River with colorful umbrellas along the bank and vibrant lighting

Road Trip from Dallas to San Antonio

Updated by Dianne Titos on February 21 2024

Are you ready for the ultimate Texas drive? If so, pack your bags and set off on the road trip from Dallas to San Antonio past beautiful national forests, stunning lakes with sandy swimming beaches, charming towns and their small museums, as well as delicious barbecue and Tex-Mex food.

The 315-mile road trip from Dallas to San Antonio will take 6 hours and 40 minutes to drive. Highlights on the way are Waco, Marble Falls, Austin, San Marcos, Canyon Lake, Longhorn Caverns State Park, Hidden Falls Adventure Park and Cameron Park Zoo.

Even though this is a relatively shorter road trip, it is jam-packed with things to do and new places to discover. So, read on and discover the must-see stops, must-try activities, and our favorite hotels for this road trip from Dallas to San Antonio.

How to drive from Dallas to San Antonio

The map below shows two great route options for your Dallas to San Antonio road trip. Click on the star icons for headline details, and scroll down for more information below.

* Always remember that drive times can be impacted by traffic, closures, weather and other conditions. It's best to double-check while planning and before starting out on your trip.

Comparison of road trip routes between Dallas and San Antonio
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Waco Route370 miles6 hours 40 minutes
Houston Detour440 miles6 hours 25 minutes

How far is San Antonio from Dallas, and how long will the road trip take?

There are several ways to make your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio. While the direct drive would take you 4 hours to cover 275 miles, we recommend taking a little longer and exploring the lovely towns in between.

The Waco Route spans slightly longer at 370 miles, which will take 6 hours and 40 minutes to drive without making any stops.

The alternative Houston Detour adds to the mileage further at 440 miles but will take you towards the coast of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. This option will take 6 hours and 25 minutes to drive nonstop.

We recommend taking 2-3 days on each route to enjoy this Dallas to San Antonio drive to the fullest.

Low sunrise light reaches over the horizon to illuminate vibrant green grass and bluebonnet flowers
This trip takes you right through the stunning Texas hill country.
Dean Fikar/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Dallas to San Antonio

The best road trip route on a Dallas to San Antonio road trip will depend on what you'd like to see and which major cities you'd like to visit on the day. Both of our route suggestions are similar in driving time, so it all comes down to your personal preferences.

The Waco Route covers fewer miles and is dotted with beautiful landscapes and quintessential Texas towns. Starting with Waco, where you can visit the famous Magnolia Market at the Silos for some shopping and dining, the journey continues through the scenic Texas Hill Country.

As you drive further, you'll reach Canyon Lake, a perfect spot for water activities and relaxation before arriving in San Antonio. The ease of driving on this route is generally good, with less traffic compared to urban detours, and the scenery is varied, from bustling city life in Austin to the cobalt-blue waters of Canyon Lake.

The Houston Detour, on the other hand, will take you through the heart of Texas's urban landscapes, including a fun stop in Houston. This route is ideal for travelers who don't mind a bit more driving in exchange for experiencing big-city life and small-town charm in one go.

While this route may involve more driving and potentially slow traffic near Houston, you will be following two major interstates, so you can expect a straightforward drive.

If you're looking at rent a car for your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio, you can quickly and easily compare providers and prices by using the search box below.

Whether you're flying into Dallas or you simply don't have a vehicle in the city, renting a car for your road trip is something you'll want to take care of ASAP.

For an easy-to-compare view of rental options for your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio, take a look at our partner site, RentalCars.com.

Waco Route

Head south out of Dallas, following Interstate 35E (I-35E). Driving through Waxahachie and West, you will soon reach Waco, where you can visit the famous Magnolia Market at the Silos.

After your visit, continue following the interstate in the southwest direction through Temple and past Belton Lake. From here, drive past Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and across the Colorado River to reach Marble Falls, which is a great spot for an overnight stop.

Head back en route on TX-71 to reach Austin, where you can visit the famous Zilker Metropolitan Park. From here, drive southwest to visit Canyon Lake before reaching San Antonio.

Sunset over a rocky but calm river with small waterfall in the foreground
Take in the views of the Pedernales River on this short trip from Dallas to San Antonio.
JB Manning/Shutterstock.com

Houston Detour

Follow I-45 as you leave Dallas, driving southeast. You will soon drive through Buffalo and Centerville, where you can make a detour to Davy Crockett National Forest.

