Grapevine 3

Twas the day trip before Christmas and all through the state, the towns were decked out, and Chet could not wait.” We always say, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” and the phrase definitely applies to the way we celebrate Christmas, especially in Grapevine, the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” Donning my best reindeer sweater and Santa hat, I pranced to the metroplex to catch the holiday spirit.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS.
Contact the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800/457-6338.

10:00 a.m.: I parked my sleigh at the Gaylord Texan Resort and walked into a lobby filled with millions of
dazzling lights. I tipped my hat to giant toy soldiers and Texas-size Santa boots. The gingerbread houses were so big I considered moving in. But most astonishing was the indoor snow hill tucked into a conference room. I grabbed a tube, sped down the hill, and then got in line to do it again.

11:00 a.m.: While the snow was cold, it was nothing compared to the Gaylord’s ICE! exhibit, which is kept at a frigid nine degrees. Luckily, the ticket price includes the use of a heavy parka. I walked through the winding display of towering ice sculptures, amazed at the detail and color of reindeer, elves, and old Kris Kringle.
My favorite was the Nativity scene, reminding me of the true meaning of Christmas. The sculptures were breathtaking, but I was about to turn into a block of ice myself and decided to step outside.

12:15 p.m.: It was lunchtime and there’s no better way to warm up in Grapevine than beside the smoking pits at Meat U Anywhere BBQ. My plate of brisket, pork loin, and sausage was so good I wouldn’t mind finding this tasty ’cue under my Christmas tree.

1:15 p.m.: After lunch, I went to Main Street, the heart of this Texas-style North Pole. Lights and garlands covered every light post, and Santa Claus waved on every corner; I count-ed over a dozen, and I’m still not sure which was the real one. As I window-shopped, I stepped into the tinsel-covered Good Things for all Seasons to pick up some decorations for my Daytripper Tree. Of the hundreds of ornaments, I figured the barbecue, cowboy-boot, and beer-glass ornaments would do the trick!

2:30 p.m.: While it was winter, in Texas there’s never a bad time for ice cream. So I stopped into Napoli’s Italian Café for a bowl of cappuccino-flavored gelato. It was delicious, but soon my stomach was as round as jolly St. Nick’s, and I decided to go for a walk.

4:00 p.m.: In search of the perfect gift for my wife, I discovered Vetro Glassblowing, which was hosting make-your-own ornament sessions. Standing just feet from a 2,000-degree oven, the glassblowers helped me turn a glowing ball of melted glass into a stunning handmade ornament.

6:00 p.m.: It was time for dinner, and what could be more appropriate at Christmastime than the colors red and green? I headed to Esparza’s Restaurante Mexicano for a feast of green guacamole and red pico de gallo, followed by a plate of roja and verde enchiladas. Feliz Navidad to me! Just as I finished my meal, I heard a train whistling in the distance.

7:00 p.m.: I arrived at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad in time to hop aboard the North Pole Express. Wearing my worst pink bunny pajamas—in the spirit of the movie A Christmas Story—I joined the children hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Claus. We sang Christmas carols with the elves and arrived at a magical place filled with snow and Christmas trees. It could only be … the North Pole. We entered the toyshop to discover none other than Santa himself.

I sipped my frosty chocolate snow milk and remembered why this really is the most wonderful time of the year. From snow sledding to ornament-making, I definitely had one holly, jolly day in our Christmas capital.

So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.

From the December 2016 issue

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