December doesn’t exactly scream “hiking trip”, nor does it seem particularly favorable for sitting outside on the porch, hand-feeding wild deer. But that’s exactly what the Texas Hill Country has to offer. For southerners (or northern travelers avoiding the snow) looking to get away, Hill Country can be a great opportunity for a close escape: even in the wintertime.
For those who want to take advantage of the low season and schedule a mid-winter vacation, there are a number of attractions available.
New Braunfels: a summer resort town (or as close to that as Texas gets), New Braunfels can sustain quite a crowd during the hottest months of the year. A visit in December, though, brings a delightful break from the hordes of Schlitterbahn-bound tourists. Instead of braving the water park (it’s closed, don’t bother), check out the local museums, like the Railroad Museum, which is located at the old depot, or visit the many antique shops along the main strip.
Gruene: another small town, Gruene (pronounced like the color) actually was once a ghost town, before it began to be revitalized in the 70s. The highlight here, beyond the shopping, is definitely the Gristmill River Restaurant. Besides its daunting size and adorable location along the Guadalupe River, it also offers a piece of history – the structure is partially created from the remnants of the original gristmill that stood on the property, before burning down.
Canyon Lake: while the lake is a bit chilly for swimming this time of year, there is plenty of hiking along its banks, including the Canyon Lake Gorge tour, which is a guided educational tour that brings visitors face to face with dinosaur tracks and other fossils. With December and January daytime temperatures in the 50s or so it may be prudent to bring a jacket, but the advantage is that the trails are fairly empty!
Wineries: there are a number of these dotting the Texas Hill Country. During the winter months they aren’t much to look at, but the vineyards are still open for tours and wine tasting. Most of the tastings are incredibly affordable and visitors can take advantage of the lack of crowds.
In addition to the activities and locations listed above, there are also local Christmas displays, community events, nature walks, the Natural Bridge Caverns (open all year) and more. Texas Hill Country has a little bit of everything, all year long!