Experience Holiday Magic in Grapevine, The Christmas Capital of Texas
Christmas can't be officially trademarked, but historic Grapevine, Texas, just north of Dallas and Fort Worth, has given it a shot. The state senate issued a proclamation 10 years ago declaring this town the Christmas Capital of Texas.
Grapevine hosts 1,400 events in just 40 days, including the biggest Christmas parade in North Texas, with over 100 floats. You'll see enough string lights to outshine the runway at DFW Airport. And there are 80 shops and boutiques, as well as bustling bistros and wineries.
But Christmas in Grapevine is about a lot more than food and retail. Chris Garcia, while meandering through town and checking out over-the-top storefronts, says it reminds him of the German Christmas markets he saw growing up, when his U.S. military family was stationed overseas: "If you're coming to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it's really the town to visit."
All this holiday cheer requires months of planning. Grapevine's goal is to make every storefront a photo op so the shoppers are Instagramming and snapping family pictures, says Jessica Cruz, who owns the Texas General Store and is vice president of the Historic Downtown Grapevine Association: "The Main Street experience is interactive—it's more than just shopping."
On a chilly North Texas night, you'll see couples strolling from one winery tasting room to another or taking in a holiday classic at the restored Palace Theater. And the Farmers Market of Grapevine stays open into the evening.
The overall holiday spectacle here attracts locals as well as tourists. Many of them show up for big events, like the lighting of Main Street in November and the Christmas parade, while others just enjoy cruising through town to see the lights. "It's my kids' favorite thing to do over winter break," says Grapevine native Kate Burkhart. But about 20 years ago, Main Street wasn't exactly humming. It took a community effort to make it a destination.
Coming soon is Hotel Vin, a six-story, 120-room boutique property set to open in the summer of 2020. It will be part of Grapevine Main, a mixed-use project opening early next year with a new TEXRail depot, a parking deck, and the dining and entertainment venue Harvest Hall.
For now, Grapevine's Christmas Light Show Spectacular and other holiday events will keep the party going through New Year's.
What To Do
Board the Grapevine Vintage Railroad's Christmas Wine Train for a date-night dinner with complimentary vino. (The train also caters to families with its North Pole Express rides.) On the Urban Wine Trail, sample vintages from Messina Hof, Umbra, Sloan & Williams Winery (which has live music on weekends and touts its tasting room as the largest in town), and Bingham Family Vineyards (producing wines made entirely from Texas-grown grapes). Grapevine Wine Tours can set up a four-hour excursion for you.
Shop Good Things for All Seasons to find your deck-the-halls necessities. Look for stylish wraps, jewelry, and more at clothiers like Ooh La La! and The Palm Tree Boutique. For Country French-style pieces, visit Red Shed Cottage Chic Antiques on Church Street, just one block off Main. "You have to leave Main Street to get to undiscovered gems," says co-owner Valarie Jolly. Find gifts for all your favorite foodies at Grapevine Olive Oil Company. Also not to be missed are the gourmet confectionery Dr. Sue's Chocolate, Hole in the Wall gift shop, and Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Fine Art Gallery.
Where To Eat
Winewood Grill serves comfort food with a twist, such as their creamy mac and cheese with smoked Gouda sauce. Great Scott specializes in "whole animal butchery." Select the cut of the day, or go for espresso-rubbed elk or Texas redfish with herb sauce.
For casual options, try chef Gabriel DeLeon's inventive fusion of Mexico City classics with the flavors of Santa Fe and Tex-Mex cuisine at Mi Dia from Scratch. Head to Fireside Pies for a Neapolitan or Prosciutto & Parm pizza cooked on an open-flame firepit. At bustling Chez Fabien, owner Fabien Goury's menu is an expansion of popular Main Street Bakery & Bistro next door. Revelers gather at Hop & Sting Brewing Co. for craft brews, including Remedio Southwest Wit, with Texas-grown sage and lavender.
Given the authentic Texas flavor of this place, you can imagine Santa trading his red cap and black boots for a Stetson and a pair of Tony Lamas before landing here. And if Rudolph is feeling poorly, not to worry. Dasher and company can just follow all the 747s flying into DFW.
Where To Stay
Grapevine has family-friendly lodging, while nearby Arlington is home to inns great for couples.
Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, for those who want to experience a major holiday extravaganza.
Great Wolf Lodge, perfect for keeping the kids entertained.
The Sanford House Inn & Spa, for the grown-ups who want to enjoy luxury and privacy.
The Thornton Inn Bed & Breakfast, ideal for those who want to experience a historic home that serves high tea.