Around this time last year, we embarked on our first blended-family road trip to the Grand Canyon.
We packed up the minivan and the kids, ages 11, 8 and 2, and drove to Flagstaff, Ariz., where we encountered a snowglobe-worthy setting. The first thing the kids wanted to do was go sledding in the powdered snow, so we bought a couple of sleds near the hotel and ventured out to a suggested state park.
Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the park was closed. The park ranger winked and pointed west. “Go down there between these two mile markers and turn right,” he said. “You’ll find the best sledding hill — and it’s free.”
He was right: What we found was a winter wonderland of sledding. It was priceless local advice, and it reminded me that you don’t have to go hundreds of miles away to capture that wintry mix of merriment and wonder. As the recent icy blast that has hit North Texas has proved, sometimes, it’s best to stay at home. Although North Texas may not have snow-capped mountains or secret sledding hideaways, there are a few nearby treasures that will give you a taste of winter wonder.
Let it snow
So you may be sick of ice, but what about snow? An added attraction at the Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway gives the kids a chance to play in 100 tons of the white stuff. The Snow Village has a tubing hill, play area and, of course, the requisite photo opportunity on Santa’s lap. Start your visit with a drive through the holiday lights display.
Each year, the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine transforms into a Christmas town. You won’t even have to go outside to enjoy the dazzling holiday displays, the 54-foot-tall rotating Christmas tree or The Nutcracker-themed ICE! exhibit. Families find plenty to gawk at and do, with 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and slides, a new interactive display that transports visitors to the sights and sounds of New York City, and Kung Fu Panda snow tubing.
The new outdoor ice skating rink at Fort Worth’s Panther Island Pavilion is a great place for beginning skaters. The covered rink, at the Coyote Drive-In movie theater, is small and cozy, and snacks and cocoa are plentiful at the adjacent Coyote Canteen, which has ample covered seating. If the kids aren’t worn out by skating, a few hours spent scampering up Panther Island’s great rock wall area will do the trick.