Oh, you think you've seen it all, don’t you? Spent enough time traipsing around cookie-cutter downtown areas that you've started to confuse one Starbucks location for another. Well, brace yourself, my city-weary friend. Because historic downtown Grapevine, Texas is about to smack that jaded look right off your face.
This charming pocket of the Lone Star State serves up a heaping helping of history, with a side of small-town charm and a dash of North Texas wine-country sophistication. The buildings here have character, the people have that Texan hospitality, and let’s not even get started on the food. If you can spare a few precious moments of your no-doubt hectic schedule to peel away from the bustle of the big cities, you just might find yourself pleasantly surprised by the vibrant world tucked away in this little corner of Texas.
So, chuck your misconceptions, roll up your sleeves, and let’s dive into the things you can do when you're not too busy underestimating historic downtown Grapevine.
History of Downtown Grapevine: Betcha Didn't Know This
Sure, you're one of those people who rolls their eyes at history lessons. Don't lie, we've all been there. But hear me out. Grapevine has a history that's worth listening to – a tale of pioneers, resilience, and enough charm to give "Gone with the Wind" a run for its money.
Founded in 1844, this lil' ol' town is as old as Texas itself, which, in case you didn't know, is pretty darn old. Grapevine started as a settlement in the crossroads of major trails and has now grown into a hub that seamlessly marries the rustic charm of yesteryears with the cosmopolitan vibes of today. See, I told you it's interesting.
Breakfast in a Local Café: Fuel Up, Buttercup
Alright, enough about history, you came here for the action. Let's kick off your journey into Grapevine with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. And no, grabbing a granola bar on the go won't cut it.
Got a sweet tooth? Head to Main Street Bakery & Bistro, where the pastries could give a French patisserie a run for their money. More of a coffee connoisseur? The baristas at Redefined Coffee House have got you covered. Their brew is so good, you'll be questioning the existence of Starbucks. And if you're after something a bit healthier, RE:defined Cafe has some options that are as tasty as they are good for you. Who knew eating your greens could be so satisfying?
Visit the Grapevine Vintage Railroad: Chug-a-lug into History
Once you're all filled up and caffeinated, it's time to hit the tracks. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad isn't just some rusty piece of machinery - oh no. It's a living, breathing testament to the days when steam engines ruled the world. Or at least, ruled Texas.
This ain't no ordinary train ride. Stepping into the vintage coaches, you’ll feel like you’ve teleported to the 1920s, minus the prohibition, of course. Conveniently located at 705 S. Main Street, you'd be remiss to miss out on this experience. Do check their schedule though; we wouldn’t want you to show up and find the only thing riding those rails is tumbleweed.
Got some time to kill? Check out the vintage railroad equipment on display. It's like stepping into a time capsule, just without the uncomfortable "being sealed in a tiny space" part. Plus, the folks who run the place are always ready to share a nugget or two about the history of railroads in the region. Pretty nifty, eh?
By now, you should have a pretty good sense of why Grapevine is a spot that deserves your attention, and not just a passing glance from behind your overly-trendy sunglasses. Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and the occasional loving jibe about how to get the most out of your visit to Grapevine.
Grapevine Historic Main Street District: Stepping into a Time Machine
If you’re not completely enthralled by historic Grapevine, by now, then bless your heart, you’re about to be. Ready to walk down memory lane? Well, then trot over to the historic Main Street district. It's like stepping into a well-preserved sepia-toned photograph, except everything is in full-color and there's probably an ice cream shop around the corner.
Main Street is not your ordinary strip of asphalt with painted lines. Nope, it's a living, breathing testimony to the city's past and present, housed in charming 19th and 20th-century buildings that are way more Instagrammable than your morning latte. We're talking more than 80 locally-owned restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries. Who needs a mall when you can get lost in a labyrinth of local flavor?
And while you're there, keep an eye out for the public art installations. These pieces aren't just eye candy; they’re stories told in metal, paint, and stone. They’re like Grapevine’s tattoos - each one with a story to tell, if you’re willing to listen.
Visit Local Museums and Galleries: Culture Vulture Alert
Think museums are just for school field trips and rainy days? Think again. Grapevine is chock-full of galleries and museums that’ll put the 'awe' in 'awesome.'
Start your cultural deep-dive at the Tower Gallery. No, it's not a building full of different tower designs (though that would be pretty cool). It’s a vibrant hub for local arts and culture exhibits. Get ready to soak in some creativity that can’t be found on your Pinterest board.
Next, make your way to the Grapevine Historical Museum. Yeah, I know, we covered a bit of grapevine convention history earlier. But trust me, this place takes it to another level. Step inside and you'll find yourself transported to a time when iPhones were just a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye.
And finally, cap off your artsy adventure at the Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery. Here, the air is thick with creativity - and furnace heat. Watch spellbound as skilled artists blow blobs of molten glass into stunning pieces of art. They make it look so easy, you'll be tempted to give it a try. But unless you've got a fire extinguisher handy, I'd suggest sticking to window shopping.
