Road Trip

Check into these Texas hotels for a festive holiday getaway

Texas resorts and hotels are offering unique, festive experiences this holiday season.

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Texans may prefer a pickup to a one-horse open sleigh, but that won't stop any of us from dashing around the state this season. But instead of going to grandmother's house, consider checking into a fabulous hotel to make spirits bright. Not just any hotel, though. Here are places that stage Texas-worthy celebrations perfect for a holiday getaway.

Boardwalk Inn — Kemah

Kemah Boardwalk Inn

Photo courtesy of Boardwalk Inn

The Kemah Boardwalk provides a great spot to catch the area's Christmas Boat Parade, held Saturday, December 14, starting at 6:30 pm. Hundreds of brightly decorated power and sailboats float down the Clear Lake channel from South Shore Harbour Marina and Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay. Stay at the Boardwalk Inn and also take in Jingle on the Boardwalk, December 7, 8, 14, 15, and 22. It includes shopping, a variety of live entertainment, activities, pictures with Santa, and more.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa — San Antonio

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy of Marriott

At the ritzy JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, new activities for this year's holidays include Santa's Workshop with children's activities such as writing letters to Santa, making snow globes, and painting clay ornaments. Kids also can search for toy elves on the Elfie Selfie Scavenger Hunt. Other festivities include JW Elf tuck-ins, JW Elf Express train car making, certified JW Elf classes, a polar bear plunge challenge, a Sandy Snowman Building Contest every Saturday morning, and Sunday Brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus at 18 Oaks restaurant.

​Hilton Americas — Houston

Hilton Americas-Houston Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hilton Americas-Houston

The Hilton Americas lobby transforms into a lighted wonderland, complete with gingerbread walls spanning the lobby and a holiday chocolate display made from more than 2.5 tons and 6.5 million calories of chocolate. Have Breakfast with Santa on Saturday and Sunday mornings December 7 through 22 — photos and cookie decorating included. Just steps away, Discovery Green offers ice skatingevery day through February 2, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Saturdays now through Christmas, Santa Claus hits the ice from 5 to 6 pm. Also nearby in Hermann Square is the setting for a Gingerbread Build-Off competition on Saturday, December 7, from 10 am to 5 pm.

​Hilton Anatole — Dallas

Hilton Anatole Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hilton

The Hilton Anatole transforms its outdoor area into Peppermint Park, a winter wonderland with train rides; light displays; photos with Santa; and a variety of activities from face painting to miniature golf, s'mores, and contests. Open 5 to 9 pm to all hotel guests. A Breakfast with Santa package available weekends from now through December 22 includes late check-out, breakfast for two adults and two children with Santa, complimentary entrance into Peppermint Park, and holiday movie night. VIP Experience weekends include a meet-and-greet reception with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a photo with Santa, cookies and refreshments, breakfast with Santa, entrance into Peppermint Park, holiday movie night, valet parking, and late check-out.

​Hotel Galvez & Spa — Galveston

Hotel Galvez Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hotel Galvez

Hotel Galvez & Spa kicked off the holiday season on the island with the Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration on Thanksgiving weekend. The fun continues with Sunday Brunch with Santa, each Sunday through December 22 and the Night Before Christmas Gingerbread Village on view in the Hotel Galvez lobby. The Downtown Lantern and Lights is also underway, and includes a timed laser light show illuminated on the American National Insurance Company building. Watch it from The Rooftop Bar at The Tremont House, and stop by the special Polar Express-themed gingerbread house on public display in the Tremont lobby.

Hotel Van Zandt — Austin

Hotel Van Zandt Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hotel Van Zandt, Instagram

An adult take on the holidays, Geraldine's restaurant on the fourth floor of this Rainey Street hotel stages a South Pole-style pop-up December 17 to 21 starting at 6 pm. It features a snow machine, igloo lounges on the pool deck, an artisan market, holiday-themed cocktails, appearance by Southern Santa, and Geraldine's annual Motown Christmas performance. Igloos, available by reservation for up to eight, are decked out in "TexMas" décor and complete with record players, board games, and more.

​Gaylord Texan — Grapevine

\u200bGaylord Texan \u2014 Grapevine

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Gaylord Texan resort creates a 125-acre winter wonderland including millions of twinkling lights; 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice for ICE! Featuring a Charlie Brown Christmas; a tubing hill made from 2 million pounds of snow; more than 200 Christmas trees, including one 54 feet tall; an outdoor ice-skating rink; and extravagant decorations including miniature train sets, 25-foot-tall Nutcrackers, wreaths, and more. Activities include breakfast with Charlie Brown, gingerbread decorating, and reading with Mrs. Claus. The over-21 crowd can chill out in the ice bar. Runs through January 5, 2020.

