Winter Texans, long-term seasonal visitors to Texas from the northern states, usually begin arriving in the Lone Star State between Thanksgiving and New Year's and remain until spring. For the most part, these retired vacationers are looking to escape the cold winter of their permanent northern home, while staying active and entertained. Here are some of the most popular Winter Texan vacation activities.
One of the most popular Winter Texan activities is playing golf. Texas is home to some of the nation's top golf courses. Although this has been a well-kept secret in the past, recent years have seen an increasing number of golfers traveling to Texas to take advantage of these world-class courses. During the winter months, the weather is mild enough (on most days) to allow for a pleasant round. But, beware -- shorter daylight hours coupled with an increased number of golfers in popular Winter Texan areas can lead to more crowded courses, leading many golfers to look for "hidden jewels" of golf courses in their area. But, then again, retirees have the advantage of playing during the week, when courses are less crowded.
Again, the vast majority of Winter Texans spend their extended visit to the Lone Star State in either the Hill Country, Gulf Coast or Rio Grande Valley regions. Each of these regions offers plenty of angling options for Winter Texans looking to wet a hook. In the Hill Country, there are numerous lakes, streams and rivers, giving fishermen a chance to fish for a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, rainbow trout, brown trout and more. The Rio Grande Valley has several resacas and small ponds, which hold largemouth bass, catfish and sunfish. Additionally, every point in the Rio Grande Valley is a short drive to the coast. Along the Gulf Coast region, Winter Texans will find good surf fishing along the beachfront, as well as excellent inshore fishing in Texas' many bays.
Although most Winter Texans become very ‘localized’ by remaining in one area of the state during their stay in Texas, the vast majority of them drive down in RVs or motorhomes. During this trek, most of them prefer to meander around, stopping to see various points of interest. For anyone making the trip from north to south, there are a few ‘must see’ Texas attractions along the way. Additionally, it is possible to take in a number of popular Texas attractions by taking day trips from their winter homes. The Alamo, USS Lexington, Texas State Capitol, San Jacinto Monument, Sea Center Texas and Washington-on-the-Brazos are some of the most popular attractions among Winter Texans.
Not all Winter Texans arrive in the Lone Star State before New Year's. However, those who do are able to visit any number of holiday light trails in Texas. Some of the state's best holiday light trails are found in the Texas Hill Country, where the towns of Boerne, Burnet, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Goldwaite, Johnson City, Llano, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, Round Mountain and Wimberley cooperate to form the Texas Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail. Jefferson, in southeast Texas, boasts perhaps the most famous of all Texas holiday light trails, while other light trails are found scattered across the state from Cleburne to College Station and north to Texarkana.
Birding is another popular Winter Texan activity. Texas has a wide variety of geographic regions in which visitors can bird. Each of these regions has its own unique "list" of species, many of which can be found nowhere else. When taken together, Texas offers visitors an opportunity to spot literally hundreds of bird species. During the winter months, one of the most unique birding opportunities found in Texas is viewing whooping cranes along the Texas Coastal Bend region
. Each year, a large concentration of endangered whooping cranes winters in the Coastal Bend region. Several tour boat operators offer birding tours leaving from Rockport and Aransas Pass. It is also possible to view whooping cranes at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge during the winter months.