Dallas to Austin Drive: Best Spots to Stop
The Dallas to Austin drive is sometimes necessary just to get from point A to point B, but anyone who loves a good road trip will enjoy the fun stops along the way as well!
With a distance of approximately 195 miles, the journey takes you through the heart of the Lone Star State, with its vast landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and charming small towns. The drive also offers plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way, from quirky roadside attractions to historic landmarks and tasty cuisine.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this fun Dallas to Austin drive promises entertainment and new favorite small town experiences!
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Dallas to Austin Drive Time
The driving time from Dallas to Austin can vary depending on traffic, road conditions, and your chosen route. However, on average, the journey takes about 3 to 3.5 hours, assuming you are taking the most direct route via Interstate 35 South. Keep in mind that the travel time may be longer during peak traffic hours or on weekends and holidays, so it’s always a good idea to check the traffic conditions and plan accordingly.
Best Stops on a Drive from Dallas to Austin (or on a San Austin to Dallas drive)
- Depart Dallas
- Stop in West (75 miles): Czech Pastries + Farm Fun
- Stop in Waco (20 miles): Mammoth National Monument, Dr. Pepper Museum + Magnolia at the Silos
- Stop in Temple (35 miles): Snacks from Buc-ees
- Stop in Georgetown (40 miles): Town Square, Blue Hole
- Arrive in Austin (30 miles): Zilker Park, Capitol, Street Art + BBQ
If you are in the mood for a taste of tradition and a side of history, then plan a stop in West, where Little Czech Bakery has been dishing out mouth-watering Czech pastries since 1956! Sink your teeth into a sweet and flaky kolache or indulge in a savory klobasnek while learning about the bakery’s rich history.
Take a break from the road and stop by Western Belle Farm too, a perfect destination for families with kids during their spring or fall festivals. Get lost in the beauty of their sunflower fields and pumpkin patches, or join in on some fun farm activities.. Their rustic décor is the cherry on top of this incredible afternoon of seasonal fun. Make sure to add this stop to your Dallas to Austin road trip itinerary!
The next potential stop on your Dallas to Austin drive is Waco, Texas – a city filled with unique attractions, including the Waco Mammoth National Monument! Here, you’ll find fossils from 24 Columbian mammoths that roamed the earth thousands of years ago. Explore their environment with guided tours and interactive activities. The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a perfect spot to visit Waco with kids and an unforgettable way to learn about the incredible creatures that once roamed our planet.
At this road trip stop, you can also visit the Magnolia Market at the Silos. Made famous by the hit TV show Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ empire has transformed Waco into a must-visit destination. The Magnolia Silos offer a 2.5-acre property featuring two large silos that once held grain but now provide shade for visitors to relax under.
The highlight of the Silos is its market, featuring over 20,000 square feet of unique home décor, clothing, accessories, books, and more. Local artisans and vendors are also featured, making this market a must-visit for travelers seeking unique souvenirs. Don’t forget to grab a delicious cupcake from the bakery food truck to enjoy on the rest of your journey!
Are you a fan of Dr. Pepper? Then make sure to stop by the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. Located in the original bottling plant, the museum offers a fun and informative experience about the history of the drink and its evolution over time. Explore the exhibits and learn about the unique flavor, advertising campaigns, and cultural impact of the iconic Dr. Pepper.
Buc-ee’s is a chain of convenience stores and gas stations that originated in Texas. Many locals plan their whole road trip around a stop at Buc-ees!
What’s the big deal you might ask? Buc-ee’s stores are enormous, with some locations spanning over 50,000 square feet. This allows for a wide variety of products to be sold, including Buc-ee’s branded merchandise, snacks, drinks, home decor, coveted apparel, and even homemade fudge.
Buc-ee’s is also known for its clean restrooms. This makes it a popular pit stop for road trips such as on the drive from Dallas to Austin!
This iconic rest stop also offers a wide variety of food options. This Temple location offers fresh brisket sandwiches, kolaches, tasty salads, freshly made potatoes chips, all the flavors of jerky, as well as Beaver Nuggets.
We ALWAYS stop at the Temple Buc-ees on our Austin to Dallas road trips and usually grab a bag of Cinnamon and Sugar Beaver Nuggets for the road. I love the hot sandwiches for a meal and my kiddos usually choose the giant serving of chicken tenders and fries.
We have even been known to reach out to family members and ask if they “need anything” at Buc-ees when we plan to stop there – the love is real – what can I say?
Georgetown Town Square is host to unique shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants that cater to different tastes and interests. Whether you’re searching for one-of-a-kind gifts or souvenirs to take home with you, or simply want to grab a meal at one of the many cafes or restaurants, there’s plenty to keep you entertained in Georgetown.
At the heart of this charming town square is the iconic courthouse building, which was erected in 1911 and serves as a stunning centerpiece. Visitors can explore the courthouse’s interiors through guided tours and learn about its rich history and significance.
Throughout the year, Georgetown Town Square is a hub of activity, playing host to numerous events like farmers markets, concerts on the lawn, and festivals that celebrate local culture and traditions. Don’t miss the Red Poppy Festival and annual Christmas parade! With something new to discover every time you visit, Georgetown is a town that will leave you charmed and captivated
If you’re looking for ideas for fun things to do in Austin, Texas, there are plenty! Whether you have a whole weekend to spend in Austin or just a few hours to spare, you can hit some of the top highlights in the city.
Zilker Park is a must-visit with its stunning botanical garden, walking trails along Ladybird Lake, kayak and paddleboard rentals, and the famous Barton Springs Pool for a refreshing dip in the natural springs of Texas.
