Arguably the two most iconic cities in Texas, Dallas and San Antonio are known for historic landmarks, lots of excellent restaurants, and unique culture. The five hour drive will take you through the state capital of Austin and several smaller cities that offer ample opportunities for fun breaks on your drive.
Drive Time from Dallas to San Antonio: approximately 5 hours and 5 minutes
Distance from Dallas to San Antonio: approximately 274 miles
Best car for this road trip: Full-Size Car
Dallas is an enormous city, and if you're visiting for a day or two, you'll be treated to some of the best parks, museums, and galleries in Texas. The Dallas Museum of Art and the Crow Collection of Asian Art are both top choices. If you want to get some shopping done before you hit the road, Galleria Dallas and NorthPark Center are two popular options.
Traffic can build up on Interstate 35 S from 6:30 am - 9:00 am and 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm. It is best to plan your drive around those times. This interstate goes all the way to San Antonio, so navigating the drive is straightforward. Try Bread Winners Café & Bakery for your morning meal. This shop serves fantastic breakfasts, including specialties like fried chicken and waffles and breakfast tacos.
You'll stay on I-35 S for about 1.5 hours and cover 95 miles until you reach your first stop. Waco has some interesting attractions that justify taking a break in town or staying overnight. Cameron Park Zoo is a 52-acre space where you can see wild animal species. The Waco Mammoth National Monument features a collection of fossils preserved in the original rock.
Many people make the drive from Dallas to Waco just to visit Magnolia Market. This is a home goods store and gathering spot for food trucks, so you can simultaneously shop and refuel before you get back on the road.
The next stop will put you close to Austin. Though you may be tempted to push on through, it's worth pausing in Round Rock to stretch your legs and see some of the area's outdoor attractions. The 84-mile drive from Waco to Round Rock takes just under an hour and a half.
Round Rock is a particularly good place to stop if you have children. The area is dotted with amazing playgrounds, including the universally accessible Play for All Abilities Park. Southwest Williamson County Regional Park and Memorial Park are two other family-friendly spots. If you want to eat before heading to Austin, Jack Allen's Kitchen is the place to sample local fare. This restaurant and bar boasts a “farm-to-fork” philosophy and serves meals such as Gulf shrimp and pork tenderloin medallions.
When you reach Austin, you're about 75 percent of the way from Dallas to San Antonio. Be sure to set aside some time to explore the Texas capital and the Live Music Capital of the World. Here you'll also find food, music, and nightlife down South Congress Avenue.
A favorite outdoor attraction worth seeing is Barton Springs Pool. This is a popular swimming hole that's fed by natural springs. The water gets quite cold, which is perfect for Texas's hot summers. Other good choices for outdoor activities in Austin are Zilker Park, Lady Bird Lake, and Lake Travis.
San Marcos is also a short distance outside of Austin. It takes about 40 minutes and 31 miles to reach the city. This is the home of Texas State University and the LBJ Museum. People also visit this area to shop at the San Marcos Outlet Malls and see Dick's Classic Garage Car Museum.
Grins Restaurant is one of the best places to eat in town. The building used to be a house, and though it was converted to a restaurant in the 1970s, it still has a unique down-home vibe. The eatery specializes in American dishes, including burgers and chicken fried steaks.
New Braunfels is an 18-mile, 33-minute drive from San Marcos. This area is known for its unique German heritage. The name comes from the founder's home of Solms-Braunfels in Germany. New Braunfels celebrates its roots with the annual Wurstfest, where you can eat German food, listen to live music, and more. The event is held every fall.
If you aren’t visiting during the festival, simply go to a German restaurant in town. Alpine Haus Restaurant is one of the most popular and features a beer garden.
The final leg of your trip takes about 38 minutes and covers 34 miles. Several incredible attractions await in downtown San Antonio. This metropolis is comparable in population to Dallas, but has a totally different culture and vibe. Spend an afternoon along the Riverwalk, then head over to The Alamo to see the famous Spanish mission.
Of course, San Antonio has much to offer outside of its downtown area. The nearby Pearl District, features a shopping mall and several upscale restaurants. Plus, the San Antonio Museum of Art is just a few blocks away. To learn more about the history and heritage of the area, visitors should explore some of the lesser known missions located south of the city including: Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada. Admission to these one-of-a-kind attractions is free!
Though it only takes five hours to go straight from Dallas to San Antonio, you should take the time to see great attractions along the way. This is a trip best stretched over a few days, so you can experience the unique Texas culture found in towns like Waco, Austin, and New Braunfels.
What is there to do in Dallas at night?
Is Austin family friendly?
Yes, there are lots of things to do in Austin that the whole family will enjoy, such as:
What is San Antonio best known for?
San Antonio is known for its hot climate, Tex-Mex cuisine, and several famous attractions. The Alamo is one of them. A battle was fought at this Spanish mission for Texas to gain independence from Mexico. Another well-known spot in San Antonio is the River Walk. This beautiful waterway is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and more.