Best Cities to Start a Family

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Congratulations Round Rock- you’ve made another list! LendEDU recently released a list of the 300 best cities to start a family and Round Rock came in third! Cities were ranked based on education, cost of first home purchase, crime and safety, and percentage of young families. Here’s the top 10 list:

  1. Frisco, Texas
  2. McKinney, Texas
  3. Round Rock, Texas
  4. Olathe, Kansas
  5. Plano, Texas
  6. Gilbert, Arizona
  7. Cary, North Carolina
  8. Naperville, Illinois
  9. Centennial, Colorado
  10. Carrollton, Texas

When purchasing your family’s first home it’s important to find a location where you’ll be happy settling down. There are so many benefits to raising a young family in one city, including giving your children a consistent education, and developing life-long friendships. Let us know if you’re interested in purchasing a home in the 3rd best city to start a family!

 

2015 Christmas Roundup!

Back by popular demand, here is a roundup of all the 2015 Christmas happenings in Central Texas! Most of the big events are taking place this weekend so take a look at the schedules below; I’m sure you’ll find something fun happening in your area. If you know of any displays that we missed, please comment below! 

North

Fort Hood

Nature in Lights, a Holiday Tradition

Enjoy the drive through over five and a half miles of holiday-inspired scenes. Like magic, BLORA is once again transformed into a winter wonderland for all to enjoy: kids and kids at heart.

  • When: Until January 3, nightly from 5:30-11 p.m.
  • Where: Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area
  • Cost: $8 per car, mini-van, or pick-up truck, $20 per 15-passenger van, limo, or RV, $35 per 24-passenger van, and $60 per 47-passenger van or large bus

Georgetown

Christmas Stroll

Bring the family and walk through the many wonders of Whoo-Village, enjoy live entertainment, a special kids activity area, treats in the food court and browse more than 250 arts and crafts booths. Children will love the various FREE activities and rides and visiting with Santa. There’s even a parade on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. If you can’t visit during the stroll, stop by any evening to see the Downtown Square lit up for the season.

  • When: Friday, December 4, from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 5, from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Where: Georgetown Square
  • Cost: Free

Harlien Family Christmas

Tune in to 94.1 while viewing 40,000 lights synchronized to 48 channels of animation. Multiple lit trees, arches, Christmas features, and Santa!!! The Harlien family is hopeful to raise $10,000 through donations to adopt 2 family wishes through Make-A-Wish foundation. To learn more about their fundraiser or to donate money, click here.

  • When: 6-10 p.m. on weekdays and 6-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Cookies and cocoa with Santa will be on the 2nd, 11th, and 18th at 6:00 pm.
  • Where: 400 Liscio Cove. (For safety reasons, all guests are asked to enter Liscio Loop from Lancaster Drive & exit Liscio Loop at Champions.)
  • Cost: Free, but a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation is encouraged.

Shady Oak Christmas Display

The show lasts about an hour if you watch the whole thing, but each song averages around 6 minutes.

  • When: Visit the Facebook page for updates.
  • Where: 107 Shady Oak Drive
  • Cost: Free

Leander

Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade

Pictures with Santa, Holiday Hayrides, Yule Fire, Choral Performances, Christmas Parade, and Tree Lighting.

  • When: Saturday, December 5th at 5 p.m.
  • Where: City Hall, 200 West Willis St.
  • Cost: Free

Cedar Park

Anna Court Light Display

This Cedar Park cul-de-sac is decked out with thousands and thousands of festive lights. Tune your radio to 89.1 to listen to the music.

  • When: Nightly until December 31st from 5:00-10:00pm
  • Where: 1323-1331 Anna Court
  • Cost: Free, but they are accepting donations for Blue Santa until mid-December and after that they are accepting donations for SafePlace.

Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop

Over 60,000 lights will illuminate the largest Live Oak Tree in Cedar Park. Santa’s Workshop will kick off immediately following the tree lighting ceremony. Enjoy live music, free carriage rides, games and prizes, inflatables, photos with Santa, and arts & crafts projects. Bring the whole family for what promises to be a festive evening.

  • When: Friday, December 4th, from 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Where: Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Parkway
  • Cost: Free

Chinati Court

  • When: See the Facebook page for updates.
  • Where: Just off Sun Chase Blvd in the Ranch at Cypress Creek. Park on Sun Chase and walk, if you can. (Map)
  • Cost: Free but the neighborhood is a collection point for Brown Santa.

