A Grapevine Christmas: How to Celebrate the Holiday on Main Street, Grapevine, Texas
Christmas in Grapevine is a charming trip back in time by day, and a dazzling lights display by night.
It was Black Friday.
My children were out of school.
I had a day off from work. Did I spend it at the mall, elbowing other shoppers aside in a desperate dash to get that one $100 plasma TV being advertised? No. I decided, instead, to spend some time enjoying my life with my children before the years snatched them away and whisked them off to college. It was a day to make memories, so we headed to Main Street in Grapevine, Texas, to see how much inexpensive fun we could have while avoiding the crazy mobs at the mall. To the right you can see a photo of Main Street in Grapevine as we arrived; the architecture harkened back to a simpler time, when people chatted to their neighbors and everybody in the town knew everybody else. There were decorations up. It looked nice.
My son looked at them, and his eyes grew wide. "Mom, we need to come back here at night. It's going to be AWESOME."
The Christmas Capitol of Texas
Since we got to Grapevine fairly early in the day, we were able to find free parking. We were then greeted by a plastic life-sized Santa poised to greet us on one of Grapevine's many handy benches, resting his weary feet beneath a sign that informed us that Grapevine is the "Christmas Capitol of Texas." He wasn't alone. As we walked up and down the streets we encountered several more metal and plastic citizens, including one genuinely iron man so life-like my daughter thought he was real for a moment. They were historical figures and holiday figures, and the iron man who had my daughter so spooked struck as being a tad Dickensian in his appearance, especially given his surroundings. I deliberately chose not to read his real story; i liked him better in my head as something out of A Christmas Carol.
Shopping in Grapevine
Although we went to Grapevine to escape the insanity that is Christmas rush on Black Friday, there was shopping available on Main Street in Grapevine. Lots of it. We found apparel stores with vintage and modern clothing for every member of the family; novelty stores selling unusual foods, stationary, antiques, jewelry, cigars, yard decorations, fine art galleries... and store after store brimming with beautiful Christmas decorations that were both merchandising displays and works of art in their own right.
One store had two full rooms filled to the brim with several gorgeous miniature Christmas towns, featuring running trains, figurines that showed us the entire narrative of A Christmas Carol, animatronic skaters whisking merrily over the ice, and children sledding down snow-covered hills. I gazed at the display and then glanced at the price tag on some of these individual pieces that made up these wonderful scenes. I had to chuckle; at thirty dollars a piece, it would take a very wealthy or devoted collector to recreate the magical scenes we enjoyed watching so much for free. My daughter, the lover of minatures, was entranced. My son, the lover of machines that move, was just as fascinated.
We did do some minor Christmas shopping here; we found a Christmas ornament for my mother, and my daughter fell in love with a minature horse we saw in one of the antique stores. My son was exceedingly pleased with some old-fashioned candy he found in one of the novelty food stores.
Since I had my children with me, I did not go in any of Grapevine's eight wineries, but if you ever have the opportunity, I suggest that you try one of the Grapevine Wine Tours. This city was built on its wineries, and there are a number of wonderful vintages to try in a very small space of time. A stop at just one of the wineries for a wine tasting is inexpensive and a lot of fun.
My children are too old to whisper their deepest wishes into Santa's ear, so we merely waved to him as we passed him in one of the shops. The poor guy was looking kind of tired - and given that he was dressed for the North Pole while sitting in a store in Texas, he might have been kind of hot.
Total money spent shopping on Main Street in Grapevine:
About $10.00, although we could have spent much more if we had been inclined.
Santa's a clever one, for sure; he appears to know how to clone himself, because we found him again - walking on stilts, no less - in an area set aside for "Reindeer Games". Several very small children danced around and performed little stunts as if they were in a pint-sized edition of "Minute to Win It." My own children were too old for this activity, so we did not stay., but the wisdom of this area and others like that hit me. Grapevine has set this Christmas On Main Street activity up in such a way that child-friendly activities are evenly spaced between the many stories beckoning adult shoppers. They've figured out the art of keeping these kids happy - and likely to drift off in happy exhaustion during the car ride home.
