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.

[Read: The Best Hotels in Dallas–Fort Worth.]

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

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

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.

[Read: 5 Breweries to Visit in Dallas.]

"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

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.

[Read: 5 Dallas Parks to See on Vacation.]

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.

7 Travel Rules That Families Should Break


Photo Gallery
Family with children at the airport
Family with baggage cart at the airport
Happy father with children breaking eggs together in kitchen.
Girls jumping on hotel bed
Happy family of three, mother, father and little toddler boy, having picnic in Paris near the Eiffel tower
Passenger traveling with their pet dog.  Pet carrier is stowed under the seat.
|

Take the stress out of family travel with these insider tips.
Traveling with kids is supposed to be exciting, eye-opening and a chance to form lifelong memories together. But somewhere along the way – between dealing with sibling tantrums, restless grade-schoolers and lugging around diaper bags – stressful scenarios can arise. And while experts aim to help with sanity savers, the truth is, when it comes to jet-setting with kids, sometimes you're better off breaking the rules. Sure, some pro strategies apply to all ages, but there are also some time-tested tips the whole gang is better off skipping. That's why, U.S. News tapped family travel experts to bring you seven rules that are meant to be broken when traveling with kids.
(Getty Images)

Rule 1: Leave room for spontaneity.
According to family travel expert Amy Tara Koch, one of the most common mistakes families make is "being ill-prepared for routine scenarios: hunger, onset of illness, crankiness and boredom." Rather than planning a spur-of-the-moment jaunt with the kids, the key is planning ahead so you're prepared for any circumstance or unforeseen event that could change or spoil your travel plans. Koch recommends that parents arm themselves with plenty of snacks, sweets and toys. She also advises carrying practical pharmacy items (think: Pepto-Bismol, Advil and Benadryl) and entertainment and apps to prevent a mini-meltdown.
(Getty Images)

Rule 2: Carry creature comforts with you.
"If all you want is the comforts of home, don't leave home," says Bruce Poon Tip, founder of the small-group travel outfitter G Adventures. Rather than holding another country to your standards, you'll have a much more enjoyable trip by embracing cultural differences, he says. If you're going on a safari in Kenya, instead of trying to lug a car seat with you, accept the cultural differences rather than holding the destination to your safety standards at home, he says. It's best to let go of nonessential items and keep your suitcase compact, he adds, emphasizing that you could drive yourself crazy trying to replicate your experiences at home.
(Getty Images)

Rule 3: Dine out to sample the local gastronomy.
"One of the most exciting elements of traveling is enjoying local cuisine. But for a family of four, dining out on vacation adds up quickly," says TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals spokesperson Laurel Greatrix. To eat locally without paying steep prices, Greatrix recommends booking a vacation rental equipped with a kitchen and perusing local markets. "Buy fresh ingredients for a local classic – think lobster rolls in Maine or Key lime pie in the Florida Keys – and prepare it at home. You’ll enjoy the local flavor, learn new recipes and keep your vacation costs reasonable," she says. "Rental hosts can be great resources for local recipes and shopping recommendations," she adds.
(Getty Images)

Rule 4: Squeeze into a single hotel room to cut costs.
"Gone are the days when families need to cram into a single room," Greatrix says, noting that vacation rentals offer multiple bedrooms, living areas and other desirable amenities. "Having enough space for the group will help keep the vacation relaxed and enjoyable," she says. If you're planning a multigenerational trip, renting a home that offers extra legroom is another way to ensure personal comfort isn't sacrificed. "Getting extended family together is special, but it can also present logistical challenges. If the thought of trying to book hotel rooms for aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents is daunting, look for a property with plenty of bedrooms, a backyard and a pool," Greatrix adds.
(Getty Images)

Rule 5: Hit the can't-miss sights.
"Don't feel that you need to conquer every spot deemed 'must-visit,'" Koch says. "For example, you can see the Eiffel Tower in Paris by boat or by having a picnic on the Champ de Mars," she adds. That way, you don't have to spend the majority of your day ascending to the top of the tower. The same applies to the Statue of Liberty, she says. It's also important to factor in plenty of downtime to prevent fatigue. "The key is planning your days around one major activity versus an entire day of sightseeing or an adventure," she says, noting that it's best to allow yourself to skip some noteworthy monuments.
(Getty Images)