Round Rock

Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour and Christmas Towne

The Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour at Old Settler’s Park is a drive-through light show that features over 2 million lights! Enjoy the sights from the comfort of your car.

  • When: November 30th – December 26th, starting at 6 p.m. (closing times vary)
  • Where: 4111 E. Old Settlers Blvd
  • Cost: $15 per family vehicle. You can find a $5 off coupon here!

Christmas Family Night

Due to the construction on Main Street, Christmas Family Night has been moved to the Old Settlers Association and the Dell Diamond Parking lot at Christmas Towne.

This free event will be fun for the whole family. Enjoy live music, dancers, game booths, and free hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate and other refreshments. Frosty the Snowman and Santa will be there, too, and parents are encouraged to bring their cameras to take pictures with Santa.

  • When: Friday, December 4th at 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Christmas Towne
  • Cost: Free

Pflugerville

Christmas Parade and Pfestival of Lights

The city’s Parks & Recreation Department joins forces with the Knights of Columbus this year and adds activities to the annual Christmas Parade. Blending the two events makes a larger, more fun holiday celebration for the community. The city will bring a stage with live performances from local elementary schools and dancers on the stage at 200 W. Main Street. There will be FREE arts and crafts activities for children, a bonfire, the traditional tree lighting, and photos with Santa Claus at the end of the parade. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras for free pictures with Santa.

  • When: Saturday, December 5th
    • Holiday Stroll and Sidewalk Sale – Pecan Street – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Christmas Parade – Railroad Avenue to Main Street – 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
    • Pfestival of Lights – Main Street – 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
    • Including live music concert at 7:00 pm
  • Cost: Free

North Austin

Holidays at The Domain

There is a lot going on at the Domain this year!

Santa Photo Experience: Make an appointment online at www.Simon.NoerrSanta.com.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
Fridays & Saturday, 5:30PM-9:30PM

Holiday Light Shows
Hourly 6PM, 7PM & 8PM
Watch the holidays come to life with hourly lights show in Domain II. More than 82,000 lights and 2,200 strobes will dance to holiday music for the first 15 minutes of each hour.

Breakfast with Santa
Saturday, 12/5/15, 9AM-Noon
Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, games, crafts and a visit from Santa.

Central Austin

Trail of lights

Preview the Trail of Lights and enjoy cocktails, food, live music and more this Friday during the 2nd annual Night Lights. Purchase tickets here. Then on Saturday you can get your fitness on at the 2015 Fun Run! The 2.1 mile run starts at the Zilker tree and ends within the Trail of Lights. Crazy costumes are encouraged. Sign up here. The Grand Opening Ceremony is at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 8th.

  • When: Preview Party on Friday, December 4th from 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm, Fun Run on Saturday, December 5th at 7:30, Official Dates: December 8-22, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m..
  • Where: Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Cost: Prices vary. Please visit the website for details.

Holiday Stroll

The fun starts at 6 p.m. when crowds gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing the songs of the season with John Aielli, host of the long-running show “Eklektikos” on KUTX 98.9. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the crowd begins the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol tree, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 7 to 9 p.m. Congress Ave. will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will be open late and will feature special activities and offers.

  • When: Saturday, December 5th at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Texas State Capitol, Congress Avenue & 11th Street.
  • Cost: Free

Luminations at Wildflower Center

Enjoy Luminations, a Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center holiday tradition. Make plans to visit the lighted gardens, filled with thousands of luminarias and twinkle lights. In addition to the beautiful holiday lighting, there will be hot chocolate and food for sale, plus children’s activities and musical acts throughout both evenings. Kids can get a hug from Frosty the Snowman and make crafts in the Visitors Gallery.

  • When: Saturday and Sunday, December 12th and 13th, from 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: 4801 La Crosse Avenue
  • Cost:
    • Adults – $5
    • Seniors 65 and older – $5
    • Students with college ID – $5
    • Youth ages 5-17: $3
    • Free for members and children 4 years and under
  • They will offer a food collection for the Capital Area Food Bank. Find their most requested items here: http://www.austinfoodbank.org/how-to-help/donate-food.html 

South

Buda

Trail of Lights

Get in the holiday mood by strolling through the park and enjoying the lights! FREE shuttle parking is available at Cabela’s. No parking is permitted in the park. Walk in visitors are welcome and may bring leashed pets. The trail is approximately 1/2 mile long. No pets are allowed on shuttle buses. Hot beverages and concessions will be available for purchase.

