Texas

The Ultimate Dallas to San Antonio Road Trip

by Cindy Brzostowski
Updated January 10, 2023

dallas to san antonio road trip
Photo: Hundley Photography

Embrace the journey, not just the destination, with this Dallas to San Antonio road trip itinerary.

You could knock out the drive from Dallas to San Antonio in a little over four hours (traffic pending, of course), cruising all the way down I-35 without a single turn. But where’s the fun in that? Instead of relying solely on your podcasts for entertainment, it’s a lot more interesting to break up your drive with some road trip stops. The best part is, you won’t have to veer very far off the interstate to find the good stuff.

From beautiful parks to beloved local eateries and quirky attractions, here are the best road trip destinations between Dallas and San Antonio. Since there are so many worthwhile things to see and do along the way, you might be inclined to break up your journey into two segments: Dallas to Austin and then Austin to San Antonio.

Segment 1: Dallas to Austin

Austin isn’t the halfway point between Dallas and San Antonio; getting to Austin is actually about three-quarters of the whole journey. That being said, given the number of tourist attractions between the two big cities, and within Austin itself, it makes for a good stopping point.

  • Distance: 200 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours

Highlight 1: West’s Famous Kolaches

dallas to san antonio road trip - Slovaceks kolaches
Photo: Slovacek’s West

Kolaches are the breakfast of champions for Texans, and West is the most famous town in the state to get them. Within a small radius, you have two legendary spots: Czech Stop/Little Czech Bakery and Slovacek’s.

Go savory with a classic sausage and cheese, or satisfy your sweet tooth with one of the fruit and cream cheese combos. No judgment here if you can’t resist getting both…

Highlight 2: Homestead Heritage

dallas to san antonio road trip - homestead heritage
Photo: Brandi Adams

Located in Waco, Homestead Heritage is an agrarian Christian community with a craft village open to visitors. At the craft village, you can shop for handmade gifts, groceries, gardening supplies, heirloom furniture, and much more.

They also host craft skills classes in things like pottery, knitting, and basket-making, and they have horse-drawn hayrides on Saturdays. Still hungry after your kolaches? Grab a fresh meal at their Cafe Homestead.

Highlight 3: Magnolia Market

dallas to san antonio road trip - magnolia market
Photo: Magnolia Market

Fans of HGTV’s Fixer Upper flock to Magnolia Market to shop for home decor from their favorite celebrity design duo, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Even if you’re not into the TV show or have no clue who the couple is, the complex offers plenty of fun, both indoors and out.

With its food trucks, lawn games, and all the furniture and garden shopping a DIYer could ever want, the complex houses enough to keep you entertained all day. You can also register for cooking classes and design workshops, and get tips on making your own DIY projects.

Highlight 4: Chalk Ridge Falls Park

dallas to san antonio road trip - Chalk Ridge Falls Park
Photo: Shutterstock

Once you get about two hours outside of Dallas, it may be time to get out of the car and stretch for a bit, and Chalk Ridge Park is the perfect spot to do just that. Located next to Stillhouse Hollow Lake, the park has a few different trails (mostly unpaved) through woods, as well as some special highlights like gorgeous waterfalls and an insta-perfect suspension bridge.

The park sits along the shores of the Lampasas River, and makes for a perfect spot to take a dip, especially during the summer months when the Texas heat really kicks in.

Highlight 5: Inner Space Cavern

dallas to san antonio road trip - inner space cavern
Photo: Shutterstock

Texas has no shortage of stunning caves to explore, and lucky for you, Inner Space Cavern is right on your route to San Antonio. Found directly off I-35 in Georgetown, this cavern was discovered in 1963 by the Texas Highway Department.

You don’t necessarily have to make a reservation to go on the Adventure Tour or the Hidden Passage Tour, but you will need to book ahead if you want to do the more physically demanding Wild Cave Tour. Unlike most caves,  which tend to be cooler than outside, Inner Space Cavern tends to hover at about 72 f. with 98% humidity, meaning the cave almost always feels like 80 degrees.

