5 fantastic summer getaways from Dallas-Fort Worth with just one tank of gas
High gas prices, expensive plane tickets, airport headaches and expensive car rental fees make planning trips a little more difficult this summer. But a postcard-worthy family vacation is just a tank of gas away, thanks to scenic resorts and parks a short drive from Dallas to Fort Worth. Some offer poolside cocktail service in a luxury hotel setting, while others offer quaint cabanas in more wooded surroundings. All offer something for every member of the family, from pools, spas and lake activities to arts and crafts and museum visits. Pack your bags, fuel up once and hit the road.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
While this destination may push the limit of a round-trip gas tank, Hot Springs is still an easy trip for a quick family getaway. Located about 300 miles from DFW in the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs is known for its naturally heated springs in Hot Springs National Park. But there’s so much more to keep families busy, including a visit to the Central American Science Museum, which sits on 21 wooded acres in the Ouachita National Forest. Permanent exhibitions include the “Marvelous Motion Gallery”, the “Light Bridge” with its fascinating prisms and the interactive “Workshop Gallery”. Also on view through August 20 is “Expedition Dinosaur: Rise of the Mammals,” which features several interactive stations and life-size animatronic dinosaurs. The area is also home to an alligator farm, mini-golf and go-kart rides, and nearby Lake Catherine State Park and Lake Ouachita State Park. stay new DoubleTree by Hilton Hot Springs, opened in 2020 and located on Lake Hamilton. We have a boat dock and you can rent pontoons nearby. The hotel’s swimming pool and restaurant overlook the lake. Pricing starts at a reasonable $101.
Lakeway Resort & SpaLakeway, TX
This refreshing Austin-area getaway (located just over three hours from DFW) flies under the radar of Hill Country’s better-known family resorts, and that’s no bad thing. Think fewer people and more space to spread out. Lakeway Resort & Spa is the only resort property on Lake Travis that offers idyllic, stress-relieving views, even with busy kids. Let them burn off their energy at the kids’ pool, where they have their own waterslide and splash pool with a lifeguard on duty during peak hours. There is also a family pool where young and old can sit and relax or join in a volleyball match. Mom and dad can take turns sneaking into the adults-only pool, which features a swim-up bar with cocktails like the Lakeway Limeade with lime vodka topped with bubbles and the Lake Travis On the Rocks Margarita. Or book a service at the spa, which has floor-to-ceiling windows that appear to float above water. Excursions include sailing, boating, fishing, and water activities from jet skiing to scuba diving, all available right on Lake Travis. Plan for nightly s’mores by the fire provided by the resort. Rates start at $202 for the current season.
Beavers Bend State ParkBroken Bow, Oklahoma
Beavers Bend State Park, located between Broken Bow and Hochatown in Oklahoma, just over three hours from DFW, is a longtime mountain retreat known for its trout streams, pine trees, and peaceful seclusion. The area has exploded with tourism and development over the past decade, attracting more families for an easy getaway with plenty of activity options. Inside the park, summer must-dos include swimming at the sandy Riverbend Beach, riding the little train (the driver is a real boo), and wading the river waters. Outside the park, there’s mini-golf, a petting zoo, a gem and fossil mining experience, and several restaurants and breweries. While hundreds of cabins are available for rent through Airbnb and VRBO, the state park itself offers 47 rustic cabins. Each is equipped with a full kitchen and fire pit, and rates start at $115. (The state park is also home to a 40-room lakeside lodge, which is currently undergoing renovations with plans to reopen late this fall.) Note that because the area has boomed significantly in recent years , restaurants remain busy and wait times are frequent. Plan early dinners or even cook at the cabin – both options allow for less stress and more great memories.
Margaritaville Lake ResortLake Conroe, Texas
Looking for that lost salt shaker? It could be at this Caribbean-inspired resort on Lake Conroe, about an hour north of downtown Houston and just three and a half hours from DFW. Named after Jimmy Buffet’s signature song about his favorite frozen concoction, the still-new property (it opened in COVID-y summer 2020) encourages guests to step up to island time. That means flip-flops, unobstructed lake views, and swim-up bars are all available to you. But while there’s alcohol in the mixer available at each of the resort’s seven eateries and eateries, parents can feel good about bringing the kids as the entire property is family-friendly. There are five pools here, but only one is for adults. Even the attractive main pool with the 5 o’Clock Somewhere swim-up bar is open to kids (though they don’t let them sit at the bar). There’s also a three-acre water park with twisty slides, a lazy river for inner tubes, a private beach for sandcastle creations, and a free 18-hole mini-golf course. For parents looking for their own summer vacation, there’s a spa, an 18-hole golf course with putting green and driving range, plenty of live music, and recreational activities on the lake, including a party barge twice a day. Fares start at $299 and Texas residents get a 5% discount.
Horseshoe Bay ResortHorseshoe Bay, Texas
Located on Lake LBJ just over three hours from DFW, Horseshoe Bay is one of the most upscale family resorts in the Hill Country. Long known for its prestigious, award-winning golf courses (there are three here), the resort looks like a true vacation getaway from the moment you arrive. Perhaps it’s the cocktail service at the Yacht Club’s pool near the sandy shores of the lake, or the limo golf cart shuttle service that ferries guests around the property. The resort is continually adding to its list of amenities and activities. The newest is the all-new Waterfront Beach Water Park, open until September 6 and featuring 100 feet of inflatable obstacle courses and slides. Or stroll through the lush gardens to discover dozens of exotic birds, like macaws, kookaburras and cockatoos, then meet them up close during the resort’s interactive children’s show. Activities also include a putting course, lawn games, and seasonal snow cones and s’mores. Book a session for the kids to play on their own at the Jungle Kids Club, which features a two-story jungle gym, rock climbing wall, and arts and crafts activities. Rates continually vary as accommodations range from hotel rooms and multi-room villas to condos and full house rentals. Several different packages and special offers (including 15% off for Texas residents) are available on the website.