  • When: December 11-12 and 18–21, from 6 – 10 p.m
  • Where: Historic Stagecoach Park, 880 Main Street, Buda.
  • Cost: Free

San Marcos

Sights & Sounds of Christmas

Come out for free Santa photos, holiday performances, ice skating, enjoy festival foods, holiday gift shops, laser light show, free petting zoo, pony rides, carnival, town of Bethlehem, 5K Run, Kids 1K Run. Want to volunteer and get free entry? You can do that too!

  • When: December 2nd – 5th, from 5 – 11 p.m.
  • Where: 401 E. Hopkins Street
  • Cost: 13 and up is $5; kids 12 and under are FREE.

East

Bastrop

River of Lights

The River of Lights features 120 lighted displays and music. The trail continues all the way down the Lower Colorado River to Ferry Park, about a half mile.

  • When: Until January 1st
  • Where: Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St.
  • Cost: Free

West

Dripping Springs

Christmas on Mercer Street

The public is invited to attend the day-long festival on Mercer Street, hosted by the City of Dripping Springs and the Dripping Springs Lions Club. The charming downtown setting of Mercer Street will be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with lights, holiday decorations, festive music, fire pits for warmth and plenty of holiday cheer. Photos with Santa, train rides, pony rides and a variety of arts, crafts and specialty food and drink booths will be in full swing. The highlight of the evening will be the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree at the Triangle, located at Hwy. 290 and RR 12. At sunset, attendees are invited to gather for the illumination of the tree, showing off its twinkling lights, and joining in festive songs. This year features a special High Steppers performance, in addition to multiple choirs from local Dripping Springs churches and schools. Hot chocolate and coffee will be available for all to enjoy.

  • When: Saturday, December 5th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., tree lighting is at dusk.
  • Where: Mercer Street, Downtown Dripping Springs
  • Cost: Free

Wimberley

The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights

Stroll a walking path with more than 100 lighted exhibits created by local businesses, churches, organizations and families. Roast a marshmallow or a hot dog at the yule log and listen to live entertainment on most nights. Santa will be there on the 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th-23rd. There will also be some Disney princesses visiting this year! Belle on the 3rd, Ariel on the 10th, and Snow White on the 17th.

  • When: Until December 29th, from 6–9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and from 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Where: EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, 1101 FM 2325
  • Cost: Free but donations are greatly appreciated.

Johnson City

Lights Spectacular, Hill Country Style

This holiday season, bring your family to enjoy the magic and beauty of over two million LED lights spread over a mile-long drive through light display. To book a hayride through the lights for your family or group this Christmas season, or if you have any questions, call 512-955-1706.

  • When: Until January 1, from 6-11 p.m
  • Where: 1 mile outside of Johnson City, on Hwy 281.
  • Cost: Free but donations are accepted to help keep the display burning bright!

Healthy Kids

It’s Back to School in Austin!  For many of our children, staying healthy throughout the school year is a challenge.  Cold and flu season is right around the corner, and with it the increase in sicknesses they encounter in the school environment.

The good news is that parents can positively impact a child’s immune system, decrease the likelihood of them becoming sick, and avoid the cycle of catching everything that is going around.  A lot can be accomplished by putting the right things into their growing bodies on a daily basis. Here are just a few tips to make it through the school year unscathed:

Reduce sugar.  According to Dr. William Sears, “eating or drinking 100 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 2 cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent.” The effect starts almost immediately and can last for up to five hours.  Eating a sugar-filled breakfast and sending kids off to school with a suppressed immune system makes their bodies more vulnerable when they are at school.

Get enough sleep.  It’s hard to get back onto a regular bedtime schedule after a long summer, but research shows this is important.  Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of cognitive and physical health issues including a reduced ability to fight off infections.  David Katz, MD says, “Sleep is crucial to immune system function.  People underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep.”