The Christmas Displays
In the town square we saw a number of large displays set up showing off different Christmas scenes ranging from whimsical to nostalgic. and it was quite fun looking at all the different vignettes. As we moved from scene to scene, desperate elves tried frantically to get Santa out of bed in vain. Woodland animals felled a great tree to create a Yule log, Santa's reindeer waited for their dinner with eternal patience, and dignified carolers stood poised to serenade us with a rendition of "Joy to the World" that never quite seemed to begin. Once again, it all seemed very nice, but once again my son, who was looking at all the lights carefully, said, "Mom, we have to stay until tonight. It's going to be AWESOME."
Keep Your Eye on this Christmas Tree
It doesn't seem to have much personality during the day, but...
Christmas Wagon Ride
For another slice of old fashioned nostalgia, we took a little ride around the neighborhood on an old fashioned wagon. It was a nice opportunity to see some of the houses in the area already decked out for the holiday, and my two teenagers suddenly burst into a fit of Christmas carols. Fare to get on the Christmas wagon? A dollar a person. The sight and sounds of two teenaged siblings singing Christmas carols to each other? Priceless.
Money spent: $3.00
Running total: $13.00.
A Little Slice of History
In the middle of all this festive holiday cheer we encountered several houses and businesses that harkened back to Victorian times. We saw a Victorian hearse, an old-fashioned windmill that still genuinely pumped water, and a very nicely furnished full-sized log cabin. For some reason, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex seems to have a large number of places to go to see log cabins. We just encountered some at the Dallas Arboretum.
The North Pole Express
For $18.00 a person, you may ride the North Pole Express, if you wish. This train ride runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday leaving once an hour at the half hour. There's hot chocolate and caroling, and a visit from Santa - who is also hanging out in the stores and walking around on stilts. He's having a busy day. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas, and indeed, we saw several tiny people all dressed up in their PJs for their trip on the train.
My kids are teenagers, and we were on a quest for inexpensive fun. We skipped it, but thought it was worth mentioning.
Instead, we paid $10 for an all-day family pass and hopped on a shuttle that took us to the Texas Gaylord Hotel for an absolutely breathtaking display of Christmas decorations there... but that is a story for another Hub page. The same shuttle system could have taken us to go shopping at Grapevine Mills Outlet Mall.
All-day family shuttle pass: $10.00
Running total: About $23.00
The Glassblowing Studio
One of the highlights of our trip was an experience that I am sorry I could not photograph adaquately - no photography is allowed in this studio. We entered Vetro Glassblowing Studio and slipped to the back where two artisans were shaping glass with tongs and heat. Before our eyes one of the glassblowers turned what looked like a bulb into a funnel, and then fanned it out into the petals of a flower before dipping it into a freezer to harden back into solid glass. For $27 dollars you can ask the artisans to mix different colored glass chips together and create a personalized ornament for you.
My daugher wanted to do this. I asked her if she'd brought her allowance, and... we did not buy an ornament. That day. We may be back.
Dinner and a Show
As the sun went down and our feet got very tired, my children and I went seeking a restaurant that did not have a long waiting list or an overpowering smoking section. This proved a more difficult task than you might think, but we finally found refuge at the Main Street Bistro and Bakery. My son purchased a plain hamburger, my daughter ate some fettuccine alfredo and I sampled the very tasty crepe bistro. We sat outside, and were dazzled as the lights of Grapevine came alive. My son was right. It was AWESOME. The twinkling light show glittered and delighted from every shop and every pole, and in the center of it all was the Light Show Spectactular at the Gazebo. We ate our meal and enjoyed being serenaded by a singing Christmas Tree.
Yes, it's the same tree I showed you earlier.
Cost of dinner for three people: About $30.
Running total for an entire day of shopping and entertainment for three people, complete with meal:
Some of the best money I've spent all year.