Texas is home to beautiful waterfalls, rolling hills, dynamic cities, and scenic drives with roadside cafes and little communities with solitary gas stations.
Whatever type of scenery you prefer, you’re likely to find it here.
Because Texas is so large, road vacations are one of the most enjoyable ways to explore everything it has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a day trip from Dallas or a full-fledged vacation, we’ve got you covered.
We offer plans for nature enthusiasts, history aficionados, and everyone in between in this collection of Texas road excursions.
If you’re ready to hit the road, keep reading to learn about the greatest routes and scenic drives to take on your Southern journey.
Do you have a base in a big city? Check out our list of Dallas road excursions, which includes a variety of weekend trips that will allow you to get away from the city for a time and see more of Texas while you’re here.
The Best Road Trips in Texas
If you don’t own a car, we recommend renting one for a few days. There’s no better way to do it than on a Texas driving vacation!
1. Big Bend National Park
This Texas national park is renowned as “Texas’ Gift to the Nation,” and one step into these beautiful, historical plains will convince you.
Big Bend is five hours south of El Paso and six hours west of San Antonio, so it’s a little out of the way from the state’s major cities, but that only adds to its allure. It’s a weekend escape in West Texas that’s all about nature. Not only that, but Big Bend also offers some of Texas’ top hiking trails–a wonderful way to get some exercise!
By venturing into the rough Texas wilderness along the Mexican border, visitors can get an up-close look at the past. Big Bend has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, and the park’s meticulously preserved archaeological sites reveal evidence of the different Native American communities that have lived there. You may even drive parts of the Comanche Trail, a popular cross-border route between the US and Mexico. Ranches, military installations, and abandoned mining sites are also open to the public.
If you just have one day, drive the scenic 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which takes you past ranches and views before dropping you off at the Santa Elena Canyon trailhead. There’s an easy hike along the river and canyon floor there. If you have more time, there are other beautiful walks throughout the park, as well as overnight backpacking with special permission.
2. Dallas Loop Road Trip
Dallas has long been a popular tourist destination in Texas, but most people stick to the downtown attractions.
Belt Line Road, a 92-mile loop that covers 15 communities and a side of Dallas that few people–even its residents–ever see in its entirety, is for those who genuinely want to go deeper into the area. It will guide you to all of the best spots to visit in the Dallas area.
This isn’t your average Texas road trip, but those who do it will get to see a mix of urban and rural surroundings, historic neighborhoods, and luxurious culinary establishments.
The drive takes about 2 hours, but if you want to see everything along the way, it can easily turn into a full Dallas day trip.
The Cedar Mountain Nature Preserve offers a short stroll where you can stretch your legs while learning about some of Texas’ native flora and wildlife, before continuing to industrial Dallas, with its ancient railroads and vestiges of the cotton industry that formerly defined the area. Historic architecture and small commercial lanes abound in Garland, Carrollton, and Grand Prairie, where you can visit the farmers market or eat lunch at one of the many beloved restaurants that know how to do comfort cuisine properly.
3. Road Trip from Mineral Wells to Marble Falls
This lesser-traveled route, which runs parallel to the Dallas-Austin highway, will bring you up up and personal with small-town Texas.
Between these two odd destinations, the travel takes two hours along Texas’ picturesque US Highway 281, with plenty of places to stop along the way. It’s one of Central Texas’s top weekend retreats. The abandoned Baker Hotel, a luxury resort that previously served as the spring training grounds for several of the country’s finest baseball teams, is a must-see in Mineral Wells. The mineral springs that stream across the city gave it its name. Some people believe that this water has mystical healing abilities, and bottles are still available if you wish to try it for yourself. Swing via Hico on your trip south for a taste of authentic tiny town living; it has fewer than 1,500 residents!