Eat more produce.  A healthy diet rich in immune-boosting foods can help your body build infection-fighting white blood cells and repair injury to cells, protecting itself against infection and illness.  There is much research anback to school imaged evidence that the best source of antioxidants is fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are many great habits you can teach your children to do while at school, such as proper hand-washing and drinking water rather than juice or soda.  But do not underestimate the positive impact of good nutrition on building healthy bodies.  If you find it challenging to eat the recommended 9 to 13 servings of fruits and veggies, take a look at the product JuicePlus, which provides your body with nutrients from 30 different fruits, vegetables, and grains.

To learn more about JuicePlus and to see if your child qualifies to receive the product for free through the Children’s Health Study, visit our partner Ginger Hobbs and mention this article.

Back to School Information

It’s August and for many of us that means it’s time to start planning for the new school year! Looking for school supply lists, new student registration information, or open house dates? Follow the links below for all the information you need for the start of the 2015-2016 school year

August 24th – Classes Begin

Georgetown ISD – more information here.

Austin ISD – more information here.

Leander ISD – more information here.
August 25th – Classes Begin

Round Rock ISD – more information here.

Perhaps your children are heading off to college. If the cost of tuition, housing and books concerns you, you might want to consider refinancing your home.

Tera Gilbert with New Penn Financial suggests that if you’ve been thinking of reducing your loan term from a 30-year fixed to a 10-, 15- or 20-year loan, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and start the refinance process. But while you’re at it, pull some cash out during the process to take care of college expenses. In Texas, you can pull cash out during a refinance up to 80 percent of the current market value of your home. And that cash can be used for any purpose you choose, including college tuition.

Say you have a 30-year fixed rate at 4.875% on a $300,000 mortgage and your home is worth $550,000. You determine that refinancing that note into a 20-year loan at 3.50% will save you a considerable amount of interest over time. During this process, you decide to not just change the term and reduce your rate but you also pull out $20,000 for college. The difference in monthly payments is just over $100 per month. Where else can you leverage $20,000 at such a rate?

If you would like to talk about your options and see if this process makes sense for you, send me a message and I’d be happy to connect you.

Happy Birthday America!

This July 4th, the United States of America celebrates its 239th birthday!

Here are some fantastic places for the entire family to enjoy fireworks safely:

Please check the links for updated information and remember most fireworks are not allowed in and around Austin.  Check your local laws.  Fortunately there are plenty of places nearby where you can enjoy fireworks!

Father’s Day Ideas

Are you looking for meaningful Father’s Day ideas that will really show Dad how much you care?  These suggestions are bound to make his day especially great.  Plus, they’re simple, inexpensive, and fun for the whole family!

Spend time together.

Take him out to the ballgame. Bring your gloves and baseballs! Round Rock Express has a home game on Father’s Day. Fathers and their kids can come down to the field to play catch before the game from 5:45 – 6:15. Bonus: Gatti Land will be giving away baseballs to all kids 12 and under.

Treat him to golf! Topgolf Austin opens an hour early (8am) on Father’s Day. They also have a new brunch menu and games for all ages to enjoy.

Go to the movies. Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out will be released the Friday before Father’s Day. Older kids will enjoy taking him to see the highly anticipated Jurassic World in 3D, which will be out the week before!

Make him something.

Get Crafty.  “All About My Dad” worksheets are a fun way for kids of all ages to show Dad how much they care. You can download a worksheet for Dad or Grandpa here.

Upload a YouTube video. Record your children recounting funny Dad Stories or telling their favorite thing about him. Include special songs or inside jokes that make you think of Dad.

Bring on the praise.

Appreciate him. Tell him how much you love and need him. Show him how you feel by writing him a thank you note detailing the ways he contributes to the family, how he gives moral and emotional support, or what makes him a great parent. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on extravagant gifts; your gratitude and love are the greatest gifts you can give him this Father’s Day.

 

Bluebonnet Season in Texas

Taking pictures in among the bluebonnets has become a fun Texas tradition. Here are some ways to get the most out of your photo sessions:

The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom is to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.   -Jack Maguire

