With a long overnight delay in the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport we discovered Grapevine, Texas, the terrific hidden jewel of a small town nearby. (In December remember Grapevine is the official Christmas Capital of Texas.)
Grapevine Shuttle runs from the Grand Met Hyatt Hotel at Termina D, and many moderate priced hotels in Grapevine have their own free shuttle service to and from the airport with car parking included while you fly. We selected Tolbert’s Restaurant for terrific food with a Texas atmosphere. It is owned and operated by the daughter of Frank Tolbert, a long-time famous Texas journalist. Their specialty is A Bowl of Red (chili).
For city folks who have few opportunities to visit a farm, spend a couple of hours at the historic Nash Farm, where you will find one of the early pioneer homes beautifully restored and the old barn recreated and housing antique farm machinery. There are a few farm animals and examples of crops. Throughout the Christmas season and during many other times of the year children can create adorable crafts here and proudly take them home. We watched little ones make gingerbread men and Christmas trees from paper and glitter, string cranberries and popcorn, make peppermint candy Rudolphs and more.
Another farm homestead from the 1800’s is a popular venue for weddings, corporate events, parties, meetings and family reunions. Formerly the Doris-Briggs house of L-construction in pioneer days, the house now is the center for the wine tastings for the Cross Timbers Winery. You can enjoy wine by the glass and sample many varieties with cheese and cracker. You’ll want to purchase here bottles of award-winning Texas wines from Don Bigsbee’s vineyards in West Texas.
Grapevine Mills Mall, one of the largest malls in the state, is where you’ll find almost any national store or brand factory outlet. Your family will love spending several hours at the newest attractions here: Sea Life Aquarium with over 5,000 beautiful marine animals of over a thousand different species. Glass walkways take you beside, on top of, or beneath the water, and in some you even feel as if you are in the tank. Go Behind the Scenes for the full educational experience.
Just across the Mall hallway is Legoland Discovery Center, where you will be amazed at what has been created with those little building blocks: a miniature re-creation of the DFW airport and the main buildings of Dallas and Fort Worth. Children can play in many different areas building an earthquake tower (which shakes and falls down), building and racing little cars, and playing with enormous Legos on which they can climb while large Leggo animals look on. For lunch or dinner be sure to have a fabulous meal at the Love and War in Texas Restaurant near the Mall. The food is fabulous; I recommend the crab cakes and portabella mushroom combo, delicious!
There is always so much to do in Grapevine. The small town feeling and convenience in a very sophisticated atmosphere is what you will find in perhaps no other place in the United States. For a great family vacation stay one or more nights at Great Wolf Lodge, where kids of all ages can have a blast year-round at the fabulous water parks, one indoors and one out-of-doors. They can play interactive or arcade games to their hearts’ delight, enjoy excellent foods and snacks, compete in the Magic Wand scavenger hunt, have special treatment at the Kids’ Spa (while their parents are pampered at the Elements Spa).
From January till November the Historic Vintage Railroad train will take you from Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards (about 45 minutes) for several hours of exploring a favorite Texas historic landmark in a street of authentic cowboy fame and fun. You’ll see a real cattle drive, discover western shops, eat Texas fare, and return in the luxury of the comfortable first class train experience. In holiday time for November and December the train becomes the North Pole Express with treats and fun for families.
On return to Grapevine you can enjoy a nightcap at another winery on Main Street: Cork It! which offers over 100 selections of Texas wines. Or go to the convenient and modern hipster Sky Bar at the nearby Vineyard Steak House. In the daytime return here to honor the memory of the airline crew and personnel who lost their lives helping comfort others during the horrific 9/11/2001 bombing of the Twin Towers in New York City. The local funds for this very appropriate 9/11 Memorial were raised by people in Grapevine, and this memorial is especially touching if you read the explanatory plaques there.
The Glass Cactus Bar, near the Gaylord Texan Hotel, features live music Wednesday through Saturdays and many special event concerts throughout the year. There is never a cover charge for Gaylord guests, nor for anyone before 8 p.m. All the restaurants in the Gaylord are excellent. And even if you are not a paying guest you can spend hours in the gloriously decorated hotel central area, where a million lights twinkle at night during Christmas. But any time of year this huge foyer is beautifully decorated and you can walk through a recreation of some of Texas’ most famous landmarks.
For a moderately priced overnight or business stay, we chose the lovely Residence Inn DFW North/Grapevine in walking distance to many of these places. We enjoyed the large suites with stove and refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker and full hot breakfasts included, and even light evening meals on Sunday and Thursday nights. A convenient Conference Center makes this the perfect place for your business meetings in the metroplex, and you can relax or workout at the fitness center or outdoor pool. Just across the street is the huge and always fun Bass Pro Shop for all your outdoor needs, Bass Pro is an experience in itself with indoor waterfall, river, fish tank, preserved wild animal trophies, restaurants, bar, shooting range,and more to enjoy while shopping. Grapevine will be our stop every time we go to DFW now.