If you’re driving across Texas in the summer, you may stop at Hancock Springs Park in Lampasas to cool off. This area, which is the state’s oldest swimming pool and is fed by pure local spring water, is always cool and soothing, but especially so after a couple of hours in the car. There are plenty of natural treasures to see once you get to Marble Falls. Limestone caverns, old-growth forests, and miles of famous Texas Hill Country vineyards may all be found in this small city. Mountain biking, hang gliding, and zip-lining are all popular activities in the city, but it also has some of the best-baked pies in the state. If you’ve ever tried Southern cooking, you’ll understand how high this compliment is.
4. Road Trip from Austin to San Antonio
Taking a weekend vacation to San Antonio from Austin is a lot of fun. The 80-mile drive between two of Texas’ liveliest cities is full of rolling hills and Southern charm, with historic sights and some of the state’s best cuisine sandwiched on either end. We could write an entire essay about Austin, but the highlights include the Texas State Capitol, where the state legislature meets, and the buzzy East 6th Street, which is home to all of Austin’s greatest bars and restaurants. As you travel south, stop in San Marcos for a glass-bottom boat tour of lovely Spring Lake and a Manske roll at Gil’s Broiler to satisfy your sweet taste.
New Braunfels is next on the list. From a German-influenced historic area to the original Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort, this small town has something for everyone. Make the most of your stay in Texas’ oldest city by strolling along the world-famous San Antonio RiverWalk once you arrive. The River Walk is where you’ll discover all of the best art, dining, and shopping in the region, so don’t miss it. Of course, any history buff should pay a visit to the Alamo and several of the city’s other 18th century missions. The Alamo, in case you didn’t know, is a modest, legendary fortification and Texan historical site. It has a museum with antiques, as well as magnificent gardens. Without these sites on the agenda, no road trip in Texas is complete!
5. El Paso Road Trip
An El Paso road trip is a must-do if you want to feel like a cowboy for the first time in Texas.
El Paso is a huge metropolis on the border between Mexico and New Mexico, surrounded by low, rolling Texas mountains and desert landscapes.
There are several state and national parks in the vicinity that are ideal for hiking.
We recommend traveling the 281-mile El Paso loop over at least a long weekend, but if your schedule allows, you can extend the journey to five days or a full week.
Hueco Tanks State Park, about an hour distant, is a tiny park with distinctive granite landscapes excellent for climbing and historic rock art available through guided tours.
Continue another 12 hours to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, where you will be greeted with the world’s largest fossil reef and Texas’ four tallest mountains.
6. Piney Woods Road Trip
Anyone who enjoys wooded scenery and unearthly lakes will enjoy this East Texas journey. Set aside a weekend to go through locations that feel far apart from their native state of Georgia.
If you’re driving from Dallas, Daingerfield State Park is a 2-hour journey east, and it’s famed for its beautiful autumn foliage. Daingerfield is a rustic and remote area to hike, fish, boat, and camp year-round, even for people who aren’t visiting Texas in the fall. Wine lovers can then travel all or part of Texas’ lesser-known vineyard circuit from there. While the Texas Hill Country is well recognized as the state’s wine capital, the Piney Woods Wine Trail offers even more intimate sampling excursions due to the lack of tourists (yet). Then drive on through Jefferson to Caddo Lake State Park to get your nature fix. If you have the time, a one-night stay in Jefferson is well worth it, especially because it is Texas’ bed and breakfast capital. Finally, when you kayak across Caddo Lake, the state’s only natural lake, you’ll be treated to fairytale pictures, including the world’s tallest bald cypress tree and (just to keep you on your toes) a handful of alligators. Overall, this route from Dallas takes around 4 hours, but you’ll feel like you’ve traveled around the world.
7. Route 66 Road Trip
The majority of Route 66 goes through Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, but the Texas panhandle is home to a little section of this historic roadway that makes for a fun road trip.
Your Route 66 adventure will begin in Shamrock, at the Tower Station and Café. The pumps and historic signs remain at this restored 1935 Conoco gas station, but it no longer serves customers. Then continue to Amarillo, the route’s only city and home to the US Route 66–Sixth Street Historic District, a shopping district filled with chic antiques and down-home Southern food.
