If you live in Dallas or just visiting the Big D and want to get out of the city, a day trip is the perfect way to explore the surrounding country and see some real Texas.
Although there is a lot to see and do in Dallas, getting out of the city is a great way to explore the smaller towns around Texas, see spectacular nature and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
For those who want to go on a longer drive and explore places further away, check out our list of the best road trips you can go on from Dallas.
Our day trips from Dallas include charming small Texan towns, great cities to explore, National Forests and State Parks, quirky museums and even trips across the border into Oklahoma.
Here's our list of the 30 best day trips from Dallas in order of the time it takes to get there.
1. Visit the Cavanaugh Flight Museum
30 minutes from Dallas (16 miles)
A great museum for those who like flying is in Addison - only about half an hour up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown. The traffic here can be unpredictable so allow as much as an hour if you're coming during the morning rush hour.
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum has one of the best collection of military aircraft spanning time from World War I to World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and other conflicts.
Alongside the airplanes, there are some aircraft engines you can look at and a few random exhibits including military vehicles and some regular cars from the 30s and 40s.
For those who like adrenalin pumping through their veins, the museum offers flight experiences in classic fighter and bomber aircraft from different time periods. You have to book in advance but it's an awesome thing to do as part of your visit.
2. Stroll through the Stockyards National Historic District in Fort Worth
30 minutes from Dallas (32 miles)
Fort Worth and Dallas have basically merged into one city in all but name. The Dallas - Fort Worth metro area that also includes Arlington has a lot of great things to do, but given Fort Worth has a huge amount going for it in its own right, a day trip from Dallas is well worth it if you don't want to go too far.
A quick drive down the I-30 will take you from the 9th to the 13th largest city in the United States. Head to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District which is where you'll want to spend most of the day.
This neighborhood may feel a little touristy, but it is a genuine historic part of Fort Worth that comes with cattle going through it (yep!), cowboys and a rodeo that is worth timing your day trip for.
Once you've explored the quirky shops in Stockyards, you can check out the Fort Worth Zoo or the Botanic Garden.
Finish off the day by going to Sundance Square which is where dozens of the city's best restaurants all sit right next to each other offering you the perfect dilemma for where to have dinner.
3. Try the best of local wine in Grapevine
35 minutes from Dallas (23 miles)
The historic city of Grapevine sits on the edge of its namesake lake and right next to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport so if you're flying into the city, you are basically in Grapevine when you land!
It might not be as well known or popular as the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth or Arlington within the metro area, but this plays to its advantage - Grapevine is quieter and has more of a local feel about it.
The city's name gives away the main reason you should come here. Local wineries offer tours and tastings - make sure you draw lots for who will be the designated driver, or stay the night locally! There are some wine rooms in the town if you want to combine it with dinner.
An alternative dinner option is the Jazz Wine Train which is part of the 1920s Grapevine Vintage Railroad. If you're not sure what this is, the clue, again, is in the name. You get to have your dinner onboard the classic train while listening to local jazz!
4. Go ghost hunting in Terrell
35 minutes from Dallas (33 miles)
Terrell is a quiet and relaxed town just outside Dallas that is known for two things: its ghosts and the World War II era flying school.
If you love ghosts, the town has an official ghost walk that tells you all about the local spirits on Saturday nights as you walk through downtown Terrell.
For a more immersive experience, the Thrillvania Haunted House Park just outside Terrell runs themed events in haunted mansions at weekends.
Don't just turn up in the evening though, the historic downtown area is great for a daytime walk - some of the buildings have intricate murals and there are some interesting and unusual shops to pop into.
If classic military aircraft is your thing and you've already been to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum on the other side of Dallas, the famous World War II flying school has a small museum that is open from Wednesday to Sunday.
This is where the British pilots trained during the war before heading back and taking part and there is a lot of information about what it was like to go through the training program at the time.
5. See the historic Courthouse in Denton
45 minutes from Dallas (40 miles)
The I-35 will take you from Dallas to Denton, northwest of the city. It's a good idea to set off a little later in the morning to avoid the morning traffic - it can get heavy from around 7 a.m. adding half an hour or more onto your journey.
