What to Know About Driving from Dallas to Houston


Are you planning a road trip from Dallas to Houston? Prepare for an unforgettable adventure full of breathtaking scenery with enriching educational experiences. From picturesque Texas forests and charming ranches to captivating museum tours, this journey promises a trip you’ll never forget.

Read on to learn more details about a Dallas to Houston road trip, as well as the destinations you can stop by along the way.

How Far is Houston from Dallas, and How Long Will the Road Trip Take?

The distance between Houston and Dallas is approximately 240 miles. The road trip usually takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes without factoring in any stops or detours along the way.

While it is a relatively short road trip, it is recommended to allocate at least three days to fully explore the beautiful areas you will encounter during your journey from Dallas to Houston. There are numerous attractions and sights worth visiting, so it’s best to allow ample time to make sure you can visit some to make your road trip a more memorable and enjoyable experience.

What is the Best Route from Dallas to Houston?

View along south Interstate 45

For the best road trip route from Dallas to Houston, the most scenic and straightforward option is to follow Interstate-45 (I-45). Despite being relatively short, this route offers plenty of sights to enjoy while remaining easy to navigate.

This picturesque itinerary capitalizes on the simple yet captivating beauty of nature scenery along the way. It also provides opportunities for camping near various lakes along the route. Moreover, you’ll pass through a chain of towns and cities, each with unique characteristics and historical remnants to explore.

One important aspect to consider is that while the route generally offers smooth traffic conditions and Houston itself is manageable, it may take some time to get out of Dallas, especially on weekends. To make the most of your road trip, starting early in the morning, preferably at daybreak, is recommended.

Driving Directions from Dallas to Houston

  1. Take I-45 South from Dallas, heading towards Houston.
  2. Pass through cities like Corsicana, Fairfield, and Buffalo along the way.
  3. Continue on I-45 South, enjoying the scenic drive through East Texas.
  4. As you approach Huntsville, consider a detour to visit Huntsville State Park for outdoor recreation and beautiful nature trails.
  5. Back on I-45 South, walk towards Conroe, where you can explore the charming downtown area and enjoy water activities on Lake Conroe.
  6. From Conroe, continue on I-45 South to reach The Woodlands, a vibrant community with shopping, dining, and outdoor spaces.
  7. Finally, follow I-45 South until you reach your destination: Houston, Texas’s vibrant metropolis and cultural hub.

Best Places to Stop When on a Road Trip from Dallas to Houston

If you have the time (and we do recommend you make time), you can stop by some notable places to enhance your adventure. Instead of solely passing through major cities, a Dallas-to-Houston drive presents opportunities to explore small towns and picturesque countryside. Consider including additional side trips to the following places:

(Note: These places are listed in order of location, going from Dallas to Houston at I-45, so you may need to start at the bottom if you’re doing the route in reverse.

Ellis County Museum – Waxahachie, TX

Ellis County, TX, Museum in Waxahachie

Nestled in the heart of downtown Waxahachie, the Ellis County Museum houses artifacts that speak volumes about the region’s rich history. As you wander through the museum, you’ll find a collection that includes historical photographs, textiles, and other memorabilia that paint a vivid picture of life in Ellis County from its early days to the present. This museum is a treasure trove for history buffs and a delightful stop for those looking to immerse themselves in the local heritage.

Galaxy Drive-In Movie Theater – Ennis, TX

Situated at exit 255 on I-45, just north of Ennis, Texas, you’ll find the Galaxy Drive-In. This delightful theater accommodates up to 800 cars, ensuring ample space for moviegoers to enjoy their favorite films in a unique and memorable setting.

Experience a nostalgic outdoor movie night at the Galaxy Drive-In Theater. This charming venue provides a distinct cinematic experience where you can relish a variety of films from the cozy confines of your vehicle. With multiple screens and a snack bar, it’s an ideal spot for a romantic, old-fashioned date night under the twinkling stars.

Kolache Depot Bakery – Ennis, TX

Kolaches on a tray

Indulge in yummy kolaches at Kolache Depot Bakery. A beloved breakfast item in Texas, kolaches originated from Czech immigrants and have become a staple in donut shops throughout the state. Conveniently located in Ennis, this bakery makes for a perfect pit stop to fuel up for your road trip or recharge during the final stretch (if you’re traveling from Houston to Dallas). With operating hours from 4:30 a.m. to midnight every day, you’ll likely find a convenient time to visit as you pass through.

Kolache Depot Bakery offers an enticing array of both sweet and savory kolaches. Try out the cream cheese kolache for a delightful sweet treat, or opt for the jalapeño sausage with cheese kolache to add some spicy excitement. It’s worth noting that the bakery is located inside a gas station, but don’t let that put you off—the kolaches here are sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Bluebonnet Park– Ennis, TX

Beautiful bluebonnets along a lake in the Texas Hill Country

Take some time to smell the flowers by exploring the enchanting Ennis Bluebonnet Trails in Ennis. Vibrant wildflowers, particularly bluebonnets, create a stunning display here during the spring season. These picturesque hiking trails meander through picturesque landscapes of rolling hills and farmlands, offering a breathtaking spectacle and a perfect backdrop for nature photography. Enjoy tranquil walks in this park as you are surrounded by the beauty of Texas’ official flower. Take lots of pictures with your group, and then you can also visit the adjacent Bardwell Lake.

