I have always heard that Grapevine is an excellent option for a short trip during the holiday season, and this year, we got the chance to plan a family trip to this city that is part of the Dallas complex. It was only a couple of days, but we created lots of family memories, and our kids experienced the Christmas magic that is everywhere.
After driving 300 miles from San Antonio, nearly four-and-a-half hours (plus bathroom and food stops), we got to the city full of lights, which can be enjoyed day or night and in which there is always something to do.
We walked around Main Street, stopped in some of their stores and ate there, rode the Polar Express, said hi to Santa and Mrs. Claus, and saw real reindeer. The kids enjoyed the carousel that spun to the tune of Christmas carols, sent their letters to the North Pole, saw ICE! the exhibit, and enjoyed the ice slides, but there are even more things that you can do in the city that has been called “the Christmas capital of Texas.”
While we were driving through Main street before returning home to San Antonio, my four-year-old said, “Mom, Grapevine has been filled with magic,” and it is so true…
Things to Do in Grapevine During the Holiday Season
This was our first stop. We walked in the visitors center (aka: Grapevine Convention & Visitors’ Bureau), located on Main St. and Hudgins St. All of the stores and restaurants on Main street are adorned in holiday decor, and it is an easy walk even with a stroller.
There are many places to take photos along Main Street. Our favorite place was Liberty Park, where you can find the perfect background for a Christmas card and a lot of instagrammable opportunities: three sleds with Christmas trees, giant ornaments, and light tunnels, along with a historic cabin built in 1845 and preserved by the Historical Society of Grapevine.
You can also find the Palace Theater, which during this season shows Christmas classics for only $6, along with different artist presentations. Walking back, we reached the visitor center, where we took some pictures of our kids in metal trucks built for the little ones and other beautiful backgrounds.
Walking Main Street during the day is a beautiful experience, but walking in the night is magical, with all the lights shining and lighting up the night.
North Pole Express
Cost: $28.50 per passenger ages 1 year old and up
A couple of years ago, a friend told me about the magic that fills up this train, and we got the chance to experience it. The moment you get there you can find something special; our kids immediately were attracted to the carousel, and my oldest asked us to go and see the reindeer.
They also have the perfect space to write a letter to Santa, and the mailbox will take kids’ letters to the North Pole. Those who work there assure you that if you also write your address on your letter, you will get a reply from Santa himself!
And speaking of Santa, he is also at the train station, waiting to listen to the kids’ wishes and take pictures with them as he calls out his trademark “Ho-Ho-Ho!” The photo bundle that we purchased included only digital copies and was $40, minus the $8 discount coupon that you get at the end of the train ride.
We got our tickets for the North Pole Express on October 10th, when they were went on sale, and even though they usually don’t last, I saw that new dates and times were being added.
Riding the train is magical for both kids and adults. From the moment you are waiting to board, elves great you with big smiles. When the time to board has come, every passenger gets a commemorative mug with chocolate milk.
Each wagon has Christmas decorations, but to me, the best are the Christmas carols that play during the ride. It is really special to witness how everyone is involved in the Christmas magic, clapping, and singing “Jingle Bells” and other songs.
There is also an elf in each wagon, who gives cookies baked by Mrs. Claus to each passenger. She was also present to give the kids the “Christmas bell” that signifies their belief.
The train ride lasts approximately an hour, stopping and returning back to the same place we originally boarded. My four-year-old immediately asked why we were going back, but he didn’t care once we got there. We entered through a snowy forest filled with pines and were taken to a theater where we saw Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves singing and dancing in a play.
During the two-hour experience on the Polar Express, I always saw a smile on my kids’ faces and their eyes showed how excited they were.
The Gaylord Texan Resort’s ICE!: The Exhibit
Cost: $17.99 for kids, $29.99 for adults in general admission; $19.99 for kids, $32.99 for adults during peak days (most weekends)
The Gaylord Texan Resort is much more than a hotel. Even though we didn’t stay there, we made plans to visit and it was totally worth it.
ICE! The Exhibit displays more than two million pounds of ice in 14,000 square feet, where we were able to admire Christmas sculptures that this year are built in tribute to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There is also a nativity made of crystal clear ice, as well as slides that everyone enjoys.
The temperature inside the exhibit is 9°F, and at the entrance, you get a special jacket; however, I recommend also taking gloves, a scarf, and a hat, especially for the kids.
Beside the beautiful ice sculptures, the Gaylord also has different activities (each with a separate cost):
- Ice skating
- Snow tubing
- Gingerbread decorating
- Santa’s Snow Throw
- Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast
- Build-a-Bear Workshop
- Claus Christmas traditions
- Photos with Santa
- Holiday dining
My husband and my oldest did the snow tubing and said it’s really fun; however, we don’t recommend buying the all-day pass unless you are staying at the hotel or plan to be there several hours.
Great Wolf Lodge
Cost: Some activities are only for guests. For more information, visit their website.
This is another resort where you can spend all day because they have many activities, including an indoor water amusement park. However, the water park is reserved for hotel guests only.
During the holiday season, they have a giant Christmas tree and a life-size gingerbread house (just like the one in Hansel & Gretel) where you can eat lunch inside.
There is also a big space for games that my husband compared to Main Event, where we spent more than an hour playing and having fun. We also saw a spa and an XD theater, among many other things.
Grapevine Mills: Rainforest Café, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and the Aquarium
Cost: LEGOLAND’s standard admission is $21.95 per person, you can also buy tickets online to save. The Sea Life Aquarium is $20.95 per adult and $16.95 per child, but there is also a cheaper online price.
Last, I also wanted to mention that Grapevine Mills is nearby, an outlet center like Katy Mills. Inside the mall, you can find the Rainforest Café, as well as LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the SEA LIFE Aquarium. While we didn’t have enough time to visit these attractions during our stay, they are excellent options for those who might be staying in Grapevine for a longer period.
If you’re looking to try something new this holiday season, I assure you that Grapevine won’t disappoint! Happy holidays to all!