Last year, I did a bunch of fun holiday stuff. I went walked light trails in Lakeway and Marble Falls, I drank cute, festive cocktails at Miracle on 5th Street, watched “A Christmas Carol” at ZACH Theatre, I walked the Trail of Lights… This year is, you guessed it – different.
However, I’m a firm believer that this year more than ever, we need joy! COVID is requiring us to do things differently, but I don’t think we have to avoid ALL things. When I heard COTA was making their holiday lights setup into a drive-thru experience – Peppermint Parkway – I knew I had to go! This is a much safer way to get the holiday JOY we all need!
Thanks, Peppermint Parkway, for inviting me out to see your festive setup! While I did receive a complimentary ticket, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
When you arrive off of Circut of the Americas Blvd. you get into line with your vehicle for the Peppermint Parkway. If you have a fast pass, keep to the left! There are two lanes reserved just for fast pass holders. When you get up to the gate, you can choose to purchase water, popcorn, or cotton candy. Then – you’re off!
*quick note! The drive-thru parkway opens at 6pm and is busiest from 6-7pm. If you don’t have a fast pass and are interested in exploring COTALAND at Peppermint Plaza (more on that later), then I’d recommend going to their first, then doing the drive-thru closer to 8pm.*
Once you’re past the front gate, you slowly start your roughly 15-minute drive along the 1-mile course. When you purchase your ticket, you have the option to add on a lap around the only Formula 1 track in the United States! We were able to drive the track and here’s my main takeaway – it’s cool to say you’ve done it, but… since it’s dark, it’s pretty hard to see anything. My honest opinion is, while it sounds cool, it’s just not worth it. You can’t see anything so you don’t really get the full experience of driving the track.
After the track lap, you get right back on the Parkway. The drive-thru experience starts with a great tunnel, then has several displays. My favorite was the fueling station! I thought it was so wonderfully decorated!
The end is certainly the highlight of the drive. “Club Sleigh” begins with several wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men (Family Guy, anyone?), Santas, actually, and ends with an exciting, colorful, fun “Club Sleigh” tunnel – complete with Pepper, Mint, and SANTA himself.
In addition to the drive, there’s COTALAND at Peppermint Plaza. COTLALAND will be open on nights when Peppermint Parkway is open. COTALAND is located in COTA’s Grand Plaza and features a kiddie amusement park, a special meet and greet with Pepper & Mint, a giant ferris wheel, games, train rides, food, go-karts, a zipline, and more! Masks are required and social distancing is enforced, but, even with the precautions, we didn’t visit the amusement park. We decided to stay in the safety of our cars and just enjoy the drive-thru Parkway.
So to recap…
Dates: Now – January 3rd
The Parkway Ticket: $35
The Parkway + lap around the track: $60
The Parkway + lap + fast pass: $90
Experience: $35 to drive the lights is pretty good, especially if you have a family and are looking for COVID safe holiday activities. The extra lap around the Formula 1 race track – not worth it in the dark.
Length and time: The track is a mile long and takes about 15 minutes to drive.
COTALAND: This kiddie amusement park is available and entry is included with your ticket! However, this might not be within your comfort level.
Website: Peppermint Parkway | Circuit of the Americas
Follow me @DiscoveringATX for more photos of Austin eats and explorations! Check out the reel I made for Peppermint Parkway (scenes of Club Sleigh included!).
Thanks again, Peppermint Parkway, for inviting us out!