Rule 6: Ask questions once you arrive.
Rather than counting on your hotel to be equipped with kid-friendly amenities that you can easily access upon arrival, it's best to call ahead, Koch says. It's especially important to check if normal-sized cribs for babies and rollaway beds for older kids are available before booking to prevent disappointment after you've arrived, she cautions. You should also inquire about kids-stay-free programming and whether breakfast is complimentary, she says. The same applies to car rentals. While most car rental companies offer infant and regular car seats, they need to be reserved ahead of time, so it's best to call well in advance to mitigate headaches.
(Getty Images)

Rule 7: Leave Fido at home.
With an increasing number of pet-friendly places, including hotels, train routes and airlines, it's never been easier to bring along a pet. "Pets are part of the family, so why not bring them along?" Greatrix asks. "You'll not only be happier with the furball in tow, but you’ll save on expensive pet-boarding costs," she adds. A handful of airlines allow pets to fly in the aircraft cabin, including Alaska Airlines and JetBlue (for a $100 fee). However, carrier policies vary and weight restrictions do apply (JetBlue requires pets to weigh 20 pounds or less for example), so make sure to read the fine print before booking your flight.
(Getty Images)

Family with children at the airport
Family with baggage cart at the airport
Happy father with children breaking eggs together in kitchen.
Girls jumping on hotel bed
Happy family of three, mother, father and little toddler boy, having picnic in Paris near the Eiffel tower
Passenger traveling with their pet dog.  Pet carrier is stowed under the seat.

Take the stress out of family travel with these insider tips.
Traveling with kids is supposed to be exciting, eye-opening and a chance to form lifelong memories together. But somewhere along the way – between dealing with sibling tantrums, restless grade-schoolers and lugging around diaper bags – stressful scenarios can arise. And while experts aim to help with sanity savers, the truth is, when it comes to jet-setting with kids, sometimes you're better off breaking the rules. Sure, some pro strategies apply to all ages, but there are also some time-tested tips the whole gang is better off skipping. That's why, U.S. News tapped family travel experts to bring you seven rules that are meant to be broken when traveling with kids.
(Getty Images)

Rule 1: Leave room for spontaneity.
According to family travel expert Amy Tara Koch, one of the most common mistakes families make is "being ill-prepared for routine scenarios: hunger, onset of illness, crankiness and boredom." Rather than planning a spur-of-the-moment jaunt with the kids, the key is planning ahead so you're prepared for any circumstance or unforeseen event that could change or spoil your travel plans. Koch recommends that parents arm themselves with plenty of snacks, sweets and toys. She also advises carrying practical pharmacy items (think: Pepto-Bismol, Advil and Benadryl) and entertainment and apps to prevent a mini-meltdown.
(Getty Images)

Rule 2: Carry creature comforts with you.
"If all you want is the comforts of home, don't leave home," says Bruce Poon Tip, founder of the small-group travel outfitter G Adventures. Rather than holding another country to your standards, you'll have a much more enjoyable trip by embracing cultural differences, he says. If you're going on a safari in Kenya, instead of trying to lug a car seat with you, accept the cultural differences rather than holding the destination to your safety standards at home, he says. It's best to let go of nonessential items and keep your suitcase compact, he adds, emphasizing that you could drive yourself crazy trying to replicate your experiences at home.
(Getty Images)

Rule 3: Dine out to sample the local gastronomy.
"One of the most exciting elements of traveling is enjoying local cuisine. But for a family of four, dining out on vacation adds up quickly," says TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals spokesperson Laurel Greatrix. To eat locally without paying steep prices, Greatrix recommends booking a vacation rental equipped with a kitchen and perusing local markets. "Buy fresh ingredients for a local classic – think lobster rolls in Maine or Key lime pie in the Florida Keys – and prepare it at home. You’ll enjoy the local flavor, learn new recipes and keep your vacation costs reasonable," she says. "Rental hosts can be great resources for local recipes and shopping recommendations," she adds.
(Getty Images)