Driving further on the interstate, you will reach Huntsville, the perfect gateway to Sam Houston National Forest and Lake Livingston. afterwards, return en route and drive through Conroe to reach Houston and visit this fascinating city's many attractions, such as Space Center Houston.

After your visit to Houston, head directly west on I-10, which will take you through Columbus, Texas, and Seguin before you arrive at your destination in San Antonio.

Best places to stop between Dallas and San Antonio

As we mentioned above, the road trip from Dallas to San Antonio is relatively short. However, there are still lots of activities and sights to keep you busy while on your journey. Each town along the highway has something interesting to offer and is worthy of your time.

Black and white bald eagle resting in a tree with no leaves in front of a clear blue sky
Keep an eye out for the country's fascinating wildlife as you travel.
B Norris/Shutterstock.com

We recommend making a minimum of two stops to fully enjoy your road trip. Here are our recommended stops for your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio:

A relaxing stay at Marble Falls

Great food, wine, and culture are some of the things to explore in Marble Falls, Texas – a stunning old town off US Highway 281.

Visit the Cypress Valley Canopy for a refreshing walk and be awed by the 100-foot-tall cypress trees. Or for a more exhilarating experience, zip line between the treetops and enjoy the fresh air! Your trip here will not be complete without checking out the Hidden Falls Adventure Park and Lake Marble Falls.

Beautiful yellow flowers in a meadow in Texas with two big trees in the background
If you visit Marble Falls during spring, you can witness the entire countryside come to life in brilliant colors.
Emily Marie Wilson/Shutterstock.com

For your food fill, dine at the iconic Blue Bonnet Café and indulge in their delectable home-style pies. Then hop over to the Sweet Berry Farm to pluck your own berries and other healthy, tasty treats. To complete your dining experience in Marble Falls, go to Flat Creek Estate for a glass of wine or two.

For a restful countryside stay, spend the night at La Quinta by Wyndham Marble Falls. This hotel boasts a view of the stunning Lake Marble Falls and spectacular sunsets. From there, you will also be able to easily visit the historic downtown, which is only a few minutes walk, or relax and unwind by the outdoor swimming pool.

A day of exploring museums in Houston

Take a break from driving in Houston, located 3 hours and 30 minutes into the drive, making it a perfect stopover on the road trip to San Antonio. Houston is world-famous for leading space exploration, home to NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Houston is not only a city of innovation but also has something for everyone, from sprawling parks to leading museums. Among these, Hermann Park, a short walk from the city's heart, presents a peaceful retreat with its beautiful gardens and outdoor spaces.

Sam Houston Statue, positioned on a concrete archway in the park, photo taken during sunset
Hermann Park is one of our favorite places to spend some time in Houston.
Prajwal Shinde/Shutterstock.com

For your stay, we highly recommend the Blossom Hotel Houston, where you can admire beautiful city views right outside your window. During your stay, make sure to take a dip in the fabulous rooftop pool with views.

Before you set off to explore, take a moment to enjoy the delicious breakfast on offer at the hotel. Afterwards, you can visit Houston Zoo and NRG Park afterwards to enjoy a game, both short drives from the hotel.

Where to stay when you reach San Antonio

San Antonio, a city rich in history and culture, is the perfect culmination of your Texas road trip. Known for its iconic River Walk, historic missions, and vibrant Tex-Mex cuisine, San Antonio offers a unique blend of cultural heritage and modern excitement.

Nestled in the heart of downtown San Antonio, the luxurious Omni La Mansion del Rio is a beautiful place to stay along the picturesque River Walk. This exceptional hotel not only provides a tropical courtyard with a beautiful outdoor pool but also boasts a restaurant that offers stunning views of the River Walk.

The Alamo at sunrise in San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo is a must-visit for any history buff during their stay in Houston.
Dean Fikar/Shutterstock.com

Here, you can choose rooms with refreshing views of the courtyard, the River Walk, or the city skyline, with select rooms featuring a balcony for to enjoy some fresh air with memorable views during your stay.

Just a 5-minute walk from the hotel, the Alamo, a symbol of Texas' independence, is the perfect place to start your adventure in San Antonio.

