Photo courtesy of Cinnamon Shore

School might be back in session for the kids, but there's still plenty of fun to be had all across Texas in September. Can't decide where to take a quick vacation, road trip, or staycation? Here are 11 events, exhibits, special celebrations, and hotel happenings around the state to help plan a getaway for Labor Day or any September weekend excursion.

Along the Gulf Coast

A luxurious Port Aransas vacation community is providing a few special discounts in time for Labor Day and beyond. For the long holiday weekend, Cinnamon Shore is offering reduced pricing for a three-night minimum stay, with four homes left for the weekend at various price points. Don’t forget to check their Labor Day Weekend Fun schedule highlighting special family-friendly events like movies under the stars and community cookouts, or live music and yoga classes for the adults. From September 5-October 4, guests can also enjoy 50 percent off their third night at one of the Cinnamon Shore rental properties after booking a minimum two-night stay using their code Fall2023. Rates for a one-bedroom home range from $940 to $1,600, and five to eight-bedroom homes range from $4,050 to $7,550.

For a more comprehensive look at all of the seaside options along the Texas coast for Labor Day weekend, from Galveston to South Padre Island (including Cinnamon Shore), check out these Gulf Coast getaways.

In East Texas

Cavalry Court, a retro-inspired boutique hotel in College Station, has all of the amenities for a perfect weekend mini-vacation to bring in the fall season: a resort-style pool with private cabanas, live music, its signature Canteen Bar and Grill, and an outdoor pavilion. The hotel is also situated less than 10 miles from the famed Messina Hof Estate Winery for any further exploration of the city. Rates begin at $149 per night.

If East Texas’ Piney Woods region is calling your name, this resort community is the place to be: High Hill boasts luxurious experiences with rental properties sprawling over 200 acres of land. Take your pick among a bungalow suite, private bungalow, or a multi-bedroom vacation home. Also available are on-site vineyards, a relaxing spa, and Côte, a high quality farm-to-table restaurant. Starting rates are $295 for a double queen room and $275 for a king room.

In West Texas

One of the best steakhouses in Texas is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new historic art installation. The award-winning Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, a small town about half an hour southwest of Abilene, will celebrate this landmark anniversary with a new outdoor exhibit that showcase the history of the town and the restaurant through photography, while also serving as a "love letter" to the American West. The collection will include several photos of Buffalo Gap from Lisa and Tom Perini's private collection. The exhibit, on display September 28-October 28, will be open to the public, and restaurant reservations can be made on their website.

In Austin

ThePecan Street Festival, a twice-yearly arts festival, is returning to downtown Austin on September 16-17. Over 300 local artisans and vendors will be selling their handmade art, crafts, clothing, and more in booths lined along 6th Street between Brazos Street and I-35 for the weekend. Live performances by local musicians are also scheduled throughout the weekend. The festival is free.

A fascinating new exhibition of beautifully aged books on display at The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin is a bibliophile’s dream. "The Long Lives of Very Old Books" shares the histories of 15th through 17th century books through their physical attributes and treatment within the hands of time. Both prominent titles and esoteric finds are put under the spotlight. The exhibition is on display until December 30. Admission is free.

In the Hill Country

San Antonio’s Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa has a special Labor Day event lineup for families looking for a weekend escape. On Saturday, September 2, the resort will host a Texas-themed barbecue and country music. On Sunday, September 3, guests can enjoy a Fiesta-themed buffet with mariachi music. Besides excellent guest service and luxurious experiences, this newly renovated, award-winning resort has also prioritized its convenient location to several San Antonio attractions, such as SeaWorld and the downtown Riverwalk. Rates begin at $394 per night.

If bringing in the fall months with a glass of wine in hand is your preference, consider visiting Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, a winery less than half an hour from Fredericksburg. Three special events will help patrons embrace the month of September: a six-winery tasting tour, dubbed The Heroic Hye Wine Hunt, on September 2; and the release of a 2020 GSM Mélange wine on September 8. Plus, visitors can celebrate International Port Wine Day with a tasting of the Texas Ruby port-style dessert wine on September 10. Tickets for the wine hunt are $30, and reservations for tastings can be made via Tock or by emailing tastingroom@pedernalescellars.com.

For six weekends beginning September 23 until October 29, the family-friendly Dripping Springs Pumpkin Festival is returning to its home grounds at the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead for its third and final year before moving to a new location. Each weekend has its own festive theme and special events, and costume-wearing is encouraged. Of course, no pumpkin fest is complete without its signature pumpkin patch. Tickets are $15, and admission is free for children under 3 years old and for seniors aged 65 and up.

