It’s no secret that Texas is warm! While Texas has been known to reach triple digits in the summer, fall brings a welcome change as cooler temperatures make their way into the Lone Star State. Luckily, those cooler temperatures equal plenty of reasons to visit Texas in the fall!
As a native Texan, I have to admit that fall is my favorite time of year! Fall in Texas brings the changing of the leaves on the trees, many Texas festivals, the Texas State Fair, pumpkin patches, football games, and plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors. So whether you want to do some leaf gazing or enjoy the fun carnival-style food at a festival, Texas has you covered.
1. Visit the State Fair of Texas
A visit to the State Fair of Texas should be on your Texas bucket list. The larger-than-life, 3-week event is iconic around the world thanks to the show’s “spokesman”, Big Tex. People come from all over the country to enjoy concerts, carnivals, art and car shows, and especially delicious fair food.
The Texas State Fair usually begins in late September and runs through mid-October. Guests can enjoy livestock shows and carnival rides before eating their fried treats.
The fairgrounds are located on 277 acres in Fair Park in downtown Dallas. Of the entire park, 200 acres are concrete or asphalt, making most of the exhibit easily accessible. Of course, there is a lot of walking and standing required to navigate the exhibition spaces, so keep that in mind before your visit.
Pro tip: One of the major events of the Texas State Fair is the Red River Showdown, an annual football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The exhibition is extremely busy on this day, so I would advise choosing another day to visit. Visit the Texas State Fair website for more information and a complete schedule of events.
2. Admire the fall foliage at Lost Maples State Natural Area
Granted, there are many areas throughout Texas to view fall foliage, but none seem to be as great as the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Perhaps that’s because Lost Maples has over 2,000 acres filled with trees—especially maples—that turn vibrant shades of red, gold, and orange this season. I just love seeing the fall colors reflect off the Sabinal River that runs through Lost Maples. It is truly a breathtaking sight.
In addition to the incredible fall foliage, Lost Maples also offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy some outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, camping, birding, and more.
3. Check out the Texas Renaissance Festival
Fall in Texas also brings one of the most anticipated events of the season, the Texas Renaissance Festival. During the festival, which is held annually in Todd Mission, Texas, it transforms a 55-acre site into a 16th-century English town.
The Renaissance Festival, which lasts 9 weeks, is like stepping back in time to the days when kings and queens ruled the land. Visitors can enjoy dressing up in period costumes while enjoying craft workshops, carnival food, 20 stages of entertainment and weekly themes.
The exhibition grounds are natural terrain, so some areas contain uneven surfaces that may change due to weather conditions.
Visit the Texas Renaissance Festival website for the most up-to-date information on themes, hours and ticket prices.
4. Attend the Addison Oktoberfest celebration
Texas’ rich German heritage is celebrated year-round in towns like Fredericksburg and Muenster, but in the fall, no one celebrates it as big as Addison. “Recognized as one of the most authentic Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Munich,” according to the festival’s website. The Addison Oktoberfest is definitely one of the fun reasons to visit Texas in the fall!
The annual festival spans 4 days in September, starting on the same day as Munich’s Oktoberfest. Visitors can expect to experience a wealth of German culture during their visit. The festival stages host many entertainers performing traditional Bavarian music, dance and merriment.
There are also many competitions that take place at the festival. These contests include traditional Oktoberfest games like Bier Maiden Stein Carrying and Bier Barrel Rolling alongside less traditional contests like Biergarten Bingo. Of course, there is plenty of German food and beer to enjoy as well.
Addison Oktoberfest takes place at Addison Circle Park, a 10-acre urban park in the heart of the city. Since the festival is held in a city park, there are some areas that are not easily accessible due to the natural surface terrain.
Pro tip: If you want to visit the Addison Oktoberfest, be sure to check out the hotel packages offered each year. These packages are great deals as they usually combine a hotel stay with event tickets and goodies at an incredible price.
5. Jam Out At The Austin City Limits Music Festival
The Austin City Limits music festival is held annually in the fall and is one of the largest music festivals in the state. Attracting national and local artists to its stages, Austin City Limits is so big that it takes place over two weekends and multiple stages.
Visitors to this festival have the opportunity to see over 100 acts during the event, which takes place in Austin’s Zilker Park. See the full lineup of artists and get more information by visiting the festival website.
Pro tip: Buy your tickets well in advance for this festival as it often sells out.
6. Go hiking in Big Bend National Park
Fall is the perfect time to explore Texas’ Big Bend National Park. The park, which is located in the Chihuahuan Desert, gets extremely hot during the summer months. Fall, on the other hand, brings cooler temperatures, making it the perfect time to explore.
Fall in Big Bend means you can hike, kayak, or take a scenic drive while surrounded by the changing colors of the desert landscape. Just note that this is one of the most popular times to visit Big Bend, so make your accommodation plans well in advance.
Pro tip: Big Bend is a huge national park. Always make sure you have plenty of water and are properly equipped for your activities before starting the day.
Dallas and Houston
While the fall season ushers in cooler temperatures to the Lone Star State, it also ushers in one of the state’s favorite times of the year, football season! Heck, Texas is so big that it’s home to two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans.
Most days of the week, you can find some type of football being played in Texas. Whether it’s a high school game under the Friday night lights or a professional team, Texas delivers. For the ultimate Texas football experience, see if you can find a small Texas town having its homecoming celebration. It’s fun to see the Texas tradition of girls wearing their soccer moms. Some of the homecoming moms have been known to cover the girls’ entire front torso. I mean, everything is bigger in Texas, right?
8. Visit a Texas pumpkin patch
Nothing says fall like the appearance of pumpkins. While there are pumpkin patches all over the great state of Texas, one of my personal favorites can be found at Sweet Berry Farms in Marble Falls.
After choosing your perfect pumpkin from their huge selection, hang out for a while and enjoy all the other fun events Sweet Berry Farms has to offer. The annual Harvest Festival features a giant Texas-shaped corn maze, hay rides, pumpkin painting, a field to pick your own flowers and more.
The farm also offers concession stands that serve up some tasty treats. Try their homemade ice cream (especially the peach flavor), it’s definitely a crowd favorite!
Visit their website for more information.
Pro tip: Sweet Berry Farms is a working farm, so the activities listed above are on natural terrain that is uneven and subject to change depending on weather conditions.
9. Watch a Thanksgiving Day Parade
Head to downtown Houston on Thanksgiving Day to see the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. As one of the oldest Thanksgiving Day parades in the country, the Houston parade draws thousands of visitors to the downtown streets. The parade, which covers over 20 city blocks, features spectacular floats, fun marching bands and unique balloons for spectators to enjoy.
Pro tip: The Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade is a popular and well-attended event. If you plan to attend, be sure to check the parade routes and suggested parking lots before you go. You can find more information here.