I’ll be upfront with you here…until I WENT to Grapevine, Texas, I really didn’t expect much from Grapevine, Texas.
The very first time I went was about 4 years ago, to a mommy blogger conference, with some of my most favorite friends. We stayed at the Gaylord Texan. For 5 days. And in 5 full days, we never LEFT the Gaylord Texan. So, all I could tell you about Grapevine was that it has a very nice hotel, enclosed in a glass dome, and I saw Reckless Kelly perform at the Glass Cactus.
Last year, I was sent BACK to Grapevine, again, for a conference. This time, a Travel Writers conference. I saw more of the Gaylord (which does in fact have an amazing conference center), and I was also introduced to things OUTSIDE of the hotel. In ACTUAL Grapevine.
Kids, Grapevine is pretty much adorable. It’s like a movie set, yet we are walking around in it like it’s no big deal. It has a small town feel, but it’s a suburb of Dallas, and it certainly stands on its own.
So, the weekend after Seven arrived here on the Texas Gulf Coast, my Rust and I packed him up for a weekend in Grapevine.
The Gaylord Texan
Grapevine is only about 3-4 hours from Houston, so, not a terrible drive at all, and yet it seems like a little vacation. We stayed, once again, at the Gaylord. This time for me it actually FELT right – I got to experience what it is like to be a family staying at such an interesting resort. We were given a room with balcony that faces the courtyard – indoor but outdoor but indoor – and it was everything a family could want. Great views, two queen sized beds, a large bathroom with spa amenities, and fast, free wi-fi. It’s a comforting room, with subtle colors and tones, and amenities I wouldn’t have thought of, like the ability to tune in to your own Netflix account if you choose. Smart idea, especially for those with kids like mine.
Paradise Springs Water Park
After our first night stay, we slept in a bit and then took the quick little (free) shuttle to Paradise Springs, the Gaylord’s own waterpark. ALSO FREE. Free waterpark, folks. Complete with a kid zone for splashing, waterslides for all ages, a lazy river, and of course, a big water bucket to douse the sweltering crowd every few minutes. There were plenty of comfortable loungers, and attentive staff made sure you had a drink or nachos anytime you looked needy. We all LOVED the lazy river, and spent quite a bit of time in there just floating on the provided tubes.
Farina’s Restaurant in Grapevine
A morning of play left us hungry for a real lunch, so we opted to drive about a mile into Downtown Grapevine, to eat at Farina’s. I knew about this gem from my previous visit, and I HAD to introduce my carb loving son to their renowned Spaghetti Pizza. Yep – a thin crusted delicacy topped with a beefy cheesy spaghetti. We devoured it, and quite a bit more. The ambiance is great, with cute Italian details and some unexpected wall hangings you’ll just need to check out for yourself. We were pleasantly surprised to find the prices were very reasonable for such a fun and flavorful meal.
Grapevine Mills Shopping & Play
From there we went to Grapevine Mills.
I know, I can hear you groaning now. An outset mall? Well, yes. And no. Grapevine Mills didn’t really float my boat the first time I heard about it either, thinking, if you’ve seen one outset mall, you’ve seen them all. But no. Grapevine Mills is quite honestly a full on destination.
Sure, you have the outlets. But you also have an IMAX. A Dine-In Cinema. A Legoland. An Aquarium. And the largest bowling alley/video game/kid-zone entertainment center I have ever seen, called Round One.
We did ALL OF IT.
We started out with tickets to the Grapevine Aquarium. Sharks, rays, turtles, Dory and Nemo and starfish and anemone. Jellyfish. Things to touch and hold, species to learn about. It took us a couple of hours that FLEW by, and it was such a fun experience that all three of us enjoyed. There were plenty of things to keep kids of all ages fascinated, and Seven really liked the scavenger hunt of sorts that had him scoping out the stamping machines at each special location. At the end, he got a little keepsake token, just for collecting all of the stamps – super idea.
From there we headed next door to Legoland.
Holy Lego overload! If something could be made of Legos, it was HERE. They had an entire city of Dallas, plus a few Grapevine landmarks, like our hotel! Rust and I liked that room the most – such creativity. The kids, however, enjoy ALL THE REST. A few rides, a big shoeless play area, scads of areas to build and create. We grabbed a couple of cookies and coffee at the café inside, and watched the crowds play to their hearts content. Warning – it’s loud and it’s crazy, but that should be expected. Parents can be so noisy when they are playing!
At the end of Legoland is the shop, so of course we had to pick up a new set. We opted for the Space Shuttle, being from Houston, and because we are headed to NASA this summer for some fun. It just made sense!
We found ourselves shopping around the mall for a bit next, then decided to go see a movie. IMAX was showing a 3D version of The Mummy, so we picked our seats and headed in, armed with popcorn and candy. I’m SHOCKED none of us fell asleep after the day we had!
After the movie we headed back to our home for the night – The Gaylord – and promptly fell asleep. Thank goodness for those soft pillows and great air conditioning!
So Many Things to See & Do
If you are ever in the market for a long weekend trip, or just have a couple of days to getaway – I do highly recommend Grapevine and the Gaylord. Whether for family time or couples, it is a great destination. The downtown area has so much more to offer that I just didn’t have time for this trip, so I will have to go back and fill you in on all of that! (So many restaurants and shopping and a TRAIN – too much too cover in one post!
If anyone has any questions, of course, please ask me. I’ll get you an answer myself or find it out for you!
PS – A huge thank you to the Grapevine CVB (so kind!), The Gaylord Texan, Legoland, and Grapevine Aquarium for taking care of us on this trip. While many expenses were covered by my hosts, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.