TEXAS, Grapevine with Kids: When traveling to or through North Texas, the obvious choice for your stay may seem the bright-lights big city of Dallas. But through our years of navigating the sprawl of the Dallas/ Fort Worth area, my family has found a favored base in the nearby (click here for the 411 on Dallas-Fort Worth with Kids), Grapevine is not only a strategic base for touring, but it offers plenty of its own fun for families.. As the city in which the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW) is actually located, and with its perfect proximity to both Dallas and Fort Worth
Even if you just have a long layover at DFW, consider catching the Grapevine Visitor’s Shuttle, which runs daily from the Grand Hyatt DFW to Historic Downtown Grapevine, Grapevine Mills, and Bass Pro Shops (it’s much more fun than sitting in the airport for hours). But if you have more time to explore Grapevine with kids, here are 4 great activities my daughters and I recommend, along with 1 great place to stay and 1 great place to eat while you are there.
Activity 1: Step Back in Time at Grapevine’s Museums
Grapevine became a city before Texas became a state and, as the oldest town in the county, was an early meeting place and center for trade. Begin your tour where the city began, at Nash Farm (lead photo). Now nestled into the rows of houses between Texas Highway 114 and Grapevine’s Historic Main Street, this “living history farm” offers amazing insight into what life was like for early settlers on the Texas prairie in the mid-1800s. Try to visit during one of the many seasonal events for the chance to be part of daily life on the Texas frontier.
A stroll down Grapevine’s Historic Main Street brings you to storefronts now filled with boutique shops, wineries, and tasty eateries, reveals historic buildings dating to 1888. Kids bored? Lock them in the calaboose – the city’s historic jail. Down the street, nestled behind the visitors’ center (where the armed train robbers make 4-times daily appearances) are the Settlement-to-City Museums and the Grapevine Historical Museum, offering a view of how a town on the Texas prairie developed from dairy, cotton, and cantaloupe farming to a small, bustling city.
Activity 2: Take a Ride on a Steam Powered Train
Hop aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad to experience travel in the days of the Wild West. The most important decision on this restored Victorian train is not whether you will enjoy the cushioned seats of the First Class coach or the wooden seats, but the open air experience (weather permitting) of the Touring Class coach (I can tell you which most kids vote for). The ride, approximately 90 minutes each way, takes you to the Fort Worth Stockyards where you can meet real cowboys and have your photo taken on a Texas Longhorn. Just be careful riding the train on summer weekends as bandits have been known to stop the train.
Tip: Special event trains throughout the year offer a different, themed experience. Call ahead to find out what may be offered during your visit (number at website linked above).
Activity 3: Step Inside Grapevine Mills
Grapevine Mills is more than just a shopping destination. For families in particular, it’s an entertainment destination. Begin with fishy fun at SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium. The 45,000-square-foot aquarium will delight fans of Octonauts and Shark Week as exhibits, including interactive displays and touch tanks, guide you from shore and harbor through shipwreck and shark tunnel.
PSSSST! Don’t miss the map of our Grapevine recommendations and pinnable at the end of this feature.
Follow this with a bricktacular building experience at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center. This ever-evolving experience features LEGO® favorites like Ninjago and Friends, miniland models of Dallas and Star Wars, as well as plenty of building spaces, rides, a 4D theater, and an outdoor waterpark.
Have a teen who rolls their eyes at this type of ‘kiddie’ entertainment? Promise them a round of glow-in-the-dark Lunar Golf or the opportunity to lead your family through The Escape Game.
Activity 4: Create Memorable Holiday Moments
In 2009 the Texas State Senate officially named Grapevine the Christmas Capital of Texas. The city boasts over 1400 events during the 40 days surrounding Christmas. Historic Main Street is strung with millions of lights to set the holiday mood, and all through the town holiday themed activities are taking place. One of the most popular are the holiday train rides: the magic of Christmas comes to life on the North Pole Express, while adults will love the escape on the Christmas Wine Train (both trains sell out as early as August, so plan ahead). Be sure to visit ICE! at the Gaylord Texan Resort where two million pounds of ice are transformed into a classic walk-through Christmas tale. Find out more: The Christmas Capitol of Texas.
1 Great Place to Stay: Great Wolf Lodge
If it’s true that kids rank their favorite hotels based on the pool, then the clear place to stay in Grapevine with kids is Great Wolf Lodge, which has two amazing water parks on site. But even water babies need a break from swimming, so the hotel also offers other fun activities like an ice cream-themed spa for kids, arcade, and MagiQuest interactive game, as well as free activities with Wiley and his friends. Rooms at Great Wolf Lodge all feature a North Woods inspired theme. Specialty suites give kids their own space in tents, cabins, or even wolf dens. You can get a look at the Great Wolf Lodge room types in this video tour of Great Wolfe Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.
1 Great Place to Eat: Main Street Bistro & Bakery
Grapevine is a city filled with incredible, local eateries. I’ve yet to have a bad meal in the city. But the one place I never miss when we visit is Main Street Bistro & Bakery. Meals are a wonderful blend of French cuisine with definite Texas flair. Stop in for a meal (be prepared to wait for seating during peak times at this popular spot), or just grab one of their delicious pastries to eat at a sidewalk table as you enjoy your visit to Main Street.
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