Things to see on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio

This 315-mile road trip from Dallas to San Antonio may be short and can be done in less than a day's drive. But with all the adventures the journey has to offer, you may need a week or more to fully experience everything along the way.

Here are our recommended things to see on your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio:

Waco Route

  1. Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery - Nestled in West, Texas, the Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery is a beloved roadside stop offering a delightful array of Czech-inspired pastries, kolaches, and savory snacks.
  2. Cameron Park Zoo, Waco - This intimate zoo, located in the scenic Cameron Park, offers visitors a close-up look at a diverse range of animals in beautifully designed habitats, making it a perfect outing for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
  3. Silos at Magnolia - Famous from HGTV's "Fixer Upper," the Silos at Magnolia in Waco feature a market, bakery, and garden, offering a unique shopping and dining experience in a rustic, chic setting that captures the heart of Texas design and hospitality.
  4. Railroad & Heritage Museum - Located in Temple, Texas, this museum celebrates the rich history of railroads in the American West, offering exhibits on vintage trains, the evolution of rail travel, and its impact on the region's development.
  5. Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum - Echoing the history of the railroad's influence on American culture and economy, this museum in Temple showcases an extensive collection of railroad memorabilia, historic photographs, and interactive exhibits.
  6. Bell County Museum - Situated in Belton, this museum provides a deep dive into the local history and heritage of Bell County with artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that span from prehistoric times to the modern day.
  7. Mayborn Planetarium and Space Theater - Located on the campus of Central Texas College in Killeen, this state-of-the-art planetarium offers a captivating array of shows and exhibits that explore the wonders of the universe.
  8. Copperas Cove - This charming town near Killeen offers a quiet getaway with its small-town atmosphere, scenic parks, and community events, serving as a peaceful stop in the heart of Texas hill country.
  9. World's Largest Spur - In Lampasas, visitors can marvel at the World's Largest Spur, a towering roadside attraction that pays homage to Texas's cowboy culture and serves as a unique photo opportunity.
  10. Lake Marble Falls - This picturesque lake in the Texas Hill Country is known for its crystal-clear waters, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, and relaxing lakeside picnics, making it a serene escape from the hustle and bustle.
  11. Dead Man's Hole - Located near Marble Falls, Dead Man's Hole is shrouded in mystery and history, originally discovered in 1821; it's known for its eerie past and serves as a fascinating, if somewhat macabre, point of interest.
  12. Krause Springs - A hidden gem in Spicewood, Krause Springs is a lush oasis of spring-fed pools and natural beauty, offering a tranquil spot for swimming, camping, and soaking in the serene Texas landscape.
  13. Zilker Metropolitan Park - As Austin's premier urban park, Zilker Metropolitan Park offers a wide array of recreational activities, from kayaking on Barton Springs Pool to exploring its botanical gardens.
  14. Lady Bird Lake - This serene reservoir on the Colorado River is a focal point of outdoor life in Austin, with trails, kayaking, and paddleboarding, offering stunning views of the city skyline and a peaceful retreat from city life.
  15. Canyon Lake - Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, Canyon Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and scenic vistas, providing a haven for boating, fishing, and outdoor adventures amidst the rugged Texas landscape.
Shallow creek on the shore of Canyon Lake, with small beach area and trees with no leaves
Dip your toes in Canyon Lake, and enjoy sunbathing on its sandy beaches.

