If you’re looking for the best family road trips from Dallas, Texas, we’ve got 12 fantastic suggestions. This list includes getaways to the city, the beach and everywhere in between. We think you will be pleasantly surprised at the many road trip options from the Dallas Fort Worth area!
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12 Awesome Ideas for a Driving Vacation from Dallas
When planning drivable vacations from Dallas, you’ll find you can easily reach several surrounding states within a one-day drive or less. With road trips and microadventures becoming the new norm, it’s good to know there are so many amazing places to explore in your own backyard.
Road Trips in Texas
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park covers over 1252 square miles, allowing space for everyone and making it one of the best weekend getaways in Texas.
The park is an International Dark Sky Park, which means it’s perfect for stargazing. It has the least amount of light pollution compared to the other national parks in the lower 48 states.
Families can enjoy the night sky on their own or head to one of the trails. Both the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail and Hot Springs Canyon Trail offer good views.
There are plenty of hiking trails within the park, however, you don’t need to use them to see some of the best views. You can access Sotol Vista Overlook, Tuff Canyon Overlook, and Mule Ears Viewpoint by car.
This is handy if you are exploring Big Bend National Park with toddlers or have anyone with mobility issues in your group.
Other fun things to do at Big Bend National Park include hiking the Santa Elena Canyon along the river, visiting the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, or even taking a canoe trip along the Rio Grande.
Big Bend National Park is quite a bit away from services, so plan on bringing plenty of water, get gas ahead of time, and book your camping reservation in advance. Be sure to bring a map as cell service can be an issue.
Driving from Dallas to Big Bend National Park offers a couple of opportunities for pit stops. It’s approximately 7.5 hours of driving time from Dallas, but you can stop in Midland or Odessa for the night if you need to.
In Odessa, don’t miss the Stonehenge Replica on the campus of UT Permian Basin.
In Midland, be sure to check out the George W. Bush childhood home or the I-20 Wildlife Preserve.
Since it’s such a long drive, we recommend bringing plenty of kid-friendly snacks.
Location: 589 miles from Dallas.
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas to San Antonio is only a four-hour drive, making it one of the more manageable Texas road trips from Dallas. It is a great option if you are short on time.
The easiest trip to San Antonio involves driving directly without stops, but if you have the time, Austin is a great lunch stop. Stretch your legs and explore the Texas State Capitol Building, and grab a bite at one of the local BBQ joints, like Franklin BBQ or Stubb’s Bar-B-Q.
Once you arrive, you will see there are plenty of things to do in San Antonio. Everyone’s first stop tends to be The Alamo, but there are all kinds of crazy attractions in Alamo Square, from the wax museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, to the Guinness World Records Museum.
When you are ready to relax, head to the River Walk. There are 15 miles of canals to explore by foot or boat. Just know the boats can be quite popular in summer and during the holidays.
Other good spots to add to your San Antonio itinerary include Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Natural Bridge Caverns, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Pearl District.
Location: 274 miles from Dallas.
Port Aransas, Texas
Port Aransas is known as the “fishing capital of Texas”, so plan on spending a lot of time on the water. The town lies on the north end of Mustang Island, a barrier island about 6.5 hours south of Dallas.
There are plenty of vacation rentals in Port Aransas, so find one ear the beach or on the beach and start planning a trip.
To reach Port Aransas, you will need to either take the ferry from Aransas Pass, or the JFK Memorial Causeway from Corpus Christi.
If you decide to take the ferry, keep an eye out for dolphins, as they are quite common in this area. Should you miss them, consider taking a dolphin-watching cruise with one of the local tour companies.
Port Aransas is known for its outdoor adventures, so consider a deep-sea fishing tour, paddle boarding, parasailing, or riding beach buggies on the dunes.
Don’t miss dinner with Rollin’ Tide Boil Co. who will come set up a fish boil and bonfire at your beach location, or head to Port A Pizzeria for a kid-friendly meal.
Where to stay: Find a rental home in Cinnamon Shores on VRBO.
Location: 446 miles from Dallas.
New Orleans, Louisiana Road Trip
New Orleans is well known for its quirky personality, annual Mardi Gras celebrations, and irresistible food. The city is the perfect driving distance and one of the best road trips from Dallas.
At seven hours and 34 minutes, it is easy to split the drive between two people and cover the distance in a day.
If you need to stop along the way, Shreveport is ideal for a quick visit. If you need to stretch your legs, you could visit the aquarium or Sci-Port Discovery Center.
