A Texas-Sized Travel Sampler - 405 Magazine

A Texas-Sized Travel Sampler

With options from quaint coziness to safari-style thrills, the small cities surrounding Dallas allow travelers to choose their own romantic adventure.

The Spa and Salon at Irving’s Four Seasons offers couples massages and spa cuisine.

A Valentine Getaway, Like A Romantic Gift, Should Say “You’re Special.” One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Look No Farther Than The Satellite Cities In The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex To Find A Trip Custom-Tailored To Fit Your (And Your Special Other’s) Desires.

Romantic: Irving

For pure elegance, head to Irving and the Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas. Everything you need for a lovers’ weekend is right here – luxurious accommodations, exceptional dining, a full-service spa and an attentive staff ready to make your every wish come true. Check the Four Seasons website for a Romance Package.

True romantics kiss under the bridges on the Mandalay Canal on an hour-long gondola tour. Don’t worry about the weather – they have electric blankets! Leave your love a message in a bottle to be found during the cruise or woo her with champagne, chocolates and flowers. Gondola Cruises will make it happen. If music is your food of love, catch the Irving Symphony Orchestra’s “Love Stories from the Movies” on February 14 at the Irving Arts Center.

 Face to face with a Fossil Rim Wildlife Center resident.

Down to Earth: McKinney

Here in Money Magazine’s #1 Place to Live in America 2014, the venerable town square is surrounded by interesting shops, a variety of restaurants, even a winery. At Chestnut Square Historic Village visitor center, visit the Ice Cream Freezer Museum and buy a cup of the winning ice cream (apple pie) from last year’s hand-cranked competition.

McKinney is also home to a couple of life’s basics: beer and beef. Every Saturday morning, folks line up outside the Franconia Brewery to take one of the best brewery tours around. Owner/brewmeister Dennis Wehrman’s family has been involved in crafting Bavarian beers since 1800. As for beef, get the skinny on the best cuts at one of Matt Hamilton’s Steak 101 classes at Local Yocal. Weather permitting, the classes go from grass to grill and end by sampling sizzling cuts of steaks.

For a special dinner on the Square, check out Harvest,  – elegant, farm-to-table and so sustainable that the table probably came from the farm, too. Even simple items have flair; think sweet potato puree with a kick of cayenne, and don’t skip the squash gratin.

A beautiful house built in 1907 by Daniel Cogdell became Granbury’s Iron Horse Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Old Fashioned: Granbury

Nestle into nostalgia with a stay at the Iron Horse Inn Bed and Breakfast and prepare to be pampered. Over a century old and built in Craftsman style, the home features beautiful woodwork and Frank Lloyd Wright-ish touches on the interior. You won’t want to miss innkeeper/owner Diana McBride’s cinnamon rolls – her grandmother’s recipe.

Cute shops and boutiques surround the city square, site of one of the state’s most attractive courthouses. Saturday afternoon, stop in at D’Vine Wine for a frozen wine-a-rita, then hit the grape trail to visit several other local wineries or catch a tour at Revolver Brewing.

For evening entertainment, “The Odd Couple” is the February production at the historic Granbury Opera House, a beautifully restored 1886 theater with imported chandeliers and graceful twin curved staircases. Learn a little local history and some spooky stories on an evening ghost tour. Or grab a blanket and your honey and head for the vintage Brazos Drive-In Theatre.

The limestone along the Paluxy River in Dinosaur Valley State Park is pocked with dinosaur tracks.

Wild: Glen Rose

Bring out the beasts for a Sweetheart Safari at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Covering 1,700 acres of hills, pasture and woods, Fossil Rim, accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and participants in the Species Survival Plan, is home to 1,000 animals from 50 species, many of which are endangered. A special Valentine’s package includes a sunset tour followed by a three-course surf-and-turf dinner with homemade desserts and chocolates. For a really amazing holiday, make reservations to spend the night in the Lodge, or safari-style accommodations so close to one of the main watering holes in the preserve that you may be serenaded to sleep by the sounds of nearby animals.

Not far from Fossil Rim, Dinosaur Valley State Park with its nine miles of trails is perfect for hiking or biking. The big attraction, however, is exploring along the banks of the Paluxy River where giant sauropods and theropods left tracks 113 million years ago.

A cool-looking hot time at Vetro Glassblowing

Surprising: Bluff Dale

Blink and you’ll miss it. If you can do without frills and candles but want some of the best food you’ve ever eaten, make a reservation at Let’s Eat in Bluff Dale. Only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with seatings at 6 and 8:15, this eatery books up fast. Chef/owner Curren Dodds combines love and creativity in his cooking, like his chicken and waffles: a slab of butter mixed with eight different cheeses and green onions was melted into the indentations of the waffles, themselves savory with roasted garlic. The fried chicken on top was perfect and the dish was served with roasted jalapeno-infused maple syrup. Curren’s menu changes frequently, but whatever he’s serving, you’ll come away full and happy.

Sensuous: Grapevine

Engage your senses in Grapevine. Turn up the heat at Vetro Glassblowing, where you and your sweetheart can help create art and memories. Reservations for “Flaming Cocktail Hot Date Night” are a must. Also, stop by Dr. Sue’s for the best possible prescription: Dr. Sue Williams, a physician at Baylor Hospital, wants people to engage in a healthier lifestyle – including chocolate. Hers are all dark chocolates, no GMOs or additives, using fresh fruits and local honey. Bestsellers are cherry pecan and hazelnut toffee.

Think of the spaghetti scene in “Lady and the Tramp” and head for Farina’s for good Italian food. If spaghetti is your thing, you can even get it on pizza! Save room for dessert with a walk to Sloan and Williams Winery, just off Main Street. This is a great spot for wine tasting, but I went for the wine ice cream. Speaking of which, be sure to check the Grapevine Wine Trail website for up-to-the-minute information on their Sweetheart Wine Trail. Scheduled for February 14 and 15, it sells out quickly. 

A perfect way to end the day – wine ice cream at Sloan and Williams in Grapevine

Handy Info to Have:

Four Seasons – fourseasons.com/dallas

Gondola Adventures – gondola.com

Local Yocal – localyocalfarmtomarket.com

Iron Horse Inn – ironhorsebb.com

Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour – granburytours.com

Fossil Rim – fossilrim.org

Vetro Glassblowing – vetroartglass.com

Grapevine Wine Trail – grapevinewinerytrail.com

Let’s Eat – 254.728.3635