​Stagecoach Inn — Salado

Stagecoach Inn Christmas

Photo courtesy of Stagecoach Inn

Make Stagecoach Inn your home base for Salado's annual 12 Nights of Christmas Stroll December 6-8 and 13-15. The weekends feature live entertainment, a Nativity performance, and a lighted holiday parade along Main Street. Carolers and other special activities happen at the historic inn, which was extensively renovated in 2018. Stagecoach Inn guests enjoy complimentary mulled wine, hot toddies, or hot cocoa with marshmallows; and comfy Mexican blankets in each room; photos with the seasonal decor; and Santa's Workshop on December 15. Built in 1861 and once a stop on the Chisholm Trail, the Inn also houses the oldest restaurant in the Lone Star State, which serves a sumptuous Christmas dinner buffet.

​Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort — Boerne

Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort Christmas

Photo courtesy of Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort

Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, owned by country music legend George Strait, gets gussied up Texas style and serves a Christmas Prime Rib Dinner on the big day. Enjoy outdoor activities such as paddling, hiking, and fishing, plus shopping in downtown Boerne and visits to the numerous area wineries.

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This story originally appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site, CultureMap.

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New minivan

Honda announces new Odyssey Sport

Sport is a new trim for the Odyssey minivan.

Honda

The Honda Odyssey may not be the most exciting vehicle in the world, but it's getting a new Sport model that at least makes it look the part. Honda will release the model for the 2023 model year, and the Odyssey line overall will be offered with a new Honda Service Pass, which includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.

The Odyssey Sport slots into the Honda catalog between the EX-L and Touring trims. It comes with gloss-black exterior trim and black 19-inch wheels outside, and black leather with red stitching inside. The cabin comes with red accent lighting on the dash and in the footwells, and the roof pillars and headliner are both black. Under the hood, the Odyssey Sport gets the same 3.5-liter V6 from years past. It makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a ten=speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

2023 Honda Odyssey SportThe Sport comes with dark exterior trim and unique leather upholstery with red stitching inside. Honda

All Odyssey models come with Honda Sensing safety equipment, which includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. The 2023 van hasn't been crash-tested yet, but the 2022 model earned a Top Safety Pick + award, so it's likely the new model will be rated similarly.

Honda Service Pass is a new program for 2023+ Honda vehicles. It covers routine scheduled maintenance for up to two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Under the program, buyers get free oil changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections.

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The 2023 Sequoia is all-new and a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Toyota

The Toyota Tundra and Sequoia were two of the oldest vehicles on the market, but that's all different now. The new Tundra is already on the streets, and today Toyota released a load of specs and details on the all-new 2023 Sequoia. The full-size SUV gets a major update for the new model year with completely fresh styling, impressive new tech, and a powerful standard engine. We don't have pricing details yet, but Toyota says the 2023 Sequoia will be available starting in summer 2022.

2023 Toyota SequoiaIn addition to new styling, the SUV gets a twin-turbo hybrid V6 powertrain and a load of updated tech.Toyota

Five trims of the Texas-built SUV will be offered: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone. All 2023 Sequoia models get the impressive twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-Force Max engine from the all-new Tundra. It makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, and sends it to the rear or all four wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain delivers a max towing rating of up to 9,000 pounds, which is a solid number and a massive increase over the previous Sequoia.

Toyota offers automatic-leveling air suspension and adaptive suspension settings with modes for Comfort, Sport S+, and Custom. The Sport drive modes also improve throttle response and changes transmission shift points. The electric motor handles most propulsion duties below 18 mph, but after that the gas engine steps in. The motor is constantly involved when the truck is in Tow/Haul mode.

2023 Toyota SequoiaTRD Pro models get under-body cladding and beefier tires.Toyota

Similar to the high-end treatment given to the Tundra, Toyota will offer a Capstone trim for the new Sequoia that brings unique upholstery and trim materials, 22-inch chrome wheels, power side steps, American Walnut inlays, and more. That said, even the standard Sequoia SR5 offers plenty of standard gear. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, along with heated seats and more. An available Premium Package adds an enormous 14-inch infotainment display, power third-row seats, a hands-free liftgate, and additional power outlets.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 will also be standard for the SUV. The system includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and rear seat reminders. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts is also standard.

2023 Toyota SequoiaThe new Capstone trim is a super-plush trim with an interior rivaling those in many luxury brands.

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