There are so many exciting things to do in Louisiana and New Orleans. Take a ghost tour of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery, walk around the Garden District and admire the houses, visit the National WWII museum, or take a swamp tour!
In New Orleans, food takes center stage, so don’t miss these favorites:
- If you are craving po-boys, you can’t go wrong with Domilise’s or Mother’s.
- Be sure to try the muffuletta at Central Grocery.
- For some traditional New Orleans cuisine, head to Galatoire’s where you should sample the seafood gumbo or shrimp etouffee.
- Beignets at Cafe du Monde are a must!
Location: 506 miles from Dallas.
Road Trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama
This family road trip from Dallas is great if you want a beautiful coastline, sand between your toes and outdoor adventures. A weekend in Gulf Shores offers fun in the sun and plenty of opportunities for relaxation.
Gulf Shores, and its sister city of Orange Beach, offers several gorgeous beaches with tons of activities. You’ll love the white, sugar-like sand and turquoise water.
There’s also plenty of action! The Wharf at Orange Beach has shopping and dining, as well as a Ferris wheel (one of the largest in the southeast) and the Hummingbird Zipline course.
When you’re hungry, don’t miss these Gulf Shores restaurants!
If you’re planning a weekend trip from Dallas to Gulf Shores, a dolphin kayaking tour has to be on your itinerary. Coastal Kayak Excursions run a dolphin watching sunset tour which is perfect for families.
If you want to explore beyond Gulf Shores, don’t miss these other Alabama road trips!
This is one of the long road trips from Dallas at 10 hours and 13 minutes. If that’s too long for a day drive, consider making a stop in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s about 5 hours from Dallas, making it the perfect pit stop.
In Jackson you can visit the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the Mississippi Petrified Forest, or the Mississippi State Capitol and Old Capitol Museum.
Where to stay: Find a Gulf Shores vacation rental or book a room at Turquoise Place Resort and stay right on the beach. They have spacious apartments with ocean views, a lazy river, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a game room. (Click here to read our Turquoise Place review).
There’s also a concierge service in Gulf Shores called The Beach Moms. They do it all! Groceries, dinner reservations, special events, consider them your friend on call in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Highly recommend using them as your event assistants in Gulf Shores!
Location: 646 miles from Dallas.
Destin, Florida Road Trip
Destin makes the perfect road trip destination from Dallas. There are several places to stop both coming and going. Gulf Shores is only two hours from Destin and New Orleans is only four hours away. Both would be good stops for a week long road trip from Texas.
The most direct route to Destin is 11 hours from Dallas. Another option is driving 7 hours to New Orleans and then continuing on to Destin.
There are several places near Destin for a 30A vacation (the state highway that runs through the area). Some favorite family vacation spots on 30A include Seaside, Watercolor, and Rosemary Beach.
Destin offers endless amounts of water fun for all ages. If you get tired of building sand castles on the beach, head to Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park to cool off.
f you want to see wildlife, head to Gulfarium Marine & Adventure Park, or take a day trip to Cypress Springs for canoeing and snorkeling.
Location: 700 miles from Dallas.
Road Trip to Colorado Springs
This is one of the best road trips from Dallas, as Colorado Springs is an incredibly scenic destinations. There are plenty of great stops on the drive from Dallas to Colorado Springs. Total travel time is 12.5 hours, so it is probably best to do this drive in two days.
On your way, Amarillo is the perfect half way stop for the night. Be sure to visit Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon. Don’t forget a can of spray paint to add your mark to the Cadillacs!
Upon arriving in Colorado Springs, you will see it is an adventure lover’s paradise. Take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for some stellar views. Be sure to explore Manitou Springs and its mineral springs.
Cave of the Winds is a natural wonder, offering stunning underground cavern tours. Garden of the Gods, known for its stunning rock formations, is another place not to miss.
Other outdoor adventures include zip lining, white water rafting, hiking and more. You will never run out of things to do in Colorado Springs!
Where to stay: The Broadmoor resort features 5,000 acres of land, a private lake, river, gorge with seven waterfalls, golf, tennis, and pickleball. Kids will love the zip line, hiking and biking trails, and activities such as fly fishing, tomahawk throwing, and falconry.
Location: 724 miles from Dallas.
