A weekend away might be just what you need to escape the Dallas heat, and fortunately, you have more than a few attractive destinations nearby.
If you have a couple of days to spare for an adventure, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to drive too long (traffic permitting, of course) from Dallas to reach an interesting new place to explore. Some are still within Texas while others are just across the borders in neighboring states. With so much to see and do, the hardest part of your weekend road trip from Dallas could very well be deciding which of these awesome places to visit.
Whether you want to check out the sights of a bustling new city or you’re longing to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, these are the best weekend road trips from Dallas for your driving pleasure.
Related read: The 5 Best Campervan Rentals in Dallas, Texas
1. Caddo Lake State Park
Get back to nature with a weekend away at Caddo Lake State Park. This park in the Piney Woods region of East Texas is known for its picturesque, swampy landscape, and the best way to explore the twisting bayous is by canoe or kayak (bring your bug spray.) While you’re making your way underneath the moss-covered bald cypress trees, remember that gators are here too, so act appropriately according to alligator safety rules.
Other ways you can fill your time include hiking in the forest and fishing the 26,810-acre lake, which houses more than 70 fish species. Speaking of fishing: You don’t need to have a license if you’re fishing from the shore.
Caddo Lake State Park has 46 campsites, some with just water and some that have full hookups for RVs. You can also rent one of their historic cabins, which were converted from army barracks by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
- Distance from Dallas: 168 miles
- Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Related read: The 8 Best State Parks Near Dallas for a Natural Escape
It’s a straight shot south from Dallas to Austin, the capital of Texas. There, it’s all about keeping things weird (seriously: the city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.”) There’s plenty to do for every type of traveler whether you like live music, art, or kayaking.
If you’re interested in historical and cultural highlights, take a tour at the Texas Capitol, visit one of the city’s many museums like the Bullock Texas State History Museum, or check out the LBJ Presidential Library. If you’re here to party, visit the bars along the famous Sixth Street or Rainey Street. If nature is what you’re after, head up Mount Bonnell, go for a hike along the Greenbelt, or rent a stand-up paddleboard on Lady Bird Lake.
Austin also likes to call itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” so if you have the time, try catching a show at one of the more than 250 live music venues around the city. If you don’t mind the crowds, try to come during the Austin City Limits Festival for the ultimate long music-focused weekend.
- Distance from Dallas: 195 miles
- Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Related read: 12 Unique Places to Stay in Texas
3. Oklahoma City
Who says you have to stay within the state for your road trip from Dallas? In a little more than three hours, you can be in Oklahoma City and see what Oklahoma’s capital has going for it.
During your visit, you may consider checking out the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, which commemorates the victims, survivors, and rescuers of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Another worthwhile museum is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which holds an impressive collection of Western and American Indian art and artifacts.
If the weather is nice, make time to see the Myriad Botanical Gardens. Spanning 17 acres, the garden and urban park has a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces, but the one you definitely can’t miss is the 224-foot-long glass tropical conservatory. Another place to enjoy the fresh air is Scissortail Park, a large urban park with pedal boat, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals on its large lake. Oklahoma City is affordable, fun, and under-the-radar – what’s not to like?
- Distance from Dallas: 206 miles
- Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Related read: The 6 Best Islands in Texas for an Unforgettable Vacation
Houston is not only the largest city in Texas by population but by area, too. Given its sprawling nature, it’s good to have an idea of what you want to do and see in advance so you don’t spend too much of your time sitting in the city’s famous traffic.
Museum lovers will be in heaven seeing as there are over 150 museums and cultural institutions across the city. Those who want to see the most popular ones can head to the Museum District, where you’ll find the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, and more.
Another one of Houston’s highlights is Space Center Houston. It’s the official visitor center of NASA and has historic space capsules, a lunar module, rockets, and all-things-out-of-this-world. Kids and adults will love it.
To break up all those indoor attractions, you may also want to see some of Houston’s most beloved urban green spaces. Hermann Park (the Japanese Gardens are especially lovely), Buffalo Bayou Park, and Memorial Park are all nice places to soak up some nature.