Collin Street Bakery – Corsicana, TX

If you have a sweet tooth, Collin Street Bakery is a must-visit! This bakery is home to their renowned “world-famous” fruitcake. As a testament to its exceptional quality, this delectable treat was even featured on the popular Food Network show “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

Since its establishment in 1896, this family-owned and operated bakery has delighted visitors with its exceptional baked goods. This historic establishment has earned a well-deserved reputation for its mouthwatering pecan pies and fruitcakes. Collin Street Bakery is a haven for food lovers, and a visit to this bakery is an absolute must for anyone looking to savor the authentic tastes of Texas.

Pearce Museum – Corsicana, TX

If you’re a history buff, you will enjoy a side trip to the Pearce Museum in Corsicana, which offers a collection of artwork and artifacts from the American West and the Civil War. Located at Navarro College’s Cook Center, the museum shares its space with a planetarium, offering an exciting dual experience for visitors.

In the Pearce Western Art Gallery, you’ll encounter original works by esteemed masters of Western Art, alongside recent creations by notable artists from the National Academy of Western Art, the Cowboy Artists of America, and the National Sculpture Society, among others. Meanwhile, the Pearce Civil War Gallery offers an interactive collection that can take you on a journey through the American Civil War.

Sam’s Original Restaurant – Fairfield, TX

Head to Sam’s Original Restaurant in Fairfield for a hearty and satisfying meal beyond car snacks. This beloved family-run establishment offers an all-you-can-eat buffet showcasing a delectable selection of Southern favorites. Indulge in mouthwatering dishes like chicken fried steak, BBQ beef, and enchiladas. The buffet menu changes daily, so you can check the restaurant’s website for delicious options.

While enjoying the generous spread, save room for one of their homemade pies. The coconut cream pie is particularly renowned and a must-try. If you’re planning a visit to Dallas or Houston and want to surprise your hosts, you can even reserve a whole pie for pickup with 24 hours’ notice.

Richland-Chambers Reservoir – Corsicana, TX

Richland-Chambers Reservoir, one of the largest reservoirs in Texas, boasts an impressive 330 miles of shoreline. This picturesque lake is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, with abundant catfish and various types of bass waiting to be caught.

Beyond fishing, there are numerous ways to enjoy the water. Take to the lake on a boat, jet ski, or kayak, allowing you to embrace the tranquility and serenity of the surroundings. Don’t worry if you have no watercraft; you can rent one here. You may also plan to camp on one of the many camping destinations around the reservoir.

Old Mexican Inn Restaurant & Cantina – Corsicana, TX

This iconic dining spot has served savory Mexican cuisine and Southern hospitality since its establishment in 1941. The restaurant is famous for its unique orange dip—an irresistible, creamy concoction served alongside warm, crispy tortilla chips. This family-owned gem offers a menu packed with traditional Mexican dishes, each prepared with a touch of local flavor and flair.

Old Fort Parker Historic Site – Groesbeck, TX

Old Fort Parker Historic Site

Old Fort Parker Historic Site in Groesbeck, Texas, offers history enthusiasts a captivating glimpse into frontier life during the early 1800s. Step back in time as you explore the site and witness the original location where the Parker family resided. Gain insight into the significant raid in 1836, when members of various Native American tribes attacked the fort. The museum at Old Fort Parker shares the compelling story of one survivor of the raid, who lived among the Comanche for a substantial portion of her life. The park hosts engaging public events throughout the year, including trail ride days and captivating antique gun shooting demonstrations.

Texas Prison Museum – Huntsville, TX

Texas Prison Museum

Offering a glimpse into the more gritty aspects of Texas history, the Texas Prison Museum explores the state’s penal system with intriguing exhibits. Notable displays include the infamous electric chair known as “Old Sparky,” artifacts from notable inmates, and a variety of memorabilia related to Texas law enforcement and prison life. This museum provides a unique educational experience that is both sobering and fascinating, highlighting the complexities of justice and correctional evolution in Texas.

Huntsville State Park – Huntsville, TX

Explore the captivating scenery of Huntsville State Park, characterized by dense woodlands dominated by loblolly and shortleaf pines, which are characteristic of the East Texas Pine Belt. The park’s abundant camping and picnic areas provide inviting spaces to unwind and enjoy nature’s embrace. Embraced by the park’s boundaries, the scenic Lake Raven spans 210 acres and is fed by three major creeks.

This idyllic state park caters to outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and simply relishing in the wonders of nature. Anglers can partake in the thrill of fishing for crappie, perch, catfish, and bass, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to their outdoor adventure.

