Who doesn’t have fond memories of piling into the family car on a cold winter evening and driving around town to see the Christmas lights? Twinkling lights and glowing Christmas scenes are a joy for all ages and a holiday tradition that takes us back to our childhood. And don’t we love to find that really special display that takes our breath away and beckons us to return with our friends and family to share the experience? That’s just what will happen when you take a short drive to the country to visit 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 drive-through tunnels. Around every turn another dramatic scene awaits visitors as they slowly cruise through the display.
Frank Bass, his wife and business partner Melanie, and their team of “elves” spend months getting ready for the annual drive-through display, which opened for the first time in 2003 after years of planning. Celebrating the sixth 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 exploring the park,” Frank says with Santa-like twinkle in his eye. “Scores of families have discovered the Christmas Spirit here, and are continuing to add to their years of great Christmas memories.”
During their 20-minute drive, 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 and 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 access road for about 1 mile to park entrance on the right. The park is open every night from November 7 thru December 31; hours are 6:00 to 10:00pm Sunday thru Thursday and 6:00 to 11:00pm 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 Jacobson is a freelance writer living in Fischer, Texas.