Highlight 6: Round Rock Donuts

dallas to san antonio road trip - round rock donuts
Photo: Round Rock Donuts

Who’s ready for another snack? From 4:30 in the morning until 6:30 at night, Round Rock Donuts serves up their famous hand-rolled, yeast donuts with a signature, rich yellow color. If you’re in for a challenge, order their Texas Size Donut, which is basically the size of a cake and really hits home the idea that everything really is bigger in Texas.

They focus on classic flavors, like iced chocolate, strawberry, and maple, as well as sugar-dusted and cinnamon dusted, but their homemade glazed is their iconic staple. They even have a drive-thru if you don’t want to get out of the car to get your grub.

Highlight 7: Texas Capitol

dallas to san antonio road trip - Texas Capitol
Photo: Tricia Daniel

There are countless things to do in Austin, and you could very well center a whole vacation around the city. But if you’re on a mission to get to San Antonio and only have time for one attraction, make it the Texas Capitol.

It’s an icon of the city, has stunning architecture, and is a National Historic Landmark. You can jump on a free guided tour of the building every day of the week, and self-guided tours are an option as well if you want to go at your own pace.

Segment 2: Austin to San Antonio

The drive from Austin to San Antonio can fly by — one or two episodes of Crime Junkie and you’re there. Slow it down, however, and you’ll enjoy some great sights, particularly in San Marcos and New Braunfels.

  • Distance: 125 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours

Highlight 1: Rio Vista Park

dallas to san antonio road trip - rio vista park
Photo: Dana Rasmussen

Get more fresh air at Rio Vista Park in San Marcos. Situated on the banks of the San Marcos River, this 14-acre green space is a popular spot to start tubing or kayaking (a few rapids make it extra exciting). Swimming is an option too!

If you prefer to enjoy the water from land, you can join the other sunbathers out and about, or set up a spread at one of the picnic tables.

Highlight 2: Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park

 

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Traveling with kids? They’ll have a blast at the family-owned and operated Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park. As its name suggests, there is a show cave here that you can tour, but that’s far from the only thing to do on the premises.

There’s a train ride through a wildlife petting zoo, a wacky “anti-gravity” house, a 120-foot observation tower, and an arcade.

Highlight 3: Gruene

dallas to san antonio road trip - Gruene
Photo: Kellee Kovalsky

Considered one of the best small towns in Texas, Gruene is a historic district in New Braunfels known for its dance hall — the oldest continually operated one in the state.

Aside from two-stepping to some live music, you can pursue an assortment of boutique shops, dig into a riverside meal at the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar, fish or float the river, or simply take a stroll around the quaint buildings.

Highlight 4: Giant Pecan Statues

Every great road trip includes a stop at some weird attraction or art installation that’s as wonderful as it is unnecessary. On your way to San Antonio, that would be the Original World’s Largest Pecan Statue in Seguin.

It can be found in front of City Hall, and it’s five feet long. Funnily enough, it’s not even the biggest pecan statue in town. That title goes to the 16-foot-long Big Pecan at the Texas Agricultural and Heritage Center.

Highlight 5: Natural Bridge Caverns & Wildlife Ranch

dallas to san antonio road trip - Natural Bridge Caverns
Photo: Jason Christopher Pandy

Just before you get into the hustle and bustle of San Antonio, consider checking out either Natural Bridge Caverns or Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. The former is like the Disneyland of cave attractions with cavern tours, a ropes course, climbing walls, a maze, ziplining, and more.

The latter is a drive-thru safari where you can meet and feed over 40 different types of animals, including zebras and ostriches, all from the comfort of your car.

Highlight 6: Bracken Cave Preserve

Down the road from the Natural Bridge attractions, there’s Bracken Cave Preserve: home to over 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats. That makes it the largest bat colony in the world! Visiting this spot is a little trickier since you’ll need to be a member of Bat Conservation International in order to reserve a spot on one of their viewing nights from May through September.

If you can fit it into your budget and schedule though, seeing that massive, dark swirl of bats fly out of the cave at dusk is something truly incredible.

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