ICEGrapevine, Texas, claims to be the Christmas Capitol of Texas — and by the looks of things on a recent visit to this city 20 minutes from Dallas (near DFW airport) I’d have to agree.

Unlike other small town cities that try to really get into the spirit by leveraging the support of its community, Grapevine really does it right. Part of it might be its strong Convention and Tourism Bureau which is so active that it helps host more than 1,400 (!) Christmas events from early November through early January. 

The Gaylord Texan Hotel assaults all of your senses from the minute the car careens its way to the front door. The massive size of the resort is only dwarfed by the size of its atrium which, when I visited, was filled to the brim with Santa’s boots that were a good two stories high, a life-sized gingerbread house, a 52-foot rotating Christmas tree, nutcrackers at every corner and more Christmas ornaments than I could count (I was told there are 12,000 ornaments and 1.5 million holiday lights ~ that sounds about right). It was pretty spectacular. Even more spectacular was when I learned that each of their decorations was made by hand. 

If that wasn’t enough, the hotel hosts ICE! Merry Madagascar. Talk about getting into the spirit of the holidays. Grab a parka (provided to you at the venue) and get ready to walk into a 9 degree Fahrenheit wonderland of ice sculptures like you’ve never seen. More than two million pounds of carved ice featured the lovable characters from the Madagascar films. The attention to detail on these sculptures is remarkable.

Karin, SpecialNeeds TravelingMom loved her Kung Fu Panda Snow Tubing experience (yes, you can do that, too, at the Gaylord Texan Hotel & Resort).  

As much as we loved having out at the Gaylord Texan Hotel, we had to venture out to see the city. Head to Grapevine’s walk-friendly Main Street where you can enjoy a perfectly made Ganache Crème Brulee with your cappuccino from Main Street Bisto and Bakery while shopping more than 80 local shops lining the cobblestone street. 

Rather than a traditional ornament souvenir, stop by Vetro Art Glass where you can make your own glass-blown ornament and meet the artist behind the glass. It’s a great way to experience the city while taking home a beautiful memento.

Vetro Art GlassLest you think Grapevine is just for adults (although, I will admit, we did stop by La Buena Vida Vineyards and Cross Timbers Winery Tasting Room for some delicious adult beverages), kids will enjoy a story played out at its Main Street (636 S. Main Street) 127-foot-high Clock Tower featuring the Glockenspiel characters, known as the Would-Be Train Robbers, Nat Barrett and Willy Majors. Located 75-feet in the air within the Clock Tower, these figures emerge each day shortly before the stroke of noon and 6 p.m. to attempt the perfect heist. Just as Glockenspiels in Europe are rooted in history, Grapevine’s Clock Tower figures reflect the Western lore that many visitors from outside Texas will find interesting and entertaining. 

Kids and adults alike will enjoy checking out the Grapevine Vintage Railroad (705 S. Main Street). If you happen to be visiting on a weekend, you may be able to board the train which runs 22 miles to the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Railroad also is in operation during special events such as North Pole Express®, Day Out With Thomas and Jazz Wine Train throughout the year.

Small towns are the heart of the United States and it’s a delight when you find one like Grapevine that treats both its local residents and its outside guests with such appreciation. And while I was concerned about whether I’d find things to eat when I traveled to Dallas and Grapevine since I’m a vegetarian, I had no problem at all.

Located a quick five minute shuttle bus ride from the Dallas/Fort Worth airport and 20 minutes from Dallas, Grapevine is not to be missed. 

Disclaimer: The Gaylord Texan provided me with accommodations and tickets to ICE! during my stay in Grapevine. My opinions expressed are my own.

Megy Karydes is a freelance journalist focusing on travel, health, sustainable living and fair trade for both consumer and business-to-business media outlets. For her travel adventures, visit Wandering Tastes on Facebook and Twitter or find her online at WanderingTastes. She’s particularly fond of small town American and often writes about local, independent retailers which is why she was so excited to see many of them thriving in Grapevine, Texas.