The Cadillac Ranch, a 1974 artwork with ten vehicles jutting straight out of the desert environment, is also located in Amarillo. In Adrian, you’ll discover the Route 66 halfway point, as well as the appropriately named Midpoint Café, which serves classic American cuisine in a 1950s-style diner. Finally, as you approach the New Mexico border, don’t miss Dot’s Mini-Museum and the Vega Motel.
Although the distance from Oklahoma to New Mexico on the other side is only 178 miles, there are so many places to stop along the route that you might as well make this a weekend excursion.
8. Road Trip from Waco to Longview
There are various options for getting between these two cities, but none are as gorgeous as State Highway 31, where you’ll be tempted to pull over every 10 minutes.
This road trip from Waco will take you to a variety of places, from water sports destinations to small roadside communities. A pure adrenaline thrill awaits only 20 minutes outside of downtown Waco at BSR Cable Park, the waterpark that puts all others to shame. You may be familiar with their famed Royal Flush ride, an epic super slide that sends courageous tourists high into the air before splashing into a cool pool.
After you’ve dried off, see some small-town attractions. Corsicana is about a third of the way along the road and is a nice place to stop for lunch before continuing on your journey.
Corsicana, Texas’ first oil boomtown, is known for its Petroleum Park and Pioneer Village, two historical sites not to be missed. Tyler, Texas is another great place to stop if you need to stretch your legs after a long drive. A beautiful rose garden and a huge pine forest state park with several simple treks can be found in the city.
When you eventually arrive in Longview, there’s much to do, from enjoying good local wine to zip-lining through a waterfall.
9. Road Trip from West Columbia to Corpus Christi
The entire trip down State Highway 35, sometimes known as the “Hug-the-Coast Highway,” will have you daydreaming of sunny beach days.
Even at a sluggish pace, it’s doable on a weekend. And trust us when we say you’ll want to take your time weaving through peaceful marshes with a glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico.
West Columbia, your starting location, may appear to be just another small Southern town at first glance, yet it was the capital of the Republic of Texas for three months in 1836.
Before continuing to Palacios, stop at one or two of the area’s museums before traveling to The Point, a famed Vietnamese and Mexican restaurant/bait and gear store/social hub.
It’s the ideal place to stop for lunch before continuing to Rockport on one of the most scenic sections of the entire route.
For those with more time on their hands, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge adds only an hour to the drive but offers a plethora of breathtaking views.
It’s famous for its whooping crane population, which you can see up close on a 1.5-mile stroll.
The travel to Corpus Christi takes roughly 3 hours without detours, giving you plenty of time to take in the views on both sides as well as the voyage in between.
10. Road Trip from Georgetown to San Antonio
The Georgetown to San Antonio route is perfect for anyone looking for a more off-the-beaten-path road trip in Texas.
This 2-hour drive isn’t the most scenic on the list, and catching the actual reasons so many people adore this road trip requires a keen eye and a well-planned itinerary.
Five beautiful spring-fed swimming holes are tucked away from the racing traffic. Keep your swimwear on and drive slowly so you don’t miss any opportunities to cool yourself in the hot Texas sun.
The Blue Hole Lagoon, just a short distance from Georgetown’s downtown, is the first stop. After you’ve gotten your fill of excitement there, head 31 miles south to Barton Springs.
Barton Springs is a popular pool in the Austin area that is fed by underground spring water and maintains a constant temperature of 70 degrees all year.
From there, it’s on to San Marcos Springs, but if you’re looking for a little more excitement, the San Marcos River and Rio Vista Park are also nearby, offering tubing and stand-up paddleboarding opportunities.
Then it’s back to resting at Comal Springs, Texas’ largest freshwater spring complex, before wrapping up your water experiences at San Pedro Springs, the trip’s most historically significant swimming hole.
The region around the springs has been populated by humans for over 12,000 years!
That leaves you free to spend the rest of your time in San Antonio touring at Spanish missions and taking in the vibrant city ambiance.
11. Texas Hill Country Road Trip
Assemble, wine connoisseurs! This path is for anyone who enjoys beautiful scenery and a refreshing drink of red or white wine.