So, there you have it, another chapter in your Grapevine saga. Stay tuned as we continue to peel back the layers of this charming little city. Remember, it's not about the destination, it's about the snarky blog posts you read along the way.
Lunch on Main Street: Forget Your Diet, Seriously
What's that? Your stomach's grumbling? Well, that's your cue to explore the culinary delights Main Street has to offer. And boy, does it have offerings. On this strip, you'll find cuisines as diverse as the city's history. So loosen your belt and prepare to feast.
Craving Italian? Farina's Winery & Cafe is where carbs and comfort collide in a delicious dance. Trust me, their lasagna could make a grown man cry tears of joy. Or maybe Mexican is more your thing? Head over to Mi Dia From Scratch, where the flavors are as vibrant as a Texan sunset. Not feeling either? Well, Tolbert's Restaurant & Chili Parlor will welcome you with open arms and North Texas-sized servings of their famous chili. Or the relatively new Harvest Hall that harkens back to the train days with some nice food and drink options. Go ahead, put your diet on pause. It’ll still be there when you’re done savoring the flavors of Grapevine.
Explore Grapevine's Wineries: It's Wine O'Clock
So, you've had a taste of the local fare, how about washing it down with some of the finest wines Texas has to offer? After all, Grapevine isn't just a cute name - this town has the vineyards to back it up.
Feeling sociable? Why not jump on a Grapevine Wine Tour? You'll not only get to sip on local Texas wine offerings, but you'll also get a bit of insider info about the winemaking process. I mean, who knew grape stomping was an actual thing outside of "I Love Lucy" reruns?
Prefer to wander off the beaten wine tasting path? Well, aren’t you adventurous? Some recommended wineries for you to explore include Messina Hof Grapevine Winery, Umbra Winery, and Sloan & Williams Winery. Each offers a unique twist on the world of wine, so even if you don’t know your pinot from your merlot, you’ll still enjoy yourself.
So there you have it, yet another chapter in your Grapevine adventure. We've feasted, we've sipped, and we've managed to keep our snark intact. But don’t put those walking shoes away just yet; we're just getting started. Stay tuned for more of Grapevine's charm, complete with an extra side of sass.
Check out the Palace Theatre: Broadway's Got Nothing on This
Fresh from your winery escapades, it's time to soak in some culture. And what better place than the Historic Palace Theatre? This art-deco beauty isn't just easy on the eyes; it’s a hub for local talent. It’s like the "America's Got Talent" of downtown Grapevine, minus the buzzer.
And guess what? They don't just do live performances. On certain nights, during special events, you can catch a movie showing. Just imagine it – munching on popcorn while you lounge in the plush seats of a restored theatre, watching a movie as it was meant to be seen. So, check the schedule and grab a ticket. Who knows? You might just catch the next Meryl Streep in action.
Shopping at Farmers Market of Grapevine: Fresh Finds and Happy Vibes
By now, your Instagram followers are probably turning green with envy at your Grapevine exploits. But don’t stop now. Head over to the Farmers Market of Grapevine to give them some more FOMO.
Here, the motto is "fresh and local," and they aren't kidding. From organic produce that would make a vegan weep with joy, to artisan goods that put supermarket shelves to shame, this is where you want to be for a slice of local life. So grab a basket, roll up your sleeves, and prepare to shop like a true Texan.
Dinner at a Local Restaurant: The Final Food Frontier
After all that shopping, you're bound to be hungry. So let's wrap up your day with a dinner worthy of a Texas-sized appetite. Esparza's Restaurante Mexicano, Mac's On Main, and Napoli's Italian Cafe are just some of the restaurants ready to serve up a meal you'll be dreaming about for days.
And if you still have some energy left (seriously, where do you get it from?), catch a live music performance at a local venue like the Glass Cactus Nightclub. Trust me, there's nothing like some good music to wrap up an epic day in downtown Grapevine.
Remember, this isn't a rigid checklist. It's more like a road map to guide your Grapevine adventure. So feel free to veer off course and explore some detours. You never know what you might stumble upon in this vibrant slice of Texas. Stay flexible, keep your sense of humor intact, and most importantly, enjoy the journey!
Willhoite's Restaurant: Where History Meets Hunger and Booze
You didn't think I'd leave you without mentioning Willhoite's Restaurant, did you? Oh, come on. This isn't just another restaurant in downtown Grapevine. This is a food institution nestled inside a historic landmark. In other words, it's a double whammy of culture and cuisine that you wouldn't want to miss.
Here's the lowdown: Willhoite's Restaurant has been serving up smiles since 1914. Yes, you read that right. This place has been around longer than your grandma's secret meatloaf recipe. The restaurant is housed in what was once the largest garage in Texas. And now? It's dishing out meals that would make any petrol-head trade their wheels for a fork.
Booze booze booze
Alright, you've feasted on the delicious grub at Willhoite's, but don't loosen that belt buckle just yet. We're not quite done here. You see, Willhoite's isn't just known for its food. Nope. It's a superstar in the libations department too. Let's raise a glass to that.
