21 Terrific Day Trips in Texas

Long vacations and shorter weekend trips are an amazing way to unwind and refresh your life before getting back into the demand of everyday life–but don’t forget to consider delightful day trips in Texas as well.

Although Texas day trips don’t leave you as long to explore, they can serve to give you intermittent breaks from busy work life and recharge your system. 

Given the enormous breadth of Texas, there is no shortage of places to visit for a short adventure. 

group of bison in caprock canyons state park texas

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How We Organized These Day Trips in Texas

Of course, the distance that one must travel from one side of the state of Texas to the other doesn’t give us the option of simply listing the great day trips Texas has to offer. 

With that in mind, we’ve broken down our outings by the region of the state you’ll start from.

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We have divided the areas into West Texas, South Texas, Central Texas, North Texas and given special recognition to the Panhandle region. 

So, take a seat and follow along as we make our way through the best day trips in Texas. 

kate storm and ranger storm in a bluebonnet field in ennis texas

The Best North Texas Day Trips

Six Flags Over Texas – Arlington

Two hundred acres of fun rides and entertainment are what Six Flags over Texas offer to those who venture into the park. 

Servicing the North Texas area for 60 years, Six Flags Over Texas is a must-visit for a full day of exciting roller coasters, themed shows, and sunshine. 

Blue iron roller coaster loop as seen looking up with a yellow train car on it

First Monday Trade Days, Canton

Held on the first Monday of each month and having the title as the largest flea market in the world, the legendary Texas swap meet is one of the most popular venues to visit while in North Texas. 

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While it is perfect for a day trip, the market is large enough to take up several days to see all it has to offer. 

Take plenty of spending money and room in your car to carry home all of those must-have items you can’t live without. 

3 antique gramophones sitting on a wooden desk--you'll want to be prepared to haul purchases like this home from the best texas flea markets

Lake Texoma

This lake is so large that they had to name it after two different states!

Lake Texoma is a popular destination in North Texas or Southern Oklahoma, depending on how you look at it. 

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This lake not only makes for a great outdoor adventure but is the center of entertainment in the area as well. 

The shores around Lake Texoma also boast resorts, casinos, fishing charters, and golf, just to name a few items to check off your fun list. 

Child in a red shirt fishing on the shores of lake texoma, one of the most popular lakes in texas

Fort Worth Stockyards

A Texas day trip into Fort Worth for shopping and fun is not complete without stopping by the Fort Worth Stockyards. 

Take a trip back in time into the old west when cattle were king, and the stockyards thrived on sale. 

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Even today, you can witness a cattle drive twice a day at the stockyards and enjoy a gunfight reenacted, just like you might have seen decades ago. 

Food, fun, and entertainment are the order of the day at the Fort Worth Stockyards, so be sure to take a classic day trip in Texas to this historical and action-packed venue. 

Longhorn cattle being driven through the ft worth stockyards, one of the best fort worth photo spots

Delightful Day Trips in East Texas

Caddo Lake 

A visit to Caddo Lake is a trek into our past.

The waters of the area, created by the great raft of tree debris hundreds of years ago, led to building a habitat for wildlife and humans that has persisted for centuries. 

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Today Caddo Lake is perfect for a day visit to take a hike, go for a swim, or hike the wooded trails of the areas. 

A visit to Caddo Lake State Park is always a good idea, where you can rent a kayak or a canoe and enjoy paddling under the great cypress trees that line the waters of this great lake. 

Family in an inflatable kayak paddling through the cypresses in Caddo Lake State Park TX

Texas State Railroad, Palestine

Do you love historic trains? Ever wanted to ride on one?

If so, you can have your chance at the Texas State Railroad in Palestine, Texas. 

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Here, in the Piney Woods of East Texas, the old steam locomotives still run, and you can be a part of it. 

Book an open car, a dome car, or even a caboose for a 2 ½ hour journey through the pines of East Texas. 

