Gaylord and Dinosaurs...Oh My!


During Christmas, we decided we would try something different and get away. Plus our oldest son loves planes, so a plane ride was a bonus gift to him. My youngest, Blake, is a high maintenance baby, so I had concerns that he may “cut up” on the plane ride. We had to pick something quick with big fun potential, preferably with an overload of Christmas. I needed to hold onto the season just a tad longer, it is after all, the most wonderful time of the year. I had heard of the Gaylord hotels before, but once I realized it was affiliated with Marriott, my interest was spiked (for my work travels, I almost always stay at Marriott hotels…more points + maintaining my status). The Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, a suburb of DFW, was the perfect spot for us. The flight to Dallas is only 40 minutes and this would be a great trial run for Blake.

We thought evening would be best for Blake, with hopes that he would sleep on the plane. You will find this poor decision in the lessons learned section. Let’s just say the 40-minute flight felt like a 4-hour flight with no air conditioner. Blake screamed, not cried, but screamed for most of the entire flight. As soon as I set him down in the chair, in a matter of seconds, I find him sucking on the germ-infested arm rests. I did not even have enough time to wipe down the area with baby organics wipes. Once we landed, we had an over-tired baby and a wired-up toddler with too exhausted sweaty parents. As soon as we got to the hotel, the exhaustion dissipated and we were in awe of the beauty of the resort. It felt like we were in a snow globe – there was Christmas decor and manicured landscaping everywhere! We were upgraded to a balcony room which gave cool views of the atriums. The hotel rooms themselves were just standard in my opinion, but the big-ticket items were the atriums. I feel like they could use some updating. The hotel is a one-stop shop for everything, it’s a great place to travel with kids for this reason. There is entertainment, shops, restaurant options, and activities such as ICE exhibit, waterpark (open during summer) and ice skating (in winter). All of this does come at a pretty high cost. Our hotel reservation included the ICE exhibit so we got to check this out (more to come on this later in the post).

Lessons learned/Tips:

  1. If your child prefers to only sleep in his crib, unless you can bring the crib, prepare to not get any sleep (happened to us). We brought his play-yard and a mattress but he was not having it.

  2. Bottle or nurse baby on the ascend and descend to avoid potential ear popping on the plane ride.

  3. The hotel has plenty of restaurants but they can be pricey. I was not thrilled with the idea of paying $25+ for my 4 year old to eat at the buffet.

  4. If you want to enjoy one of the restaurants for dinner, make sure you place reservations in advanced (day before if possible).


The next day, we went to LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Sea Life, which is attached to Grapevine Mills mall. This is within very close proximity to Gaylord, less than 10 minutes away. The Legoland discovery center was great for Ethan, but Paul and I even enjoyed it for different reasons. I was amazed by the detail of the Dallas Lego structures, and Paul grew up on Legos, so he was like a kid in a candy store. There was lots of stimulation for Blake, so that kept him busy. We even managed to talk Ethan, who is very cautious, into riding rides. The Sea Life was better than I expected. I have been to some great aquariums and this one compares nicely against some of the best. My current favorite Aquarium is the one in Moody Gardens in Galveston. I got to sneak away to do a little shopping, which was a bonus for me.

Lessons learned/tips:

  1. This is stroller friendly

  2. Check Groupon for deals

 The most enjoyable part of the trip was our adventure to Glen Rose, TX. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as we did, even my husband was pleasantly surprised. Glenrose is a little over an hour away from Grapevine, located southwest of Fort Worth. It was my first time going out this way and it is quite scenic. Our first stop was Dinosaur Valley State Park. It costs $5 per adult and kids were free. The park contains real dinosaur tracks that are over 100 million years old in three locations. We only got to go down to see 1 set of tracks as the others required a trek across the riverbed. We were not prepared for the water trek and it was a chilly. It was a pretty easy trek down to the first site which includes several “stairs”.  There were some parts that were off the path and required a little maneuvering around the limestone rocks. I had no clue that real dinosaurs once walked in this region of the country. These are some of the best dinosaur tracks in the world according to sources. Here is a good article that contains more details about the history of the park.

Lessons Learned/Tips:

  1. In the summer, you are able to swim in the Paluxy river, so plan accordingly

  2. Bring rain boots or water friendly shoes to trek to the other dinosaur sites

  3. Definitely pack a carrier for baby as it is not stroller friendly

  4. Pack light

  5. Bring Snacks and water as there are picnic areas


Just a few minutes away from the park was our next stop, Dinosaur World. Once you head out back to the dinosaur area, it feels like you stepped into the Jurassic era, a more peaceful one. There is a trail that leads you around to see an array of life-size dinosaurs. Each stop comes with cool facts about the dinosaurs on display. My son has been really into learning more about dinosaurs and was able to name almost all of them as we passed. That was a proud mommy moment for me. Blake, like most babies, loves being outside, so he enjoyed himself… for the most part.

Lessons Learned/Tips:

  1. Bring snacks as the place does not sell food. There is a picnic area.

  2. This is stroller friendly.

  3. There is a bone yard that you can purchase access to, which is basically a giant sand box, so plan accordingly as the littles will get dirty.

This was a great trip that the entire family enjoyed. In Glenrose, they also have the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, but we were unable to go to this as well since we only planned a day there. We will be back for more fun. We hope to checkout more Gaylord Hotels as well. Maybe Colorado or DC area Gaylord next.