The Texas Hill Country Wine Trail is easily accessible using Austin as your base if you’re seeking things to explore around Austin.
Begin your journey 45 minutes outside of Austin at the Hamilton Pool, a beautiful natural pool that appears as it belongs south of the border, similar to one of Mexico’s beautiful cenotes.
It’s time to start moving west once you’re all tuckered out.
Fredericksburg, a German enclave that today houses some of central Texas’ trendiest boutique boutiques and most gorgeous vineyards, is a must-stop on every Texas Hill Country road trip.
Fredericksburg, Texas is also one of the most romantic vacation spots in the United States.
In fact, with our list of things to do in Fredericksburg, which includes everything from peach picking to country music jams to bluebonnets, we’ve got you covered.
It’s also the ideal location for a visit to one of their outstanding tasting rooms. Fredericksburg is, after all, in the heart of Texas Wine Country.
Then head south toward San Antonio, to Landa Falls, where you’ll be able to partake in a time-honored Texas tradition: river-tubing.
Drift along the Comal River, soaking in the languid Southern life, with thoughts of vineyards dancing in your head and perhaps a bottle of that new wine by your side.
12. Road Trip from Dallas to Galveston
Leave the big city for this relaxing seaside town in Texas, where the people are friendlier and the air smells like salt and sea wind.
If you have some time before heading out, check out our Dallas weekend itinerary or one-day plan to ensure you see all of the city’s highlights, including the mind-blowing murals.
Then, as you sail approach the Gulf of Mexico, take in the scenery, which will further heighten your anticipation. Galveston is undeniably a wonderful weekend getaway from Dallas!
This schedule doesn’t call for many stops because we know you’ll be eager to get to the beach, but you’ll definitely want to mark the halfway point at a beloved Texas institution, the Buc-in ee’s Madisonville.
More than just road trip food are available at this mammoth gas station.
You may stock up on Texas-themed souvenirs and use the cleanest roadside restrooms in the state, in addition to the hundreds of flavors of homemade beef jerky you might need to nibble on.
13. Road trip from Dallas to Grapevine
Grapevine is a minor suburb outside of Dallas, around 20 minutes away.
While this city may not immediately spring to mind as a tourist destination, it is jam-packed with unique activities that make it an ideal day trip from Dallas.
Grapevine Lake is a beautiful natural escape from the city, with boating, water skiing, windsurfing, and fishing opportunities.
The lake is encircled by nine miles of meandering hiking and biking trails if you prefer to keep off the water.
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad, which takes tourists on a ride down the historic Cotton Belt Route in 1920s Victorian carriages, is our favorite odd feature.
This city is also known for its world-class local wines and hosts an annual GrapeFest that includes four days of wine tastings, live music, and other activities.
Tips for Your Road Trip in Texas
- Since Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, don’t underestimate the length of a Texas road trip.
- While the state’s maximum speed limit is 85 mph, large sections of highways can soon become the speed minimum, so be prepared!
- Before you go too far out into the countryside, make sure you fill up your tank. You don’t want to be concerned about your gas tank running out.
- Small communities, not just big cities, should be included on your Texas road trip. Beyond the skyscrapers, Texas offers even more breathtaking sights and activities.
How to rent a car in Texas?
The process of renting a car is also quite straightforward. Avoid difficulties by using one of the big businesses at an airport or in a major city. For those who’ve reserved in advance, the rental desk may try and convince you to go for something bigger, but keep in mind that only you know what kind of vehicle suits your needs.
What is the definition of a road trip?
There is no set standard for qualifying for a road trip. Thanks for your interest. A drive is typically thought of as a brief trip with no particular goal in mind. Traveling by car is the same as leaving town. Reaching a destination, staying at a destination, and stopping along the route.
Is it expensive to drive to Texas?
In other words, a one-week trip to Texas for two individuals would cost you about $2,189. It costs $4,379 for two people to go on a two-week excursion in Texas. As a family of three or four, the cost per person is generally lower because children’s tickets are less expensive and hotel rooms may be shared.