golf course is home to the Charles Schwab Challenge, a PGA tournament that comes to Fort Worth every May.

The Greens offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Colonial. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
As part of chef Tim Love’s empire, the Woodshed Smokehouse pays homage to all things grilled, roasted, and slow-cooked, and it’s a favorite destination for the Greens. It’s also a great place for a cold beer or craft cocktail overlooking the Trinity River.

For authentic Mexican food and solid margaritas, the Greens suggest Maria's Mexican Kitchen. They also head to HG Sply Co. for healthy yet hearty and delicious fare.

Pacific Table brings an eclectic mix of modern, Pacific Northwest cuisine to the table (don’t miss the grilled artichokes or the San Francisco cioppino) — and their brunch menu is small but mighty with sweet and savory flavors.

Where to play
The Colonial Country Club is right in your backyard with its world-class golf course, but the Greens also recommend the Fort Worth Zoo for fun for the whole family.

To spend time in nature they head to Overton Park, the Trinity River for fishing and kayaking, and the Trinity Trails for running and cycling. Catching a sports game at Texas Christian University is another favorite pastime.

Where to live
The Greens advise that homes for sale in the Colonial neighborhood are generally large, updated two-story properties in a wide variety of styles, including Colonial, Spanish, and Tudor, along with a few ranch-style homes.

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Raleigh and Megan Green work and play in Colonial. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email rgreen@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-208-7417.

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Rivercrest: Historic homes that harken back to Fort Worth's cowboy past

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Fort Worth that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Few embody the concept of "cowboys and culture" like Donna Kyle Veale. The real estate agent is the wife of a sixth-generation rancher and descendent of J.J. Ward of West Texas.

She moved from Telluride, Colorado, (where she is still a broker) to live with her husband in Fort Worth and enjoys representing luxury buyers and sellers in North Texas.

Donna Kyle and her husband are members of River Crest Country Club and are quick to tout the Rivercrest neighborhood's proximity to Fort Worth's Cultural District, Northside, and downtown area.

"Rivercrest is a great neighborhood for families, and especially golfers!" she says. "People greet you with a smile and live an active lifestyle. With easy access to downtown and the Trinity Trails, this area is a great location for young couples, families, and those interested in immersing themselves in Fort Worth."

Donna Kyle offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Rivercrest. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Donna Kyle's absolute favorite place to dine is Paris 7th, where the classic French cuisine reminds her of the year she lived in France. "My favorite small plate is the foie gras de canard au torchon," she says.

Roy Pope Grocery is her favorite place to grab a quick bite with friends, thanks to its comfortable, trendy atmosphere. "It has a fabulous gourmet deli, serving specialty coffees, wine, and beer," Donna Kyle says. "I can always count on fresh fruit from the produce section or a select Angus steak for the grill. The staff is especially friendly and always so helpful."

Where to play
River Crest Country Club offers much more than just a round of golf. "I always feel pampered by the staff, whether I’m hosting a special event or enjoying refreshments from the 1911 Lounge," she says. "Tuesday night is fried chicken night, and it is well attended by Rivercrest families."

What to see
Just a short distance from Rivercrest are the Cultural District museums. "I love visiting the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame," Donna Kyle says. "During the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, it’s a must on my list of places to take our out-of-town guests."

Her favorite specialty shop is PS The Letter, which is where she goes whenever she needs a unique gift. "I especially love sending handwritten notes, and PS The Letter has the most lovely collection of custom stationery," she says. "Their bespoke crystal gifts and custom decor never disappoint."

Where to live
"The historic elegance of the estates in Rivercrest captured my interest when I first moved to Fort Worth," Donna Kyle says. "The homes are diverse in terms of architecture, with styles ranging from Mediterranean to modern. Many of these homes date back to 1910, when Fort Worth was considered the Old West and populated by cattlemen, ranchers, and oil tycoons."

The grandest historic homes are the few that sit along the bluff on Crestline Road. Donna Kyle's personal favorite home in the Rivercrest area is the Baldridge House, a Georgian mansion built in 1910 that has been beautifully preserved and updated. It was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission in 1978.

"Its gardens are as opulent as the chandeliers that drape the ceilings throughout the home," says Donna Kyle. "The home rivals many of this era — it is sincerely captivating!"

Some Rivercrest homes are tucked away for privacy yet have expansive golf course views. The floor plans are fitting for growing families, with three-plus bedrooms and ensuite baths — and expect to see large kitchens and dining areas separate from the living areas.

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Donna Kyle Veale works and plays in Rivercrest. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email dkyle@briggsfreeman.com, or call 970-708-1535.

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Overton Park: Great schools make this family-friendly neighborhood shine

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Fort Worth that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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When Margaret Motheral says her neighborhood feels like family, she's not kidding. The real estate agent has lived in Overton Park for the past 34 years, raising her family surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who also chose to put down roots in this special community.

