The Trail of Lights is Austin's most beloved Holiday attraction. In December, the site of some of the city's biggest musical festivals, Zilker Park, transforms into a whirling vortex of colorful Christmas lights, kitschy cartoon characters, and slowly shuffling spectators. Once you're in, there's no turning back. All roads lead to the giant Zilker Holiday Tree at the end of the trail.
One mother was overheard telling her kids, "We didn't have any of this growing up!" while gesturing towards the food trucks along the trail. This year there are more food vendors than ever, but I thought I'd dodge the crowds by checking them out on a Tuesday night. Boy, was I wrong. The wait times at some were up to 30 minutes, especially at the first cluster of vendors at "Armadillo Alley."
So, here's a bit of advice. Prepare to get "hangry" if you show up to the Trail of Lights on an empty stomach. If you're just looking for dessert after dinner, however, there are plenty of options, and there was barely any wait for food from the vendors parked under the tree. Or skip the lines entirely and check out some of the nearby restaurants in the slideshow. Click through the slideshow above to see all our picks.
Trail of Lights at Zilker Park
2201 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746 (map)
About the author: Meredith Bethune is a writer who of course likes feeling hip and cool at the latest trendy restaurant, but she feels most comfortable tracking down the best tacos, pizza, and barbecue. Follow her on Twitter (@MeredithBethune).