In North Texas

Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine is celebrating the return of fall with extra special pumpkin spice themed suites that will make travelers forget all about the summer heat. From September 28-October 31, guests can relish in a scenic autumn scape outfitted with perfectly curated pumpkin pillows, faux-fall florals, wreaths, and much more. The Pumpkin Spice Suite sleeps a maximum of four, and rates start at $399 per night.

Fort Worth is celebrating its long history with aviation with a brand new exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. "Cowtown Takes Flight" features a collection of photographs and artifacts that focus on people from several pivotal eras, like a pilot, record setter, and others. The exhibit is included with the price of admission, which is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors aged 66 and up, $12 for children between aged 3-11, and free for children under 2 years old.

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DFW family's Christmas light spectacle celebrates Rangers' World Series win

Holiday home run

A Haltom City family didn't just light up with joy when their beloved Texas Rangers won the World Series — they lit up their whole house for the holidays. The Gonzalez family's annual Christmas light spectacle, known as "Wisdom Way Lights," this year pays tribute to the Rangers' 2023 World Series victory.

Highlights of the 10,000+ light interactive display include clips of the final out of the game projected on an LED screen on the garage; skeletons donning jerseys of famous Rangers players; a dancing Rangers captain; and of course, the words "Texas Rangers" and "World Series" illuminated in red, white, and blue.

Jesse and Angela Gonzalez and their kids put the display up quietly in mid-November, but the response has been anything but quiet. Videos posted to their TikTok and Instagram accounts quickly spread across social media and attracted the attention of a few local TV news crews.

Jesse Gonzalez says they're averaging about 100 cars of spectators each night. Unfortunately, none of their visitors has included anyone from the Texas Rangers organization, as far as he knows.

"That would be amazing," he says.

Rangers fans have only a few more days to get in the game, as December 1 will be the last night for the Wisdom Way World Series display.

Then the family will switch to a "Super Mario Bros." themed show, based in the most recent movie, along with two more traditional Christmas lights shows. All three will run concurrently until January 1, they say.

Visitors can view the shows from from their cars and listen to the audio on radio channel 89.7 FM.

The Gonzalezes have put up a larger-than-life, interactive lights displays since 2012, annually making CultureMap's list of The Best Christmas Lights in Dallas-Fort WorthBest Christmas Lights in Dallas-Fort Worth.

This is not the first time the Wisdom Way Lights (named for the street the family lives on) has brought them a bit of fame and a lot of traffic on their street. In 2020, their Selena-themed display attracted crowds from near and far.

They chose a Selena theme that year because Angela was a big fan of the Tejano superstar, they said then. Choosing the Texas Rangers as this year's theme was a win for the whole family.

Angela and Jesse's first date was to a Rangers Game, and they got engaged at a Rangers game a year later.

"We normally do Christmas lights each year kind of based on the trends," Jesse recently told NBC 5.

"But this was not just a regular trend, this was extraordinary for us because we've been waiting for this for a decade," Angela added, referring to the Rangers' World Series title.

The Wisdom Way Lights are at 4521 Wisdom Way, Haltom City, 76117. The lights are on nightly from 6-11:30 pm, until January 1, 2024. (Rangers display ends December 1.) They're free to visit. Follow Wisdom Way Lights on Facebook for updates.

Hot Houston hotel deals guarantee a merry and bright vacation this holiday season

Home For the Holidays

It's the time of year when downtown Houston transforms into a shiny, sparkly, magical holiday wonderland, and you won't want to miss it.

Ready to experience the magic of the holiday season in Houston? Here's what to see and where to stay.

City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic
Take a stroll through 11 themed holiday villages, which encompass everything from life-sized chocolate sculptures to the state's biggest mistletoe to ice skating under the stars.

Grab a free ride from village to village in one of the festively decorated pedicabs provided by Downtown Houston+. Locate the holiday pedicab pickup stations at Discovery Green, Lynn Wyatt Square, POST Houston, Trebly Park, and Market Square Park.

For a nominal fee, guests can ride in a holiday-decorated double-decker trolley to five downtown stops: Trebly Park, Heritage Society, Avenida Houston/Discovery Green, Market Square Park, and POST Houston.

You'll also want to pick up a holiday passport from Market Square Park, Trebly Park, or Heritage Society for the chance to win awesome prizes, including a downtown holiday staycation package with a one-night stay at Hotel Icon, four tickets to a Theater District performance, and four tickets to a Houston Rockets game.

Happy hotel deals
Whether you're in town on vacation or keeping it close for a staycation, you'll want to bookmark these incredibly festive hotel offers.

Marriott Marquis Houston
Experience Texas Winter Lights at Marriott Marquis Houston at the Altitude Rooftop & Pool, famous for its Texas-shaped lazy river. Through December 31, 2023, it is transformed into an interactive light experience with thousands of twinkling lights and winter-themed activations. Guests can enjoy immersive light displays from 5-10 pm nightly.