Get breakfast in Dallas and then set off at around 9:30 a.m. and you can be in Denton in as little as 40 minutes.
The center of Denton is designed around the Courthouse-on-the-Square. The courthouse was originally built in 1896 but today houses some Denton County offices as well as a museum about local history, culture and the background of different immigrant groups that settled in the area.
Denton Square is where everything that goes on in the city seems to happen. Expect to see locals meeting up, some social activists or performers and visit the local restaurants and shops to get some lunch and an ice cream.
The Clear Creek Heritage Center and Ray Roberts Lake State Park are both just outside the city and great places for a few hours relaxing in the nature.
Visit these in the afternoon before heading back to Dallas driving around Lewisville Lake on the way back.
6. Spend the day in historic McKinney
45 minutes from Dallas (33 miles)
The small town of McKinney may be just over 30 miles from downtown Dallas, but it is a massive difference between the two and McKinney has a real identity of its own rather than just being a commuter town.
The town was voted as the Best Place to Live in America by Money Magazine in 2014 and the city's lifestyle has led to it growing fast since then - in 2019 it was the 6th fastest growing city in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Take a stroll down Main Street and you'll see some great local independent shops, buildings that date back to the 19th century and small restaurants and bars that are perfect for sipping coffee sat at a table outside.
The Historic Downtown has more old buildings and piles on the charm and just a few blocks further south is the Chestnut Square Historic Village where 10 restored historic buildings going back as far as 1854 are open to the public and actors dressed in costume will give you a feel for what McKinney was like 150 years ago.
All of these areas are very walkable - your best option is to park the car for the day and explore the city on foot to make the most of the wide sidewalks and the many opportunities to pause to sit down for a drink or lunch.
7. Walk the streets of Greenville, Texas
50 minutes from Dallas (52 miles)
if you're looking to escape the busy streets of Dallas and want to spend the day somewhere where the pace of life is a little slower and the vibe is a bit more relaxed and local, then Greenville is less than an hour up the I-30 to the northeast of Dallas.
The main attraction in town is the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum. This unusual museum has two halves that cover very different topics - the first is dedicated to Audie Murphy who was the most decorated American soldier in World War II. There's a number of exhibits related to him and World War II in general.
The other half of the museum is all about the history of the local cotton industry which was the main earner for local settlers when Greenville was first established in 1852.
Although Greenville does not have as much of a historic status as other cities in the area such as McKinney (#7 above), there are plaques around the city telling you about the importance of some of the buildings and the history feels more intertwined with the everyday life today.
Having said that, the historic downtown area has a number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and this is the where will find some interesting the local shops and restaurants.
8. Go to the largest flea market in the world in Canton
55 minutes from Dallas (60 miles)
Canton has become famous for the First Monday Trade Days - a huge flea market that takes place over the weekend that comes before the first Monday of the month (which sometimes means it happens at the end of the previous month).
This 4-day market takes place from Thursday to Sunday and is the largest in the United States and quite possibly the world depending on your definition of what a flea market is!
The site is spread over 100 acres and there are pavilions where more established traders set up shop through to small stalls with over 6,000 traders turning up every month.
You can find anything from socks to bespoke car parts in the market and if you have a choice, Thursday and Friday are quieter and you're more likely to find stuff you want - a top tip is that if you do find something you want, buy it there and then because you will either forget where the stall was and never find it afterwards or the item will be sold by the time you come back.
9. Relax by the water in Lake Whitney State Park
1 hour 15 minutes from Dallas (77 miles)
Lake Whitney is a small State Park sitting on the edge of the lake it is named after and if you want a day out by the water, it's not far to come making for a great day trip.
The park has a number of different camping options and many visitors come and stay overnight - if you get here early on the Saturday, you may find less people about. A weekday would be even better if you have the time.
There are two short (1 mile) hiking trails that are more of a gentle walk than a hard hike. The roads that run through the park offer a lot more space to walk, especially along the lakefront.
The park is clean and the water is good for both fishing and swimming when the weather is good. Given how close it is to Dallas and the fact that not much goes on in the evening, you can easily enjoy everything the park has to offer in a day and get back in time for dinner.