This day trip is absolutely perfect as an outing for the whole family. 

view out of the texas state railroad, one of the best day trips in texas

Caddo Mounds State Historic Site

Deep in the East Texas forest, we find the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site.

Located between Crockett and Nacogdoches, Texas, the Caddo Mounds is a place to visit the past. 

Set amongst the pines and near the Neches River, the ritual dirt mounds of the site’s namesake were long abandoned when the Caddo people were forced to move east into Louisiana territory. 

Amongst the ancient mounds now stands a museum on the history of the Caddo people in the area and their way of life. 

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Wonderful West Texas Day Trips

Trans-Pecos Festival of Music

This annual music fest takes place in one of West Texas’ favorite and eclectic towns. 

Each year the town of Marfa celebrates the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music.

Although this can go on for more than one day, it also makes for an awesome day trip of live music. 

Book a place to stay early, though, because finding a bed in Marfa during the festival can be difficult. 

marfa texas courthouse

Balmorhea State Park

Part ancient water source and part modern-day swimming pool, Balmorhea State Park is a natural wonder of West Texas. 

To cool off from the summer desert heat, take a drive to this spring-fed marvel and take a dip with fish and other wildlife in this crystal clear, cool water. 

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The park’s green grass around the water hole has plenty of room for a shady picnic when swimming turns to hunger.

Don’t miss out on this big sky country gem when looking for day trips in Texas. 

underwater photo of staircase with fish swimming next to it at balmorhea state park, one of the best places to visit in west texas

Monahans State Park

If you like the outdoors and don’t mind a bit of sand in your shoes, then Monahans State Park makes for an exciting day trip in Texas. 

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Monahans is the Texas version of what we think the Sahara looks like with its rolling sand dunes. 

Spend the day surfing down the dunes and enjoy a picnic lunch for a break at this unique West Texas state park.

footsteps leading up a dune in monahan sandhills, one of the best state parks in west texas

Sonora Caverns 

A few miles off of Interstate 10, we find the Sonora Caverns, widely considered one of the most beautiful caves in Texas.

Privately owned, these underground trails have developed over millions of years. 

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Take a tour through the caverns and see the incredible geology that forms around us through the interaction of rock and water.

Be prepared for total darkness like you’ve never seen before when your guide turns out the lights in a demonstration of total blackness. 

After your venture under the earth, take time to browse the large gift shop that certainly has a souvenir for you to take home. 

Interior of the Caverns of Sonora, one of the best caves in Texas

Stunning Day Trips in South Texas

Corpus Christi

What could be better than to visit the statue of the queen of Tejano music? All the fun that surrounds it of course!

Everyday trip to Corpus Christi should add a visit to the statue of Selena (Mirador de la Flor). 

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That’s only to start the fun. After your statue pilgrimage, enjoy a full day of shopping, eating, and relaxing on one of the many beaches in Corpus Christi

As the sun goes down, the nightlife begins. Try your dancing skills with the Texas two-step or enjoy some drinks overlooking the water.

Whatever your choice, you’ll find plenty to do on your TX day trip to Corpus Christi. 

harbor of corpus christi texas. there are several fun museums in corpus christi tx

South Padre Island

Keeping with the ocean vibe, our next day trip is an adventure to South Padre Island.

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Although there are several seaside places to visit in the state, South Padre is our version of clear water paradise.

Spend the day at the beach, eating some great seafood, and for a memorable close to the evening, go horseback riding on the beach at sunset.

Sunrise over the beach in South Padre Island Texas, one of the best Texas romantic getaways

Cool Texas Day Trips in the Panhandle

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

The Texas version of the Grand Canyon happens to be located in the panhandle of the state, just outside of Amarillo and not far from Route 66

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With over 120 miles of area and wilderness, Palo Duro Canyon is one of the absolute best day trips in Texas for those visiting the Panhandle.

Take in one of the many trails for hiking the canyon (especially the hike to the Lighthouse!), or bring your mountain bike for a spin. 