  1. Be safe! So many people pull over on the sides of busy highways to photograph their children and pets. Instead, scout out a location that is in a safer location. Also keep in mind that ants love bluebonnet fields and you never know when a snake might decide to show up so definitely check out the area where you plan to have your children pose.
  2. Keep the bluebonnets safe. You may have heard that it is illegal to pick our state flower but that is only a myth. However, we need bluebonnets to make seeds for next year so it is a good idea not to pick them. Also look for areas that are already crushed and use that spot to take your pictures. There’s no reason to smash more flowers.
  3. Know the law. People get so excited when they spot a beautiful field of bluebonnets that they sometimes completely ignore the law. Make sure you’re not trespassing onto someone’s property to get to the flowers. Also it’s illegal to damage anyone’s property – that includes making ruts in the grass or causing any type of damage to the landscape. And be sure you’re not blocking traffic with your vehicle when you stop to photograph the flowers.
  4. Take your pictures now. April is the prime month for bluebonnets!
  5. The best time of day to take outdoor pictures is before 10 am or after 4 pm. Avoid the middle part of the day to decrease squinting and shadows.
  6. Use your flash. This will also help eliminate shadows. You don’t need to worry about red-eye because you’ll be outside and your subject’s pupils are already dilated.
  7. Bring the camera down to your subject’s eye level and zoom in. Sure, the bluebonnets are beautiful but your kids’ smiling faces are the best part.
  8. Wear long pants or bring a blanket. The grass can be itchy so it’s best to cover up bare legs. Also solid colors tend to look best in bluebonnet pictures. The bluebonnets create a lot of pattern so solid colored clothing creates a more balanced picture.
  9. Pay attention to the background. Signs, cars, other people, and telephone poles – they can all ruin an otherwise great bluebonnet picture.
  10. Bring a tripod. You need to be in the pictures too!

If you come across a beautiful bluebonnet field please comment below! Texas-bluebonnets-field

bombay2austin on flickr

Your Guide to the Best Christmas Lights in Central Texas

One of my family’s favorite Christmas traditions is driving around looking at Christmas lights. I’ve compiled a list of some of the more extravagant displays around Central Texas from Fort Hood all the way down to San Marcos.

Be sure to check the links below before heading out, in case any of the schedules change.

North

Fort Hood

Nature in Lights, a Holiday Tradition

Enjoy the drive through over five and a half miles of holiday-inspired scenes. Like magic, BLORA is once again transformed into a winter wonderland for all to enjoy: kids and kids at heart

  • When: Until January 4, from 5:30-11 p.m.
  • Where: Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area
  • Cost: $7 per car

 

 

Georgetown

Christmas Stroll

Bring the family and walk through the many wonders of Whoo-Village, enjoy live entertainment, a special kids activity area, treats in the food court and browse more than 250 arts and crafts booths. Children will love the various FREE activities and rides and visiting with Santa. There’s even a parade on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. If you can’t visit during the stroll, stop by any evening to see the Downtown Square lit up for the season.

  • When: Friday, December 5, from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Where: Georgetown Square
  • Cost: Free

Spindler’s Family Light Show

Tune your car radio to 88.5 FM to listen to the music.

  • When: 6pm to 10:30pm
  • Where: 2441 Candle Ridge Trail
  • Cost: Free, but please bring an unwrapped gift for Brown Santa.

Harlien Family Christmas

Tune in to 94.1 while viewing 40,000 lights synchronized to 48 channels of animation. Multiple lit trees, arches, Christmas features, and Santa!!! This year will be the 20th year the Harlien Family has decorated their home to bring joy to neighborhood kids and families. Inspired by a wish granted to their dear friend’s son, this year the Harlien Family has chosen to raise $5,000 to adopt a family wish.

  • When: 6-10 p.m. on weekdays and 6-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
  • Where: 400 Liscio Cove. (For safety reasons, all guests are asked to enter Liscio Loop from Lancaster Drive & exit Liscio Loop at Champions.)
  • Cost: Free, but a donation to the Make a Wish Foundation is encouraged.

Shady Oak Christmas Display

The show lasts about an hour if you watch the whole thing, but each song averages around 6 minutes.

  • When: Visit the Facebook page for updates.
  • Where: 107 Shady Oak Drive
  • Cost: Free

 

 

Leander

Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade

Pictures with Santa, Holiday Hayrides, Yule Fire, Choral Performances, Christmas Parade, and Tree Lighting.

  • When: Saturday, December 6 at 5 p.m.
  • Where: City Hall, 200 West Willis St.
  • Cost: Free

 

 

Cedar Park

Anna Court Light Display

This Cedar Park cul-de-sac is decked out with thousands and thousands of festive lights. Tune your radio to 89.1 to listen to the music.

