Perfect Retreat Near DFW Airport by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Grapevine, Texas, is truly a hidden jewel all travelers through Dallas/FortWorth, Texas, Airport should know about. This quiet little town of 50,000 population just five minutes from the Airport boasts 200 restaurants, most of which are not chains but unique and delicious eating experiences. 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 and well-known Texas journalist. Their specialty is A Bowl of Red (chili). We had another fabulous meal at the Love and War in Texas Restaurant near Grapevine Mills Mall. I recommend the crab cakes and portabella mushroom combo, delicious!
If you have a few hours between flights in a long lay-over, you don’t have to join an expensive airline club to find an excellent place to rest in a very comfortable lounge. Just take the free Air Trans to the Hyatt Met Hotel. There you can relax in a beautiful atmosphere or eat in wonderful restaurants. Grapevine also offers shuttle service to and from this hotel, which is in the Airport proper at Terminal D.
For city folks who have few opportunities to visit a farm, go to the historic Nash Farm in Grapevine, where you will find one of the early pioneer homes beautifully restored; the old barn has been recreated and houses 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 delightful venue popular for weddings, corporate events, parties, meetings and family reunions. Formerly the Doris-Briggs home 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 crackers. You’ll want to take home bottles of these award-winning Texas wines from the grapes of 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 on your shopping list at bargain, factory outlet prices. Your family will love 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 on some paths 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, 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 they can climb on while large Lego animals look on.
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). For residents of the metropolis this is the perfect Stay-cation because you park your car and it is all within the Lodge. So much fun and so relaxing!
From January till November the historic 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 real street of 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. During Christmas little kids will enjoy the experience when the train becomes The Polar Express with Santa on each car. Or adults can take the Wine Train.

You can enjoy a nightcap at Cork It! on Main Street, 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. Funds for this very appropriate 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 Texas Resort 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 Marriott Residence Inn 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, and Santa arrives early here for free photos with each child. Bass Pro is an experience in itself with indoor waterfall, river, fish tank, preserved wild animal trophies, restaurants, bar, shooting range, and lots more to enjoy while shopping.

For anyone wishing to stay overnight for early morning flights, hotels of all price ranges are plentiful and many offer packages to leave your car and go by their service to and from the airport. Grapevine will be our stop every time we go to DFW now.