Best Drivable Vacation Spots from Dallas Fort Worth


Do you live around the Dallas-Fort Worth area? If you’re looking for somewhere exciting to go to, you don’t need to travel far to find a fitting destination. From national parks to beaches to small towns and lively cities, there’s a wide variety of options just a day’s drive away from Dallas.

Quaint, Small Town Destinations

Jefferson, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 167 miles, 3 hours

Historic Jefferson General Store

Jefferson, Texas, is a charming and historic small town, making it one of the best weekend getaways for a change of pace. If you’re seeking a romantic escape, Jefferson won’t disappoint—it’s one of the most romantic getaways from Dallas.

Stroll through the picturesque downtown center and indulge in antiquing or shopping at the famous Jefferson General Store. To immerse yourself in the town’s history, stay in one of the many quaint bed and breakfasts.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about Jefferson’s railroad heritage by touring Jay Gould’s opulent private rail car, which offers fascinating insights into the town’s past.

For a different adventure, head to nearby Caddo Lake State Park. Caddo Lake presents a distinct side of Texas, featuring majestic cypress trees draped with Spanish moss and serene canoe rides. Though swimming isn’t recommended due to alligators, the lake’s natural beauty is awe-inspiring, and it’s an ideal spot to escape the hustle of city life.

If you’re seeking a unique and historic Texas experience, Jefferson is a delightful destination for a weekend road trip from Dallas. From exploring historic landmarks to enjoying a scenic ride on the Jefferson Railway, this small-town getaway promises a memorable and relaxing time.

Waco, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 97 miles, 1 hour and 30 minutes

Waco mammoth site sign

If you want a quick, easy road trip from Dallas, go to Waco. Once known as a college town for Baylor University, Waco has transformed into a bustling tourist destination, thanks in part to the fame of Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s popular show.

If you’re a fan of the dynamic duo, make Magnolia Market your first stop. This expansive 2-acre home decor paradise offers a dreamy shopping experience, complete with on-site food trucks and delectable treats from Silos Baking Co.

But even if home decor isn’t your passion, Waco has much to offer. Explore the local breweries, wineries, and distilleries like Waco Ale Company, Valley Mills Vineyards, and Balcones Distilling for a taste of Texas craftsmanship.

For history buffs, the Waco Mammoth National Monument is a fascinating site that preserves a piece of Waco’s past. And don’t forget to pay homage to a Texas cultural icon at the Dr. Pepper Museum, celebrating the beloved Dr. Pepper soda.

Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Distance from Dallas: 171 miles, 3 hours

Aerial view of the landscape of the surface of the water of Broken Bow Lake

Broken Bow, Oklahoma, is a hidden gem and one of the best weekend getaways from Dallas, offering a peaceful retreat into nature near a charming small town.

Located just three hours from Dallas, Broken Bow is the gateway to the breathtaking Beavers Bend State Park. This serene destination allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Ouachita Mountains.

Broken Bow Lake, covering over 14,000 acres, is a highlight of the area. Boaters and water enthusiasts will find paradise here, surrounded by stunning landscapes and tranquil waters. But that’s not all – there’s so much more to explore in Broken Bow.

During your visit, you can enjoy canoeing on the lake, take leisurely hikes, and unwind in cozy cabins that offer peace and relaxation. For outdoor lovers, Broken Bow provides endless opportunities for fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and even wine tasting.

Galveston Island, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 290 miles, about 5 hours

Galveston Island Pleasure Pier

Texas may not be the place you first think about when it comes to a beach vacation, but Galveston Island is here to change that. It’s the perfect beach destination for a fun and quick getaway from Dallas.

This charming island offers over 30 miles of beautiful beaches, including Jamaica Beach, East Beach, and Crystal Beach, making it a top choice for beach lovers. But the fun doesn’t stop at the shoreline! Galveston has so much to offer. You’ll find Victorian houses and a colorful boardwalk full of Southern charm. Restaurants and beautiful murals line the main road, and a 10-mile seawall stretches along the shore, offering coveted sandy beaches. In the evenings, don’t miss the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, where you can enjoy carnival rides, fried food, and breathtaking sunset views.

Since the drive from Dallas can take some time, plan to spend at least two days on the island to fully unwind and enjoy all the attractions it has to offer. From its history to its food scene and fabulous resorts, Galveston is undoubtedly one of the best weekend getaways from Dallas. Whether you’re into kayaking, hiking, birdwatching, or simply lounging on the beach, Galveston Island has something for everyone to enjoy.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 260 miles, 4 hours and 15 minutes

Beautiful city nightscape in Fredricksburg

Fredericksburg, Texas, nestled in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, is an excellent weekend getaway from Dallas. This charming German settlement beautifully embraces its heritage, and you’ll love its downtown filled with shops and restaurants. Fredericksburg is famous for its easily accessible wineries with Texas wine country at its heart – making it a top wine destination. You can indulge in wine tastings and outdoor activities while enjoying the great food that the town offers.

