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.
Road Trips from Dallas
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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.
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.
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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Tiffany is a culinary teacher by day, writer by night. She spends her free time drinking coffee and planning the next big adventure around the United States with her family. Their latest project involves converting an NV1500 work van into a home on wheels.