Houston Detour

  1. Petroleum Park - This unique park in Beaumont celebrates the rich history of the oil industry in Texas, offering educational displays and historic oil derricks that tell the story of the state's pivotal role in the petroleum sector.
  2. Collin Street Bakery - A Texas institution located in Corsicana, known for its world-famous fruitcakes and delicious baked goods, Collin Street Bakery is a must-stop for travelers looking for a sweet treat or a unique Texas souvenir.
  3. Fort Boggy State Park - Offering a peaceful retreat with its lake, trails, and picnic areas, Fort Boggy State Park, located between Dallas and Houston, is ideal for fishing, swimming, hiking, and enjoying the natural beauty of East Texas.
  4. Sam Houston National Forest - Spanning over 160,000 acres north of Houston, this national forest offers a lush landscape of pine forests, hiking trails, and wildlife, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
  5. Lake Conroe Park - Located on the shores of Lake Conroe, this park is a favorite for its water sports, fishing opportunities, and scenic picnic spots, providing a family-friendly escape into nature.
  6. Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park - Celebrating Texas's fight for independence, this park in Conroe showcases historic flags and a towering monument to the heroes of the Texas Revolution, offering a deep dive into the state's rich history.
  7. WG Jones State Forest - One of the nation's largest working urban forests, WG Jones State Forest in Conroe is a haven for conservation, education, and recreation, with miles of trails, wildlife, and outdoor learning opportunities.
  8. Hermann Park - A cornerstone of Houston's park system, Hermann Park is home to the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre, and beautiful gardens, making it a central hub for leisure and cultural activities in the city.
  9. Space Center Houston - The official visitor center of NASA's Johnson Space Center, this Houston attraction offers an unparalleled look into America's space program, with exhibits, artifacts, and tours that bring the wonder of space exploration to life.
  10. Rothko Chapel - An oasis of tranquility in Houston, the Rothko Chapel is both a non-denominational chapel and a work of modern art, offering a reflective space filled with Mark Rothko's dramatic paintings.
  11. Bear Creek Pioneers Park - Located in West Houston, this expansive park features wildlife habitats, sports facilities, and walking trails, providing a diverse range of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.
  12. San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site - This historic site near Sealy tells the story of Stephen F. Austin's colony, which laid the groundwork for the settlement of Texas, offering a glimpse into the early days of Texan independence.
  13. Watermelon Water Tower - The Watermelon Water Tower in Luling is a quirky and colorful landmark that pays homage to the town's annual Watermelon Thump festival, symbolizing the community's agricultural heritage and spirit.
  14. The Heritage Museum, Seguin - This museum in Seguin offers insights into the rich cultural and historical tapestry of the region, with exhibits ranging from early Native American artifacts to stories of pioneer life and the development of the local community.
Lake Conroe, Texas, colorful sunset on lake with empty boathouse and green grass
Lake a break at the beautiful Lake Conroe and admire a beautiful sunset on the Houston Detour.
Sonja Botes/Shutterstock.com

Best time to go on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio

Since this road trip from Dallas to San Antonio takes you to the southern part of the country, the adventure can be enjoyed at any time of the year no matter which route you choose. Each season offers its own scenic views and activities for all types of travelers.

That being said, the best time to make this trip is from winter to spring as the weather is great for driving and exploring the outdoor wonders on this journey. Another bonus is that hotel rates are also significantly lower.

Colorful flags strung between trees
You're in for a treat of colors if you visit San Antonio at Fiesta time.
Joshua Rainey Photography/Shutterstock.com

Winters are generally mild in the city, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit.

Making your journey in the summer is also a great option for this exciting road trip from Dallas to San Antonio. However, you should brace yourself for the influx of travelers also heading south with you. Temperatures at the height of summer average around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you really want to experience San Antonio at its most vibrant and bustling, consider making your trip in April to witness, firsthand, San Antonio's most famous festival - Fiesta. Marvel at the elaborate parades and displays, and be sure not to miss the culmination of the festival's celebration: the "Battle of Flowers".

Beginning your Dallas to San Antonio Road Trip from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

If you are flying into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, chances are you'll want to arrange car rental before you travel.

Starting your journey from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to downtown Dallas is a straightforward experience. The route is well-marked and offers a seamless transition from the vastness of one of the world's busiest airports to the bustling heart of Dallas's urban core.

Upon leaving DFW, your first step is to merge onto International Parkway. This stretch of road, brief yet vital, is your initial foray into the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. You'll soon exit onto TX-183 E, commonly referred to as the Airport Freeway. It's a direct and efficient route that serves as your main artery to the city, guiding you with clear signage and smooth pavement.

As TX-183 E progresses, it naturally transitions into I-35E S. This part of the drive introduces you to the Dallas skyline, an impressive collection of skyscrapers and architectural marvels that signal your approach to downtown.

The journey from DFW to downtown Dallas typically spans about 30 minutes, traffic permitting, and offers a first-hand look at the dynamic blend of history and modernity that defines the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

This drive is not just a means to an end but an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the heart of North Texas. As you reach downtown Dallas, you're not merely arriving at a destination; you're entering a lively, welcoming city ready to offer its best in culture, cuisine, and entertainment.