5 Best Road Trips from Dallas

Dallas is a wonderland in and of itself, with places like the Perot Museum, the Dallas World Aquarium, and Klyde Warren Park but everyone needs to get out and stretch their legs, and their imaginations.

Here are some great quick road trips from Dallas if you’re looking for a few days to have a change of pace — all worthy of a spot on your Texas bucket list.

Pack up all your road trip necessities and prepare to hit the road!

Road Trips from Dallas

Grapevine, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 22.6 miles

Drive Time: 25 minutes

While a short drive, Grapevine is full of unique and interesting things to do. The name comes from the fact that there are many different wineries in the region but, thanks to this, it has become a tourist destination.

My two recommendations for hotels include Great Wolf Lodge and the Gaylord Texan. Up until 2016, they were the largest waterpark in their chain of hotels. In addition to the indoor “eighty degrees year round” waterpark, they also have a ropes course during the summer, a spa for both adults and children, several amazing restaurants, an arcade, and a game that covers the entire building and will make you feel like a wizard for the time of your stay!

As far as hotel stays, if you’re looking for something a bit more romantic, be sure to check out the Gaylord Texan across the street from Great Wolf Lodge. The atrium itself, located in the center, has four acres of gardens and waterways that make you forget where you are.

Although there is plenty to do year round, I recommend going during Grapefest in September and at Christmas time. Grapefest is a wine festival that is family friendly. They have the largest customer-based wine competition (that’s right- you get to judge!), a grape stomp competition where you can get your feet wet- literally, and KidsWorld where partnering places such as SeaWorld Aquarium and LegoLand have interactive events for the kids.

Hands down, though, my favorite time to go to Grapevine is Christmas. For good reason, too, since Grapevine is known as the “Christmas Capital of Texas”. Great Wolf Lodge is decorated to the max, and the Gaylord Texan has interactive event which includes ice sculptures, looking for Elves, snow tubing, and ice skating. Throughout town there are other events including the free nightly Christmas tree singing, and even a trip on the North Pole Express just like in the movie.

Frisco, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 20.5 miles

Drive Time: 26 minutes

This trip is especially good if you like museums because they have some pretty interesting one. Last summer I took my daughters and their friends to the National Videogame Museum where they got to play many different games hands-on.

When you pay to enter, they give you tokens you can use at the end of the museum to play videogames from many different eras. My favorite part was the spot where they taught about the invention of the internet and how long it took for people to log on when the internet was first given to the public.

Within the Frisco Discovery Center there are two more museums, the Sci-Tech Museum, which focuses on Math, Science, and Technology, and Traintopia, which has replicas of small railroads. The latter of the two is done in conjunction with the Museum of the American Railroads. Located less than a mile from the Discovery Center, the Museum of the American Railroad has guided tours through different era steam engines.

If you cannot get enough of gaming, after going to the museum, I highly recommend you go to Nerdvana. This is a restaurant that has a little something for everyone, from great lattes to happy hour and a different menu for both lunch and dinner. Naturally, this place has a ton of games to play for free, with a $10 purchase. Added bonus? You get a discount if you show them your National Videogame Museum wristband.

In addition to the museums, my girls and I really enjoy walking around Stonebriar Mall. If you decide to go, a stop at Lolli and Pops is a must. It takes you back into a vintage 1920s style candy store and, oftentimes, they sell cotton candy outside the store. I also recommend a stop at Williams-Sonoma. They have amazing kitchen wares and around the counter will be showing some of them off- including free delicious samples.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is Frisco Commons Park, with a wooden, castle-style playground, a pond, and plenty of concrete trails to enjoy.

Waco, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 96.5 miles

Drive Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

I am grateful to Chip and Joanna Gaines for putting this city on the map. Located almost halfway from both Dallas and Austin, this is a great place to get out and about to. Going to the Silos should be on your list but not the only thing!

On your way down, I recommend stopping two places. The first is Overflow Coffee Company in Hillsboro. Located about thirty minutes north of Waco, the square is only a three mile detour and it is worth it. While you’re there, ask for Stacey and tell her Tiffany sent you. I recommend their caramel pecan latte with oatmilk.

For food, I recommend you continue your drive about fifteen minutes further to Waco and detour at the Chezch Stop gas station for some authentic kolaches. I will warn you, if you go at the right time there will be a, albeit fairly quick, line.

As far as things to do in Waco, I do recommend checking out the Silos, where the lawn is amazing to lounge on, the gardens are beautiful, and the cupcakes are to die for. It is truly a family-friendly, Joanna Gaines farmhouse-style kind of place. There is also Magnolia Table but be warned- it is first-come, first-serve. Still up for another cup of joe? Be sure to checkout Magnolia Press Coffee Company.

In addition to the entertainment provided by the Gaines’ family, there is still plenty of things to do. If you’re looking for something outdoors, I recommend starting at Cameron Park. There is a zoo, plenty of playgrounds, and, my favorite part, Jacob’s Ladder. Jacob’s Ladder is a steep, winding ladder that has a beautiful lookout, making the two-hundred and forty-four step trail worth it. 