- Distance from Dallas: 239 miles
- Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Related read: 9 Fun Weekend Road Trips from Kansas City, Missouri
5. San Antonio
Keep going on I-35 past Austin and you’ll reach San Antonio, where some of the state’s most popular tourist attractions await (plus lots of delicious tacos.)
If it’s your first time in San Antonio, you can’t miss a trip to the Alamo (the famous 18th-century mission where the phrase (“Remember the Alamo” originated), and the River Walk, a 15-mile walkway along the water with tons of shops, restaurants, and bars. Other gems of the city include the four other Spanish missions that collectively form a National Historical Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’ve already seen the main sights in San Antonio before, you may just spend the whole weekend riding the roller coasters at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. For another amusement park, there’s SeaWorld, which has roller coasters along with marine life experiences and shows. You can also see what’s new at the San Antonio Museum of Art or grab a drink at the historic Pearl District.
- Distance from Dallas: 274 miles
- Drive time without stops: 4 hours, 15 minutes
Another weekend destination for a road trip from Dallas is Tulsa, in nearby Oklahoma. One must-see here is the Philbrook Museum of Art, located in a historic villa that was once an oil magnate’s home. Aside from looking at the art indoors, you should also meander through the property’s beautiful 25-acre gardens.
Anyone traveling with kids must pay a visit to Gathering Place. This massive riverfront park offers a variety of fun attractions, including an adventure playground, skate park, boathouse, sports courts, sky garden, nature trail, and more. Even if you don’t have a child, it’s an awesome place to let your inner kid run wild.
For a night on the town, you’ll want to go to the Blue Dome District, a downtown area popular for its many bars and restaurants. Other top attractions in Tulsa include the Gilcrease Museum, Oklahoma Aquarium, and Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
- Distance from Dallas: 258 miles
- Drive time without stops: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Related Read: 9 of the Best Romantic Getaways in Dallas, Texas
For a wine-filled weekend getaway, there’s no better place to go in Texas than Fredericksburg. This charming town in the middle of the Hill Country is known for its numerous vineyards and tasting rooms. For anyone who doesn’t feel like plotting out their own itinerary (or doesn’t have a designated driver), you can simply hop on one of the wine tour shuttles or walk between tasting rooms.
While wine is all the rage in Fredericksburg, there’s still quite a lot of non-drinkers to enjoy here. You might not have guessed it, but this town is home to the National Museum of the Pacific War (Chester William Nimitz, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during World War II, was born here.) There’s also the Pioneer Museum, where you can learn about the German heritage of the city (it was founded by German immigrants in 1846).
Speaking of German heritage, make sure to try some of the German food around town at spots like Old German Bakery and Restaurant, The Auslander, and Otto’s. Fredericksburg is fairly close to both Austin and San Antonio in case you wanted to combine both into one longer road trip from Dallas.
- Distance from Dallas: 249 miles
- Drive time without stops: 4 hours, 20 minutes
8. Hot Springs National Park
Cross the state border to Arkansas and you can spend your weekend at Hot Springs National Park. Back in the day, this area was a popular spa town as the thermal springs were said to have medicinal properties. Along the appropriately named Bathhouse Row, you can see historic bathhouse buildings built here between 1892 and 1923. At two of these (Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Bathhouse) you can still take a dip.
Aside from the springs, you can hike 26 miles of trails, take your bike along the Pullman Trail, or do some bird watching at the Grand Promenade. If you’re here to camp, you’ll want to head to Gulpa Gorge, the park’s official campground. Each site has full hookups, a picnic table, and a pedestal grill. There are no site reservations allowed, so plan accordingly. If you’d rather stay somewhere a bit more luxurious, book a stay at the Hotel Hale on Bathhouse Row.
- Distance from Dallas: 295 miles
- Drive time without stops: 4 hours, 25 minutes
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Seen in: Road Trips, Southeast, Texas