10. Visit the quirky town of Sulphur Springs, Texas
1 hour 15 minutes from Dallas (79 miles)
Sulphur Springs is an 80-mile drive up the I-30 from Dallas. The road goes right past Greenville (see #7 above) which you can add to your itinerary if you want to stop along the way.
Not that you'll need to add more things to do - there is plenty to see in Sulphur Springs starting with the Hopkins County Courthouse building that is right in the center of the city on Celebration Plaza.
The amazing building that uses unusual materials like pink granite is a functioning courthouse hosting everything from court cases to passport applications and you are free to enter and walk around to see what it's like on the inside.
The square around it is where many of the city's events happen and also where you'll find one of the most odd public restrooms ever. There are two glass restrooms right on the square and if you use them, you can see everything around you through the glass walls.
Luckily enough, the glass is mirrored on the outside so nobody can see in, but it's a very odd and somewhat unsettling way of using restroom facilities.
The Southwest Dairy Museum and Education Center is about one and a half miles from the County Courthouse and is a really interesting museum about the dairy industry with interactive exhibits that go as far as milking a cow. You can grab an ice cream at the end of your visit in the museum's diner.
11. The Windmill Farm at Tolar
1 hour 20 minutes from Dallas (76 miles)
One of the more unusual day trip options from Dallas is the Windmill Farm near Tolar. Head down Highway 377 out of Dallas and the Windmill Farm is just off the Highway between the towns of Granbury and Tolar.
Follow the signs to the farm and you can drive in to have a look at the windmills - there is a road that takes you through them or you can park up and walk around to get a better view.
Entry to the farm is free and you even get a leaflet which tells you a bit about the individual windmills and their history. Donations for upkeep are welcomed and you should definitely contribute if you're visiting.
There are about 30 classic windmills which were all originally working for different farming and industrial purposes. The windmills have been meticulously restored and aggregated from across the local area and are all within a relatively small area.
The farm is open every day during daylight hours and has a well reviewed bed and breakfast on site if you want to spend the night.
12. Visit the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose
1 hour 25 minutes from Dallas (80 miles)
Glen Rose is a small town about 90 minutes' drive from Dallas that has a surprisingly large amount of things to do and see - perfect for a day trip out.
The town itself is worth stopping in - the Historic Courthouse Square is the focus of this small town with the Courthouse building dating back to 1893.
Outside Glen Rose, there are a number of different parks you can visit including the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center where some of the most endangered African animal species are preserved including cheetahs, red wolves and the black rhinoceros.
The Dinosaur Valley State Park is a must for your itinerary - the park has some of the best preserved animal footprint fossils in the world and you can see how big their footsteps are as mud they walked through in and around the Paluxy River has turned to stone.
The park has life-size dinosaurs to add to the experience but best of all there is a great selection of hiking trails which weave all the way through the park and are perfect for an hour or two of walking through nature.
13. Go antiques shopping in Waco
1 hour 30 minutes from Dallas (95 miles)
Waco is a located south of Dallas, about halfway along the I-35 to Austin.
The main thing to see in Waco is Magnolia Market which is a 2-block shopping complex including a large store in a converted historic grain barn.
You can't miss it as the infamous two large 1950s silos mark the spot and the silos have become something of an Instagram-worthy attraction in their own right in recent years.
Magnolia Market is owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines who became famous for their Fixer Upper TV show - you might spot them around since they have stopped filming the show to focus on other ventures!
If you've watched their show, you'll know that Waco is a huge Mecca for antiques - there are dozens of amazing antique stores here so drive the truck if you want to bring back something for your home.
The Dr Pepper Museum is another amazing place to visit, especially if you are a fan of the soft drink.
Dr Pepper was invented and first produced in Waco and the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building that houses the museum was the first purpose-built factory that manufactured Dr Pepper from 1906 to 1960.
There are 3 floors of amazing exhibits from the long history of the drink including amazing exhibits about the manufacturing process and classic advertisement posters.
