Festive Ways to Get Your Family in the Holiday Spirit
Winter break brings celebrations, decorations and lots of food and fun. But it also means kids have boundless energy that they're not spending on school and after-school activities. With nothing but time, cabin fever can set in REAL quick. There are lots of ways to get out of the house, get into the holiday spirit and have fun without breaking the bank. Here is just a sampling of the many holiday-themed events that North Texas has to offer, many of them with no admission charge.
Check out the lights.
Holiday lights are magical for all ages. Here are some of the best local displays.
Christmas in the Square – A fun adventure for the whole family! More than 175,000 bulbs make this the largest choreographed holiday lights and music display in Texas. Festive events and “Winter Wonderland” snow flurries on weekends. Tune your radio to 107.3 while you're in Frisco Square.
Highland Park – This prestigious community and shopping area knows how to decorate for the holidays. You can drive through (be sure to see the lights on Beverly Drive) or take a step back in time with a carriage ride for two or the whole family. Armstrong Parkway at Preston Road in Dallas.
Interlochen – 2016 marks the 41st anniversary of The Lights at Interlochen, and some residents have decorated every year. Begin your route at Randol Mills Road and Westwood Drive in Arlington.
Prairie Lights – Four million lights along two miles of path, a Holiday Village with seasonal treats, gifts and Santa plus an all-new indoor laser show and the Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Thru Forest make this a festive, family-friendly excursion. Located in Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie.
TIP: Traffic can be bumper to bumper for these lighted drives, especially on weekends, so plan accordingly.
Totally Texan attraction.
Gaylord Texan – This is a must-see every year for our family as the atrium just frankly puts you in the holiday spirit. It's a Lone Star Christmas, with more than two million twinkling lights and larger-than-life decorations. If your budget allows, there are plenty of fun activities for the whole family, including ICE! — an indoor winter wonderland featuring hand-carved ice sculptures and two-story-tall ice slides — plus snow tubing, ice skating, The Elf on the Shelf® scavenger hunt and more.
If you have a train lover in your family, don't miss these miniature and real-size railroad adventures.
The Trains at NorthPark – The Trains at NorthPark have been rolling since 1987, raising money for Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. The display includes more than 4,000 feet of holiday-trimmed, train-themed environments where trains travel 1,600 feet of track on a journey across America. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children; located on Level Two NorthPark Center between Macy's and Nordstrom in Dallas.
TIP: Even indoor activities can have hidden dangers. Wear proper walking shoes to avoid tripping and falling on city pavement and steps. Carry a cell phone with emergency contact and medical information, including your closest Medical City ER.
North Pole Express®/Grapevine Vintage Railroad – Wear your holiday jammies to this popular event, where you'll board beautifully decorated Victorian Rail coaches at the Historic Cotton Belt Depot platform. As the train leaves the station, Santa's helpers entertain guests with sing-along Christmas carols. Arriving at the North Pole, travelers walk along a snowy Christmas tree trail and are treated to commemorative treats and magical moments with Mrs. Claus and Santa. 705 Main Street in Grapevine.
TIP: Have your kiddos dressed appropriately. The weather in Texas can change in a moment's notice, so pack extra warm gear, such as coats, gloves and hats, for those cold snaps.
Be a local tourist.
Tackle the local tourist attractions. Sure you know they're there, but oftentimes things are simply too busy for you to check them out. Some fun things to do in the area include:
Geo-Deck at Reunion Tower – Atop that big ball at the west end of downtown, you'll get a bird's-eye view, 470 feet above the ground, of downtown and farther afield. It's one of the best places to see the layout of Dealey Plaza, and you'll also get a great view of the Trinity River. 300 Reunion Blvd. East in Dallas.
Holiday at the Arboretum – Featuring the return of the magnificent 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit and the Claus Collection Santa Exhibit in the DeGolyer House, as well as 500,000 lights and a variety of holiday music throughout the gardens at night. 8525 Garland Rd. in Dallas.
Burn some calories.
Christmas cookies, holiday dinners, more cookies … do I need to say more? Get active and burn off those calories. Your kids will thank you, too, for getting them off the couch. Trampoline parks, paintball, rock climbing ... you name it, DFW has it!
Panther Island Ice at Coyote Drive-In is Fort Worth's only outdoor ice rink (open November 18 through January 16) and is the perfect place to show off your cool moves over the holidays.
Laura Thornquist, North Texas mother of two to Nicholas and Ava, shares ways to save and live in the Metroplex, scattered with straightforward, honest and down-to-earth advice on being a mommy and wife while still taking the time to treat yourself on her blog, MyDFWMommy.