It’s funny how many people never fully explore their own backyards. We have certainly been guilty of that in the past. As part of our attempt to focus on local travel in the near term, we’ve decided to find some unique weekend road trips from Dallas. There are so many amazing places you can visit from Dallas, but how many have you explored? Here are our recommendations for the best weekend getaways from Dallas.
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Dallas weekend getaways families will love
I’ve put a list of the best weekend trips from Dallas, from National Parks and natural springs to zip lining through the countryside, and getting messy with art. There are plenty of weekend getaways in Texas and beyond, so when you are ready to travel, pack your bags and head on out! And don’t miss Dallas road trips if you are looking for longer vacations!
Weekend Trips in Texas
One of the main attractions in Amarillo is Cadillac Ranch. This art exhibition built in 1974 (relocated in 1997), consists of Cadillacs partially buried in the ground. They are covered in spray paint, and visitors bring cans with them to add their artistic touch. Just remember to take your cans with you when you leave.
Kids might also like the Amarillo Zoo, Texas Air & Space Museum, and Wonderland Amusement Park. Don’t miss a Sod Poodles baseball game in the summer or a Bulls ice hockey game in winter.
Just twenty five miles outside Amarillo is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a canyon that resembles the Grand Canyon in its size and color. If you don’t have time to hike, or don’t want to, you can still go for a drive and take in the amazing views.
Favorite restaurants in town include Coyote Bluff Café, The Big Texan Steak Ranch (known for its 72 oz steak), and Sharky’s Burritos. Be sure to leave room for dessert at Malcolm’s Ice Cream parlor. Where to stay: Courtyard by Marriott and Embassy Suites are good options for families. Doves Rest Cabins are another great option with vacation rental homes overlooking Palo Duro Canyon. Amarillo is 366 miles from Dallas.
Austin is a popular location for a Texas weekend getaway, with plenty of fun for parents and kids. If you are traveling from Dallas, Waco is the perfect place to stop on a Dallas to Austin road trip. Once you arrive in Austin, start with a visit to Zilker Park, with 358 acres to explore. It’s perfect for a picnic, hitting the playground, or flying a kite. The main attraction here is Barton Springs Pool, a 3 acre swimming pool fed by underground springs. Bring a swimsuit because the kids will definitely want to take a swim.
The Texas state capitol shouldn’t be missed. It sits right in the heart of downtown and offers free daily tours. Teens will love a visit to South Congress for its unique shops, street art, and delicious restaurants (we like Home Slice Pizza and Jalisco’s for Mexican). For the best BBQ in Austin, be sure not to miss Franklin Barbecue or Salt Lick BBQ.
Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. It’s a little bit out of town, but it has an awesome water park. Austin is 195 miles from Dallas, and the Austin to Dallas drive time is just around 3 hours.
Don’t miss these other suggestions for the best water parks in Texas!
If you are traveling with kids, be sure to visit Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park where you can visit the former President’s house, gardens, and living history farm (Sauer-Beckmann Farm). Also nearby is Enchanted Rock, a pink granite dome rising 425 feet in the air. Kids will love climbing on the boulders. Old Tunnel State Park is another option, with its hiking trails and up to 3 million bats that fly out of the abandoned railroad tunnel at dusk.
Head to Main Street and take a trolley tour, admiring the historic buildings and learning about the German settlers of Fredericksburg, the architecture, and pioneering families. History lovers should also head to the National Museum of the Pacific War to see its artifacts and learn about life in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Of course you have to eat German food in Fredericksburg, so take the kids for a bite to eat at Otto’s German Bistro. Another place kids will love is Airport Diner where they can watch the planes come and go while they enjoy their burgers and milkshakes.
One of the closest Dallas road trips, Granbury is just over an hour away by car. Yet, it’s still a huge change of scenery to Dallas. Here, you can go back in time to old Texas and even back to the dinosaurs.
Granbury is located on Lake Granbury, and has an awesome beachfront for playing in the sand and building sand castles. Families can go boating, kayaking, fishing, there is no limit to the water fun available!
Historic Granbury Square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is always busy. There are plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as frequent festivals and weekly farmers markets.
If you have a dinosaur fan in the family, head to Dinosaur Valley State Park to walk in the tracks of ancient dinosaurs. Nearby Dinosaur World is home to 150 live-sized dinosaur models, a fossil dig, and a prehistoric playground. The kids are going to love it!
Where to stay: Hilton Garden Inn Granbury has a great location for families. Granbury is 69 miles from Dallas.
There are plenty of things to do in Houston with kids, but the top choice is the Space Center. There are hundreds of exhibits at Space Center Houston. Kids can learn about the day to day life of astronauts and see what it’s like to complete simple tasks without gravity. It’s definitely a place everyone will love.
Houston is also home to major league baseball’s Houston Astros, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Kemah Boardwalk, a waterfront amusement park. When it gets too hot, head to the best water parks for families in Houston: Schlitterbahn, Typhoon Texas, Hurricane Harbor, and Altitude H20, an over water obstacle course.
Where to stay: The Marriott Marquis is one hotel kids will love, especially with its Texas shaped lazy river. Houston is 239 miles from Dallas.
New Braunfels, Texas
New Braunfels appears on almost every list of the best weekend trips from Dallas! For families the main attraction is Schlitterbahn, one of the best waterparks in Texas. It spans over 70 acres and families come from all over to enjoy its 51 attractions and rides that use natural river water from the nearby Comal River.