Apart from wine and outdoor activities, Fredericksburg offers fantastic shopping opportunities. Stroll along Main Street, lined with charming boutique shops selling everything from home furnishings to stylish clothes and jewelry. And don’t forget to explore the town’s rich history through museums like the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Pioneer Museum, and the Historic Fort Martin Scott.

Of course, no visit to Fredericksburg would be complete without savoring some delicious German food. The town’s German roots are evident in its cuisine, with restaurants like Auslander’s, Old German Bakery and Restaurant, and Altdorf Biergarten serving up delectable dishes.

Big City Vacation Spots

Austin, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 195 miles, 3 hours and 30 minutes

Downtown Austin, Texas, with capital and riverfront

If you want a vibrant weekend experience, go to Austin, the capital of Texas and the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World. Known for its quirky and fun-loving atmosphere, Austin offers a variety of exciting activities that may have something to do with food, music, arts, and nature.

Take a dip in one of the natural swimming holes nearby, hunt for street art on South Congress, tour the Texas State Capitol Building, catch a mesmerizing sunset at Mount Bonnell, explore the Texas Hill Country, and indulge in the city’s lively nightlife.

Austin’s vibrant music scene is a must-see during your weekend getaway, and you can experience the city’s lively nightlife on Rainey Street or the famous Sixth Street. Plus, don’t miss the opportunity to witness the famous urban bat population taking flight at Congress Avenue Bridge from spring to fall.

Once in Austin, be sure to explore the city fully by setting aside at least a weekend. Try the famous Franklin Barbecue and satisfy your sweet tooth with Texas-sized donuts at Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts. For breathtaking views, hike up Mount Bonnell, a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

San Antonio, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 274 miles, almost 5 hours

Riverwalk San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas, is one of the best weekend getaways from Dallas, offering a perfect blend of big-city charm with a small-town feel. Just 5 hours away from Dallas, San Antonio offers beautiful pedestrian streets, good food, live music, and non-stop fun.

The highlight of San Antonio is the famous River Walk, a 2-mile stretch downtown lined with fantastic bars, restaurants, and hotels, creating a vibrant atmosphere. Nearby, you can explore La Villita, a charming area filled with local artists and rich history.

San Antonio’s Spanish architecture and colonial heritage add to its unique character, and you can spend days exploring the beautiful cathedrals, missions, and historical residences dating back to the 1700s. History enthusiasts will be thrilled to visit the San Antonio Mission Trail, which includes the iconic Alamo and other missions with significant historical value.

If you’re looking for thrills, San Antonio has the Six Flags amusement park with various rides and delicious food to keep you entertained.

Houston, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 240 miles, 4 hours

couple riding bikes across bridge in downtown Houston Park

As the fourth largest city in the USA, Houston is a fantastic getaway destination because you’ll have lots of things to do and explore here!

The iconic Johnson Space Center tops the list of must-visit places where you can delve into the wonders of space exploration. But that’s just the beginning; Houston boasts numerous parks, museums, and art galleries to explore.

Houston’s diverse food scene is a major draw for foodies, with various delicious cuisines to savor. From local diners with a rich history to modern eateries blending Southern smoky flavors and Cajun Creole tastes, Houston’s food scene won’t disappoint. The city’s barbeque scene is a must-try! If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, consider adding a side trip to Galveston for some sun and sand to your Houston weekend itinerary. There are also numerous lakes nestled in this big city that you can visit.

The journey from Dallas to Houston is easy, and you can make a few stops along the way. Don’t miss the chance to view the blooming bluebonnets in Ennis during the spring, and take a moment to enjoy a picnic next to the impressive Sam Houston statue. And once you’re in Houston, immerse yourself in the vibrant city life, explore world-class museums like the Museum of Natural Science, and indulge in the thriving nightlife scene.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Distance from Dallas: 206 miles, 3 hours and 15 minutes

Oklahoma cityscape

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, might not be the first destination that comes to mind for a weekend getaway from Dallas, but it offers a surprising number of attractions and activities to explore!

Located just about 206 miles away, this vibrant city has plenty to offer. Venture into the Bricktown entertainment district, where you’ll find a lively mix of restaurants, bars, live music venues, and more. The district exudes a Deep Ellum vibe, creating a perfect spot for a fun night out.

Delve into the city’s rich history and culture by visiting the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and the Oklahoma Railway Museum. You can also pay a visit to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, offering a fantastic collection of artistic treasures.

A visit to the Myriad Botanical Gardens is a must for nature enthusiasts. This sprawling 17-acre garden, located downtown, is a serene oasis surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a live performance while enjoying the relaxing ambiance.

Nature-Focused Getaways

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 380 miles, 6 hours 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the USA and is even closer than its famous Arizona counterpart. This Panhandle treasure offers rugged and scenic beauty, boasting more than 30 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.