Sante Fe, New Mexico Road Trip
A nine and a half hour drive from Dallas, Santa Fe is an amazing road trip destination. It’s perfect for long weekend trips from Dallas and there are plenty of things to do in Santa Fe that won’t break the bank.
Take a walk around Canyon Road art district, with over 100 galleries and boutiques. Catch a sunset at Cross of the Martyr. Visit the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, where those under 16 are free and certain nights are free as well.
Other things not to miss in Santa Fe include the Georgia O’Keefe museum, Santa Fe Farmers Market, Bandelier National Monument, and Taos Pueblo.
One way to drive from Dallas to Santa Fe is through Amarillo. As mentioned, this offers an opportunity to see Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
An alternative route is to go through Lubbock (birthplace of Buddy Holly and home to Texas Tech University) and then on to Albuquerque (don’t miss Petroglyph National Monument and the Sandia Peak Tram) before reaching Santa Fe.
Santa Fe could also be a detour on a road trip to Colorado Springs.
Where to stay: La Fonda on the Plaza is the perfect hotel in the Santa Fe historic district.
Location: 656 miles from Dallas.
Tennessee Road Trips
This road trip from Dallas can be completed in a day, with a beautiful pit stop along the way. Hot Springs National Park is a great place to have some lunch, and take a break from the six and a half hour drive to Memphis.
Your first stop when you arrive in Memphis should be a restaurant. Head to Gus’s for great fried chicken. If barbecue is more your thing, you’re in luck, there’s great BBQ everywhere in Memphis (try Central BBQ or Corky’s, yum)!
For outdoor patio seating, be sure to try Beauty Shop with clear igloo seating (perfect for a photo-op) or Soccer City for family friendly dishes like burgers and tacos.
If rock ‘n’ roll is your thing, head to Sun Studio for a tour and see where Elvis Presley was discovered. Of course, Graceland is a must see too.
Don’t miss the National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, and Bass Pro Shop (it’s not what you think)! And don’t miss these other fun things to do during a day trip to Memphis!
Location: 453 miles from Dallas.
A road trip from Dallas to Chattanooga typically takes 11.5 hours, so it is probably best to break this trip into two days. You could stop in Memphis and Nashville along the way, or travel through Jackson, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama.
Once you arrive in Chattanooga, you will be surprised by all of the nearby adventures. The Tennessee Aquarium is a must see, with over 10,000 animals on display. Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall you can only reach via a cave tour. Highly recommend!
Rock City Gardens are natural walking trails with stunning views of the surrounding area. There are so many things to do in Chattanooga with kids.
Where to stay: The Chattanoogan Hotel offers comfortable accommodations within walking distance of downtown.
Location: 784 miles from Dallas.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas Road Trip
It’s an easy, six-hour drive to Eureka Springs from Dallas, and you’ll probably want to get there as quickly as possible to make the most of everything the town has to offer! You can go canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, play golf, fish, or rent a mountain bike.
In downtown Eureka Springs there are plenty of places to eat, and beautiful local shops to enjoy if you can take your eyes off the stunning Victorian architecture. Be sure to visit Thorncrown Chapel (see below), Onyx Cave Park, and Blue Spring Heritage Center.
If the six-hour road trip from Dallas is a bit too long for you, consider a stop in Fayetteville on the way, which is about an hour outside Eureka Springs.
Here you could tour the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks or Crystal Bridges Museum. If you prefer to spend time outdoors, head to Lake Fayetteville and hike the trails.
Where to stay: Consider staying at Eureka Springs Treehouses, Hobbit Caves & Castles, which is exactly as the name describes. Visitors can choose from themed rooms including Hobbit caves, tree houses, and cottages. What’s not to love about unique places to stay?
Location: 335 miles from Dallas.
Oklahoma City Road Trip
Looking for short road trips from Dallas? Oklahoma City is just 3 hours away.
If your family loves museums and adventure, Oklahoma City is a great place to enjoy them both. Start with a canal ride through Bricktown and take in an OKC Dodgers baseball game.
Some of the city’s top museums include the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, the Museum of Art, Myriad Botanical Gardens, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Other favorite things to do include white water rafting in Oklahoma City with Riversport OKC. Your read that right – you can take on Class II to IV rapids in the heart of downtown.
Families will also love Frontier City and taking a ride on the Wheeler Ferris Wheel.
Location: 206 miles from Dallas.
Book Your Flights
You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Hotels.com and Expedia.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Tiqets is another place to purchase tickets for attractions.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is take photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threat or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.