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10:54 AM / Wednesday December 8, 2021

22 Dec 2017

Smooth Traveler: A Holiday to Remember in Grapevine, Texas

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December 22, 2017 Category: Travel Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Gaylord Nativity  (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

 

By Renée S. Gordon

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is so large that Manhattan Island would fit inside its 17,207-acres and it has its own postal zip code. Many of the thousands of people who pass through daily have long layovers and DFW offers the affordable Grapevine Visitors Shuttle service that stops at locations of interest throughout the area. Year round Grapevine, Texas is a great destination for a brief layover or extended stay but the Christmas holidays are truly spectacular, so much so that in 2009 the city was designated the official Christmas Capital of Texas. (www.grapevinetexasusa.com).

In 1843, Sam Houston met with representatives of 10 Indian nations at Tah-Wah-Karro Creek. The resulting peace treaty allowed settlers into the Grape Vine Prairie and in 1844, the city of Grapevine was founded and named after the wild Mustang grapes that grew in the area. The city’s history is interpreted throughout the city with markers, museums and historic structures. In 1996, The Walking To Texas Fountain was dedicated in Liberty Park to honor the native tribes, who are listed, and the pioneers who lived on the land.

Visitor center  (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

Grapevine deftly weaves all the elements together to present a pageantry of 1,400 events over a 40-plus day period. Celebratory options are so numerous that I suggest that the first stop must be the Grapevine Information Visitor Center. The center houses several galleries and provides information, facilities and a WIFI charging station. The holiday exhibit, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”, consists of classic novelties, 50 original “Peanuts” comic strips and a video of “The Making of a Charlie Brown Christmas”, the 1965 animated television special.

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Cotton Belt Hotel Clock Tower

No visitor should miss the unique Glockenspiel in the Cotton Belt Hotel Clock Tower. Glockenspiels are known throughout Europe for displaying both the time and an allegorical tale, usually religious or historic. Grapevine’s glockenspiel is a slice of the West, with potential 9-ft. tall train robbers Nat Barrett and Willy Majors, emerging four times daily. 

Main Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and plaques indicate the sites and history of various events and edifices. There are more than 80 specialty shops and restaurants along the street, so a meander and frequent stops are called for.

Tolbert’s Restaurant and Chili Parlor is justifiably famous their Donkey Tales,  cheese-stuffed beef hot dogs encased in tortillas, and Tolbert’s Texas Red chili with onions, cheese, and a serrano pepper. (www.tolbertsrestaurant.com).

Dino’s Steak & Claw House was once the location of First National Bank of Grapevine. Today, the restaurant offers fine dining in a graceful setting accompanied by live music. Everything here is outstanding. (www.dinossteakandclaw.net).

The Palace Theater was constructed in 1939 as a movie venue. In 2001, it underwent a $5-million restoration and is now a performance venue and home to the Grapevine Opry. The holiday schedule includes classic Christmas movies and performances.

VETRO Glassblowing Studio & Gallery is a state-of-the-art studio that creates works in one of the country’s few air-conditioned studios. Visitors can take the extreme or traditional ornament class resulting in a glass ornament they can takeaway, until December 29th. (www.vetroartglass.com).

Every old-fashioned holiday must have trees, decorations and lights and Grapevine has it all. The city lit their three story tree at the Main Street gazebo on November 20th and along with decorations, displays and the annual Parade of Lights — the largest lighted Christmas Parade in North Texas — spirit you along your way.  A little further afield, at Twin Coves Marina, the floating Twinkle Light Boat Parade is held in early December. Illuminated boats circle the lake.

Nutcracker (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

The North Pole Express on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad is always a hit. Decorated Victorian-style railcars leave from the 1888 Cotton Belt Railroad Depot and venture all the way to Santa’s workshop. Elves ride along and there is much singing and laughter on the journey as you walk through the Christmas tree forest. Adults may opt for the Christmas Jazz Wine Train. A reservation for either experience is required.

Texas Star Dinner Theater’s nod to the season is an interactive mystery dinner theater experience, “Dismay in a Manger”. Three-course meals are prepared by a chef and served prior to the show. (www.texasstardinnertheater.com).

Great Wolf Lodge, the only indoor waterpark in North Texas, has activities year round and Christmas provides an opportunity for even more special activities. Periodic snow falls in the lobby, lights twinkle and gingerbread houses abound — even a life-sized one. Snowland Suites that include a decorated tree, cookies and milk and other amenities are available by reservation. (www.greatwolf.com/Grapevine_TX).

Gaylord  (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

In April of 2004, Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine opened. This 4.5-acre destination hotel is a connected series of glass-encased atriums that feature accommodations, retail, restaurants, entertainment and a Relache Spa. Outdoor activities include hiking and jogging trails, water sports and the Cowboys Golf Club.

Gaylord’s seasonal offerings include 2-million lights, decorated trees, Christmas dioramas, snow tubing and “ICE!”. “ICE” is a walk-thru attraction showcasing the skills of 40 carvers from Harbin, China. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is depicted in 2-million pounds of ice over 14,000-ft. at 9-degrees. There are five two-story ice slides. The final tableau is a larger than life Nativity scene in clear ice. (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dalgt-gaylord-texan-resort-and-convention-center).

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