Parents will love exploring the Gruene Historic District, founded in the 1840s by German settlers. In addition to specialty shops, be sure to visit the iconic dance venue, Gruene Hall. This performance center opened in 1878 and has hosted headline acts such as The Dixie Chicks, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Willie Nelson. You never know, you could see a performance today, and a year later that person could be a superstar.
Another reason to visit New Braunfels is to go tubing on each of the town’s rivers. The two rivers, the Guadalupe and Comal are open to everyone, but the Comal has calmer waters making it perfect for young kids. Rent tubes at one of the local outfitters and they will provide shuttle service back to your car when you finish.
Other favorite family spots in New Braunfels include Stars and Stripes Drive In (perfect for movie night) and Natural Bridge Caverns (fun for underground exploring on hot days). Alpine Haus serves yummy German food and Gristmill offers casual dining families will love.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio might be our favorite driving vacation from Dallas. We explored San Antonio at Christmas, but it’s the perfect destination any time of year. Head to the Riverwalk and hop on a GoRio tour of the San Antonio River. Depending on the time of year, you might see performers or even parades.
Kids love visiting Sea World, Six Flags, the San Antonio Zoo, and Natural Bridge Caverns, about an hour outside of town. Be sure to visit the Alamo if it’s your first time in San Antonio, but don’t miss the other four missions in the city. Our favorite is Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo which is perfect for learning about the history of the missions and it also gives young ones a lot of room for exploring.
When everyone gets hungry, restaurants on the Riverwalk can be convenient, but The Guenther House has a fabulous breakfast, and La Panaderia has delicious sandwiches, so be sure to seek them out.
Where to stay: We recommend staying somewhere on the Riverwalk so you can park your car for the weekend and see most of the sights on foot. Hotel Valencia is a great choice, as is Hyatt Place on the Riverwalk. If you want to get away from the crowds and score points with the kids, head to JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa where you’ll find water slides, golf, and a massive water park.
If you’re looking for somewhere quieter, Wimberley is a beautiful town, and one of the best weekend getaways in Texas. Situated in the heart of Texas Hill Country, it’s where the Blanco River and Cypress Creek come together. Lucky for you, this makes it the perfect place to escape when the temperatures soar.
Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are the most popular swimming locations in this town, you even have to reserve a spot at Jacob’s Well beforehand. Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring with a cave system (only to be explored by permitted cave diving experts), covering over 3 acres and offering a constant temperature of 68 degrees. Blue Hole Regional Park spans 126 acres and visitors can dive into its refreshing swimming hole and relax under the shade of cypress trees.
Don’t miss Wimberley Zipline Adventures, with 10 different zip lines flying high above Hill Country. When you’re done with the action, head downtown and explore the boutiques and art galleries of Wimberley Square. Or head to Wimberley Glassworks and have a front row seat at the local glass blowing studio.
Grab a bite to eat at The Leaning Pear which has a lovely outdoor dining space and delicious food. Verde at Cypress Falls offers stunning water views and yummy Tex Mex cuisine.
Weekend Getaways in Oklahoma
Broken Bow, Oklahoma
About 3 hours northeast of Dallas is Broken Bow, Oklahoma, a nature lover’s paradise. There are two state parks in the Broken Bow area, Beavers Bend and Hochatown. Both offer hiking, boating, fishing, kayaking, and more. Those interested in fly fishing can learn all about it at Beavers Bend Fly Shop, where you can book a tour with a local guide.
Kids love the Hochatown Petting Zoo and Rugaru zip line. If outdoor adventures aren’t your thing, spend some adult time at Girls Gone Wine for wine tasting, take a tour at Hochatown Distilling Company, or head to Body Harmony Spa for some relaxation.
There are plenty of food options in Hochatown, including local favorites Grateful Head Pizza, Blue Rooster, and Hochahut, where everyone raves about the corn dogs.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City has plenty to do for kids of different ages and interests. History fans should start with the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Museum exhibits cover everything from the history of cowboys to Native American art. There’s an interactive area known as the Cowboy Corral where kids can try on boots, build a campfire, and learn about life on the “trail”. Check for current restrictions before planning a visit.
For the older ones, don’t miss white water rafting downtown. At River Sport everyone can learn to surf, white water raft, paddleboard, and more. It’s an excellent option when the weather is too good to be inside.
Other fun ideas include Science Museum Oklahoma and Frontier City amusement park. Be sure to take a stroll or canal ride through Bricktown, and grab a bite to eat at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop or Bricktown Brewery. Both are family friendly.
Weekend Getaways in Arkansas
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Another popular Dallas road trip is Hot Springs, Arkansas, about 4.5 hours by car. On the way there or back, be sure to stop at Crater of Diamonds State Park where kids and adults can dig for diamonds (yes, you get to keep what you find).
Once you arrive in Hot Springs, there are plenty of things to do. Families will love Hot Springs National Park where historically people would come from all over to soak in the bathhouses. Today visitors cannot bathe in the thermal waters, but they can touch the water in a couple of different places and drink the water from the fountains throughout the park.
Outside of the park head to Arkansas Alligator Farm where kids can hold baby alligators, pet goats, and see all types of wildlife. At Adventureworks Hot Springs, families can zipline through the trees and take on an adventure course. Other fun options include Lake Ouachita State Park and Garvan Woodland Gardens.
Grab a bite to eat at the historic Ohio Club, where gangsters once frequented, or enjoy the pizza at Rocky’s Corner. There are plenty of restaurants in Hot Springs that are family friendly.