Kate Storm standing in front of the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon TX

Caprock Canyons State Park

When you feel the need to hang out with the state’s wild animals, take a day trip to Caprock Canyons State Park. 

One of the park’s main attractions is the bats and bison that make the area their home. 

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Texas has the world’s largest bat population, and this state park offers the time to spend with them.

The bison, of course, is a throwback to yesteryear when millions of them roamed the plains of Texas and the U.S. 

caprock canyons, one of the texas state parks near amarillo texas, at sunset

Classic Central Texas Day Trips

Hamilton Pool Preserve

One of the most beautiful places to visit in the Hill Country, not to mention one of the most popular day trips in Texas, is the famous Hamilton Pool.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a clear water grotto fed by a waterfall from above. 

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This special place is hidden and only accessible by a short but rocky hike down and into the grotto where its year-round cold waters welcome visitors for a swim. 

Be sure to plan ahead and make a reservation before visiting, as the available spots book up weeks in advance.

Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs TX as shot from inside the cave. Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of the most famous Texas waterfalls.

Fredericksburg

Not too far outside the city of Austin, you’ll find the delightful town of Fredericksburg, Texas.

Fredericksburg is known for its German heritage (and food), its beautiful Hill Country setting, its proximity to Enchanted Rock, and its many, many wineries

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The perfect day trip to Fredericksburg is bound to involve a little bit of everything–be sure to stroll Main Street, pay a visit to a winery, enjoy some German food, and check out the surrounding area.

During bluebonnet season, Willow Loop Road is a must-visit, and for those who want to seek out a Texas legend, nearby Luckenbach is well worth a visit!

Kate Storm in a blue dress holding a beer stein in the auslander, which serves up some of the best german food in fredericksburg tx

Inks Lake State Park

Texas has some of the best state parks in the country, and boy, do we have a ton of them. There are not many areas of the state that don’t offer a park nearby. 

For a nice day trip for the family, take a drive to Inks Lake in the Highland Lakes area of the Hill Country.

This lake has clear water and plenty of space for spreading out a picnic. 

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Try your luck at fishing off one of the lake’s piers, or rent a paddleboat and kayak for a self-guided tour (be sure to seek if you can spot one of the lake’s waterfalls from the water!).

If getting on the water is not your thing, there are plenty of trails to explore around the lake and even a bird blind set up for the bird watchers in your family. 

inks lake as seen from above with a road in the foreground, one of the best day trips in texas

Jacob’s Well

Speaking of cool and clear waters, Jacob’s Well is one of the most popular–and mysterious–swimming holes in Texas.

Located near Wimberley, Texas, the well has been welcoming swimmers to its natural beauty for decades. 

Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring that is located in the second-largest submerged cave in Texas.

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At 140 feet deep, it’s quite mesmerizing, and plunging into its icy waters is incredibly refreshing on a hot day.

Like several of the most popular day trips in Texas, you’ll need to plan ahead to visit Jacob’s Well: reservations to swim in it during the summer sell out weeks in advance.

If you only want to take a short stroll to admire it from above, though, no reservation is needed.

jacobs well texas as seen from above on a sunny day

River Tubing in New Braunfels

Yes, we saved the ultimate in Texas day trip for last.

Although you can make a full weekend out of this summer tradition, for most, a single day is enough to wear even the most adventurous person out. 

The Guadalupe River in New Braunfels is home to one of the most fun activities we have in Texas, river-tubing. 

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River tubing in Texas is quite simple. Rent a tube for you and one for your ice chest full of your favorite beverages and float down the river until the sun bakes you to a crisp (did I mention you need sunscreen)? 

And don’t worry about being alone during your float; each day, hundreds of others will be doing the same and enjoying this wonderful river.

If the river itself is not to your liking, visit the Schlitterbahn, a New Braunfels water playground with slides and other fun water adventures. 

3 photos of texas: galveston beach, longhorns, texas state railroad. black and red text on a white background reads "21 cool texas day trip ideas"

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