  • When: Nightly until December 31st from 5:30-11:30pm
  • Where: 1321-1333 Anna Court
  • Cost: Free, but please bring a toy to donate to Blue Santa.

Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop

Over 60,000 lights will illuminate the largest Live Oak Tree in Cedar Park. Santa’s Workshop will kick off immediately following the tree lighting ceremony. Enjoy live music, free carriage rides, games and prizes, inflatables, photos with Santa, and arts & crafts projects. Bring the whole family for what promises to be a festive evening.

  • When: December 5, from 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Where: Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Parkway.
  • Cost: Free

Chinati Court

  • When: See the Facebook page for updates.
  • Where: Just off Sun Chase Blvd in the Ranch at Cypress Creek. Park on Sun Chase and walk, if you can. (Map)
  • Cost: Free but the neighborhood is a collection point for Brown Santa.

 

 

Round Rock

Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour

Come and experience the Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour at Old Settler’s Park, from the comfort of your car. With 2 million lights, the 1.5-mile path is the must-see event of the season.

  • When: December 1 to 30, starting at 6 p.m. (closing times vary)
  • Where: 4111 E. Old Settlers Blvd
  • Cost: $15 per family vehicle

Christmas Family Night

Watch as Main Street is illuminated and Santa arrives in his sleigh

  • When: Friday, December 5 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Historic Downtown, Main Street.
  • Cost: Free

 

 

Pflugerville

Christmas Parade and Pfestival of Lights

The city’s Parks & Recreation Department joins forces with the Knights of Columbus this year and adds activities to the annual Christmas Parade. Blending the two events makes a larger, more fun holiday celebration for the community. The city will bring a stage with live performances from local elementary schools and dancers on the stage at 200 W. Main Street. There will be FREE arts and crafts activities for children, a bonfire, the traditional tree lighting, and photos with Santa Claus at the end of the parade.

  • When: Saturday, December 13, starting at 5:30 p.m. Activities until 8 p.m.
  • Where: The parade travels down Railroad Avenue to Main Street. (Parade route map.)
  • Cost: Donations for the Blue Santa program welcome.

 

 

North Austin

Holiday Light Shows at The Domain

Watch the holidays come to life with hourly lights show in Domain II. More than 82,000 lights and 2,200 strobes will dance to holiday music for the first 15 minutes of each hour.

  • When: Until December 31, hourly between 5 and 9 p.m.
  • Where: Domain II (mall map).
  • Cost: Free

Frozen Medley Christmas Light Show

Viewers can hear the songs from the house’s speakers or from their car radio by tuning in to 106.9 FM.

  • When: Nightly until New Year’s, from 5:30-9:45 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and from 5:30-10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
  • Where: 16412 Rockgate Dr., Austin (near Avery Ranch in Round Rock).
  • Cost: Free

Lanicek Family in Wells Branch

10,000+ lights programmed to 20 minutes of music.

  • When: Until January 3, from 6 – 10 p.m., weather permitting.
  • Where: 2207 Klattenhoff Drive
  • Cost: Free, but the house is a collection point for non-perishable food items for Saint Louis Catholic Church food pantry.

 

 

Central Austin

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters

15-minute light show at the top of each hour. Come drink some hot chocolate while you and your family enjoy the fun decorations and show, including the song “What Does the Fox Say” for the kids.

  • When: Every night from 6 p.m. to midnight
  • Where: 3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
  • Cost: Free

Zilker Holiday Tree

The Zilker Tree stands 155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers, each holding 81 multicolored, 25-watt bulbs, totaling 3,309 lights. At the top of the tree, a double star measures 10 feet from point to point. The double star displays 150 frosted bulbs. This unique spiral pattern of lights was created by City of Austin electricians. At its circumference, the tree measures 380 feet. The diameter is 120 feet. The base of the tree is made up of 19 utility poles, each 14 feet tall, arranged in a circle around the Moonlight Tower. Go take a spin under the tree and buy some kettle corn from one of the onsite vendors. REMINDER: December 7-21 the area roads will be closed as thousands visit the Trail of Lights. If you are planning to visit the Holiday Tree itself, make sure to plan around those nights!

  • When: Until December 31, from 6 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Cost: Free

Lighting of the Capitol Tree

The fun starts at 6 p.m. when crowds gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing the songs of the season with John Aielli, host of the long-running show “Eklektikos” on KUTX 98.9. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the crowd begins the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol tree, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 7 to 9 p.m. Congress Ave. will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will be open late and will feature special activities and offers.