The basic experience is complimentary for all hotel guests, but if you want a real VIP experience, upgrade your experience at Texas Winter Lights with promo code HOL, which includes VIP access to Texas Winter Lights for up to four people (including the brand-new interactive experience, the Virtual Reality Ride), $25 food and beverage credit, and upgrade to the pool-view guest room.

Hilton Americas-Houston
Get into the holiday spirit with the ´Tis The Season package, which includes a daily breakfast buffet, one complimentary Green Mountain Energy Ice ticket for ice skating at Discovery Green next-door, and a child’s treat upon arrival. Valid through January 28, 2024.

Hallmark enthusiasts will be enchanted by Hilton’s most festive collab of the year: an incredible partnership with Hallmark Channel to bring guests the most joyous, fun, and fabulously decorated two-bedroom Hallmark Holiday Suites. Inspired by the original Hallmark holiday movie premiere of Haul Out The Holly: Lit Up, these festive suites feature jaw-dropping holiday designs and light treatments throughout, including a holiday village, a gingerbread and cocoa bar, takeaway holiday gifts, and more (through December 31, 2023).

Other holiday offers at Hilton Americas-Houston you might want to checkout include Breakfast, Parking & WiFi: Enjoy your getaway with a full breakfast buffet for two, self-parking for one car, and WiFi; Park & Stay: Get daily parking each night of your stay; Experience the Stay: With an on-property credit and additional perks, like premium WiFi and early check-in.

Four Seasons Hotel Houston
Houston Getaway offer, valid for selected dates and with a minimum two-night stay, includes 20 percent off the room rate along with valet parking.

With Residents Retreat Package, you receive 10 percent off the room rate, daily full American breakfast for two served at Toro Toro or through in-room dining, and valet parking for one vehicle. Proof of Texas or Louisiana residency is required at check-in.

Advance Purchase allows you to save up to 25 percent on the room rate when you book your stay at least seven days in advance.

Don’t forget to visit The Spa and get a Peppermint Peace Massage, available only through the holiday season, to revitalize, hydrate and brighten the skin. You will also receive a travel-size peppermint scrub as a gift to continue the holiday spa experience at home.

C. Baldwin
With a Short & Suite package at the urban-chic C. Baldwin hotel, enjoy 15 percent off the best available rate for any of the suites and relish in the comfort of a sophisticated stay. And if you are traveling with your furry friend, check out the Pet Package — it includes waiving the pet fee, delicious treats, and complimentary overnight parking.

Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District
For an exotic and unforgettable party on December 31 (10 pm-2 am), reserve the NYE at ZaZa package. It includes overnight accommodations, two NYE party wristbands at check-in, and New Year’s Day elevated brunch for two guests per room, including mimosas and more.

Dress to impress in your best cocktail attire and dance to today’s hottest hits. Enjoy wine, beer, and cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, decadent activations, heightened experiences and spectacular entertainment, and a lavish midnight countdown and bubbly toast. NYE party and brunch are exclusive to overnight guests of Hotel ZaZa.

Westin Collection - Houston Galleria
You don't even need to leave the building to shop in one of the largest malls in America, if you stay at The Westin Oaks Houston at The Galleria or The Westin Galleria Houston, two hotels directly attached to The Galleria mall, Houston's most celebrated retail and dining destination with over 400 stores, 70 of which are unique to the Houston area.

Through December 31, both hotels offer the Holiday Shop-cation Getaway, which includes deluxe accommodations, complimentary Wi-Fi, free valet parking, and a $50 gift card to use at the mall. Use promo code ZJL when booking.

JW Marriott by The Galleria
Make precious family memories with the Indoor Ice Skating package at the completely renovated JW Marriott Houston by The Galleria. In addition to luxury overnight accommodations and complimentary self-parking, you'll receive two tickets for admission to the indoor skating rink at The Galleria Mall along with vouchers for skate rental. Use promo code 11P (valid until December 11, 2023).

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
Perks & Presents package (available through December 30, 2023) lets you step into a magical wonderland this season, with twinkling trees, splendid décor, Houston's largest mistletoe kissing ball, and a Merry Mansions gingerbread house display above the Great Room Lobby's 30-foot fireplace.

Enjoy holiday entertainment by the fire, a menu of delectable holiday cocktails, and a collectible Kitty Keller ornament to hang on your tree. This holiday package includes specially priced guest room accommodations, two complimentary holiday themed cocktails at The Bar at The Houstonian per stay, a hand-painted glass Merry Mansions holiday ornament ($36 value), complimentary transportation to The Galleria and River Oaks District for holiday shopping and dining, complimentary holiday coloring books and crayons for children in-room, complimentary self-parking, late check-out on Sunday if applies to stay, and access to the exclusive Houstonian Club with three temperature-controlled pools. No resort fees and convenient 48-hour cancellation policy.

