Each area in The Woodlands has its own unique offerings. Check out the locations on the map and listings for more information
Dreams of dancing sugar plums, nights brightened by colorful lights, aromas of fresh-baked cookies and hot cocoa, and even an appearance from Jolly Old Saint Nick himself. Welcome to the holiday season. There’s a full stocking’s worth of things you can do during the most wonderful time of the year in The Woodlands, where Christmas joy is just as abundant as the winter sunshine. Unwrap a few of the reasons why you should visit The Woodlands this holiday season below.
Don your finest red Santa hat and get festive in The Woodlands, where yuletide cheer is everywhere you look. It doesn’t feel like the holidays until Christmas lights make an appearance, which is exactly why you need to find yourself at Market Street for the spectacular annual tree lighting. With a flip of a switch, thousands of lights on a 70-foot-tall Christmas tree illuminate this popular shopping and dining area, greeting you with a three-minute light show synchronized to your favorite holiday songs. Stick around for live music, carriage rides and more holiday revelry.
As awe-inspiring as the tree lighting is, it’s just the start. Tie on a pair of ice skates and carve up the ice at The Woodlands Ice Rink (Nov. 23 – Jan. 20). Fun for all, it’s the kind of thing you’ll probably want to do more than once while you’re here. Fortunately, the ice rink is open seven days a week.
Finally, don’t miss out on one of The Woodlands’ essential holiday traditions, the annual Lighting of the Doves Festival (Nov. 23). Watch the lighting of giant doves meant to symbolize peace during the holiday season, then check out traditional and international performances that celebrate local cultural diversity. Kids of all ages will enjoy Santa’s grand arrival on a sleigh floating down The Woodlands Waterway, as well as a breathtaking fireworks show that ties a bow on a day of free holiday fun.
The holiday season in The Woodlands is ideal for enjoying some time outside, in part because of the average daytime highs of 73 degrees in November and 65 in December. Celebrate all this great weather with an adventure among the treetops at Texas TreeVentures. Conquer obstacles high above terra firma as you breathe in fresh air and admire views of the 1,800-acre George Mitchell Nature Preserve. As one of The Woodlands’ busiest attractions, you may want to make a reservation to ensure you can take on the course yourself.
There are many other ways to enjoy the outdoors in The Woodlands. Raise your glass to a sunset over Lake Woodlands from one of the outdoor patios at Del Frisco’s Grille, Broken Barrel or any of the other restaurants in Hughes Landing. You can also dine al fresco along The Woodlands Waterway, where you can take a post-dinner stroll to see all the holiday lights and outdoor art. When the sun is out, rent a swan boat and pedal along The Waterway, or take a ride on a kayak or paddleboard for a cool afternoon on Lake Woodlands.
Majestic pine trees and tranquil ponds provide a stunning backdrop for another of The Woodlands’ top things to do outdoors: golf. The Woodlands Resort is home to 36 holes of golf split between the Panther Trail and The Oaks courses. Large bunkers and gently sloping fairways are lined with towering pines on both courses, while The Oaks ends with a spectacular par-four along Lake Harrison. The Club at Carlton Woods Creekside is another hotspot for golf in The Woodlands due to its two courses, designed by Tom Fazio and Jack Nicklaus, that consistently rate among the best in Texas.
Whether you’re teeing off on a first-rate golf course, overcoming obstacles in the treetops or paddling a sprawling lake, the holiday season is a fantastic time to enjoy all the outdoor adventure The Woodlands has to offer.
Sure, you could shop for your holiday gifts just about anywhere. But how often do you get the chance to do so in one of Southern Living Magazine’s best shopping destinations in America? Browse more than 11 million square feet of retail space that includes everything from department stores to local boutiques. Start crossing names off your gift list at The Woodlands Mall, where big-name retailers like American Eagle Outfitters and Nordstrom are among 180 clothing, health and beauty, jewelry and specialty shops. Even Santa Claus himself will be on hand for photo-ops with kids and pets, so bring them along and make a day of it.
As the sun begins to set, make your way to Market Street. Step into high-end shops like Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton as you stroll along streets bedecked in holiday decorations. Stop for a bite to eat at Grotto or Jasper’s Gourmet Backyard Cuisine and end the evening with a romantic ride on a horse-drawn carriage, just like a character from a Charles Dickens novel.
Regardless of how you prefer to fill your days, you’ll need a space to call your own. With its upscale resort and high-end hotels, The Woodlands has an abundance of remarkable places you can stay. Settled among magnificent pines, The Woodlands Resort affords luxurious stays in its well-appointed rooms and spacious suites with their own living rooms. Savor a gourmet meal at one of four on-site restaurants, unwind in the spa, work up a sweat in the fitness center and rent a bike to explore endless nature trails.
Stay in late November to experience the resort’s Grand Illumination Ceremony (Nov. 29). Listen to singing carolers and live music, decorate gingerbread houses, snap some shots in the photo booths, take a picture with Santa, enter the raffle to win a prize and enjoy s’mores, hot cocoa, cider, cookies and donuts. Don’t miss the main event, the lighting of a 20-foot-tall Christmas tree.
Perched along The Woodlands Waterway, you’ll find The Westin at The Woodlands and The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center. Both hotels offer first-class comfort in abundance, and they’re within walking distance of countless bars and restaurants. Want to celebrate New Year’s in style? Book a night at The Westin to attend the New Year’s Eve Masquerade, a lively party with a DJ, food and a champagne toast to ring in the new year.
It’s not the holidays without hot cups of cocoa and all things sugary sweet, and for this The Woodlands can’t be beat. Warm up with a honey lavender latte or an exquisite cup of coffee paired with a homemade treat at Blue Door Coffee Company. If the thought of a warm and soft crêpe filled with creamy Nutella and topped with powdered sugar makes your mouth water, head to Sweet Paris Crêperie & Café or CoCo Crêpes, Waffles & Coffee. Both menus are full of all things sweet and savory, and the dessert crêpes are delightfully decadent.
Craving cupcakes? Take your pick from Cupcakes and Bubbles’ vast selection of organic sweets, like the lemon blackberry and strawberry rhubarb. Pair your cupcake with a glass of champagne, beer or wine, or choose one of the suggested cupcake and wine pairings. If you’re not in the mood for an adult beverage, order a hot cocoa. It is the holiday season, after all.
For a decadent holiday feast of juicy steaks and the freshest crab and fish, look no further than Truluck’s. Located in Hughes Landing, this upscale restaurant offers a high-end ambience and an extensive selection of wines from around the world. Make sure to leave room for dessert, as all Truluck’s cakes and other treats are made in-house by its own pastry chefs.
Whether you’re looking to get festive, enjoy the outdoors or shop for everyone on your list, The Woodlands is the perfect holiday getaway. Plan your visit here.