14. Visit the Municipal Rose Garden in Tyler, Texas
1 hour 30 minutes from Dallas (98 miles)
If you like flowers, the Municipal Rose Garden in Tyler is an absolute must visit and given it's only 90 minutes away from Dallas, it's an easy day trip to see the biggest rose garden in the United States.
There are 14 acres of gardens that have some 40,000 rose bushes here with every type of rose plant imaginable somewhere in the area.
There's even experimental new types of rose bushes that have been specifically engineered that go through testing here - the local experts see how the plants behave over a 2-year window before releasing the new rose varieties to the public.
The Rose Garden has given Tyler the proud title of the Rose Capital of America and since it opened in 1952 has expanded its collection of roses year after year.
There are some rose bush varieties here that date back to the 1860s in the Heritage Rose and Sensory Garden. You can easily spend a few hours walking around here and seeing the great variety on display.
15. Try your luck at the casinos in southern Oklahoma
1 hour 35 minutes from Dallas (92 miles)
If you want to play cards or see whether it's your lucky day at the slot machine, but you don't fancy the 18 hour drive to Las Vegas, all you need to do is drive across the Oklahoma border.
There are two options that both take about an hour and a half to get to from Dallas. Given that gambling is unlikely to be legalized in Texas any time soon, both are in southern Oklahoma.
The WinStar World Resort Casino is in Thackerville, about 80 miles north of Dallas and with around 600,000 square feet of combined casino floor space it is not only the largest casino in the U.S., but the whole world. It is owned by the Chickasaw Nation which is a large Native American nation based in Oklahoma.
There are loads of restaurants and a huge hotel to boot if you want to stay the night. To give you an idea of the casino's size, just the poker room alone is 19,000 square feet and has 55 tables!
The Choctaw Casino is the other option - owned by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, it is a little bit further but is less busy as a result with most Texans heading for WinStar instead.
It is much smaller than WinStar, although at around 220,000 square feet of gaming space it is still in the top 10 biggest in the world and larger than most of the huge casinos along the Las Vegas Strip.
16. Go fishing on Lake Texoma
1 hour 40 minutes from Dallas (89 miles)
Lake Texoma is a large reservoir that was made by putting a dam across the Red River in 1944 and flooding several valleys in the area.
Today Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border is a popular place to come and relax for residents of both states - there are 2 state and 52 USACE-managed parks surrounding the lake as well as 26 resorts and endless campsites and golf courses.
Red River and the lake sit in an area that used to be the bed of a sea that lay on the border between Oklahoma and Texas thousands of years ago. As a result, the river is unusual in the fact that its water has a high salt content and is not fresh.
This has meant that fish that are normally only found in seawater thrive in the river and striped bass is the most prized of the over 70 different types of fish that are found in the lake.
You may find that some of the campgrounds and facilities in the area have seen better days. If you're just coming for the fishing or to have a picnic by the lake, Texoma is the perfect place to come but if you're looking to stay longer and camp overnight, you might want to opt for a different park area.
17. Learn history at the Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site
1 hour 40 minutes from Dallas (93 miles)
If you love history and want to learn more about post-Civil War Texas, Fort Richardson is less than two hours away from Dallas and is the perfect day trip for you.
Fort Richardson was built in 1867 at the frontier of the territories occupied by the U.S. Army and played a key role in the defeat of the Comanche and Kiowa. After the Texas panhandle area was secured by the army, the fort was eventually abandoned in 1878.
Almost 100 years later, the disused fort was partially restored and reopened as the Fort Richardson State Historic Park in 1973.
Today a few of the over 50 original fort buildings have been restored - you can visit the hospital, morgue, officer's quarters, guard house, bakery, powder magazine and a commissary.
Tours run twice a day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays and you are free to walk around yourself at weekends. Entry to the park is just $3 per person so this is a budget friendly option!
To add to the experience, two replica barrack buildings were constructed as well.
Make sure you explore the State Park that surrounds the fort and the Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway - the trails here are great and usually very quiet.
18. Drive around the scenic Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma
1 hour 45 minutes from Dallas (104 miles)
Getting to Lake Murray from Dallas is pretty straight-forward - hop onto the I-35 and keep on going for about 100 miles - the lake will be on your right!