While you can make it a day trip from Amarillo, for the full experience, consider staying inside the park and camping for a couple of nights. You can pitch your own tent or opt for the luxury tents and cabins available through Palo Duro Glamping.

The canyon’s stunning views are a highlight of the trip, so be sure to soak in the excellent vistas from the top. Drive the park loop road and embark on hikes to explore this magnificent natural wonder. One must-see formation is the Lighthouse, which is the most famous feature in the park.

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Palo Duro Canyon is a great spot to observe Texas wildlife. Keep an eye out for wild turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, and the iconic longhorn cattle that call the canyon home.

For an unforgettable experience, consider camping at one of the numerous campsites nestled deep within the canyon. On clear nights, you can even marvel at the Milky Way shining brightly above, providing a magical touch to your stay.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Distance from Dallas: 294 miles, 4 hours and 30 minutes

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, is the ideal Dallas getaway for a relaxing weekend escape, complete with a soothing soak in thermal spas. Located in an urban setting surrounded by shops, restaurants, and more, Hot Springs offers a beautiful blend of natural beauty and small-town charm.

Bathhouse Row, lined with nine historic bathhouses, is a major highlight of the park. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, visitors flocked here to enjoy the local hot springs. Today, you can still take a soak in two historic bathhouses, including the Buckstaff Bathhouse, which offers a true historic bathing experience, and the Quapaw Bathhouse, which provides modern spa services, thermal baths, and a steam cave.

Exploring the park allows you to visit the historic Fordyce Bathhouse Museum and Visitor Center and experience the therapeutic properties of the thermal waters firsthand. Hot Springs National Park has drawn visitors for centuries due to its renowned healing properties.

Colorado Bend State Park, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 196 miles, 3 hours and 30 minutes

Colorado Bend State Park's Gorman Falls

If you want to feel like you’ve left Texas behind without actually leaving, Colorado Bend State Park has got you covered! It is located in the heart of Texas and offers a unique and breathtaking experience just a 3.5-hour drive from Dallas.

One of the main attractions here is the stunning 70-foot Gorman Falls, a living waterfall that looks like it belongs in Hawaii rather than the Lone Star State. The park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking, swimming, and beautiful views that will leave you in awe.

More than 400 caves run underneath the park, providing thrilling guided tours that take you crawling through caverns and sliding into tight spots. For those who prefer the open water, the Colorado River’s 6-mile bank invites you to swim, kayak, or fish. It’s also a prime destination for mountain biking, with a variety of trails catering to all skill levels. In fact, all 35 miles of the park’s trail network are open to hikers and bikers, offering opportunities to explore the natural beauty and diverse landscapes.

Caddo Lake, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 196 miles, 3 hours and 30 minutes

Canoeing on the Caddo Lake between Cypress trees

Caddo Lake, located just 196 miles away from Dallas, offers a serene and picturesque escape, making it one of the best weekend getaways from the city. This stunning lake, situated in the town of Jefferson, feels like living inside a tranquil painting, surrounded by the beauty of Spanish moss hanging from 400+-year-old Cypress trees. It’s one of the few places in Texas with natural lakes and boasts enchanting bayou landscapes.

You can set up camp at Caddo Lake State Park or opt for cozy cabin rentals in nearby small towns like Jefferson. Once you’re there, make sure to get out on the water, either through a boat tour or by renting kayaks. However, be cautious, as the lake’s winding waterways can be easy to get lost in if you venture out on your own.

The Caddo Lake State Park offers over 50 miles of paddling trails, perfect for exploring the swamps by canoe or kayak. It is also steeped in history, with the presence of beautiful historic cabins built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. With a rich history dating back at least 12,000 years, Caddo Lake State Park is a picturesque escape and a glimpse into the past.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Distance from Dallas: 535 miles, 8 hours

Big Bend National Park at sunset

Big Bend National Park in Texas is a vast and stunning natural wonder, spanning over 800,000 acres near the Mexican border. The park offers a diverse landscape with cacti-strewn deserts, majestic mountains, and the iconic Rio Grande River.

While it’s one of the longer road trips from Dallas, taking around 8 hours, the journey is well worth it for the breathtaking sights and unique experiences. To make the most of your trip, consider extending it to a week, allowing time to explore the charming small towns along the way.

As you head toward Big Bend, consider a stopover in Midland, Texas, about 5 hours outside of Dallas, where you can learn about the state’s oil boom history or visit the childhood home of former President George W. Bush. Continue on to Marfa, a delightful town known for the intriguing Marfa Lights that occasionally appear in the night sky.

Once in Big Bend, plan for a few days to fully enjoy all the park has to offer. With 150 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, birdwatching, and rafting opportunities along the Rio Grande, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had. And as the sun sets, don’t forget to look up—Big Bend boasts some of the country’s darkest skies, perfect for stargazing under the twinkling constellations.

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