20 Fun Day Trips from Dallas for Families

Dallas, Texas is one of the 10 largest cities in the United States and has so many great museums, entertainment districts, and fun things to do. However, as someone who lived in the Dallas area for years, sometimes it’s fun to get a change of scenery and explore nearby places outside of the Dallas city limits. 

Whether you’re searching for outdoor adventures, educational experiences or other urban areas, we’ve compiled our favorite day trip from Dallas for family fun. 

So, pick one of these places, pack your road trip snacks, gather the kids, and get ready for an exciting outing! 

the Dallas Texas skyline at sunrise
Dallas Texas Is Known For Its Downtown Skyscrapers And Recognizable Skyline. | Photo By Max Fray From Unsplash

Day Trips from Dallas within the Metroplex

You don’t have to go far for a fun day out. Many of the best day trips from Dallas are located within the area known as the DFW metroplex, which includes Dallas, Fort Worth, and all the suburbs surrounding both major cities. 

So, if you are planning to travel to Dallas, here are a few cities within the metro area worth visiting for a day. 

Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Stockyards entrance and sign over the street
The Fort Worth Stockyards District is worth taking a day trip from Dallas.

We love Fort Worth just as much as we love Dallas. In fact, we may even love it more! As a former Fort Worth resident, I can tell you there are so many fun and inexpensive things to do in Fort Worth

Start your day at the Fort Worth Historic Stockyards, the only place in the world where you can watch twice daily cattle drives down the cobbled streets. Meet the longhorns and the other livestock within the stables, and let the kids navigate through a cattle pen maze. 

The Splash Fountain In Sundance Square.
The Splash Fountain In Sundance Square. | Photo by Fallon Michael from Unsplash

As you explore this National Historic Landmark plan to stop in for lunch at one of the many restaurants serving Texas cuisine, before moving on to the downtown area known as Fort Worth Sundance Square. This modern area of the city surrounded by high rise buildings is a lively plaza where boutique shops and restaurants line the square. In the center of the plaza, you’ll find a splash fountain and giant umbrellas where you can sit under for some reprieve from the Texas heat. 

The Active Pool at the Fort Worth Water Gardens
The Active Pool at the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

On the edge of downtown, the Fort Worth Water Gardens are not to be missed! This concrete oasis features a series of different pools including the active pool which allows you to descend into a large bowl-shaped water feature surrounded by cascades of rushing water. 

Finally, end your day at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, where you can relax under large trees and explore different themed gardens including the serene Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden.

DON’T FEEL LIKE DRIVING? BOOK A GUIDED DAY TOUR FROM DALLAS TO FORT WORTH.

Grapevine

The Hallway inside Meow Wolf in Grapevine, one of the best day trips from Dallas
Meow Wolf is just one of the attractions you’ll find inside the Grapevine Mills Mall.

Grapevine is another wonderful city within a short drive from Dallas. The city is located about halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth and is filled with lots of fun things to do for kids and families.

You could spend a full day at the Grapevine Mills Mall, home to popular attractions like Meow Wolf, SEA Life Aquarium, LEGOLand, and Peppa Pig World of Play. 

Peppa Pig World of Play entrance
For families with young children, Peppa Pig World of Play is another great attraction in Grapevine.

Have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, also inside Grapevine Mills Mall, and shop for Texas souvenirs along the Historic Main Street. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the holiday season, Grapevine is also one of the most festive places in the USA at Christmas time

Denton 

downtown denton texas
Downtown Denton Is A Cute And Walkable Area Filled With Vintage Shops, Unique Restaurants, And Lots Of Fun Surprises. | Ian Harber From Unsplash

On the far north end of DFW, Denton is a quirky, college town where thrifting, live music and historical buildings dating back to the late 1800s are the main draws for a Dallas day trip. 

the former denton county courthouse
The Former Denton County Courthouse Is Not Only A Beautiful Building But A Museum Dedicated To The History And Culture Of Denton County. | Photo By Ian Harber From Unsplash

Many of the best things to do in Denton can all be found within the Denton Country Historical Park and the nearby downtown area. Tour the Bayless-Selby House and the 19th-century era courthouse and the former jailhouse. Then grab lunch and spend some time checking out the vintage thrift stores downtown. 

