If you’re searching for a holiday getaway where merry memories come with the stay, look no further than these five family-friendly resorts offering everything from Santa sightings and indoor snow showers to elf tuck-ins and magical light shows.
Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine
On a recent weekend, we plunged straight into the holidays with a getaway to Great Wolf Lodge, arriving just in time to witness a majestic tree lighting and Santa and Mrs. Claus riding in on a horse-drawn sleigh behind a fleet of shiny red and white Corvettes to kick off the resort’s annual Snowland celebration. Nestled in "The Christmas Capital of Texas," this family-friendly resort morphs into a magical wonderland now through Jan. 5. Guests can look forward to everything from nightly indoor snow showers and hot chocolate dance parties to visits with Santa and dining experiences in a life-size gingerbread house. Snowland’s seasonal merriment comes in addition to the year-round fun found inside the resort’s massive indoor water park, which remains a delightful 84 degrees even when the weather outside is frightful. When you’re not zooming down thrilling water rides, you will be swept away in Snowland’s holiday cheer from morning to night. Families looking to carry over Christmas to their guest rooms can book a holiday-themed Snowland Suite using the promotional code SNOWFLAKE. More at greatwolf.com. – Mauri Elbel
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JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa, San Antonio
If you're craving a taste of the holidays in a place that will entertain the entire family, look no further than JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa, which seamlessly blends holiday essentials like hot cocoa bars and elf sightings with heated outdoor water slides and slime stations. During our recent visit, my family enjoyed taking in all aspects of the 600-acre property, from the splash-tastic kiddie pool to the giant glittering red ornament perfect for photo-ops to live reindeer that wandered the great lawn. Each night leading up to the holidays is capped with a "Light Up the Night" celebration that's centered around the 30-foot outdoor Christmas tree and features music that’s synchronized with the light displays. There’s even magical bubble "snow." Not ready for the fun to end? Arrange for an adorable JW Elf tuck-in at bedtime. More at jwsanantonio.com. - Kristin Finan
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, San Antonio
Last year, we experienced a merry and bright holiday weekend at this rustic Hill Country retreat, beginning our day with breakfast with Santa before heading out in the December sunshine to splash, slide and surf in the resort’s 5-acre heated water park. Head to this family-friendly resort located 20 minutes from downtown San Antonio from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 20-21 to enjoy breakfast with Santa — a delicious breakfast buffet in the Springhouse Café featuring made-to-order omelets, a pancake station and house-made culinary delights before visiting with Santa and enjoying holiday-themed crafts. For parents wanting more merriment this season, book a holiday treatment at Windflower Spa, like the Berries & Mimosas facial or Caramel Apple pedicure, and end the day with a decadent dinner at Antlers Lodge. More at HyattRegencyHillCountry.com. - M.E.
Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine
Getting caught up in the holiday cheer is pretty much unavoidable at Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas. This sprawling Grapevine resort transforms into a Texas-size winter wonderland each year sparkling with 2 million twinkling lights sprinkled around the resort’s indoor atriums, a 54-foot-tall Christmas tree, 15,000 shimmering ornaments, an 8-foot-tall gingerbread house and 25-foot-tall nutcrackers. But the lavish decor and multiple merry photo-ops aren’t the only reasons folks flock to this resort. ICE, featuring "A Charlie Brown Christmas" constructed from more than 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice, will take your breath away. There’s additional wintry fun spanning an outdoor ice skating rink, eight lanes of snow tubing, gingerbread decorating, a Christmas carousel, Santa and Mrs. Claus and more now through Jan. 5. More at ChristmasAtGaylordTexan.com. - M.E.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, Bastrop
When Santa arrives at this luxurious wilderness escape, he makes a Texas-style entrance by swapping his usual sleigh and reindeer to ride in on a Texas longhorn bull. Visit Santa’s Workshop, open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the season, to mingle with holiday characters, partake in holiday-themed activities such as cookie decorating, ornament making and gingerbread house construction, snap photos with Santa and enjoy story time with Mrs. Claus. Friday night festive parades starring the resort’s animal mascots dressed in their finest holiday attire kick off each holiday weekend. Enjoy specialty hot cocoa and made-to-order mini doughnuts while wandering through the property’s magical Holiday Light Stroll, featuring 3,000 twinkling holiday lights, 150 LED floodlights and sparkling laser lights that set the scene for Christmas cheer throughout the month, and then stick around to ring in 2020 on Dec. 31 with a New Year’s Eve dinner buffet, a family DJ dance party, fireworks, and sparkling wine and apple cider toasts. More at HyattRegencyLostPines.com. - M.E.