My next two recommendations include owners who have amazing stories, so be sure to chat with them while you are there. Pure Vida Paddle is located underneath Buzzard Billy’s on the river. The owner is super sweet and, oftentimes, they have a dog down there that will be happy to greet you. The company has kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards, and tons of great community events.

Next on this list comes highly recommended. Still located on the Brazos River, not too far down from Pure Vida Paddle is Mamaka Bowls, which serves smoothie bowls that are reminiscent of the owner’s childhood where she spent her summers in Orange County, California. They are by far the best smoothie bowls I’ve ever had.

There is more to check out, if you have the time, including Waco Mammouth National Monument, the Dr. Pepper Museum, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, and the Maybourne Museum.

Krause Springs located in Spicewood, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 221.2 miles

Travel Time: 3 hours, 31 minutes

What’s great about Krause Springs is that it is family owned. Located in Spicewood, Texas, this location is a great place to go during the dog days of summer where all you really want is some shade and some cool water.

Like many places in Texas Hill Country, this land is spring fed, meaning the water is about seventy-two degrees year round. It costs eight dollars to get in if you just want to go for the day and fifteen dollars if you want to camp. The benefit of camping is that you have access to the water areas after the larger crowds of the day have left.

My daughter’s favorite part of Krause Springs was the rope swing. Everyone was very friendly and helped each other get to the rope. My favorite part was the lush green waterfalls located throughout the creek. The main one had a rock you could swim to then sit on directly under the waterfall. The second one was nice because it was located along a hiking path and nobody else was around, giving us views that made me question if we were still in Texas or in a rainforest.

On your way home from Krause Springs, I recommend stopping for a sweet treat at the Yard Milkshake Bar. If you’ve ever seen those crazy milkshakes, this is one of those places. We got the unicorn, which had a cotton candy flavor and a fan curated special called the Rise and Grind which had a waffle on top and coffee with toffee bits inside.

Turner Falls, Oklahoma

Distance from Dallas: 128.8 miles

Travel Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

This is a destination I cannot wait to get to. As a matter of fact, there is discussion of us going before it gets too cold this winter. The park features a seventy-seven foot waterfall that is located in a swimming hole. In addition, there is several man-made slides you can go down into the water.

I’m excited about doing the hikes, including one that takes you to a rock castle, which was built during the Great Depression for Ellsworth Collings, the Dean of Education at the University of Oklahoma. You can go in and explore the castle, inside and out, at no extra charge besides the original admission fee.

This wouldn’t be a proper review without giving you a recommendation for somewhere to stop along the way and get some food or drink. Aura Coffee House is located in the college town of Denton. I recommend their Kool Keith or Horchata Iced Coffee.


If you’re looking for a day, or weekend, out of Dallas, these are just a few of the great road trips from Dallas you can embark on.

What about you, though, what do you recommend? Be sure to let us know, Dallasites!

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8 Incredible Hikes in (and Near) Austin, Texas

Many people visit Austin for the food and music scene.

After all, the city is home to Franklin’s Barbeque, South by Southwest (SXSW), and putting a positive spin on being “weird”.

Nightlife is one of Austin’s biggest draws for visitors. The nightlife scene in Austin includes a thriving gay scene and is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in Texas!

One thing people may not take into account though when thinking about Austin is just how many outdoor activities there are to do, especially hiking trails.

In fact, going for a hike is one of the things you must do in Texas! Austin is located along the Colorado River and sits at the tip of Texas Hill Country.

Since the city sits at four major ecological intersections, it gives adventurers a different experience for each hike they take.

Here are some of the best easy day hikes near Austin!

Best Hikes Near Austin

Mount Bonnell

The perfect hike to get us started on the list of awesome Austin hiking destinations is Mount Bonnell. At 775 feet, it is the highest spot in the city.

Don’t let this height intimidate you though, because the hike is relatively easy — only a third of a mile long. The workout for this one comes from the 200-foot elevation gain! 

Given that it looks down on the city, this is a perfect view for sunset, though you won’t be alone to enjoy it. If you are an early bird, the sunrise is far less crowded.

Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake

The fourteen and a half-mile trail is perfect for someone looking for unique scenery along their trail run or long, leisurely walk.

Instead of running through just nature, this trail runs through downtown, neighborhoods, and cultural attractions such as Congress Bridge: yes, that famous bridge where you can see bats fly out at sunset!

Another unique feature is the boardwalk, created in 2008 to bridge the gap between several of the trails and make it easier for hikers and runners to enjoy.

St. Edwards Park

This one is one of the lesser-known hikes near Austin, but it definitely worth your time, especially if you are a sucker for waterfalls and nature.

Of the three Austin hikes we have covered so far, this one is the most difficult. Part of the reason for this is that the trail is a bit rocky and hilly.

You have the option of taking the three and a half mile hike or connecting to either the Forest Ridge or Bull Creek trail for a longer route. Choosing one of the longer routes means exciting views that don’t require quite as steep hike as Mount Bonnell!

Interestingly enough, the north side of the park is a part of the city of Austin, while the south side is owned by Balcones Canyonland Preserve system. When going into the Preserve area, it is important to note that dogs must be on their leash.