Sam Houston National Forest – Houston/Conroe/Huntsville area

Sam Houston National Forest sign

Sam Houston National Forest is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, providing many opportunities for exploration and relaxation. As one of the four national forests in Texas, it encompasses a vast area that extends to Lake Conroe in the west and Lake Livingston in the northeast. These lakes offer abundant recreational options, including boating, fishing, and swimming, with Lake Livingston being the larger of the two. With 160 campsites and screened shelters available for rent, visitors have ample choices for accommodation.

For those seeking a thrilling hiking experience, the forest is home to segments of the Lone Star Hiking Trail, the longest hiking trail in Texas, stretching 128 miles. Biking and equestrian trails are also available, catering to different outdoor pursuits. Campers can choose from three developed campgrounds—Cagle, Double Lake, and Stubblefield—offering options for overnight stays. While Cagle and Double Lake accept reservations, Stubblefield operates on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bernhardt Winery – Plantersville, TX

Just a short detour from the main route, Bernhardt Winery offers a serene escape into the world of Texas viticulture. This family-owned boutique winery is known for its charming ambiance and delightful wine tastings. Visitors can enjoy a winery tour, sample a selection of wines, and relax on the idyllic grounds with a view stretching over rolling hills and vineyards. Whether you’re a wine aficionado or simply looking for a peaceful break from the road, Bernhardt Winery provides a perfect blend of relaxation and indulgence.

Conroe, TX

Old business district on Main Street in Conroe, Texas

Make a stop in Conroe on your road trip from Dallas to Houston and discover the charm of this vibrant city. Known as the “Lake Conroe Gateway,” Conroe offers a captivating mix of outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, and a lively downtown area. With its proximity to Lake Conroe, outdoor enthusiasts will find an array of water activities, including boating, fishing, and lakeside picnicking. Explore the scenic trails of W.G. Jones State Forest or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque waterfront.

Beyond its natural beauty, Conroe boasts a thriving arts scene. Visit the historic Crighton Theatre for live performances or explore the Conroe Art League Gallery to admire local artistic talent. Indulge in culinary delights at numerous restaurants and breweries, offering a variety of cuisines and craft beverages.

The Woodlands, TX

Downtown The Woodlands, Texas

The Woodlands is a vibrant and meticulously planned community in Texas, celebrated for its lively music scene and abundance of shopping centers. Experience the thrill of live concerts at the renowned Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion or indulge in a shopping spree at the upscale Market Street. With its diverse leisure, culture, and entertainment offerings, The Woodlands guarantees visitors an exciting and enriching experience.

Renowned for its extensive parks and recreational facilities, The Woodlands presents a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The community boasts an impressive 151 parks and an extensive network of 220 miles of hike and bike trails, perfect for exploring the picturesque surroundings.

Old Town Spring – Spring, TX

Discover the delightful Old Town Spring, a historic settlement nestled within the charming town of Spring, Texas. This picturesque area is adorned with cute boutiques, antique shops, and a variety of excellent restaurants, offering a haven for shopping enthusiasts and culinary adventurers alike. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the art galleries, which add an artistic touch to this captivating destination.

With over 100 family-owned stores, the area boasts a vibrant shopping scene where you can find unique treasures and one-of-a-kind items. One of the area’s notable highlights is its pleasant walkability, which sets it apart from the bustling metropolises of Dallas and Houston. Stepping into Old Town Spring is like stepping back in time to the 19th century when it served as a bustling railroad hub.

Buc-ee’s – Madisonville, TX

Bucees logo on a storefront in Madisonville, Texas

No Texas road trip would be complete without a visit to the iconic Buc-ees. This cherished chain of convenience stores and gas stations has become a must-stop destination for travelers. Recognizable by its playful beaver mascot, Buc-ee’s is renowned for its sprawling size, numerous gas pumps, impeccably clean restrooms, and an extensive array of snacks.

Don’t miss their famous “beaver nuggets,” irresistible sweet corn puffs that have gained a cult following. Enjoy their delectable beef jerky (and choose from its extensive flavor options), explore the aisles filled with intriguing items for sale, and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of this beloved Texas institution. You’ll also find quirky souvenir shops to browse through, adding to the unique charm of the Buc-ee’s experience.

Final Words

In wrapping up our road trip guide from Dallas to Houston, we’ve explored a variety of stops that enrich the journey with culture, history, and scenic beauty. From the nostalgic charm of the Galaxy Drive-In in Ennis to the tranquil vistas of Huntsville State Park and the rich history at the Texas Prison Museum, each stop offers a unique glimpse into the heart of Texas.

Whether you’re a food lover, a history enthusiast, or just in need of a relaxing break amidst nature, this route promises delights for every traveler. Remember to pace your journey, enjoy each destination, and soak up the diverse experiences that the Lone Star State has to offer. So buckle up, hit the road, and discover the wonders between Dallas and Houston—one memorable stop at a time.

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