There’s No Place Like Houston for the Holidays

  • Lobby with Christmas light illuminating the Hilton in Houston

  • LED lights lighting up a tree in Houston during the Zoo Lights Festival

  • Christmas Decorations at the Lantern Festival in Houston

Are you dreaming of a winter wonderland for the holidays this year? Think Houston! Located just miles from the Texas Gulf Coast, you may not think of ice, but if you know where to find it, Houston winters have tons of it. Grab your mittens and a few friends and head out for some cool holiday fun!

Fun in the Park

A day at the park in Houston this holiday season should include a trip around the rink at The ICE at Discovery Green. Skaters can enjoy Houston’s comfortable weather while gliding along on the largest outdoor ice rink in the United States. The Zamboni-maintained 7,716 sq. ft. rink was transformed from the model boat basin of the park’s 1-acre Kinder Lake. Younger skaters, below the age of four, can try their skills at skating on a separate smaller rink called, The Ice Box. Also, this year at the Discovery Green you can enjoy the interactive light exhibit, Hello Trees. Watch as your voice transforms into waves of sparkling lights and music rippling through the live oaks gracefully arching over the sidewalk.

Travel Tip: Speak into the microphone at one end of the display while a friend does the same at the other end, and watch for the special light and sound effects as the two waves meet in the middle.

Experience Ice Land

Another fun family outing is at Galveston’s Moody Gardens with Ice Land: Rainforest Holiday. Travel through ice tunnels, slide down ice slides or visit Shivers Ice Bar for a truly unique experience. A skilled team of master ice carvers created this massive winter delight from two million pounds of ice, this attraction is sure to create lasting memories. The Garden’s Festival of Lights is incredible with a mile-long trail of one million lights. The festival lights are complete with animation and enhanced sound, and the outdoor skating rink is the icing on the cake.

Travel Tip: Wear a warm coat and mittens for this indoor icy adventure because, baby it’s cold inside!

Christmas Village

Looking for something a little less icy but just as sparkly? A visit with Santa and his Reindeer at the Christmas Village at Bayou Bend is the perfect choice, where thousands of lights sparkle throughout the 14-acre grounds. Bayou Bend, the historic home of Ima Hogg, is decorated for the holidays with twinkling lights, animated projections, and performances, making it a unique holiday destination.

Travel Tip: Be sure to visit the faux snowball area where you can toss cotton snowballs without the need for winter gloves.

Zoo Lights

Visit Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo, with a stunning two million lights glittering through the massive old oak trees. Fifteen miles of eco-friendly LED lights decorate the pathways of the zoo grounds where visitors can enjoy hot chocolate while they wander through the light display. A Holiday Train Village and Texas-themed area are fun additions, plus life-size animated animals add to the magic of a day at the zoo.

Travel Tip: Don’t miss a visit with Candy, the interactive talking zebra!

Lantern Festival

Don’t miss the Magical Winter Lights holiday lantern festival at Gulf Greyhound Park. This Festival features oversized Chinese lanterns resembling landmarks from around the world, Santa’s Wonderland, plus many others. As the largest lantern festival of its kind in the United States, Magical Winter Lights is a must-see for the whole family.

Travel Tip: Don’t miss the Chinese Acrobats show, included in the admission.

If gingerbread is your thing, then the 2.5-ton life-size gingerbread house on display in the lobby of Hilton Americas-Houston perfect for you! Handcrafted by the hotel’s award-winning pastry team it is made up of 750 pounds of gingerbread, 1,200 pounds of dark chocolate, 725 pounds of milk and white chocolate and 726 pounds of sugar. This 7.6 million calorie confectionary dreamland will make visions of sugarplums dance in your head.

Travel Tip: The hotel’s towering Christmas tree framed by an archway of thousands of twinkling lights is the perfect holiday selfie spot.

Looking for something to do indoors while in Houston for the holidays? Houston’s downtown Theater District has just what you’re looking for. Choose from live performances of the Alley Theater’s A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas, Houston Grand Opera’s performance of The House Without A Christmas Tree, Houston Ballet’s all-time holiday favorite The Nutcracker, or Ensemble Theater’s The Soulful Sounds of Christmas.

Travel Tip: Take advantage of downtown Houston’s discounted cab fare, Six in the City, to travel anywhere in the downtown area for only $6.00.

Holiday shopping is always fun and a visit to Houston wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Houston Galleria. The holiday highlight of the Galleria’s indoor ice rink is the 55-foot on-ice Christmas tree sporting more than 5,000 ornaments and almost half a million twinkling lights illuminate the three-level mall from the ice level all the way to the glass ceiling.

Travel Tip: Bring thick socks, your feet will stay warm on the ice and your skates will be comfier.

Whether you prefer to spend your winter holidays indoors or outdoors, Houston has something for everyone. And, as they say, everything is bigger in Texas!

To access more information about local restaurants, unique attractions, and special offers in Houston, visit our Destination Guide, or explore Hilton properties in Houston below.

Know Before You Go

  • Houston is known for its haunted sites. Allen’s Landing is especially popular since it dates to 1836 and is the birthplace of Houston’s business district.
  • One of Houston’s most remarkable features is the Downtown Tunnels, where you can find a long path of restaurants and places to shop.
  • The Houston Museum of Natural Science is an excellent place for entertainment. Don’t skip a stop at the Butterfly Center!

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Tere P. Are you interested in traveling to Houston? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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