Frisco

Directly north of Dallas lies Frisco – one of the fastest growing suburbs in the metroplex. Frisco is not only home to a minor league baseball team and the FC Dallas soccer team, but the city offers lots of fun things to do in Frisco for families. 

Check out Kidzania or go for a round of Monster Mini Golf. In summer, the Frisco Water Park is a great place to cool off on a hot day. Or head indoors to explore the National VideoGame Museum inside the Frisco Discovery Center. 

If time allows head to Frisco Square for lunch and some shopping as you stroll through this pretty area of the city. 

Arlington

dallas cowboys game at ATT Stadium
Seeing A Dallas Cowboys Game In Person Is A Bucket List Items For Many Fans Of American Football. | Photo By Sandler482 From Pixabay

Adventure lovers will especially enjoy this day trip from Dallas. Located between Interstate 20 and Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth, Arlington is home to Six Flags over Texas and Hurricane Harbor. 

You could spend a full day at either the theme park or the water park, but the third largest city in DFW has more to offer than just its incredible theme parks. The city is also home to the stadiums where the Dallas Cowboys play and where the Texas Rangers play.

Even if there isn’t a game going on, football fans can take a tour of the Cowboys stadium and check out the pro shops at both stadiums.

Grand Prairie

It’s no secret that North Texas is HOT! And one of the best places to escape the heat is located just a short drive from Downtown Dallas in the city of Grand Prairie. Epic Waters is the largest indoor water park in North Texas. It features over 80,000 square feet of indoor water slides, lazy rivers, children’s splash areas, and lots of other ways to have fun. 

Open year-round, the water park also features the tallest indoor water slide in North America, making it a thrilling adventure even for adults! 

McKinney 

Bella Donna Church in Adriatica Neighborhood in Mckinney
The small chapel in McKinney’s Adriatica neighborhood, which is designed to look like a Croatian village.

McKinney is one of our personal favorite day trips from Dallas. We even got married there! The downtown area is charming and feels historic with local boutiques and cute cafes.

You will find several great farm-to-table restaurants which make for a delicious lunch stop as you explore the town. 

If you want to feel like you’ve truly left Dallas, or the country for that matter, head to the Adriatica neighborhood. Modeled after some of the beautiful cities and towns in Croatia, pause for a photo at the bell tower or at the small church on the lake.  

Day trips outside of the Metroplex

While there are a lot of incredible cities to visit within the DFW Metroplex, head an hour or two out of the metropolis and you’ll find lots of great small towns and beautiful natural areas to explore.

Ennis

Texas Bluebonnets in Ennis
A field of Texas Bluebonnets in Ennis.

One of the best day trips from Dallas in spring, Ennis, Texas is a must for wildflower lovers thanks to the incredible Ennis Bluebonnet Trails. The small town south of Dallas boasts some of the best wildflower fields in the state. 

Texas is known for a lot of things and bluebonnets are one of them. The bluebonnet fields around Ennis attract so many people that the town also hosts a Bluebonnet Festival each spring. For peak blooms, visit in early April.

You can drive one of the bluebonnet routes that take you past fields of wildflowers where longhorns graze. There is also an antique shop and a winery for those who want to make a full day of their beautiful road trip.

Caddo Lake

Kayaking In Caddo State Park Will Feel Like You Are In The Bayous Of Louisiana. | Photo By Bearded Texan Travels From Pexels

If you want to explore East Texas, the mystical waters of Caddo Lake are worthy of a day trip. Here, tall cypress trees draped in moss grow up out of the winding bayou creating a landscape unlike any other in Texas. 

Take a guided boat tour to take in the beauty of this unique ecosystem. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like river otters and birds. 

After your boat tour, take a leisurely stroll along the scenic trails of Caddo Lake State Park where the soothing sounds of nature are all that you’ll hear. 

Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

the View from Mount Scott in Oklahoma
The View from Mount Scott in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains.

Another incredible nature outing within driving distance from Dallas, the Wichita Mountains is located in southern Oklahoma about 3 hours from Downtown Dallas. This is a sprawling national wildlife refuge that offers a diverse landscape of rugged mountains, rolling plains, and even a lake. 

Be sure to bring your hiking boots, to hike one of the trails within the refuge or scramble over boulders at the top of Mount Scott, the highest point in Oklahoma. 

the main street in the town of Medicine Park
The town of Medicine Park is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner when visiting the Wichita Mountains.

