Going anywhere fun this weekend? It’s a question that frequently comes up in conversation at the Travelocity office in Dallas, after all we’re always in a vacation state of mind. But when the answer is not yet on a Friday afternoon, that doesn’t have to mean a weekend of binge watching is ahead (unless you want it to be.) We’re not here to judge how you spend your free time, but maybe you have something a little more adventurous in mind. In that case, you’ll find inspiration from our list of day trips from Dallas that require zero planning, so you can escape on a whim. Go ahead, rent a car and hit the road for a spontaneous getaway you won’t regret …
Live Like a Cowboy
Dallasites don’t have to travel far to find a whole new world of adventure, with Fort Worth practically at our doorstep. Take a quick 45-minute jaunt to the western side of DFW and you’ll see what all the fuss is about at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Here you’ll find the Western heritage everyone associates Texas with, from quirky boutique shops to twice-daily cattle drives. For a truly authentic cowboy experience, check out the world’s only year-round rodeo. Savor Tex-Mex at its finest (don’t forget the margaritas!) at Joe T. Garcia’s — a delicious tradition since 1935. And while you’re at it, pull on those cowboy boots you just purchased and two-step the night away at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk which frequently hosts some of country music’s hottest acts. Complete your escape with a stay at one of the nearby downtown hotels!
Take the Scenic Route
I grew up in Oklahoma City, but somehow I had never been to the state’s natural gem of Beavers Bend until recently. That’s probably because, truth be told, it’s actually closer to Dallas at just under a 3-hour drive! Located in the southeastern corner of the Sooner State in Broken Bow, OK, Beavers Bend State Park is a nature lover’s dream, with cozy log cabins, lush landscapes and the clearest lake water you’ve ever seen.
Spend an afternoon on the water of picturesque Beavers Bend Lake via kayak, jet ski or boat; check out local restaurants, shops and wineries in nearby Hochatown like Girls Gone Wine, Abendigo’s and Grateful Head Pizza; or simply let go and relax on your personal patio. It’s just the reprieve you need from the hustle and bustle of city life, if only for a weekend.
Visit Bear Country
Once a quiet town known as the home of the University of Baylor Bears, Waco has grown into quite the tourist attraction these days. And a little show called Fixer Upper has a lot to do with it. Drive 1.5 hours south to find Magnolia Market at the Silos, an HGTV fan’s heaven, where fans of Chip and Jo have flocked to since its opening in 2015.
Bring your wallet, your home improvement ideas and your appetite for the full Magnolia experience! Thirsty for more? Head over to the Dr. Pepper Museum for a taste of history, nostalgic and pure Pepper fandom.
Head for the Hills
You’d be hard pressed to find a Dallas resident who hasn’t visited Austin at least once, but I’ll bet it was fueled by a night of dive bar hopping through 6th Street or fighting concert crowds for backstage access. This time, why not head to the Hill Country for a some well-deserved R&R?
Travaasa Austin is just the right blend of rustic sophistication, with rooms that feature canyon views for an experience that makes you forget you’re just 3 hours from home. Or families will appreciate the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, a sprawling 4,000-acre escape featuring kid-friendly amenities like a miniature golf course and outdoor children’s pool. Don’t forget to enjoy a sunset dinner at The Oasis on Lake Travis, where a meal on their outdoor deck overlooking the lake is worth the drive in itself.
Also in Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg offers the charming break you didn’t even realize you needed — and the perfect backdrop for a girls’ getaway or romantic escape. The uneventful 4-hour drive from Dallas leads you through small towns you’ve probably never heard of, but isn’t that half of the appeal? This, my friends, is a true getaway from your ordinary rushed lifestyle.
Once you arrive in Fredericksburg, you’ll wonder why you haven’t visited before. With over two dozen local wineries, the tasting opportunities abound, as do the chances to make memories. You’ll also want to make time to stroll the historic streets (there’s more than 700 historically significant structures!) and shop its local boutiques. Why not stop and stay awhile? (Or at least a night.)
Relax on the River
The Alamo. The River Walk. The restaurants, the shops, the history! With so much to explore in San Antonio, perhaps this is more of a 2- or 3-day getaway. After all, it was named one of the “Best Places to Visit in the USA in 2017” by Gnational Gnomad Cacinda Maloney. But even with all San Antonio has to offer, at less than a 5-hour drive from Dallas it’s definitely possible to visit without a lot of planning ahead.
I’ve taken a couple of weekend trips with my husband to San Antonio, and found it was the perfect opportunity to refresh without much fuss. Stay in the heart of the action at the chic Mokara Hotel & Spa, which features a full-service spa and rooftop café — so you can take your pick of relaxing or refueling till your heart’s content.
Tempt Lady Luck
Cross over the Oklahoma border, and you’ll immediately find some of the best casinos you can test your luck at outside of Las Vegas. Both Winstar World Casino and Choctaw Casino are about 1.5 hours from Dallas, offering plenty of gaming opportunities — but also, resort-style rooms, restaurants, golfing and even an arcade and movie theater to keep the kids entertained. This is the kind of escape that’s genuinely possible to enjoy with zero planning, just jump in the car and drive! And with both casinos offering luxurious hotel rooms, you might decide to cash in your winnings on a relaxing overnight stay … because, why not?
If you’re still feeling lucky, or want to try your luck in Louisiana instead, you’ve got plenty of options there, too. A little less than a 3-hour drive east of Dallas will find you even more casinos between Shreveport and Bossier City, LA, including well-known names like Margaritaville and Harrah’s.
Get Back to Nature
Head 30 more minutes north of WinStar Casino on I-35 to Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains area, and you’ll find scenic landscape, eye-catching windmills and refreshing waterfalls. Turner Falls Park in Davis, OK is a great mini-escape for families, offering hiking trails, caves, wildlife and a 77-foot waterfall.
Grab a swimsuit and a towel and head out the door, that’s all you’ll need for this adventure! The park features refreshing swimming areas, sandy beaches and plenty of snacks to nosh on before (or during) the drive back home.
So, you going anywhere fun this weekend? I know I am!
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