"Now my adult children have chosen to live in the neighborhood, too," she says. "We have so many friends and family who live in the area. The schools here are highly ranked, and it’s centrally located. We knew our investment would be safe here!"

Indeed, Overton Park has a new state-of-the-art elementary school — Overton Park Elementary School — that runs pre-K through fifth grade. The neighborhood is also close to several great private schools, as well as I-20 and I-30 for commuting.

Motheral offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Overton Park. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Motheral lists Yogi's Deli & Grill, Cafe Bella, and Tavern as tried-and-true favorites.

Where to play
"Take a bike ride on the Trinity Trails or walk through Overton Park," says Motheral. "Your children will love playing on the playground or even having a birthday party at the park."

The Shops at Clearfork is a must for shopping and dining, and Motheral points out that it's a great place to bowl or see a movie, too.

Where to live
Overton Park consists of one-story ranch-style homes, midcentury modern homes, and two-story Colonial-style homes. Homes are sited on spacious lots that range from a third of an acre to a half-acre or more.

"The winding, tree-lined streets make for a beautiful landscape," Motheral says. "Pride of ownership is evident as you drive through the neighborhood."

"Having moved from California, it was great to have a real estate agent with such experience in the Fort Worth market," says Dave, one of Motheral's clients. "We were able to weigh the pluses and minuses of each area and came out with a great deal in a wonderful neighborhood."

"Margaret was great at helping us prepare, present, and market our home to achieve the best outcome," says Doug, whom Motheral represented as the seller. "She did a thorough job of researching our market, justifying listing it above nearby comps, and getting three offers at and above our listing price the day it was listed. It was the perfect outcome, as we needed every dollar to sink into our next, more expensive home. Thanks to Margaret for saving us thousands."

"Margaret was amazing!" say clients Paula and Floyd. "We were going to go 'for sale by owner' until a friend recommended Margaret. She made the process so easy. We completely trusted everything she suggested, from pricing the home to staging it for pictures. We were thrilled to get multiple offers, and it sold in less than a week."

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Margaret Motheral lives, works, and plays in Overton Park. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email mmotheral@briggsfreeman.com, or call 817-371-0939.

Agent Margaret Motheral

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Agent Margaret Motheral

Ridglea Country Club Estates: Fort Worth’s golf course community is serenity in the city

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Fort Worth that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Fort Worth is a changing and growing city, and real estate agent Pat Safian has been passionate about helping her clients find their own place in it — just like she once did.

Born in England, Pat lived in several states and countries before her military dad was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, which happened to be the city where she finally felt at home.

Ridglea Country Club Estates, located in southwest Fort Worth, holds an extra-special place in Pat’s heart. She spent nine years there with her then-husband, raising their kids. This neighborhood has also been an area of focus during her 20-year real estate career. So she knows firsthand how distinctive this private community is.

With 624 homes built around a beautiful 18-hole golf course, RCCE offers a beautiful setting that includes easy access to the Trinity Trails, right outside the entrance.

“I like that there is only one entrance in and out — and that many of the homes here are custom,” Pat says. “It’s a very quiet neighborhood, too.”

While it may feel like a bucolic slice of country living, Ridglea Country Club Estates is conveniently located near some of the best shopping and restaurants in Fort Worth, along with schools and Texas Christian University — and it’s only about 10 minutes from downtown.

Pat offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Ridglea Country Club Estates. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
You can’t miss The Original, which is one of Pat’s top picks. Having served its legendary Tex-Mex since 1926, it’s Fort Worth’s oldest restaurant. During the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a regular when he came to town to visit his son. To this day, you can still order the “Roosevelt Special.”

Pat also recommends Campisi’s, another long-standing institution, for great Italian dishes; Lucile’s for classic, homey American food; and Angelo’s BBQ for the best smoked flavors.

For a menu that’s packed with hearty “contemporary ranch” flavors, you can head to Michaels Cuisine before the rodeo or a concert at Dickies Arena, which is just minutes away.

Where to play
Pat’s go-to place for some down time is Trinity Park for a bike ride or walking the trails. There is an access point just outside the entrance to the Ridglea Country Club Estates.

The Shops at Clearfork offer a different kind of relaxation, with top-notch shopping and dining.

What to see
Just a few miles west of downtown is the Fort Worth Cultural District. Pat loves the Kimbell Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which are right next door to each other and offer a wide variety of must-see collections and exhibits.

Where to live
“The majority of homes are traditional, single-story ranch-style properties with a few French Provincials thrown in,” says Pat.

The neighborhood also boasts large lots and beautiful, majestic trees, and there are even a handful of condos and townhomes available.

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Pat Safian works and plays in Ridglea Country Club Estates. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email psafian@briggsfreeman.com, or call 817-690-6094.

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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.