Within the refuge, you’ll find hidden waterfalls as well as roaming bison and other wildlife. After a day spent hiking, stop for dinner in the cute, cobblestone town of Medicine Park, where hanging out at the natural swimming hole is one of the best ways to pass time. 

Granbury 

the courthouse in Granbury
Granbury’s county courthouse and many of the buildings in the historic district are beautiful well-preserved Victorian-era buildings.

In our opinion, Granbury is one of the best small towns in the United States. Located on a cake southwest of Fort Worth, the town is a great place to visit if you love historic, well-preserved Victorian era homes and buildings. 

Start your day trip in Granbury Square, which is lined with cute shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. For a taste of local history, wander down Bridge Street, where you’ll find homes that have been turned into museums celebrating the county’s past and its history. 

If outdoor adventure is more your style, head to Lake Granbury for boating, fishing, or simply relaxing by the water’s edge at Granbury City Beach. 

Broken Bow, Oklahoma

the lake in Broken Bow
Broken Bow Is A Great Place For A Relaxing Day Trip or Weekend Trip from Dallas. | Photo By Sarah Burt From Pixabay

Although Oklahoma may be known for its wide-open spaces, the southeastern corner of the state is filled with dense forests, lakes, and outdoor adventure.

Escape the urban jungle of Dallas and discover the beauty of nature in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, a hidden gem nestled in the Ouachita Mountains. 

Just a few hours’ drive away from Dallas, you can swim, kayak, or paddleboard amidst the picturesque surroundings in Broken Bow Lake or hike through the towering pines of Beavers Bend State Park.

For a taste of adventure, go on a zip line tour through the treetops or try your hand at trout fishing.

Waco

Magnolia Market at the Silos
Magnolia Market is a huge tourist draw to Waco.

There was a time when Waco was just an ordinary mid-sized town in Texas without much to offer. But thanks to the popularity of one particular family that calls Waco home, this city is now one of the best day trips from Dallas. 

Begin your journey with a visit to the iconic Magnolia Market at the Silos, created by Chip and Joanna Gaines, who rose to fame as the stars of the HGTV show Fixer Upper. Here you can peruse artisan goods, savor delicious treats from the food trucks, and snap photos in front of the picturesque silos. 

The Waco Mammoth National Monument is also worth a quick visit to see the fossils of 24 mammoths. 

Finally, no trip to Waco would be complete without a visit to the historic Waco Suspension Bridge, offering stunning views of the Brazos River and a glimpse into the city’s past.  

On the way back to Dallas, be sure to stop in the tiny town of West to indulge in some kolaches. 

It is a Texas bucket list road stop!

BOOK A GUIDED DAY TOUR TO WACO FROM DALLAS.

Turner Falls, Oklahoma

Turner Falls, Oklahoma's tallest waterfall
Turner Falls Is The Largest Waterfall In Oklahoma And Is One Of The Most Beautiful Places In Oklahoma To Visit. | Photo By J Amill Santiago From Unsplash

Just a short drive up Interstate 35 and across the state line, Turner Falls is Oklahoma’s tallest waterfall. Cascading 77 feet into a sparkling swimming hole below, the waterfall is one of the best places to visit in Oklahoma and is a popular day trip from Dallas, as well as Oklahoma City.  

Spend your day exploring the stunning scenery of the Arbuckle Mountains, where hiking trails wind through the trees and limestone cliffs offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. 

Cool off with a refreshing swim in the natural pools beneath the falls and take in the scenery of the crystal-clear waters and towering rock formations. 

For a relaxing afternoon, spread out a picnic blanket in one of the shaded picnic areas or unwind on the sandy shores of the designated beach area. 

Glen Rose 

Prehistoric tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park.
Prehistoric tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park. | Photo by Lori Stevens from Unsplash

Glen Rose is one of the more unique day trips from Dallas. This remote town southwest of the metroplex is home to Dinosaur Valley State Park, where you can walk in the footsteps of prehistoric giants and marvel at ancient dinosaur tracks preserved in the riverbeds. 

a zebra at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
A safari tour at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is another big reason to day trip to Glen Rose. | Photo by Terren Hurst from Unsplash

After exploring the park, head to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, where you can go on a safari adventure and encounter exotic animals like giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests. Inside the Children’s Animal Center, you can even meet and learn about some of the different species that live in the park, including sheep, goats, and pot-bellied pigs. 