  • When: Saturday, December 6 at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Texas State Capitol, Congress Avenue & 11th Street.
  • Cost: Free

Trail of Lights

To get a sneak peek of the Trail, join the two-mile Fun Run on Saturday, December 6, 7-10 p.m., rain or shine ($20 for adults; $10 for kids).

  • When: December 7-21, from 7-10 p.m.
  • Where: Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Cost: Admission to the Trail of Lights is FREE on Opening Night (December 7) and on Monday to Thursday nights. Admission is also FREE for kids under 12 every night. Admission for adults (age 12+) is $3 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (excluding Opening Night). With the purchase of a ZiP Pass for $15, trail-goers can enter the Trail early, starting at 6:15 p.m. on most nights. Shuttle tickets cost $5/person on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights ($4 on weeknights) and provide admission into the Trail of Lights (no additional gate admission ticket is required). Lap children ride free. Zilker Parking Passes are $15. All passes can be purchased online in advance.

Luminations at Wildflower Center

Enjoy Luminations, a Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center holiday tradition. Make plans to visit the lighted gardens, filled with thousands of luminarias and twinkle lights. In addition to the beautiful holiday lighting, there will be hot chocolate and food for sale, plus children’s activities and musical acts throughout both evenings. Kids can get a hug from Frosty the Snowman and make crafts in the Visitors Gallery.

  • When: Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14, from 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: 4801 La Crosse Avenue
  • Cost: Admission is FREE with two canned food items for the Capital Area Food Bank.

 

 

South

Buda

Trail of Lights

Get in the holiday mood by strolling through the park and enjoying the lights! FREE shuttle parking is available at Cabela’s. No parking is permitted in the park. Walk in visitors are welcome and may bring leashed pets. The trail is approximately 1/2 mile long. No pets are allowed on shuttle buses. Hot beverages and concessions will be available for purchase.

  • When: December 12 -13 and 18 – 21, from 6 – 10 p.m
  • Where: Historic Stagecoach Park, 880 Main Street, Buda.
  • Cost: Free

 

 

San Marcos

Sights & Sounds of Christmas

Come out for free Santa photos, holiday performances, ice skating, enjoy festival foods, holiday gift shops, laser light show, free petting zoo, pony rides, carnival, town of Bethlehem, 5K Run, Kids 1K Run. Want to volunteer and get free entry? You can do that too!

  • When: December 3 to 6, from 5 – 11 p.m.
  • Where: San Marcos Plaza Park.
  • Cost: –13 and up is $5; kids 12 and under are FREE.

East

Bastrop

River of Lights

The River of Lights features 120 lighted displays and music. The trail continues all the way down the Lower Colorado River to Ferry Park, about a half mile.

  • When: December 6-31, from 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St.
  • Cost: Free

 

 

West

Dripping Springs

Christmas on Mercer Street

The public is invited to attend the day-long festival on Mercer Street, hosted by the City of Dripping Springs and the Dripping Springs Lions Club. The charming downtown setting of Mercer Street will be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with lights, holiday decorations, festive music, fire pits for warmth and plenty of holiday cheer. Photos with Santa, train rides, pony rides and a variety of arts, crafts and specialty food and drink booths will be in full swing. The highlight of the evening will be the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree at the Triangle, located at Hwy. 290 and RR 12. At sunset, attendees are invited to gather for the illumination of the tree, showing off its twinkling lights, and joining in festive songs. This year features a special High Steppers performance, in addition to multiple choirs from local Dripping Springs churches and schools. Hot chocolate and coffee will be available for all to enjoy.

  • When: Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Where: Mercer Street, Downtown Dripping Springs
  • Cost: Free

 

 

Wimberley

The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights

Stroll a walking path with more than 100 lighted exhibits created by local businesses, churches, organizations and families. Roast a marshmallow at the yule log and listen to live entertainment on most nights. See the schedule of when Santa will be in his house.

  • When: Until December 31, from 6–9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and from 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Where: EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, 1101 FM 2325
  • Cost: Free

 

 

Gruene

Town Lighting

Watch as Cowboy Kringle rides into town on horseback and lights Gruene for the holidays. Celebrating with live musical performances with festival food and wine available for purchase. Afterwards, get some holiday shopping done at Gruene’s 30+ stores and cozy up to a fireplace for dinner at the Gristmill.

