Austin may not be a snowy winter wonderland this December, but that doesn't mean you can't be transported to a land of faux snow, Christmas trees and holiday cheer.
Here are six places that are hosting winter wonderlands in Austin.
Winter Wanderland at Austin Motel, 1220 South Congress Ave.
Get ready for a holiday experience you’ll never forget! From Dec. 2-26, the Austin Motel is hosting a neon rainbow holiday experience, which includes trees, rainbow lights, carols with Drag Mrs. Clause, Hunky Santa, weekly holiday film screenings and boozy holiday drinks galore. Thursdays through Saturdays offer some of these special holiday treats, so come ready to have a jolly time. This is a family-friendly event, reservations aren’t required and admission is free, but they do ask you to donate to CARY, Council on At-Risk Youth. The full schedule can be found here.
Yelp Pink Winter Wonderland at Revival Coffee, 1405 East 7th St.
This year, Yelp is hosting their Deck the Halls with Yelp, a $100K Holiday Winterization Fund which helps local businesses fund improvement projects needed for the winter season. To celebrate this launch, they have partnered with Enchantment Event Decor to create a pink winter wonderland at Revival Coffee. This winter wonderland will also serve as a way community members can nominate local businesses in person to receive funding, learn about the campaign and celebrate the holiday season. Expect unique lights, tinsel, pink trees and an overall Instagram moment.
Illuminate at W Austin, 200 Lavaca St.
This year, the famous secret holiday bar at W Hotel will become a sophisticated winter wonderland! Guests will truly have the chance to shine during this holiday season and enjoy appetizers and tasty Fire or Ice cocktails off their brand new holiday menu.
South Pole at Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, 605 Davis St.
This year, the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt is hosting a marvelous winter wonderland with its third annual fourth-floor South Pole. They have revamped the rooftop desk to showcase outdoor igloos for private dining, holiday-themed cocktails (and also Friendsgiving-themed cocktails), and holiday-themed meals from Geraldine’s. Reservations for the private igloos will open on Dec. 3 and will also be open for a week around Valentine’s Day. They can be made here. Guests also have the choice to purchase hotel and dining packages, which can be made through Hotel Van Zandt or Geraldine’s.
Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Get ready for the 57th annual Austin Trail of Lights running now through the end of the month. Tickets range from $15 to $65 and can be purchased online. The event is hosted by the Trail of Lights Foundation, and this year, it’s a drive-thru event. Enjoy over two million lights that light up the park, 90 holiday trees, and over 70 holiday displays and lighted tunnels. They also offer private nights in which entry is free through the STARS at the Trail program. More information about the Austin Trail of Lights can be found here.
Peppermint Parkway at COTA, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.
From now until Dec. 26, the Circuit of The Americas is hosting Peppermint Parkway, a winter wonderland where guests can enjoy a mile of immersive holiday displays, dancing elves, a plaza of food and activities and seven million holiday lights. There are four ticket packages that range from $40 to $95 and can include, along with regular admission, a fast pass and/or a chance to take a lap around the famous track. Regular admission includes a show, mailing letters to Santa, a mistletoe kissing booth, a holiday express train, amusement rides, treats, carols, a zipline and more!
Have fun walkin’ in a winter wonderland!
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Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!