Shoal Creek Trail

This three and three quarter mile trail consists of many different types of terrain, including concrete, dirt, and gravel. This is in part thanks to the fact that it is the oldest of the hiking trails in Austin, dating back to the 1960s.

Like the Ann and Roy Butler trail, this one is also in the heart of downtown Austin; unlike the previous trail, Shoal Creek is typically less crowded.

This might be in part because instead of giving you city scenery, you feel like you are out in the woods. There is a great deal of shade here, so this one is a good option for warmer sunny days (and are a lot of those in Austin!).

This peaceful Austin hike winds along with a creek, taking you through two parks and even through a canyon towards the northern end of the hike, giving a peaceful backdrop to guide your workout. Despite not having city views, this is one of the Austin hiking trails you don’t want to miss!

Barton Creek Greenbelt

This Austin hike is for everyone! Located in South Austin, there are twelve miles of trails to check out.

If, like me, you are an outdoor enthusiast, there are many other ways you can expand your time along this trek. Other activities you can participate in include hiking, biking, rock-climbing, bouldering, swimming, or even just resting in a hammock.

To get started, the best place to park is Zilker Park. While you have to pay for parking and it does get busy, it starts you off on your first mile and a quarter with fairly flat terrain.

For some of the route, you need to be considerate because it does go through residential neighborhoods. One of the more popular stops includes Gus Fern where, after a good rain, people go for a good, free swim in deeper waters.

The Loop 360 access point is one of the most popular ones throughout the loop because mountain bikers and rock climbers come for the more interesting terrain and the climbing wall Seismic. Something to keep in mind though is it can get rather noisy from the highway located nearby, so it’s not the most relaxing part of the trail.

If you’re looking for an extra challenge on your Austin hike, be sure to check out the Hill of Life! It is a three hundred-foot vertical uphill with some spectacular views and takes about thirty minutes to go up, if you’re going at a decent pace.

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Park is one of my favorite places. This state park is located 14 miles from downtown, so it’s a perfect hike near Austin if you are looking for a short drive to get away from the city scenery.

There are six different hiking trails along the state park and they range from half a mile to a little over three miles. You can access information about each hike here.

I do want to note, though, that there are some pretty interesting things to see here, including the remains of Thomas McKinney’s horse trainer’s cabin and a picnic table that was donated by the Smith family, who gave the land to the state to build the state park that it is today. They also have done guided events in the past, though I am not sure if they are currently (especially due to present health concerns!).

Unlike previous Austin hikes I’ve listed, which are all free, this one cost $6 to get into if you’re over thirteen. If you are bringing kids along that aren’t yet teenagers, it is free for them. I recommend going in the spring to this trail because the wildflowers are in abundance along the trails, not to mention the cooler weather!

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

This hiking trail is located the furthest away from Austin, in the town of Fredricksburg, which is about an hour and a half east.

This is also the only one that I would recommend taking advantage of their camping option.

The reason for this is that the natural area is on the list for International Dark Sky Places, meaning there is no light from other areas obscuring your view of the night sky and it is breath-taking, to say the least. They even have ranger-led star parties!

If you’re a stargazing enthusiast, this should definitely be on your Texas bucket list.

There are eight trails to choose from, which range from just over one-tenth of a mile to four miles, with the latter giving you amazing views. The summit of the large rock is 1,823 feet high, and it will definitely get your heart pumping due to the steep incline!

When heading down, you truly get the best view by taking the west side, where the Enchanted Rock meets the Little Rock.

Naturally, in the summer, many people come earlier in the day to shelter themselves from the heat and sun’s rays, since this trail doesn’t offer much shade. I personally think this trail near Austin would be best in fall or spring!

Hamilton Pool Preserve

This one was saved for last on purpose! It is very well-known and with good reason.

The location, located thirty minutes outside of Austin, is best known for its beautiful 50-foot waterfall and natural pool area, which is actually a collapsed grotto! Unlike with many of the other trails, this grotto’s water stays consistent all year round.

The trail is not a long one to reach the pools — only about half a mile — but it can be rocky and steep at times so come prepared. Wear proper shoes and not flip flop type sandals.

If you’re looking for more than just spending several hours at a pool, be sure to check out the trail that will take you to the Pedernales River. While you’re hiking, you can search for several birds that are hard to spot in other parts of the state, including the Golden Cheek Warblers and Cliff Swallows.

The cost to get into Hamilton Pools is twofold. First, you have to pay $12 online per car (each car can hold up to eight people). Then you have to pay $8 per person between 13 and 62, $3 for seniors, and it’s free for children under 13.

It is also recommended you book several months in advance, especially in the summer! Part of the reason for this is that you are given a time slot: either 9 AM to 12:30 PM or 2 PM to 5:30 PM. Within that time slot, only 25 people can come in. This is nice because the pool doesn’t get overcrowded (especially important these days!).

Which Austin hike sounds best to you?

Given Austin’s proximity to so many different types of nature, this list of hikes in and near Austin could go on; however, this is a great start and a way to find beauty in the everyday while you spend time in, and around, the Austin area.

Be sure to let us know how you enjoyed the hike and give some tips to your fellow Austinite hikers!