5 Summer Getaways You Can Drive to Near Dallas

Summer is a great time to hop in the car and go explore a place you’ve never been before. We’ve got you covered with five summer getaways within short drive from Dallas-Fort Worth. Take a break with the routine, go explore and make some memories.

Glen Rose

Glen Rose calls itself the “Dinosaur Capital of Texas” and for good reason. The area is home to Dinosaur Valley State Park, 1,500 acres just northwest of town, where you can hike, bike and wade in the Paluxy River while hunting for fossilized dinosaur footprints — some of the best-preserved specimens in the country. Dinosaur World, near the state park, is a popular attraction for the younger crowd with life-size “dinosaurs” and a “dinosaur dig.” Allow at least two hours during your trip to see Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, a 1,700-acre preserve west of town, where visitors can take a 9.5-mile drive through the preserve to get a taste of Africa with closeup viewing of giraffes, gazelles, aoudads, wildebeests and more. Some animals can be fed from your car. Check out the FAQs before your trip.

First Monday Trade Days

What started as a flea market more than a 100 years ago has evolved into one of the most popular monthly events in East Texas: Canton’s First Monday Trade Days. The event, dubbed one of the world’s largest flea markets, occurs on the Thursday-Sunday before the first Monday of each month, and attracts hordes. (To avoid the biggest crowds, shop on Thursday.) Check the website to confirm dates and to get some tips before your visit. There’s no admission fee but you will pay to park. This can be a long, hot day if you’ve got littles, so consider this as an adult-only trip. While there are ATMs on site, they have been known to run out of cash, so bring plenty. Cash is king when it comes to bartering.

Burger’s Lake

This spring-fed lake in Fort Worth has been a family favorite for generations. Burger’s Lake, open seven days a week until 7 p.m., has two sandy beaches, six diving boards, a 20-foot slide, a 25-foot trapeze and inner tubes for rent. The park covers 30 acres and includes sand and grass volleyball courts, big trees for shade, more than 300 picnic tables, and grills for picnickers. A food and beverage stand is available for those who don’t want to bring food. Alcoholic beverages and pets are prohibited. The lake is open through Labor Day weekend.

Waco

About 1.5 hours south of Dallas, Waco has a lot to offer the day-tripper. Chip and Joanna Gaines of the hit HGTV show, “Fixer Upper,” have really put Waco on the map and a stroll through the Magnolia Market is a must for any DIY or HGTV fan. Besides the Magnolia store, the property includes gardens, a garden shop and a bakery. Take some time to dine at one of Waco’s well-known restaurants. George’s has amazing chicken-fried steak and is a Waco institution whose history dates to the 1930s. Or check out Health Camp, which dates to the 1940s and serves up frozen custard, burgers and shakes. There’s plenty to do while in Waco: Take a walk through the campus of Baylor University, tour the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the Dr Pepper Museum or the Mayborn Museum Complex. For more ideas, check out the Waco Convention & Visitor’s website.

 State parks

 You can’t go wrong with a state park, and several are within 30 minutes to two hours Dallas-Fort Worth. If you live in a southern suburb, try Cleburne State Park, a hidden gem that includes a swimming lake with no boat wakes allowed or Cedar Hill State Park on the shores of Joe Pool Lake where you can bring your own boat, kayak, jet ski or canoe. Fish for bass, crappie or catfish or take the youngsters to the perch pond. The hike and bike trails are popular here. If you live in Fort Worth or a western suburb, try Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway, which offers one of the few natural rock climbing sites in North Texas. It includes a lake where you can rent flat-bottom boats with trolling motors, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and rowboats. Spend part of your day hiking, biking or horseback riding along the 20-mile trailway. If you live in a northern suburb, check out Ray Roberts Lake State Park and the nearby full-service marina.

Kerry Curry