Guest article By Kathleen Walls
Editor of American Roads & Global Highways
The Gaylord Texan Resort is just six miles from DFW Airport. You can grab a Super Shuttle to the resort for $13. The Gaylord Texan is a total resort. There are dining, shops, pools, a spa, a fitness center, and pretty much everything you need to have a wonderful time without leaving the resort. You never have to worry about weather as the 4.5 acres of lush indoor gardens and Riverwalk are covered and climate controlled. If you’re traveling with kids, they can pop down the rabbit hole with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this summer.
But there is too much else to see and do so head out to visit Grapevine’s historic downtown. No car? No problem. There’s a shuttle that takes you all over downtown for $10 per family. The historic downtown area is filled with shops antiques, boutiques and so many art galleries like Great American West Gallery, Giddens Gallery of Fine Art, Holder Dane Art Gallery & Studio and Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery.
Grapevine is big on art and you find examples all around without ever entering a gallery. There are the bronze statures of a group of children skating called “Sunday Skaters” in front of Wine Fusion Winery. Just across the street atop Bingham Family Vineyards you will see “The Night Watchman” representing Grapevine’s first policeman.
That block is interesting as each building is designed to replicate a certain time in Grapevine’s history. The Convention and Visitors Center is on the corner and a great place to get information about the town’s attractions.
To keep your spirits up there are lots of wine tasting rooms here. You might stop by Homestead Winery at 211 E. Worth St. just a block off Main Street. It’s housed in a 100 year-old Victorian home. There’s Messina Hof Winery Grapevine which has won countless awards for their wines as well as many others all within walking distance.
Grapevine’s populular downtown attraction is a 127-foot-high Clock Tower featuring two 9-foot tall Glockenspiel characters, the Would-Be Train Robbers, Nat Barrett and Willy Majors. The bandits emerge on a platform 75-feet in the air within the clock tower each day at the noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to prepare for the perfect robbery.
If you love museums as much as I do, you will be thrilled with the collection of Settlement to City Museums at Ted R. Ware Plaza just about a block from the tower. It features a collection of historic houses from the area. Each had a different museum within. The Keeling House Museum was built in 1888 and features Grapevine artifacts, and lots of their old police and firefighter treasures. Their Settlement to City collection tells Grapevine’s early history.
The Donald Schoolhouse offers a lesson on how Grapevine’s education system grew. As small as this house is, the docent told us it had once been two different one room schoolhouses and they were combined way back to make a two room schoolhouse.
Grapevine Historical Museum is the largest of the museums and is housed in the replica of the original Grapevine Ice House. One exhibit really sums up what this museum is about. It is called Memories to Melt the Heart and is comprised of letters and notes from the citizens who have happy memories of the ice house. One reads “The ice house was an oasis for me! The weather was hot and the ice house was always so cool. I could always find a stray piece of ice to wash off my face and pop into my mouth for the rest of my bike ride home after school.” –Terry Tillman.
There is an old Cotton Ginners Museum which was not yet open when I visited but the docents told me it would be open by next spring as they are waiting for an authentic cotton gin which is presently in North Carolina and needs to be brought here and set up.
Tolbert’s is where the locals have been dining for 28 years. It recently reopened in Historic Downtown Grapevine. It’s a great place to have lunch. I loved the Bowl of Red, their take on chili con carne, but you can also get steaks, burgers, salads, soups and many other local favorites.
My favorite Grapevine treasure is Nash Farm. In 1859, Thomas Jefferson Nash came from Kentucky to the Grape Vine Prairie to find a good life for his family. He was impressed with the land and bought the farm for $500. It proved to be a good investment.
Thomas served in the Confederate army but the farm survived and remained in the family. It prospered until 1927, when Thomas’s descendents sold it. In subsequent years it passed through different hands. Much of the land was sold. Then in 1997, the remaining 5.2 acres with house, barn and family cemetery was bought by the Grapevine Heritage Foundation. You can tour and see chickens, turkeys, sheep, local crops and life as it was in Grapevine’s early years.
By now, you may be in need of refreshment. Head over to DeLaney Winery. Besides tasting the wine, you can see how it is bottled and even visit the small vineyard on the premises. Most of the grapes are grown at a different location near Lubbock and bottled there but enough are grown and bottled here to get a real feeling for the entire process. The building itself is a work of art. It’s modeled on a historic French chateau. I particularly liked the mural on the entryway ceiling.
For supper you have a lot of choices from fast food to upscale. Mac’s on Main is a good
choice for traditional American fare. It’s quite eclectic, combining southwestern, Cajun and worldwide foods. The Winewood offers an open kitchen with a wood fire grill where you can watch the chef at work. A Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese is one of their specials. Farina’s Winery & Café is filled with antiques and had an old world atmosphere with everything from pizza to steak.
Head to the Grapevine Vintage Railroad in Historic Downtown Grapevine and climb aboard an authentic 1920’s Victorian coach for a train trip along the historic Cotton Belt Route that travels from Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards most weekends throughout the year. The beautifully restored coaches are pulled by two vintage locomotives: “Puffy,” the 1896 steam locomotive that just so happens to be the oldest continuously operating steam engine in the South. Then there’s “Vinny,” a 1953 GP-7 diesel locomotive. Day or night, the train is a step back to a more luxurious time.
What a perfect place to spend a day or more. There is so much more to see and do in Grapevine you can’t experience it all in just one day. You have to come see even more of Grapevine for yourself.