Hotel Zaza Memorial City
Hotel Zaza Memorial City, a haven of oversized, well-appointed accommodations — including Concept Suites and The Magnificent Seven Suites — and thought-provoking art, has created the perfect Winter Wonderland Spa Package to treat yourself after an incredibly busy year.

Indulge in a 120-minute session featuring a hot stone massage to help you relax and ease tense muscles, and a holistic facial to give your skin a pleasant refresh (available through December 22, 2023).

The Moran CityCentre
Located at the heart of one of Houston’s favorite shopping, dining, and lifestyle destinations, The Moran CityCentre is offering its Citycentre Steakation Package. This special offer includes a $100 restaurant gift card for every night of your stay. Use your gift cards at The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, or Yard House, all steps away from the hotel, and experience the vibe of CityCentre.

Blossom Hotel Houston
This new hotel, inaugurated in February 2022, is located near Texas Medical Center and NRG Stadium. Stay two-plus nights and receive 15 percent off with the Stay Longer & Save Package.

Texas residents enjoy 10 percent off the best available rate plus two welcome drinks in the lobby lounge with Texas Resident Rate offer. A Valid Texas ID is required at check-in. Suite Promotion allows you to receive a one-time $100 food and beverage credit when you book a three-night stay in one of the luxurious suites.

Explore this Houston Hotel Guide and more hotel deals in Houston.

Unprecedented round of new concerts headed to Dallas in early 2024

Concert News

Concert season is alive and well for 2024, with a bounty of tours in the works for spring and early summer.

Eight major tours were announced on November 28, featuring a variety of well-known acts, from iconic rappers to seminal rock guitarists. The majority will perform not only in Dallas but also in Houston and Austin, with dates listed below.

If it seems a little early to start thinking about what concerts you'll be seeing in the spring, keep in mind that tickets for nearly all of these shows will go on sale December 1. They're hoping to catch you before you spend all your hard-earned money on Christmas gifts. (Or maybe some of these shows will be Christmas gifts?)

Tickets for each concert can be found at Ticketmaster.com.

Here are eight newly-announced concert tours coming to town, in chronological order:

Mac Saturn
Detroit pop-rockers come to Texas as part of their 2024 North American headline tour in support of their debut album, Hard To Sell. Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • February 19 - House of Blues in Houston
  • February 20 - House of Blues in Dallas

Hombres G
Dubbed "the Latin Beatles," this Spanish rock band, which formed in Madrid and has a career spanning 40 years, comes to Texas as part of their U.S. tour. Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • March 8 - Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land (outside of Houston)
  • March 9 - The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving

Mariah the Scientist
Emerging R&B singer comes to Texas as part of her world tour in support of her new album, To Be Eaten Alive. Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • March 22 - House of Blues in Houston
  • March 23 - Scoot Inn in Austin
  • March 24 - House of Blues in Dallas

Busta Rhymes
Iconic and influential rapper comes to Texas as part of his headlining run in support of his new album, BLOCKBUSTA. Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • March 24 - South Side Ballroom in Dallas
  • March 26 - Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin
  • March 28 - 713 Music Hall in Houston

Soulful Grammy Award-winning artist comes to Texas on The Good Life Tour, a 27-city odyssey following her No. 1 Billboard chart-topping sensation, "I Need To Know." Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • April 6 - Bayou Music Center in Houston
  • April 7 - Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas

Set It Off
Rising rock band comes to Texas as part of The Deathless Tour. They've released five albums in their career, most recently Elsewhere in 2022. Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • April 25 - House of Blues in Dallas
  • April 26 - Emo's in Austin
  • April 27 - House of Blues in Houston

Joe Satriani and Steve Vai
Two legendary guitarists come to Texas as part of The Satch-Vai Tour, marking the first time that the longtime friends have toured as a duo-bill. They are also collaborating on new music, with plans to release just before the tour launches in March. Tickets go on sale on December 1.

  • May 3 - ACL Live in Austin
  • May 4 - Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas
  • May 5 - 713 Music Hall in Houston

Rock band led by Jack Antonoff comes to Texas as part of a summer-long U.S. leg of their From The Studio To The Stage tour, in support of their new album, simply called Bleachers. Tickets go on sale on December 8.

  • May 31 - Moody Amphitheater in Austin
  • June 1 - White Oak Music Hall Lawn in Houston
  • June 2 - South Side Ballroom in Dallas