You can also tour the State Capitol, enjoy a street art tour, savor some mouthwatering BBQ from Franklin’s or indulge in some creamy ice cream from Amy’s. Don’t miss walking across the Congress Bridge for a picturesque view of the Austin skyline or join a bat tour for a quintessential Austin experience!
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a frequent traveler to Austin, there’s always something new to discover and explore in this vibrant city!
Longer Scenic Route on a Dallas to Austin Road Trip
If you are not on a tight timeframe, we highly recommend choosing the scenic route on this drive from Dallas to Austin. To really soak up the landscape and beauty of Texas, taking Route 67 to 281 to 71 (instead of I-35) is the perfect choice as it will take you right through Hill Country.
The drive through Texas Hill Country is our favorite road trip in the state! I frequently drive the country roads looking for new places to explore and share with you (sometimes even by myself while my children are at school)! Yes, Hill Country is where we call home!
This western scenic route from Dallas to Austin takes 4.5 hours and is 250 miles long, which adds about 55 miles and 1.5 hours to your travel time.
Scenic Route Stops:
Dinosaur Valley State Park
As you travel along Take 281 from Dallas to San Antonio, make sure to add Dinosaur Valley State Park to your itinerary. This fascinating park, located near Glen Rose, Texas, boasts over 1,500 acres of rugged terrain and offers a chance to explore dinosaur tracks dating back many years.
Take a break from driving and engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming in nearby lakes, and exploring nature trails.
Cleburne State Park
Another noteworthy stop is Cleburne State Park, where you can have fun with activities such as fishing, camping, and rock wall climbing.
If you’re looking for a fun and quick road trip stop between San Antonio and Dallas, check out the World’s Largest Spur located in Lampasas, Texas. This 35-foot-tall, 10,000-pound metal structure sits on the side of Highway 281 and invites travelers to snap a photo.
Once you’ve seen the Spur, take some time to explore charming Lampasas, which offers several enjoyable things to do. Grab a burger from Elvis’ favorite spot or see the historic Hancock Natural Springs before taking a stroll around historic downtown. With so much to see and do, Lampasas is definitely worth a stop.
Inks Lake State Park is a true gem and a beautiful place for a quick stop for hiking or kayaking. While you’re at Inks Lake, don’t forget to take a short hike to Devil’s Watering Hole and take in the scenery. Or you can even have an overnight stay in one of their Texas lake cabins.
Just down the road from Inks Lake is Longhorn Cavern State Park, a breathtaking underground world filled with stunning geological formations, ancient fossils, and an abundance of historical stories. Take a guided tour, a longer adventurous version, or explore the trails above ground for some lovely scenery and history.
If you’re in the mood for tasty pie and sweet small-town vibes, stop by Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls. With classics like peach, apple, or berry and special options like German chocolate cream, you are sure to find a flavor that suits your fancy (feel free to pick up a whole pie – we won’t tell!).
FAQs: Drive from Dallas to Austin
What is there to visit between Dallas and Austin?
There are many attractions to visit between Dallas and Austin. Some of the popular stops include the Dinosaur Valley State Park, Longhorn Cavern State Park, and Inks Lake. The Georgetown Town Square is also worth visiting for its unique shops, galleries, and restaurants. In Austin, you can check out Zilker Park, the State Capitol, street art tours, and famous food spots like Franklin’s BBQ and Amy’s ice cream. Whether you have a full weekend to explore or just a few hours to spare, there are plenty of things to see and do along the way.
What is the best scenic route from Dallas to Austin?
One of the most scenic routes from Dallas to Austin is taking 281 South. This route takes visitors through Texas Hill Country with beautiful stops along the way. You can explore the historic Lampasas with its natural springs and art sculpture park. Further south, you can visit Longhorn Cavern State Park and Inks Lake in Burnet as well as the lovely Marble Falls. Once you arrive in Austin, you can explore the city’s many attractions like Zilker Park, the State Capitol, and the famous food spots.
What is the best time of day to drive from Austin to Dallas?
The best time of day to drive from Austin to Dallas depends on your personal preference and schedule. If you prefer to avoid traffic and crowds, consider leaving early in the morning or later in the evening. If you plan to make stops, an early or late morning departure should work well. Mid-morning and late afternoon traffic is not fun. Rush hour traffic can be heavy during typical commuting hours, so it’s best to plan your drive accordingly.
Keep in mind that weather conditions and roadwork can also impact your drive time, so be sure to check for any relevant updates before hitting the road.
What is halfway between Dallas and Austin?
The halfway point between Dallas and Austin is approximately in the city of Waco, Texas. Waco is located approximately 100 miles south of Dallas and 100 miles north of Austin along Interstate 35. It offers a variety of attractions, including the Dr. Pepper Museum, Cameron Park Zoo, and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. If you are looking for a place to take a break during your trip, Waco could be a good option to consider.
Which city is bigger Dallas or Austin?
Dallas is a larger city than Austin in terms of population and geographic size. Dallas has a population of approximately 1.3 million people, while Austin had a population of approximately 966,000 people. Additionally, Dallas covers an area of approximately 385 square miles, while Austin covers an area of approximately 275 square miles. However, both cities are major hubs for business, culture, and entertainment in Texas.
How long is the drive between Dallas and Austin?
The driving distance between Dallas and Austin is approximately 195 miles via I-35, and the estimated driving time is around 3 hours depending on traffic conditions.
If you take the scenic route on Highway 281, the distance increases to approximately 255 miles, and the estimated driving time is around 4.5 hours depending on traffic and how many stops you make along the way. However, the scenic route offers beautiful views that are well worth the extra time spent.