  • When: Saturday, December 6, from 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Downtown Gruene
  • Cost: Free

 

 

Johnson City

Lights Spectacular, Hill Country Style

This holiday season, bring your family to enjoy the magic and beauty of over two million LED lights spread over a mile-long drive through light display. To book a hayride through the lights for your family or group this Christmas season, or if you have any questions, call 512-955-1706.

  • When: Until January 1, from 6-11 p.m
  • Where: 1 mile outside of Johnson City, on Hwy 281.
  • Cost: Free but donations are accepted to help keep the display burning bright!

Toungate Klub Kringle

Come out to see a brand new show, with more lights and new songs!

  • When: Starting December 6 at 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: 2305 Arroyo Grande
  • Cost: Free

November Happenings

With its cooler temperatures and festive traditions, fall is such a fun time of year! Although fall in Texas may be fleeting, there are plenty of things you can do to make the most of this beautiful season.

airfest

  November 8

Airfest – Georgetown Municipal Airport – Free – 12-5

Come see the Ford Tri-Motor, a 1929 metal aircraft that was the first mass-produced airliner. Tour several other WW II-era warbirds, book a ride, and watch Falcon Flight, a precision formation flying team perform. Event is free, however attendees are encouraged to bring a canned food donation.

https://airfest.georgetown.org/


November 27 – Thanksgiving Day

 Exercise

Earn that slice of pumpkin pie by participating in the 2nd Annual Georgetown Turkey Trot! Choose between a 1 mile family fun run or a 5 mile run; they both start at 8am at 701 S. Main Street. To register and guarantee yourself a shirt, click here.


Feast

An easy and delicious side dish is candied yams.

1 (40 ounce) can cut sweet potatoes

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
Drain and mash the sweet potatoes.
In a medium bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, 1/3 cup butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish.
In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar, chopped pecans, flour, and 1/3 cup melted butter. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Serve Others

Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to help the less fortunate. One way you can help is to donate items to a local food pantry. The Capital Area Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief charity in Central Texas and they offer many opportunities to serve. The Caring Place also has a food pantry. To find out what items they are currently in most need of, click here. If you would like to serve at the Caring Place on Thanksgiving, call them at 869-4735 or visit www.caringplacetx.org.

 

National Night Out 2014

Tuesday, October 7 marks the 31st annual National Night Out. Neighborhoods are encouraged to lock their doors, turn on their porch lights, and gather with their neighbors and public safety personnel to show unity against criminal activity. The purpose of National Night Out is to build strong partnerships between the police and communities and to promote crime awareness programs such Neighborhood Community Watch groups. It’s also a fun way to get to know your neighbors and bond so you can look out for one another. A close-knit neighborhood is a safer neighborhood.

nationalnightout

National Night Out is fun! It’s a great excuse to have a block party. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Offer Refreshments

o   Bring your favorite snack

o   Coffee, tea, or dessert

o   Cookie exchange

o   Fruit and cheese plates

o   Grill hotdogs

o   Ice cream/make your own sundaes

o   Lemonade and cookies

o   Potluck

 

Group Activities

o   Create a Block Email List

o   Plan an icebreaker activity

o   Talk about area crime concerns and keeping an eye on each other’s houses

o   Ride bikes in the street

o   Scavenger Hunt

o   Show a movie using a projector

 

Contribute to Your Community

o   Beautify a common area

o   Collect for local food pantry

o   Plan a fall clean-up or bulb planting

 

If you’re interested in heightening drug and crime prevention by strengthening neighborhood spirit and sending a message to criminals that your neighborhood is organized and fighting back then sign up today! To register your neighborhood block party with the Police Department and have an officer attend your event, visit the NNO website here or contact:

Georgetown: Sgt. Erik Grasse (512) 930-2594 or erik.grasse@georgetown.org

Round Rock: Joseph Claypool (512) 671-2871 or jclaypool@roundrocktexas.gov

Pflugerville: Cpl. Dan Griffith (512) 670-5514 or dgriffith@pflugervilletx.gov

Leander: Community Service Officer (512) 528- 2821 or communityservices@leandertx.gov

Cedar Park: Sgt. Hazen Lango (512) 260-4784

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