With an impressive drink selection that would make a sommelier blush, Willhoite's is the place to be for some downtown Grapevine liquid merriment. So whether you're a wine aficionado, a craft beer connoisseur, or you just enjoy a good old-fashioned cocktail, this joint has got you covered.
Check out their local brews that might just give your hipster craft-beer joints a run for their money. Or explore their wine list that reads like a who's who of the vineyard world. For the cocktail lovers, their mixed drinks are not just concoctions; they're creations. And don't forget to try their famous frozen margarita. It's as cool as a Texan winter and as sweet as southern hospitality.
Grapevine: The Christmas Capital of Texas, Yes, You Heard That Right
Now, I've shown you the sights, sounds, and, most importantly, the tastes of downtown Grapevine. But if you really want to see this city shine, you need to visit during the Christmas season. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this place out-Santas Santa Claus himself.
Imagine, if you will, more than a million twinkling lights transforming the city into a festive wonderland. Picture horse-drawn carriage rides through snow-kissed streets, an old-fashioned Christmas parade, and, for the Grinches amongst us, a wine train (yes, more wine!) decked out in full holiday cheer. All this, and we've not even scratched the surface.
Think Christmas markets overflowing with local crafts, food, and the most decadent hot chocolate this side of the North Pole. And let's not forget about ICE! No, I'm not talking about the stuff you slip on. This is an awe-inspiring display of ice sculptures crafted by a team of world-renowned artisans. You might want to pack an extra sweater for this one.
But the real cherry on this Christmas cake? The North Pole Express. A genuine vintage railroad trip complete with caroling, festive entertainment, and a special gift from Santa himself. It's enough to melt the frostiest of hearts.
Off the Beaten Path...Slightly
Here’s a pro tip for you, my fellow wanderlusters. If you want to get to the heart of a place, don’t just visit the shiny new spots. Dig a little deeper. Immerse yourself in the culture. Breathe in the history. And there's no better place to start than Founders Plaza.
Explore the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial, a tribute to the crew members who lost their lives on that fateful day. Plus some great plane spotting...check it out.
Since I currently live in Grapevine I like to keep my 'culinary' options open and try new things...across the broad spectrum, as it were. In that vein I recently tried some gourmet Racetrac pizza and share my thoughts on it. (Ok, it's not gourmet, but it sounded exciting. But I was surprised so check it out)
Grapevine Mills: Shop 'Til You Drop or Just Until Your Feet Hurt
Let's take a little detour from the heart of downtown Grapevine and venture to the mecca of retail therapy, the cathedral of consumerism, the one and only Grapevine Mills. Now, I won't sugarcoat it – this place is a beast. With over 1.6 million square feet of retail goodness, you could fit a small country inside. Or at the very least, a few football fields.
Alright, my intrepid explorer, we've wandered through downtown Grapevine together, from the Main Street cafes to the vintage railroad, the historic Palace Theatre to the Farmers Market. We've feasted like kings at Willhoite's and quenched our thirst with Texas-sized libations. And, just when you thought you couldn't handle any more, we dove into the festive fiesta that is Christmas in Grapevine. So, do you need more reasons to pack your bags? Didn't think so.
Q: Where can I get a good breakfast in downtown Grapevine? A: You can start your day at local cafes like Main Street Bakery & Bistro, Redefined Coffee House, or RE:defined Cafe.
Q: Is there anything historic to see in Grapevine? A: Absolutely! The Grapevine Vintage Railroad and the Palace Theatre are worth a visit. The city's Historic Main Street District has preserved 19th and 20th-century buildings and hosts unique public art installations.
Q: Are there any museums or galleries to visit? A: Sure are. Check out the Tower Gallery, Grapevine Historical Museum, and Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery.
Q: I'm a foodie, where should I go for lunch and dinner? A: Main Street is a great place for both, with restaurants like Farina's Winery & Cafe, Mi Dia From Scratch, or Tolbert's Restaurant & Chili Parlor for lunch. For dinner, Esparza's Restaurante Mexicano, Mac's On Main, or Napoli's Italian Cafe are great choices.
Q: I've heard Grapevine has wineries, is that true? A: Yep. Grapevine is famous for its local vineyards and wineries. Check out Grapevine Wine Tours or explore grapevine events on your own. Messina Hof Grapevine Winery, Umbra Winery, and Sloan & Williams Winery are some of the local favorites.
Q: I've heard a lot about Willhoite's Restaurant, should I go there? A: You bet! Willhoite's Restaurant is a historic landmark that serves up delicious food and an impressive selection of drinks.
Q: Is it true that Grapevine is the Christmas Capital of Texas? A: During the festive season, the main street fest the city by lake grapevine transforms into a wonderland with a million twinkling lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, an old-fashioned Christmas parade, markets, a spectacular ice sculpture display, and even a special North Pole Express train ride.
[All Photos: Kenneth Holland except noted otherwise]