Located in southern Oklahoma, Lake Murray State Park is the perfect place to unwind and get away from it all for a day.
Every kind of outdoor activity you might want to do, you can do here - from driving ATVs to fishing to hiking to horseback riding. The lake has a number of great swimming spots and there is a golf course. For the less serious players, there's even mini golf by the Lake Murray Resort.
Given there are few things I like more than a great drive, this lake has one great feature that not many others do - Highway 77S loops all the way around the lake and driving the 25 miles around is a great way to see different parts of the park.
There are small roads that dart off the route towards the lake so you'll have plenty of opportunities of getting closer to the water when you want to stop.
19. Ride the Texas State Railroad in Palestine, Texas
1 hour 50 minutes from Dallas (119 miles)
The 25-mile train track between Palestine and Rusk (both in Texas) sits on the site where a 19th century freight train railroad operated until 1921.
The Palestine depot is just past the town of Palestine along U.S. Highway 84, about 2 hours southeast of Dallas.
Everything about the State Railroad screams history - the depot building has storyboards and information about the history of the railroad and make sure you get out at the other end to see the Rusk depot. Both have small shops where you can get interesting period clothes or a souvenir.
The train ride itself takes 4 hours for a round trip through Piney Woods and you can choose anything from an open air wooden bench carriage through to the Presidential Car - obviously for a different price!
If you really want to get the ultimate experience, $250 buys you the Engine Ride Along where you can go in the steam engine cab. You'll need to book in advance and pass background checks and as there's only one space, it might not be the most sociable way to spend the day with your family or friends!
The trains usually depart at 11 a.m. but there are a lot of special events, additional times and some evening train rides if you want to spend the night or get back to Dallas very late! Check the full schedule at the official Texas State Railroad website.
20. See the waterfall at Turner Falls Park, Oklahoma
2 hours 5 minutes from Dallas (128 miles)
Turner Falls in Oklahoma is 77 feet tall and shares the title of the tallest in Oklahoma with a waterfall in the Natural Falls State Park. It'll take you over 2 hours to get here from Dallas - the I-35 runs all the way.
The park has been a popular weekend getaway destination for some time and as a result, I wouldn't recommend staying the night. There have been repeated reports of trash being left uncollected, loud music and a disorganized campsite.
However, if you're just coming for the day - the falls are a great sight and you can climb up to the overlook to get a better view down as well.
You can swim and walk through the creek area but beware that you'll definitely need water shoes and life jackets are compulsory for children.
Take a lot of care in and around the park - the water can be very cold and deep and swimming here can be dangerous if you're not careful. Some of the hiking trails have sharp rocks and steep drops as well - don't rush things on your way around.
Coming in the middle of the week and getting here early is one way of avoiding the crowds and getting a decent parking spot - it can get pretty busy later on and at weekends so set off nice and early from Dallas.
21. Go on a safari at the Arbuckle Wilderness Park
2 hours 5 minutes from Dallas (130 miles)
If you want to see deer, bison, donkeys, llamas, giraffes and even a rhino right up close and without having to get out of the car, head to the Arbuckle Wilderness Park in Oklahoma.
This is a safari park type of location - you drive along the roads through the park and the different areas are home to different animals that the park contains.
There are hundreds of animals spread throughout the park but to get around, you'll have to drive along gravel and unpaved roads. It can be pretty bumpy - I wouldn't recommend you bring your sports car to look at the exotic animals. An SUV will work a lot better with navigating potholes.
Remember to stay in the car at all times and be careful not to get too close to the animals or annoy them. A donkey kick can make for an expensive panel replacement if you provoke the animal.
If you're making the 2-hour drive up, note that Turner Falls (right above at #20) is a 3-mile drive down the road, so you may well want to combine the two into one big day trip from Dallas!
22. Spend a day in the water at Possum Kingdom State Park
2 hours 15 minutes from Dallas (134 miles)
The time to come to Possum Kingdom State Park is when the weather gets hot from late spring onwards - the park sits along the edge of Possum Kingdom Lake and the best way to spend the day is get out on the water.
Fishing for bass, swimming, boating, canoeing, snorkeling and even scuba diving are available so take your pick!
