Christmas really is for children, and few holiday travel destinations welcome kids quite as well as Grapevine, Texas. The town, officially designated the Christmas Capital of Texas, is a quick jaunt down Interstate 35 and is chock-full of holiday cheer for parents and children.
Starting about a week before Thanksgiving, the town transforms into a Christmas wonderland with more than a million lights twinkling downtown on the historic Main Street. Shopping and entertainment opportunities abound. The town boasts divine dining, served up with a plethora of excellent, locally vinted wines. And Grapevine's resorts transport visitors into Christmas fantasy worlds of Texas-size proportions.
Along Historic Main Street in Grapevine, you'll find a trove of fanciful shopping and holiday-related events. In the Town Square Gazebo, a giant singing Christmas tree captivates kids nightly. This season, Grapevine unveiled a 127-foot-high Clock Tower featuring two larger-than-life, 9-foot Glockenspiel characters, known as Would-Be Train Robbers Nat Barrett and Willy Majors. Just before noon and 6 p.m. each day, Nat and Willy emerge for a gunfight.
Also in downtown Grapevine, you can make your own handblown glass ornaments, take a ride on the North Pole Express, or if you're over 21, a ride on the Christmas Wine Train.
For musical and theatrical entertainment, Grapevine has many choices. The Texas Star Dinner Theatre is a fun diversion where guests of all ages enjoy an interactive Lone Star Murder Mystery played out by fine actors, served up with an excellent meal included in the ticket price.
The Grapevine Opry stages a different Christmas show each weekend of the season, with fabulous musicians and singers, a beautiful theater and top-notch production value. And the Texas Tenors will perform several shows at the Palace Theatre this month.
At The Gaylord Texan Resort, you'll find Lone Star Christmas, one of the most amazing Christmas displays anywhere. Inside the resort's enormous atrium, 1.5 million lights twinkle, illuminating 12,000 ornaments, a 52-foot-tall rotating Christmas tree, a life-size gingerbread house and a crew of festive, life-size nutcrackers, reindeer, elves and, of course, Santa Claus.
Each year, The Gaylord Texan hosts a new ICE! exhibit; this year's is ICE! featuring DreamWorks' Merry Madagascar. This amazing exhibit of artistry is housed in an enormous tent, cooled to 9 degrees to keep the massive ice sculptures frozen. The exhibit tells the story of how Alex the Lion and his friends saved Christmas after Santa and his reindeer crashed onto the island of Madagascar. An ice slide adds a rush of adrenaline to help keep visitors warm in the frigid environment. Bring your mittens, hats and scarves for this experience. (Heavy parkas are loaned to each guest to wear through the exhibit.) After touring the ICE! exhibit, guests can enjoy Kung Fu Panda Snow Tubing.
The Great Wolf Lodge boasts the state's largest indoor water park, a treat for kids during the winter months. And for Christmas, the Lodge transforms into Snowland, bringing guests inside a giant, indoor snow globe.
The lodge is entirely kid friendly, even tailoring the amenities in rooms for its youngest guests. Suites with themes, such as the KidCabin Suite, cater to kids with cool log cabin bunk beds.
Before and after water sliding at the lodge, kids can play MagiQuest, a fantasy adventure game where magic-wand wielding kids enchant objects, befriend a pixie, learn from an ancient wizard, battle a goblin and outwit a dragon. The Northern Lights Arcade is just another kid-friendly feature on the long list offered at Great Wolf Lodge.
You don't have to bring the kids along for a Grapevine escape. The town is just as sophisticated as it is whimsical, offering a romantic destination for couples, or a perfect girlfriend's getaway with great local wines, shopping, spas and even some great nightlife.
For a full listing of holiday events in Grapevine, and future events such as the annual ChocolateFest and Blessing of the Vines, go online to GrapevineTexasUSA.com or call (800) 457-6338.