Houston, Texas is one place you aren't likely to see a white Christmas, as December temperatures average in the mid-60s. Despite the lack of snow, Houston nevertheless celebrates the holiday season in grand style, lighting up the city with numerous twinkling displays. Families can also enjoy holiday markets, Christmas-themed museum exhibits and the chance to meet Santa himself at various locations around town.
Houston starts off the holiday season with a huge parade, a tradition for more than 60 years that takes place on Thanksgiving Day. If you don't want to fight the crowds to see it, you can purchase a ticket for a seat or just stay home and watch it on TV. Kids will enjoy the colorful floats, giant helium-filled balloons and the thousands of musicians in marching bands, as well as the drill teams, dancers, cheerleaders and clowns. The community of Clear Lake celebrates with a parade in December that takes place on the water. Their annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade features more than 100 lighted boats that cruise up the Clear Lake channel.
The Houston Zoo gets into the holiday spirit with its ZooLights celebration, featuring thousands of lights, colorful projections and lighted animal sculptures that are likely to fascinate the kids. There are also strolling carolers, as well as hot chocolate, cookies and other treats available to purchase. Holiday lights also take center stage at Lights in the Heights, a neighborhood holiday festival of live entertainment and open houses. It's actually a competition among neighbors for the "best-dressed" house. Kids will enjoy the holiday spirit and all the home-baked cookies.
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston highlights the historical side of Christmas celebrations during Holiday Time at Bayou Bend. Kids can learn how Christmas trees evolved throughout the years, view a Texas Civil War Christmas display, and enjoy holiday music, crafts and refreshments. The Children's Museum of Houston puts on a multicultural holiday celebration called Seasons of Sharing. Exhibits, performances and workshops focus on other seasonal holidays and traditions including Diwali, Hanukkah, Las Posadas and Kwanzaa.
One of the most beloved holiday rituals is bringing the little ones to meet Santa -- and it's even more fun when you can share a meal with him. The Downtown Aquarium restaurant allows Houston kids to do just that at its annual Breakfast with Santa Buffet, where Santa is joined by the aquarium's mascot Sharkey. Children can also sit on Santa's lap and have a picture taken with him at Trader's Village. After the photo op, your entire family can browse the thousands of holiday gifts at the Texas Gulf Coast's largest open-air market.