Canton 

If you love a flea market, plan your day trip on one of the 4 days preceding the first Monday of any month to visit the small East Texas town of Canton. 

The First Monday Trade Days has been held monthly in Canton since the 1850s and is considered the largest flea market in the world!   

Browse through acres of unique treasures, including antiques, collectibles, handmade crafts, and delicious local treats. After shopping to your heart’s content, grab a late lunch or dinner in downtown Canton in one of the local cafes housed in the historic buildings. 

Dublin

vintage dr. pepper bottles
You can learn about the history of Dr. Pepper and tour the original bottling factory where the beverage was made, prior to the brand being sold. | Photo by Mike from Pixabay

There is one main primary reason to visit the tiny town of Dublin, Texas, southwest of Fort Worth. 

The town is the birthplace of the bubbly beverage, Dr. Pepper. While the soda brand is no longer bottled in Dublin, you can still tour the original Dublin Bottling Works, where you can take a guided tour to learn about the history of Dublin Dr. Pepper and sample a variety of their newer handcrafted sodas. 

Afterward, explore the quaint downtown area, where you’ll find historic buildings and friendly locals, and make the short detour to Hico, one of the cutest small towns in Texas. 

Cities that could be day trips but work better as weekend trips

Finally, for those who don’t mind a further drive – and don’t mind not getting to see everything a destination has to offer, here are three cities that can be done as day trips from Dallas, but in reality, make for much better weekend trips. 

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

the Bricktown OKC canal
Bricktown is the entertainment district in downtown Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City is without a doubt one of the most underrated cities in the United States. Of course, I may be biased because I was once a DFW resident and now live in OKC. Prior to moving to Oklahoma City, I did this day trip numerous times, and honestly, there are so many things to do in Oklahoma City for families that you will want at least 2 or 3 days. 

If you only have a day to spend, however, start out by taking a stroll or a boat ride through the canal in Bricktown, which is the entertainment district of Downtown OKC. You’ll find lots of restaurants, a miniature golf course, an arcade, and some cool street art

the reflection pool at the oklahoma city national memorial
The Oklahoma City Memorial Is A Moving Place Dedicated To Those Who Were Killed And Those Who Survived The Worst Day In The City’s History.

After exploring Bricktown head to the OKC National Memorial and Museum. Give yourself at least 2 hours to go through the museum and tour the moving memorial dedicated to the victims and the survivors of the OKC Federal Building bombing in 1995. 

Before heading back to Dallas, spend the early evening at the Myriad Gardens and walk through the Crystal Bridge Conservatory, where you will find a tropical ecosystem including a two-story cascading waterfall.

Looking for other great places to visit in Oklahoma? Check out the many fun attractions in Tulsa and the state’s original capital, Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Shreveport, Louisiana 

Shreveport is a great way to get a taste of Louisiana without venturing too far into the state. Just across the border from Texas, Shreveport has a great boardwalk where you can shop and enjoy a meal overlooking the water. 

Afterwards, tour the Shreveport Water Works Museum or tour the Historical Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which has hosted musical legends like Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix.

Finally, head downtown and find a restaurant that serves Cajun and Creole cuisine. While we aren’t big gamblers, those who enjoy casinos may want to spend at least one night in Shreveport.

Austin, Texas

exterior of the texas state capitol
The Texas State Capitol is worth touring on a day trip to Austin. | Photo by Karson from Unsplash

Austin is not only the capital city of Texas, but it is one of the coolest destinations in the state. While it is only 3 hours away, I recommend spending at least one night in this lively city filled with quirky shops, food truck parks, outdoor adventures, and iconic sites. 

If you decide to day trip to Austin, start your day by touring the Texas State Capitol and learning a little bit about the state’s history. You can also rent paddle boards on a nice day at Lady Bird Lake, where you can enjoy downtown skyline views as you balance and navigate on the water.

the paramount theatre in austin
Congress Avenue Is One Of The Best Areas To Hang Out In Austin To Experience The City’s Unique Culture. | Photo By Dayo Adepoju From Unsplash

For lunch and dinner, head to either Sixth Street or South Congress, where you can soak up the energy of the city and indulge in delicious food with a side of atmosphere. If you decide to stay for the night, both of these areas are known for their nightlife.

Do you have a question or comment about any of these day trips from Dallas? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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