Finding ways to keep the budget in line while still making the most of the holidays is a priority for all of us these days.
Giving homemade presents, looking for early-bird sales, and putting an emphasis on the value of the time spent with family and friends are just some of the ways that Americans will stretch their budgets this season.
Another affordable option to get family into the spirit of the season is by taking an evening drive to enjoy displays of Christmas lights and holiday scenes. And there’s no better place to do that than Santa’s Ranch, one of the most spectacular Christmas light parks in Central Texas.
Located on 12 acres of wooded rolling hills between San Marcos and New Braunfels, Santa’s Ranch offers a mile-long driving trail that twists and turns as it meanders through a scenic Christmas wonderland featuring more than 1.5 million lights, 300 lighted characters, and 350 feet of drive-through tunnels. Around every turn, another dramatic scene awaits visitors as they slowly cruise through the display.
Knowing that families are trying to do more with less this season, the owners of Santa’s Ranch decided to keep the prices the same as 2008, but still increased the number of displays.
“We know that families are concerned with their budgets,” says Frank Bass, who started the park with his wife Melanie in 2003. “But we also know that it’s important, now more than ever, for people to find ways to bring some joy and happiness into their lives. By keeping the price the same as last year, we are doing our part to spread some Christmas cheer.”
For a one-time visit of just $20 per vehicle or a season pass of only $40 for unlimited visits, a drive through Santa’s Ranch is one of the most economical holiday treats for families and friends to share — by the carload!
Celebrating their seventh season this year, Frank is looking forward to seeing both those who have made the visit an annual tradition and the new faces as they discover Santa’s Ranch for the first time.
“I may be partial to the place because I’ve been working on it for so many years, but there is definitely a ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling when you take a drive through the park at night,” Frank says with a Santa-like twinkle in his eye. “So many families have discovered the Christmas Spirit here, and are continuing to add to their years of great Christmas memories.”
During their 20-minute cruise, visitors will enjoy a 50-foot tall Christmas tree, a blue “river” filled with 800 feet of twinkling lights, and numerous scenes from the Bible, including a 60-foot-long Noah’s Ark and the complete town of Bethlehem. They’ll also be treated to a village scene, a toy mill, Santa tubing on the river, and a scale-model replica of the space shuttle with a 40-foot wingspan decorated with over 5000 lights.
Santa’s Ranch is located between New Braunfels and San Marcos, at 9561 I-35, two miles south of Tanger Outlet Mall. From New Braunfels, go about 6 miles on I-35 North to Exit 199 (Posey Road). Take the Exit 199 to the turn around and go back south on I-35 access road about 1 mile to the park entrance on the right. From San Marcos, go south on I-35 for about 2 miles to the Exit 199 (Posey Road). Take the exit and stay on the access road for about 1 mile to the park entrance on the right. The park is open every night from Nov. 6 - Jan. 2; hours are 6-10 pm Sunday-Thursday and 6-11 pm Friday and Saturday. Admission is $20 per vehicle; season passes are available for $40. For more information, visit online at www.santasranch.net or call (830) 743-1293.
Linda C. Jacobson is a freelance writer living in Fischer, Texas.