The 6 Best Day Trips from Dallas

Escape the city for a day of exploring nature, seeing endangered animals or taking in a show.

By Amanda Casanova, ContributorJune 20, 2017
By Amanda Casanova, ContributorJune 20, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

The 6 Best Day Trips from Dallas

City of Waco, Texas

Waco is home to the popular HGTV show "Fixer Upper."(Mark Randolph/City of Waco)

If you're looking to get away for the day during your Dallas trip, you have plenty of options. For less than a tank of gas, you can find yourself playing the slots, following dinosaur tracks or relaxing with a fishing rod in hand. Pack up the car for a short road trip and head to one of these great spots, all recommended by local experts.

Possum Kingdom Lake

Nature lovers can drive 140 miles to Possum Kingdom Lake for swimming, snorkeling, boating or fishing. If you prefer to stay on land, take a hike and see the scenery, or load up a bike and pick a trail to conquer. And after a day of outdoor fun, camp in an air-conditioned cabin – or under more primitive conditions.

Anglers can expect to try for largemouth and white bass, channel and blue catfish, and white crappie. Best of all, you don't need a license to fish from shore because Possum Kingdom is a state park.

Daily admission is $4 for adults. Children 12 and younger enter the park for free.

Choctaw Casino Resort - Durant or WinStar World Casino and Resort

WinStar World Casino and Resort(COurtesy of WinStar World Casino and Resort)

Cross the state border into Oklahoma, and try your luck at Choctaw Casino Resort - Durant or WinStar World Casino and Resort. Choctaw is a little over 90 miles from Dallas and WinStar is about 80 miles away.

Choctaw, in Durant, offers more than 4,100 slot machines and plenty of table action. At the Choctaw Grand Theater, you can find acts like Toby Keith, Journey and Santana. Choctaw also has The District, a family-friendly entertainment center that boasts an arcade, bowling center, laser tag arena, cinema, sports bar and food court.

At WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, you're bound to find a favorite slot or table on its more than 600,000 square feet of gaming. The casino is divided into eight themed plazas – Paris, Rome, Beijing, Madrid, London, Cairo, Vienna and New York City. For entertainment, the casino has the Global Event Center, which has hosted artists such as Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, and the outdoor venue The Colosseum at WinStar.

"You can easily go up there and spend several hours, and hopefully win some big money," says Frank Everet, W insider for the W Dallas - Victory.

Glen Rose

Dinosaur World Texas(Courtesy of Dinosaur World)

Called the "Dinosaur Capital of Texas," family-friendly Glen Rose (about 75 miles from Dallas) offers fossil hunting, mountain biking and other outdoor activities.

At Dinosaur Valley State Park, you and your family can walk in the footprints left behind by dinosaurs in what's now the bed of the Paluxy River. Also in Glen Rose, Dinosaur World Texas museum lets young children gawk at life-size dinosaur replicas and fossils. At Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, an animal conservation facility, visitors can take driving tours to see endangered and threatened species from as far away as Africa, as well as those hailing from closer to home.

"Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a large, incredible conservation area for endangered animals," says Mary Stamm, chief concierge at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. "Visitors can drive through in their own vehicles."

Waco

Magnolia Market at the Silos(Mark Randolph/City of Waco)

Largely because it's home to the popular HGTV show "Fixer Upper," Waco (about 95 miles from Dallas) has become a favorite road trip destination. Visitors flock to Magnolia Market at the Silos, a complex owned by show hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines that includes a decor store, food vendors, huge grain silos and a large green field for children to play.

"I'll have a group of ladies with their daughters head out in limos to Waco," says Susan Tilley, concierge at The Westin Galleria Dallas. "They'll do it right."

If you're into museums, Waco is also home to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the official museum of the Texas Rangers, or stop by the Dr Pepper Museum to learn about the history of the soft drink.

At the Cameron Park Zoo, you can take the kids to visit more than 1,700 animals in their natural habitats. Nearby, you'll find Cameron Park, which features playgrounds, splash pads and 15 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and runners.

Lake Whitney

For another place to enjoy the outdoors, head about 83 miles southwest to Lake Whitney. There, families can enjoy camping, mountain biking, hiking, fishing and swimming.

Lake Whitney is most noted among anglers for having some of the best striped bass fishing in the area, but if you're more of a water sport lover, Lake Whitney's clear blue water is great for sailing, water skiing, jet skiing and scuba diving.

Daily admission is $5 for adults. Children 12 and younger can enter the park for free.

Austin

For a longer road trip, head 195 miles to Austin, which is a "great city with diverse food, music and the state's capital," says Kevin Alderman, chief concierge at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. This central Texas city offers lots of things to do, from museums to funky shopping to live music and yummy eateries.

If you're an outdoorsy person, hike and bike the many trails at Lady Bird Lake or the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Take a swim at Zilker Metropolitan Park's Barton Springs Pool or the state's oldest pool, Deep Eddy Pool.

Barbecue lovers will find plenty of award-winning places to dine in Austin, from the famous Franklin Barbecue, where you may have to wait hours in line, to fan-favorite La Barbecue.

Dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is the city see a show, whether in a small club or a huge amphitheater. You can easily find a live concert in Austin and rock on.

To experience more of what Dallas has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

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Amanda Casanova, Contributor

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Previously, she worked as a ...  Read more

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