4 Can’t-Miss Vacation Spots Within Driving Distance of Dallas


Usually, most days feel like a road trip to me.

With 4 kids in 3 separate schools, and all of those schools in different cities, I rack up the miles. Home in Irving to Dallas to Farmers Branch to Coppell, back home to Irving for work, and then do it all over again 5 hours later. And that’s just drop-offs and pick-ups. Add in activities and the inevitable traffic delays, and I spend a good chunk of my waking hours behind the wheel.

One of my favorite games to play in the car is adding up the hours and miles and figuring out where else I could have driven in the same amount of time and distance. I always make it as far as Waco, usually to Austin, and on really bad days San Antonio or Houston.

Lucky for us, Dallas is within a day’s driving distance of some great road-trip worthy destinations (defined by me as 7 hours or less).

4 Favorite Road Trip Destinations from Dallas

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Driving Distance from Dallas: 286 miles, 4 ½ hours

Hot Springs, Arkansas offers a fun family vacation. Some of my family’s must-see Hot Springs attractions include the Mid-America Science Museum, hiking in the Ouachita Mountains, the Garvan Woodland Gardens, and my kiddos’ favorite, the Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo.

kids at Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo, road trips from Dallas

Lake Ouachita State Park is another great spot, offering outside activities such as boating, birding, fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping.

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Driving Distance from Dallas: 386 miles, 6 hours

Head to the Texas Panhandle to see the second largest canyon in the country at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. You can explore the canyon’s rugged beauty by foot, mountain bike, horse, or car (and cross it off your state park bucket list).

kids at Palo Duro Canyon, road trips from Dallas

Camping? You can choose from campsites with water and electricity and tent sites. Need more creature comforts? “Glamping” sites are also available, complete with refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, bicycles, gas grills and fireplaces, and of course, air conditioning.

Amarillo and the Big Texan Steak Ranch are a short drive away.

Memphis, Tennessee

Driving Distance from Dallas: 443 miles, 6 ½ hours

There’s fun for the whole family in Memphis. From the Children’s Museum of Memphis to the Memphis Zoo and its giant pandas (yes, real pandas) and lots of fun in between.

kids at the Memphis Zoo, road trips from Dallas

Be sure to include a visit to Graceland. And no, you don’t need to be a huge Elvis fan to enjoy Graceland. I’m not sure my kids had ever heard of Elvis before we visited Graceland, and they enjoyed to kitschy memorabilia and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches as much as I did.

Branson, Missouri

Driving Distance from Dallas: 427 miles, 7 hours

With 3 area lakes, dozens of attractions, and family-friendly lodging options for every budget, Branson is one of the top family destinations in the country. Enjoy breathtaking scenery on a hike in the Ozark Mountains. Wow the kids with a cast of riders, dancers, and 32 magnificent horses at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner (and who doesn’t love Dolly).

History buffs will love the Titanic Museum, a detailed replica of the actual maiden voyage that holds one of the largest authentic collections of items from the ship (even the building is in the shape of the Titanic).

Got a “bonnet head” (an affectionate term for someone who loves all things Little House on the Prairie) in the family? Then check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum, a short drive from Branson.

Looking to stay a little closer to home? Check out these summer vacation destinations within 4 hours driving distance from Dallas.

What are your favorite road trip destinations from Dallas?


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