Although the State Park only covers a small part of it, Lake Possum Kingdom has over 300 miles of coastline and the jagged shape means there are lots of rocky coves and scenic spots to stop and relax.
In the afternoon you can have a go on water skis or go tubing - the fresh clean water in the lake make it an absolute blast!
There isn't quite as much to do on dry land - there is a grand total of 2 trails with one being half a mile and a 1.4 mile Lakeview Trail that has a shortcut for those who don't want to walk the whole way round (which is officially the third trail).
That doesn't matter though, because you can still enjoy the scenery walking along the lakefront roads and there is so much to do on the lake for the whole day.
23. Dive into Texan culture in Marshall
2 hours 15 minutes from Dallas (151 miles)
Marshall is a 150 mile trek east from Dallas and is the place to come if you're looking for small town charm.
The locals have self proclaimed Marshall to be the Cultural Capital of East Texas and there are a few cultural sights to explore. The Harrison County Historical Museum is inside the huge County Courthouse building in the middle of town.
A major transport hub in the 19th century, Marshall is also home to the Texas and Pacific Railway Museum and you can visit the Michelson Museum of Art and the Starr Family Home State Historic Site.
But ticking off the museums is not the only reason to come to Marshall. The Wonderland of Lights is a Christmas-themed lights festival that starts in late November and runs through December. It's one of the biggest light festivals in the United States and well worth coming for during the festive season.
Along with the lights, the town gets decorations all over, Christmas horse-drawn carriages and an ice rink!
24. Slow down time in Jefferson
2 hours 30 minutes from Dallas (167 miles)
Jefferson is a historic city where life is a little slower and relaxed than in the Big D. The best way to explore the city is to take a stroll through the historic downtown area or go on a short boat ride along the Big Cypress Bayou that runs through.
There are a few interesting museums to pop into - the Jefferson Historical Museum tells the town's story, Gone With The Wind Museum is dedicated to the famous book and the stories it tells and you should go to the Museum of Measurement and Time for a quirky exhibition of clock mechanisms and other things that measure anything and everything.
The Historic Jefferson Railway is fun if you have kids - you get to go on a short railway ride with a stop at the Diamond Don's Gator Pit where you can see alligators being fed.
Jefferson is famously called the Bed and Breakfast Capital of the U.S. If you want to spend more than a day and combine it with a trip to Caddo Lake and maybe a stop in Marshall (which is a very good itinerary for a weekend!), then you are spoiled for choice with local lodging options.
Some of the boutique hotels have very creative and unique rooms - amazing for a 1 or 2 night break.
25. Discover beautiful swamps and bayous at Caddo Lake
2 hours 35 minutes from Dallas (168 miles)
Louisiana bayous and swamps may feel like a different world when you are in the middle of Texas, but you can go and see a real Southern marsh at Caddo Lake on a day trip from Dallas!
Caddo Lake sits on the border between Texas and Louisiana, a few miles further than Marshall (#23 above). Take the I-20 all the way to Marshall and the Caddo Lake State Park is just a little further towards the State line.
For $4 per adult entry fee, you get the opportunity to see the natural beauty of the swamp with tall bald cypress trees growing straight out of the water and the fluid mix of land and water everywhere you look.
The appropriately named Big Cypress Bayou flows right past the State Park and into the lake and you can hire anything from a small kayak to a boat to go around the lake.
There are steamboat tours that can add to the experience - these stop at little lakeside towns and can make for a relaxed afternoon on the water.
Both, Marshall and Jefferson (#24 above) are very close to Caddo Lake and you could combine your visit with a stop in one of the historic towns for brunch or dinner before heading back to Dallas.
26. Go to the Texas capital - Austin
2 hours 45 minutes from Dallas (195 miles)
Austin is a long drive down the I-35 from Dallas - the drive will take about 3 hours if you stop once along the way and it's a pretty long way to come for a day trip, although I've done this exact drive myself before and it wasn't all that bad.
Some other recommendations for day trips from Dallas recommend going to the Texas Hill Country, see the cowboy towns of Bandera and Fredericksburg and go to some of the local wineries or even tell you to go to San Antonio.
