The Lone Star State is known for many things, including being very welcoming hosts with huge hearts. That’s what we found when we visited last month for the Family Travel Conference in Dallas. Following the conference, attendees were invited to explore more of the Dallas/Fort Worth area with one choice being Grapevine, located in between the larger cities and home to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
As you can tell by the name, Grapevine is the place to go to get a taste of Texas wines. Turns out, Texas is the 5th largest wine producer in the country with 113 wineries. Wine tours are available to shuttle you between tasting rooms. But what drew me to Grapevine, was their title of “Christmas Capital of Texas.”
Christmas Activities and Events
Grapevine does Christmas like nobody’s business with more than 1,400 Christmas events in 40-plus days including Christmas musicals and concerts. Their historic downtown is as charming as it is colorful, and filled with fabulously unique shops, artisans and restaurants, all lit up with millions of little twinkle lights and enormous Christmas decorations. It’s just like Texas to do everything big.
We fell in love with the vintage feel and fun ambiance of one craftman’s shop: Vetro Art Glass. Vetro is a just one of many artisan shops where you can buy truly one-of-a-kind gifts. And, even better, Vetro is an experience too. After meandering around the front of the store gawking at the gorgeous glass pieces and wondering if I was going to hear one shattering on the ground at any moment at the curious hands of my five-year-old, our group was led to the back room for a little glass-blowing demonstration. Vetro is perfectly set-up with a viewing area and bleacher-style seating for private events, classes and tours. Smoldering-hot ovens blazed in front of us, as one-by-one, we were able to participate in creating our own glass Christmas ornament! Reagan chose a black-and-white spotted pattern and helped roll the ornament into shape before it was blown to life by the owner’s apprentice.
Next to Vetro is the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, which looks straight out of a movie set. We boarded the train cars and imagined ourselves part of the Polar Express which rolls from Thanksgiving to Christmas every year. Or, for the big kids, there are Christmas Wine Trains.
Just a short walk from the railroad, you can view Grapevine’s recently dedicated 127-foot-high Clock Tower Glockenspiel. We waited for the infamous 9-foot tall would-be train robbers, Nat Barrett and Willy Majors to make an appearance at the stroke of 6pm, however, the wind kept them inside that night. Fortunately, there is always a chance to see them another day, either at noon or 6pm.
For even more shopping fun, there’s Grapevine Mills Mall with all your favorite stores and then some. Located in the mall are a LEGOLAND® Discovery Center and the amazing SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium. And just because it’s in a mall, doesn’t mean it’s scaled-back. The focus of SEA LIFE is on quality of experience rather than size as the world’s biggest aquarium brand with more than 30 stellar attractions, including a huge tropical ocean tank with a walk-through 360° underwater tunnel.
Not to miss, is the return of ICE! at the Gaylord Texan Resort, featuring Dreamwork’s Merry Madagascar this year through January 1st. You’ll forget it’s a frigid 9° as you stroll through the exhibit bundled up in your hooded-parka, because you’ll be having so much fun! Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria and the rest of your favorites have been carved from more than two million pounds of ice and are narrating each fantastical scene around every corner.
After exiting ICE! it’s time to go snow-tubing! For the third year in a row, it has snowed at the Gaylord, with this year’s 8-lane indoor tubing hill covered with real snow created by Po of Kung Fu Panda! The fun continues through January 1st, 2013.
Also at the Gaylord, celebrate a Lone Star Christmas. A million and half lights, 12,000 ornaments, a 52-foot-tall rotating Christmas tree, life-sized gingerbread house and exclusive holiday events and attractions.
Across the street from the Gaylord are still more magical family accommodations – The Great Wolf Lodge! Where do I even begin? From the moment you walk in, you know you’ve arrived somewhere special. Not just a lodge, The Great Wolf Lodge is a destination in itself! Choose from a variety of Northwoods themed rooms your kids will be thrilled with. Spend all day at their incredible indoor waterpark, playing MagiQuest or LazerFrenzy. There’s an extensive arcade, kid’s spa, 3D theater and more to explore too! And in the month of December, the Lodge transforms into a winter wonderland during Snowland!
After just a taste of what makes Grapevine the Christmas Capital of Texas, we can’t wait to return and indulge in it all!
Disclaimer: The Grapevine Convention and Visitor’s Bureau hosted my family and I for all the above mentioned activities and our lodging was provided by The Great Wolf Lodge. However, all opinions expressed are my own and without influence by the Grapevine CVB or The Great Wolf Lodge.