If you’re planning a family trip to North Texas this fall (or if you’re a DFW local looking for something to do), don’t forget to set aside a day to visit the historic city of Grapevine. Just minutes from both downtown Dallas and Fort Worth, Grapevine is well known locally for its wineries and tasting rooms and its beautiful downtown area, richly steeped in historical buildings and architecture.
But Grapevine isn’t just a fancy stop for mom and dad to see the sites and take in some fantastic shopping. Ultimately, Grapevine is a family community, and there’s a lot of fun to be had for everyone.
Historic Downtown Grapevine
A lot of people think Grapevine’s historic district is a spot strictly for adult fun. While this certainly is true, it’s actually a lot of fun for kids, too. Your cowboy-movie buff (whether that be your eight-year-old or your spouse) will marvel at the well-restored vintage buildings right out of their favorite Western. While you’re there, you can visit a real, working corner store, see glassblowing demonstrations by a master glass artist, buy Texas souvenirs and collectibles, and even ride a working vintage train!
Grapevine Vintage Railroad
705 South Main Street
All aboard! for a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. The oldest continuously operating steam engine in the South, lovingly nicknamed “Puffy,” has been pulling travelers to and fro since 1896 with the help of a vintage (1953) diesel locomotive. The authentic 1920s and 30s Victorian-style coaches are reminiscent of the glory days expanding the Wild West.
As you travel through about 21 miles of the Cotton Belt Line (which links the historic communities of Grapevine, Colleyville, Smithfield and Fort Worth), you’ll get to spend some real quality time with your family as the slower-paced train glides through the beautiful North Texas scenery. Tickets range between $6 and $28 per person, depending on age and which car and line you choose. Check out the website for details.
If your family is the outdoorsy type, head out to Lake Grapevine on your next trip to North Texas. Lake Grapevine is an 8,000-acre recreational lake with opportunities for boating, waterskiing, windsurfing and more. Let your little ones try their hands at fishing, go camping or just stop by for a picnic on the lake.
Silver Lake Marina on Lake Grapevine has boats and other watercraft available for rental starting at $80 per hour (rentals provided through Just for Fun Watercraft Rental; see http:www.jffdw.com for more details). Or, if you prefer landlocked activities, rent a campsite at Lake Grapevine’s Vineyards Campground. While you’re there, take your family for a hike or bike on more than nine miles of wilderness trails.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center
Grapevine Mills Mall
3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway
Grapevine, Texas 76051
Admission: Tickets $17.10 per adult and $13.50 per child
Hours: M – F: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Ever wonder what it would be like to jump into one of those LEGO video games? Find out at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Grapevine Mills Mall, one of the newest attractions in the LEGO family. Fun for all ages, the discovery center has fun activities like the Battle on Kingdom Quest, an interactive laser ride in 4D. You’ll also learn top-secret building techniques from real Master Model Builder, Cal Walsh, and see iconic landmarks from the DFW area (and more) in MINILAND.
Grapevine Botanical Gardens
411 Ball Street
Grapevine, Texas 76051
Hours: Dawn until Dusk – 365 days/year
While you’re visiting North Texas, don’t miss one of the best educational photo ops in Grapevine, the Grapevine Botanical Gardens. Admission is free and the gardens are open from dawn until dusk seven days a week. The best way to enjoy the gardens is to schedule a tour with one of the many trained garden docents to learn about the hundreds of plant species featured there. The tours are free, though donations to the city educational programs are appreciated. We recommend hiring a professional photographer (not provided by the Grapevine Botanical Gardens) to meet you after your tour to take a selection of special family photographs to cap off your trip to Grapevine with an irreplaceable souvenir – a photo capturing one of your family’s many happy Grapevine moments.
Don’t forget all there is to do for your family at Grapevine Mills Mall – here’s our guide to family fun!
Heather Barnett is a freelance writer in Fort Worth. You can read more of her work in the SheKnows.com Dallas City Guide or at http://www.writinginredink.com.