While all of these are great places to go to and I heartily recommend them as a road trip destination, they are just too far to go to and come back from in one day, so Austin is as far south as this list goes. Check the link in the intro for longer road trip routes from Dallas.
Austin is the capital of Texas and is a very different city to the other major hubs in the State. Austin has a large student population and with that comes a rich and vibrant night life and music scene and great food options.
Austin is a very liberal city within a highly conservative State - to get a sense for its culture you can start by visiting the very impressive State Capitol building and then stop by one of the many great museums. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a very good option and is only 3 blocks from the Capitol building.
Zilker Park on the south bank of the Colorado River is a perfect place to chill in the afternoon in a natural pool filled with perfectly clear (and cold!) spring water.
27. Davy Crockett National Forest
2 hours 45 minutes from Dallas (180 miles)
Davy Crockett National Forest is part of the Piney Woods part of Texas which is quite different to the rest of the State. There's no hills, deserts or dusty plains and instead you get lush pine forests, ponds and lakes.
If relaxing in the wild forest and hiking along trails through it for a day sounds like a good idea, then you can get down to the National Forest in under 3 hours if you beat the rush hour traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
The Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area is the best place to come if you're just here for the day - there's plenty of things to do, good parking and easy trails through the woods with benches and places to stop along the way.
Being over 2 hours from all the major cities, Davy Crockett National Forest is quieter than other parks in and around Dallas and so you can switch off the phone and lie on the grass underneath a tall pine tree without crowds of visitors next to you.
28. Angelina National Forest
2 hours 50 minutes from Dallas (169 miles)
The Angelina National Forest stretches along the length of the Angelina River, Sam Rayburn Reservoir and Neches River in east Texas and is a large protected area where you can do almost every outdoor activity you want.
As with much of this part of Texas, most of the forests are pine and although the forest starts further north, you may want to drive down to the area around Sam Rayburn Reservoir as this is where a lot of the things to do can be found and the nature is richer.
Boykin Springs are another 40 minutes further south between the southern end of the reservoir and Neches River and great hikes along the natural springs that cascade down the rocks.
The Sawmill Hiking Trail is the most popular in the forest - it's over 5 miles long but is relatively easy and has great views of springs and the National Forest along the way.
It's definitely a long drive to get here, but the driving through the forest is part of the experience which makes it worthwhile despite the distance.
29. Beavers Bend State Park, Oklahoma
3 hours from Dallas (180 miles)
Beavers Bend is a state park in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma near the border with Arkansas and centered around the Broken Bow Lake.
I mentioned that Davy Crockett National Forest and Angelina National Forests are far from major cities and Beavers Bend takes it one step further with a solid 3 hour drive from Dallas, 3 and a half hours from Tulsa and 4 hours from Oklahoma City.
Given the distances, not too many city dwellers make it out to Beavers Bend for a day trip so the park remains relatively quiet even during weekends with perfect weather so if you want to go hiking away from it all and enjoy some beautiful scenery, the 3-hour drive up to Oklahoma is definitely worth it.
There are some beautiful driving roads through the park and if you like a great driving road, take a few random turns and see where you get to!
All the usual water-based activities are here on the Broken Bow Lake from fishing (remember you need an Oklahoma license!) to water skiing.
30. A day trip to Oklahoma City
3 hours from Dallas (206 miles)
Oklahoma City is the capital of the State of Oklahoma and its largest city. You can get here from Dallas in about 3 hours - the I-35 runs from one downtown to the other so there's not many turns you'll have to remember to take!
The city has traditionally had associations with cowboys and oil rigs, but today Oklahoma City is developing a funky vibe that goes much further than that.
The Bricktown neighborhood is right at the heart of Oklahoma City and is a vibrant mixture of converted brick wharehouse buildings, beautiful canals and the Bricktown River Walk Park.
Bricktown has seen a large number of restaurants and bars spring up in recent years and this is where you should grab lunch and an early dinner before heading back - otherwise you'll be eating very late back in Dallas.
Make sure you stop at the Oklahoma City National Memorial which pays tribute to those who perished and those whose lives were affected in the 1995 bombing.