For those looking for a fun day trip from Dallas, this guide has several options for you to choose from. Dallas is within a few hours of stunningly pretty state parks, charming cities, and a string of postcard-worthy small Texan towns just waiting to be explored.
Fort Worth: World-Class Art and Cowboy Culture
First up, the most logical day trip from Dallas is Fort Worth. The true flavor and history of Texas are embodied in this vibrant city, which became famous during the open-range cattle drives of the 19th century. Today, the main draw is the Stockyards National Historic District, where cowboys, cattlemen, and outlaws used to roam. The city is also home to several world-class art museums, including the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Getting There: Just 30 minutes west of Dallas, Fort Worth is easily accessible by car or bus.
Travel Tip: In addition to soaking up art and exploring the Stockyards, take a moment to walk around the Water Gardens if you’re downtown—this modernist, urban oasis of pools and water features is a marvel.
Beavers Bend State Park: Enjoy a Weekend in the Great Outdoors
Nestled in the scenic mountainous region of southeast Oklahoma, Beavers Bend State Park is a wonderful weekend getaway if you’re craving a dose of nature. Crystal-clear waters and lush, hilly terrain make this state park a nature lover’s dream. There’s plenty to do here, including hiking, biking, fishing, boating, water skiing, canoeing, horseback riding, and more. Spend the night at Lakeview Lodge, one of the park’s many cabins, or at a tent or RV campsite.
Getting There: Take Highway 75 north to exit 45; the journey takes about three hours.
Travel Tip: Make time for a glass of wine at Girls Gone Wine, an adorable winery in Broken Bow. After a long day at the lake, there’s no better way to unwind.
Denton: Explore a Culturally-Rich Texas Town
Less than an hour from Dallas, Denton boasts a spectacular live music scene and a lively culture all its own. Home to two major universities (the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University), this bustling college town is loaded with cool boutiques, breweries, bars, galleries, and restaurants, along with a plethora of up-and-coming musicians who perform around town.
Getting There: You can take the DART to get to Denton if you’re not up for the drive: Take the Green Line to the Trinity Mills station in Carrollton, transfer to the A-train, and take the A-train to the Downtown Denton Transit Center.
Caddo Lake State Park: A Maze of Natural Wonders
Caddo Lake State Park is located roughly two and a half hours from Dallas, but the drive is well worth it. This is one of the state’s most popular parks, for good reason. With its thick bald cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss, alligators (yep!), and maze of sloughs and pools, Caddo Lake has an eerie, gothic beauty that’s unlike other parts of Texas. Caddo Lake, the largest naturally formed lake in Texas, has over 50 miles of paddling trails that can be explored by canoe or kayak. Visitors can also experience the Pineywoods on more than 13 miles of trails.
Getting There: Caddo Lake State Park is about three hours east of Dallas, via I-20.
Travel Tip: Apart from getting out on the water (which is a must), don’t miss the Whispering Pines Nature Trail, a historic trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938 that passes through mixed hardwood-pine woodland.
Dinosaur Valley State Park: Follow the Footsteps of Ancient Beasts
It may be tough to believe, but dinosaurs used to roam just west of the Dallas metroplex. At Dinosaur Valley State Park, visitors can follow the real-life, fossilized dinosaur tracks along the banks of the park’s Paluxy River. The prints are preserved in stone and are visible at five different locations along the river.
Getting There: Drive along I-35 S towards Waco and continue on US-67; the park is about an hour and a half from the Metroplex.
Travel Tip: Hikers will rejoice at the 20-mile network of interconnected, mixed-use trails in the park, the longest of which, the Cedar Brake Outer Loop, takes you on a looping tour of the terrain atop limestone ridges.
Canton: A Small Town With Substantial Charm
Charming Canton has a slew of small-town treasures—like America's largest flea market—just waiting to be discovered. The incredibly walkable city is perfect to explore on a quick trip from Dallas.
Getting There: Canton is just an hour’s drive from Dallas, along US-80 and I-20.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit around First Monday Trade Days, the biggest continually operating flea market in the country, which takes place Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of every month.
Austin: Experience the Weirdest City in Texas
Austin may be located just three hours from Dallas, but the city’s cultural landscape is vastly different from that of the Big D. Come here to experience the food, the music, the culture, and the weirdness—see the bats on Congress Avenue, take a dip in Barton Springs, hike along the Greenbelt, and peruse galleries on the East Side.
Getting There: Austin is about four hours south of Dallas, via I-35.
Travel Tip: Avoid visiting during any of the major festivals (like South by Southwest or Austin City Limits) when the city is swarming with tourists.
Possum Kingdom State Park: Scenic Nature and Aquatic Beauty
Another mega-steamy Texas summer got you down? Possum Kingdom State Park is the perfect place to cool off. Located roughly one hour northwest of the Metroplex, the park caters to those who love the water, though there are also plenty of hiking trails. Scenically situated in the rugged canyon country of the Brazos River Valley and the Palo Pinto Mountains, this 1500-acre state park is on the west side of Possum Kingdom Lake. Visitors to the park can scuba dive, swim, snorkel, and go boating or fishing in the cool, clear waters.
Getting There: It’s a scenic jaunt along I-30 to Possum Kingdom Lake; the journey should take you around three hours.
Travel Tip: Aside from water sports, the rolling hills that surround the lake are home to several great trails, including the popular Lakeview Trail, the Longhorn Trail, and the Chaparral Ridge Trail, all of which offer magnificent views of the park