Rule 4: Squeeze into a single hotel room to cut costs.
"Gone are the days when families need to cram into a single room," Greatrix says, noting that vacation rentals offer multiple bedrooms, living areas and other desirable amenities. "Having enough space for the group will help keep the vacation relaxed and enjoyable," she says. If you're planning a multigenerational trip, renting a home that offers extra legroom is another way to ensure personal comfort isn't sacrificed. "Getting extended family together is special, but it can also present logistical challenges. If the thought of trying to book hotel rooms for aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents is daunting, look for a property with plenty of bedrooms, a backyard and a pool," Greatrix adds.
(Getty Images)

Rule 5: Hit the can't-miss sights.
"Don't feel that you need to conquer every spot deemed 'must-visit,'" Koch says. "For example, you can see the Eiffel Tower in Paris by boat or by having a picnic on the Champ de Mars," she adds. That way, you don't have to spend the majority of your day ascending to the top of the tower. The same applies to the Statue of Liberty, she says. It's also important to factor in plenty of downtime to prevent fatigue. "The key is planning your days around one major activity versus an entire day of sightseeing or an adventure," she says, noting that it's best to allow yourself to skip some noteworthy monuments.
(Getty Images)

Rule 6: Ask questions once you arrive.
Rather than counting on your hotel to be equipped with kid-friendly amenities that you can easily access upon arrival, it's best to call ahead, Koch says. It's especially important to check if normal-sized cribs for babies and rollaway beds for older kids are available before booking to prevent disappointment after you've arrived, she cautions. You should also inquire about kids-stay-free programming and whether breakfast is complimentary, she says. The same applies to car rentals. While most car rental companies offer infant and regular car seats, they need to be reserved ahead of time, so it's best to call well in advance to mitigate headaches.
(Getty Images)

Rule 7: Leave Fido at home.
With an increasing number of pet-friendly places, including hotels, train routes and airlines, it's never been easier to bring along a pet. "Pets are part of the family, so why not bring them along?" Greatrix asks. "You'll not only be happier with the furball in tow, but you’ll save on expensive pet-boarding costs," she adds. A handful of airlines allow pets to fly in the aircraft cabin, including Alaska Airlines and JetBlue (for a $100 fee). However, carrier policies vary and weight restrictions do apply (JetBlue requires pets to weigh 20 pounds or less for example), so make sure to read the fine print before booking your flight.
(Getty Images)

×

Tags: Dallas, vacations, travel


Amanda Casanova is a writer living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Previously, she worked as a reporter for The Galveston County Daily News, the Houston Chronicle and The Lufkin Daily News. She has contributed to OnFaith, Women’s Running Magazine and Active.com. She writes about wellness and running, but loves telling stories close to home, too. Visit her site, or follow her on Twitter.

Recommended Articles

The 14 Most Exotic Black Sand Beaches in the World

Jan. 14, 2019

Explore unusual shorelines across the globe.

30 Great Girls Weekend Getaways

Dec. 21, 2018

See which amazing locales around the globe are ideal for a girls-only vacation.

How to Find Cheap Flights

Holly Johnson | Dec. 13, 2018

These tips can help you see the world at prices you can afford.

5 Ways to Save Money on Honeymoon Travel

Nicola Wood | Dec. 11, 2018

Create priceless honeymoon memories without breaking the bank.

9 Small Towns That Go All Out for Christmas

Dec. 4, 2018

You don't have to travel to a big city to experience nonstop Christmas fun.

17 Family Ski Vacations to Take This Winter

Nov. 26, 2018

These family-friendly mountain resorts offer exceptional snow sports and activities for all ages.

The 50 Most Scenic Mountain Resorts

Nov. 19, 2018

Get away to enjoy the views and activities at these properties around the world.

The 5 Top Health and Wellness Trends in Cruising

Nicola Wood | Nov. 13, 2018

Find out how taking a cruise can support your health, fitness and nutrition goals.

10 New Cruise Ships and Amenities to Check Out

Nov. 13, 2018

See how cruise lines are raising the bar with tech-savvy touches and improved luxury experiences.

The 2019 Best Cruise Lines for the Money

Nov. 13, 2018

Find out which lines will help you save big on your next cruise vacation.