No, we don't have White Christmases in Houston ... but you can take advantage of our not-too-chilly climate by packing up the family and heading to nearby state parks this holiday season for some outdoor fun. Whether you want to head to the Pineywoods for some forest vibes, or down to the beach to welcome the New Year with the waves, Texas Parks & Wildlife has some fun events lined up to make the most of your hankering for the wilderness.
Lake Livingston State Park
If you want to really commit to this whole outdoors-for-the-holiday thing, head to one of our favorites, Lake Livingston State Park, where they are offering a days' worth of holiday fun on Christmas Eve this year. At 10 a.m., hit the Pineywoods Boardwalk trail for an easy one-hour discovery walk on the mile-long loop. In the afternoon, take the kids to Christmas crafts, hosted by everybody's favorite park ranger, Ranger Joel. And when dusk sets in, head over to the Christmas Eve Campfire for hot chocolate and s'mores.
If Christmas is already booked up for you this year, you can catch a New Year's Eve campfire at Lake Livingston, where they'll be ringing in the New Year, complete with scribbling down and tossing resolutions in the fire.
Galveston Island State Park
If your New Year's Resolution includes getting fit, you can start 2017 out right down in Galveston, where the Friends of Galveston Island State Park will be providing kayak tours on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The gear rental and tour are free, but you should RSVP to make sure you snag a spot for the two-hour tour of the bay. If you're bringing your furry friend, opt for the Happy Tails hike on the sandy beach with Ranger Lisa.
Other "First Day" Events Nearby
Texas Parks & Wildlife is big on First Day Hikes, which they host to help you get a good start with your New Year's Resolution to get outside and get healthy — last year, the department reported 1,500 hikers on 6,000 trail miles in 59 parks. At Brazos Bend State Park, you can hit the backcountry if you're a seasoned hiker — the trail's about nine miles long — or bring your two wheels for an eight-mile bike ride. If bird watching's your thing, wait 'til dusk and meet for a "Bird Blizzard and Night Hike," where you can watch "gazillions" of migratory red-winged blackbirds settle into the marsh.
And for history buffs, head to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, where you can take your first-day hike "In the Footsteps of Texians" — following the footsteps of the Texian Army as it attacked the Mexican encampment in 1836.