Friday, March 22, 2013

Traveling to Dallas, Allen & Grapevine, Texas with KIDS!!!

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Chris and I love taking the kids to Dallas. This time we went back for a little R&R...you see, our house sprung a leak again. It appears that the fittings that were used are having issues so while we were gone they were all replaced. Hallelujah!

Anyway, back to the point. We love going to Dallas because it's within driving distance from our house and I don't know about you, but flying with a 2 and 4 year old does not top my list of things I'd like to do. My car with it's DVD players is our friend!

So, I was in Dallas and tweeting about some of the fun things we were doing and a couple of my twitter friends asked for more info. I sent them emails because it was just too much to tweet and then more people asked. I decided maybe it would be a good idea to just write a post. 

Here it is - a list of things to do with little ones in Dallas and the surrounding areas!



Allen

If you haven't visited Allen, you are missing out. Why? This cute, clean, new looking little town has the BEST OUTLET MALL E-VAH! Can you tell I love a good outlet? They have my very favorites: Le Creuset (I've even called them and ordered over the phone), J.Crew, Last Call by Neiman Marcus etc. You can view a full list here.

Don't laugh but this makes my list...they have an In-N-Out burger. It's new and awesome. And order some animal style fries for me. (PS - They have them in Dallas too).

There is also a Whole Foods here. I love that place. In fact, I love it so much that when we come I bring an ice chest and we stop there on the way home. This is what foodie bloggers do. ;-)

If you've got little ones with you that need to burn off some energy, check out Celebration Park. It's huge and awesome and my kids played for over an hour there one day. They LOVED it! I think it had a splash pad too but it was too cold outside, so it wasn't on. Don't quote me on that though! You can see more info on it here

Last but not least, check out Big Ray's BBQ on Main Street. Order the ribs and get a side of banana pudding. Your taste buds will thank me.

As far as hotels go, the only one we've stayed at here is the Homewood Suites. I highly recommend it. Is it 5 stars? Nope. But if you have little ones its really practical! We stayed in a (very affordable) 2 bedroom suite. Brayden had a room, we had a room and Brody's pack-in-play went in the living room. It was awesome. They also have a full continental breakfast (waffles, sausage, bagels, ham and cheese sandwiches etc) and they serve dinner each night too. I think dinner is actually free but don't hold me to that - we never ate dinner there.

Dallas

What isn't there to do in Dallas?

How about we discuss a few of my personal favorites?

The Dallas Zoo is great. This is the second time we've gone and the kids had a blast. It is SO fun. It hasn't been busy either time we've gone. In fact, both times, we parked literally right in front of the entrance and has less than a minutes walk to get in. The kids get to feed the giraffes (it costs about $5) and go through a children's petting area (with horses, pigs, rabbits etc). The exhibits are great. There are: tigers, lions, (bears, oh my! just kidding, I don't think they had bears) penguins, koala bears, elephants, giraffes etc. They also have camel rides!

You can bring your own ice chests in along with snacks which is nice because a bottle of water is crazy expensive once you're inside. Oh, and you can ride a camel too! My boys had a blast there!

Affiliated with the zoo is the Dallas World Aquarium. It's not the only aquarium in Dallas (this trip we went to the Children's Aquarium at Fairpark (more on that later) but we like it the best. The exhibits are pretty good, but don't expect to be blown away if you've been to any of the big players (like the Monterey Bay Aquarium). It's not overly stroller friendly in my opinion, especially if you have a side by side. 

The Children's Aquarium, is much smaller but also way more little kid friendly. The exhibits are more on their level and there is a sting ray bay where the kids can actually pet the stingrays. Overall, the staff there is more friendly and helpful and it was not crowded by any means. Figuring out where to park is difficult because the signage is REALLY poor. 

Of course there is also the Dallas Galleria. If you have older kids, check out the ice skating rink on the bottom level. The shopping is great and you can stay onsite at the Westin Hotel. We've stayed there countless times and as much as we like it, with two little ones who need their own space, it's no longer a practical hotel for us. If Chris and I are alone we stay there. While you are there, eat at the Grand Luxe Cafe...it's wonderful! Get the fresh dozen chocolate chip cookies to take home with you. 

You can also drive over to Arlington and take a tour of Cowboys Stadium if you're a football fanatic! We didn't go this time but we have gone in the past. 

I have my twitter friend, Leah, to thank for this next one. She told me about Klyde Warren Park. It's the adorable park built on top of an old overpass in a nicer part of town. They have an awesome children's play area and my favorite thing in the world, food trucks. We ate at The Butcher's Son and it was out of this world good. If you go, take a chance on the sliders! So good! 

We were planning to go to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and walked over from the park. The bad thing was we literally could not find the front entrance. We eventually gave up because we were tired and hot and left but I've heard great things about it. My word of advice is not to walk over from the park though. Get in your car and drive!

Lastly, if you've never been to the Arboretum, I recommend going. If you are planning a trip in the fall, that is the PERFECT time to go! They have tens of thousands of gorgeous pumpkins  - check out my post of our visit there in the fall of 2011. 


Grapevine

There are two great reasons to visit Grapevine...The Gaylord Texan and the Great Wolf Lodge! Now, to be fair, I haven't stayed at either of these hotels but they look AWESOME! The Great Wolf Lodge is supposed to be great for families with kids. 

Also, be sure to visit the Grapevine Mills Mall. It's a combo of regular stores and outlets but the main reason we went was to visit the Rainforest Cafe. If you've never been to one and you're in the area, check it out! It's so entertaining for kids. They light up the inside with thunderstorms and the jungle animals "come alive." It's decorated like the rainforest and is very cute, but the prices are a little high. 

Close by is a cute little main street/old town area with antique shops and little eateries. We drove through and it was adorable! Next time, I'll be sure to stop and take a look around. 

Did I miss your favorite place in one of these cities? 
Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

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