Dallas to Austin isn’t a long trip, but it's one of the best if you want a unique Texas experience. From acclaimed spots like the Dallas Heritage Village to small-town hidden gems like the Roadside America Museum, you'll have many opportunities to learn more about the state's history and contemporary culture. Pack your bags and get ready for a fun weekend exploring Texas!
Drive Time from Dallas to Austin: approximately three hours
Distance from Dallas to Austin: approximately 195 miles
Best car for this road trip: Standard SUV
Before starting your trip from Dallas, take some time to see some historic sites in the area. Pay a visit to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial and the George W. Bush Presidential Library. For a taste of Texas history, go to Dallas Heritage Village.
Another unique way to explore Dallas culture is to see the many professional sports stadiums. Dallas' NHL and NBA teams, the Stars and Mavericks, play at the American Airlines Center. You can also visit the neighboring town of Arlington to see AT&T Stadium, where the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys play. The Texas Rangers play MLB games in nearby Globe Life Park. You can catch a game or take a tour at any of these locations.
If you love nightlife, consider spending at least one night in downtown Dallas. Be sure to visit Deep Ellum, which is a neighborhood known for its street art, music venues, and vintage shops.
About one hour and 62 miles south of Dallas is Hillsboro. This town boasts a surprising amount of culture and history to explore despite its small size. The Roadside America Museum is an amazing celebration of Americana. It houses a collection of U.S. memorabilia from the 1940s and '50s. You can also visit the Texas Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to memorializing Medal of Honor recipients who were born in Texas, such as Audie Murphy.
For those who want to explore local history, there's the Hill County Cell Block Museum. This building used to serve as a county jail. Today, it's a museum where you can learn more about Hillsboro's past.
Waco is one of the more well-known cities on the trip from Dallas to Austin. The 40-minute, 35-mile drive down from Hillsboro will pass quickly. Once you're in town, make your way to the Dr. Pepper Museum, where this soda was first created. Thousands make the trip every year to see the city where the beverage was invented. Pharmacist Charles Alderton figured out the recipe in the 1880s and served the first Dr. Pepper in 1885.
For a meal in Waco, go to Sascee's Southern Style Eatery. Inside this modest building, you'll find one of the best Southern restaurants in the state. This is a buffet-style eatery, so it's a good for a quick and filling meal before getting back on the road.
The next stop is 40 minutes and 35 miles down the interstate. The city of Temple is known for its proximity to Belton Lake. The lake is a great spot for fishing, water sports, and camping. Temple is also more than halfway from Dallas to Austin, so it's another great stopping point if you want to turn your drive into a two-day trip.
You can learn more about the city's transportation history at the Railroad & Heritage Museum, which houses a collection of local railroad artifacts. Temple also has the Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center. Here, you can see exhibits, clothes, and other pieces documenting Texan-Czech culture.
The drive from Temple to Georgetown is brief, taking roughly 40 minutes and covering 41 miles. This city is a must-stop if you're interested in outdoor destinations. Lake Georgetown is nearby if you need another option for fishing, water sports, and camping. If you'd rather just relax for a bit before getting back on the road, San Gabriel Park is a quiet spot close to the interstate.
There are two famous outdoor attractions in this part of Texas. Blue Hole Park is a lagoon surrounded by limestone bluffs that serves as a gorgeous, natural area to swim. Inner Space Cavern is a massive cave beneath one of the busiest interstates. Bring some good hiking boots and plan a stop to take the Adventure Tour.
This is the shortest part of your trip in terms of distance. Downtown Austin is 28 miles from Georgetown. It can take between 30 minutes and an hour to get there, depending on traffic. You'll want to visit the Texas State Capitol to see the offices and chambers of Texas Legislature in person.
Austin is also home to University of Texas-Austin. Take a walk through the expansive campus, check out the iconic LBJ Presidential Library, and catch one of many athletic events taking place throughout the school year.
Another ideal way to end your trip is with a visit to Bullock Texas State History Museum. This museum is dedicated to telling “the Story of Texas,” so you might even learn something about a few of the cities you just passed through.
Dallas to Austin is a fun and easy trip. You'll spend most of your driving time on Interstate 35 South, which goes through each of the stops listed above. This is perfect for adventurers seeking charming, local attractions in the Texas countryside. Whether you pull over in each of these Southern cities or go straight to Austin, you'll love your time traveling in the Lone Star State.
What kind of food is Texas known for?
Texas is well known for chili, barbeque, pecan pie, and chicken fried steak. Tex-Mex dishes like brisket tacos, chile con queso, and tortilla soup are also popular in this state. Frito pie, which originated in Dallas, is a well-loved conglomeration of chili, cheese, corn chips, and other additions.
Where can I take my kids in Texas?
There are many family-friendly attractions in Texas. Several can be found in Waco, including a great zoo and Mayborn Museum Complex. Cameron Park Zoo is home to over 1,700 animals and spans 52 acres. This highly-rated, easy-to-walk attraction is open year-round. Be sure to check their website to see if there are any special events taking place during your visit! The Mayborn Museum Complex is located on the campus of Baylor University. It is full of interactive discovery rooms, science and history galleries, and outdoor displays, all of which are geared towards children.
Where should I go in downtown Dallas?
Downtown Dallas features a variety of restaurants and museums, so you’re sure to find something you like. Visit the Dallas Farmer’s Market to taste a selection of fresh, local produce and meet the people who are responsible for its growth.
The Dallas World Aquarium is another well-loved attraction by both kids and adults. There are five main exhibits featuring land and water animals from around the world, including exotic birds, fish, reptiles, and more.
Enjoy a meal and at support the community at the same time by dining at Café Momentum. This restaurant and culinary training facility helps at-risk youth learn life skills through cooking, while also being mentored by trained staff.
What can you do for free in Austin?
Being on a budget will not stop you from having a great time in Austin. There are a number of free sites to choose from, including museums, parks, and galleries.
Visit the Blanton Museum of Art, located at the University of Texas at Austin. Extending nearly 190,000 square feet, this is one of the biggest university art museums in the country. You can find a variety of artwork from ancient pottery to contemporary paintings.
Explore the one-of-a-kind Mayfield Park, where peacocks can be found strolling throughout the park every day. Take pictures of the birds, beautiful foliage, and the historic cottage while walking along the trails.