Friday, July 20, 2018

Things to Do: Grapevine, Texas, 10 fun things to do downtown on Main Street


10 fun things to do downtown on Main Street in Grapevine, Texas
plus an extraordinary place to stay nearby

If you have a 4-plus-hour stopover at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, consider shuttling in to stroll Main Street in Grapevine’s Historic Downtown.  Or extend your stay for 24 hours and spend the night at an extraordinary mega resort.  All of these places except the resort are within easy walking distance of each other.

Main Street in Grapevine, Texas
Main Street in Grapevine, Texas


1.  eat a deep-fried stuffed avocado.  Well known and long-loved Esparza’s Restaurante Mexicano occupies a renovated late 1800s house and is famous for its margaritas and Tex Mex dishes.

stuffed avocado at Esparza's Restaurante Mexicano in Grapevine, Texas
stuffed avocado at Esparza's Restaurante Mexicano in Grapevine, Texas


2.  have a down-home experience at an old-time farm.  A visit to Nash Farm takes you back to 1859.  You’ll see heritage breed farm animals and docents dressed in era clothing.  More.

picking peaches at Nash Farm in Grapevine, Texas
picking peaches at Nash Farm in Grapevine, Texas


3.  visit a complex of historical museums.  The Settlement to City Museums operate within old town buildings here that include a replica ice house, a house museum, a schoolhouse, and a cotton ginner’s museum.  Each holds specific collections.

Settlement to City Museums in Grapevine, Texas
Settlement to City Museums in Grapevine, Texas


4.  witness an Old West shoot-out between Glockenspiel characters in a clock tower.  The 127-foot-high Clock Tower atop the Grapevine Visitors Information Center is home to two 9-foot tall characters--would-be train robbers Nat Barrett and Willy Majors.  They emerge for a 5-minute scheduled show most days, but unfortunately, when I visited, they were no-shows.

exterior of Grapevine Visitors Information Center in Grapevine, Texas
exterior of Grapevine Visitors Information Center in Grapevine, Texas


5.  taste quality dark chocolate in a shop operated by an M.D.  Operating within a cool little shop, Dr. Sue dispenses “chocolate you’ll feel good about eating.”  Dr. Sue’s Chocolates aims to promote a healthier lifestyle and uses no artificial ingredients or “GMO anything.”  Everything is also gluten free.  I adore the cherry-pecan chocolates.

cherry-pecan chocolates at Dr. Sue's Chocolates in Grapevine, Texas
cherry-pecan chocolates at Dr. Sue's Chocolates in Grapevine, Texas


6.  take a ride on a vintage railroad.  Climb aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad for a ride in old-time 1920s rail cars along the historic Cotton Belt Route to the Fort Worth Stockyards.  The engine is sometimes Puffy, an 1896 steam locomotive, and sometimes Vinny, a 1953 GP-7 diesel locomotive.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad ticket office in Grapevine, Texas
Grapevine Vintage Railroad ticket office in Grapevine, Texas


7.  view a gigantic miniature railroad layout.  Back at the stellar Grapevine Visitors Information Center you can enjoy a massive 1,000-square-foot interactive model train layout and a kid’s train yard-themed play area.




lobby of Grapevine Visitors Information Center in Grapevine, Texas
lobby of Grapevine Visitors Information Center in Grapevine, Texas


8.  go wine tasting.  Though it is a surprise to many people to discover there are no vineyards in Grapevine, there are seven winery tasting rooms located along Main Street.  My favorite was Messina Hof Winery Grapevine, which is located in the replica 1920s Wallis Hotel.  I especially liked the GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mavedre) and the Italian Sagrantino--both are dry, delish, and drinkable.

wine tasting at Messina Hof Winery Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas
wine tasting at Messina Hof Winery Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas


9.  make your own blown-glass ornament.  The state-of-the-art facility that is the Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery is the perfect place to try glass-blowing or to just see how it’s done.

working on ornament at Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery in Grapevine, Texas
working on ornament at Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery in Grapevine, Texas


10.  get in the Christmas spirit.  Visit the official Christmas Capitol of Texas in December.  That’s when more than 1,400 events are scheduled over 40+ days.

          And while you’re here, spend the night in the mega Gaylord Texan Resort.  With 1,814 rooms spread though 9 floors, this extravaganza has 4.5 acres of lush indoor gardens and a seasonal water park with indoor and outdoor pools.  Christmas here is a sight to behold--you’ll see more than 2 million twinkling lights, 15,000 ornaments, and a 54-foot-tall Christmas tree--even snow tubing and a carved ICE! exhibit held inside a 9-degree ice tent!



More things to do in Texas.

Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and video ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Good Eats: Amarillo, Texas, Big Texan Steak Ranch


Big Texan Steak Ranch  7701 E I-40, (806) 372-6000.  Daily 7am-10:30pm.

steaks just off the grill at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
steaks just off the grill at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

Back in 1962, Big Texan Steak Ranch owner R.J. “Bob” Lee challenged a dining room full of cowboys to eat as many one-pound steaks as they could within one hour.  One cowboy ate 72 ounces of steak, a baked potato, a shrimp cocktail, a dinner roll, and a salad.  Lee proclaimed that thereafter anyone who could eat that same dinner in one hour would receive the meal for free.  It is now referred to as the 72-ounce Steak Challenge.  So far, almost 100,000 people have won the challenge--that averages out to two people per day.  Bobbie says a “128-pound housewife ate it all in 20 minutes.  She would have eaten my hand, too, if I hadn’t moved it!”  The day I dined here one guy almost did it and another very young fellow from Ohio most definitely did not.

the 72-ounce Steak Challenge at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
the 72-ounce Steak Challenge at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

Happy diners who squeeze into the humongous dining room (it holds around 300 people) can watch this show unfold on a small stage in front of them while wandering cowboys serenade.  But mostly they will be enjoying eating their own well-priced, delicious steak.  I devoured most of my spectacularly tasty 16-ounce bone-in Duke’s Cut ribeye ($23) and sent the rest home for a dining companion’s dog.  Rocky Mountain oysters (aka bull balls) that reputedly taste like chicken hearts are another popular menu item.  Kids meals are served in a cowboy hat they can take home.  And I grew very fond of the “laughing margarita,” which did indeed get me laughing.  My sister suggests, “Sit upstairs near the edge.  It’s really, really fun.”  But I found a prime spot by the kitchen and got to watch the grilling action as well.  Bobbie and Danny, sons of the owner, didn’t want to take over the business, but here they are.  They now also make their own beer and have also opened the Starlight Ranch down the road.  And they want you to come on down--they’ll even send a free limo with Texas longhorns attached to the hood to pick you up and return you to your hotel or campground.

exterior sign at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
exterior sign at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


limo with longhorns attached at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
limo with longhorns attached at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


dining room at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
dining room at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


laughing margaritas at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
laughing margaritas at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


salad at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
salad at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


16-ounce bone-in Duke’s Cut ribeye at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
16-ounce bone-in Duke’s Cut ribeye at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


carrot cake at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
carrot cake at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas


owners Bobbie and Danny at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
owners Bobbie and Danny at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

The Big Texan Steak Ranch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Amarillo.

More things to do in Texas.

Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers