Are you driving from Dallas to Austin and looking for tips and tricks and a handful of things to do? Then you’ve come to the right place! The Dallas to Austin drive has something for every type of traveler. From family vacations, business trips, lovers retreats or solo adventurers, there is something for everyone driving from Austin to Dallas!
Texas has a plethora of destinations from cute small towns to bustling big cities and everything in between. Each big city has it’s own personality and things its known for. So why drive from Dallas to Austin? Honestly, it’s a great drive, there’s plenty to do in a short distance, and both are cities you don’t want to miss!
How Far is it from Dallas to Austin?
The shortest drive distance wise from Dallas to Austin is about 200 miles (315 kilometers) with Austin being south of Dallas. Of course, depending on the detours to sites or towns you decide to take, the drive can be longer. For example, if you make every stop listed below, rather than 200 miles, the drive will be about 255 miles (410 kilometers).
A lot of Texas is what people imagine – desert. Thankfully for travelers, that means towns, attractions, and things to see usually stay pretty close to the interstate! The Dallas to Austin road trip becomes packed with plenty to see fairly close to the interstate and not adding a ton of milage to the trip!
How Long Does It Take to Drive From Dallas to Austin?
The drive from Austin to Dallas only takes about three hours if there’s no traffic! If you add in all the spots below, your drive time increases from three hours to four and half which isn’t bad at all! You would need to add in the time spent in each location, but your time sitting in the car doesn’t go up by much!
You could also turn the Dallas to Austin road trip into a multi-day trip if you wanted to spend a half day or even a full day in one of the cities along the way. Waco is about half way in between Dallas and Austin and has numerous beautiful hotels and vacation rentals as well as so much to do and see! More on that later!
Most travelers love to squeeze in as much as possible when they get a chance to vacation and a Dallas to Austin road trip is a great way to see more of the state in a short amount of time!
What to Expect on the Dallas To Austin Drive
At first glance, this may seem like a boring drive across the Texan desert with not much to look at, but rest assured, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! This drive will be more green than western Texas and the cities in between will be more consistent than other areas in Texas.
You have the option of staying on Interstate-35 (I-35) or venturing off and taking the backroads to explore more of what Central Texas has to offer. Either way, you will be plenty entertained and can make the Austin to Dallas drive whatever kind of trip you want it to be.
Tips for driving from Dallas to Austin
Below you will find some tips and tricks that can come in handy on your drive from Dallas to Austin or your drive from Austin to Dallas. There isn’t much distance between these two cities and these tips will help you best utilize the time so you don’t miss a thing!
You Don’t Have to Stick to the Interstate / I-35
The interstate will be the quickest drive from Dallas to Austin, but it is by no means the only route. There are plenty of backroads that will take you to the same destination. Some call the backroads the scenic route because it affords the opportunity to see more of the beautiful state of Texas and you never know what you may discover!
Throughout this area of Texas, there are Farm to Market roads that lead to county roads which connect to interstates. The Farm to Market roads will give you a peek at Texas agriculture and ranching! You never know when you might see a farm stand or some livestock!
Try to Avoid Rush Hour on the Drive from Dallas to Austin
Dallas is a fairly large city with a population of 1.3 million people and Austin isn’t far behind with 950,000 people which means rush hour is a time that you should avoid driving during if possible! Pull off the road, get some coffee or dinner, explore the location, and wait for traffic to clear! These time slots provide a perfect window to get out and stretch your legs!
Rush hour in bigger cities is usually from 7:00-9:00 in the morning and 4:00-6:00 in the evenings, Monday through Friday. Thankfully those times are perfect to take a break from driving for breakfast or dinner! By eliminating traffic, it will make the Austin to Dallas drive much more enjoyable!
Leave Time on Your Schedule for Stopping and Exploring
All successful roadtrips require two things: a place to go and places to stop. When planning your drive, it’s important to plan for stops. There are three ways to plan for a road trip.
The first way is to not plan at all! Put in your end destination and then see what peaks your interest while you are driving. This is by far the most spontaneous way to do the Dallas to Austin drive! The benefit to this way is that you never know what could be coming up on the road and it makes for an exciting Dallas to Austin road trip.
The second way is to research ahead of time and find a handful of things, locations, or activities that you might want to do. When the day comes or as you’re driving, make the choice on which of your pre-researched things appeal to you that day! The advantage to this type of roadtrip is that you have an idea of what your options are and can decide definitively in the moment rather than pre-planning and then not being as excited when the time comes.
The third way is probably the most common and what we think of when planning a trip. By researching all the things to do between Austin and Dallas, you can select the things that appeal to you, budget time for each location or activity, and plan your route precisely.
No matter which way you decide to plan your Austin to Dallas drive, it is sure to be a success!
Pack a Lunch or Plan to Stop Somewhere Tasty
One of the greatest aspects of traveling is the opportunity to try “new to you” foods! Whether you decide to pack a lunch or find a great local restaurant, the opportunity to discover a new food is exciting!
If you decide to pack a lunch, finding a fun deli with sandwiches or to-go salads can be a great way to stay on the road and avoid the lunch traffic at popular spots!
Conversely, if you decide to pull off and find somewhere tasty for lunch, it provides the chance to try new food, stretch your legs, and use the bathroom! One of the eternal struggles of roadtrips or a long drive is the access to restrooms! If you have someone in the car with you, they can research upcoming restaurants. If you’re traveling solo, finding a cute town and driving till you see somewhere appealing works just as well!
When driving from Austin to Dallas, depending on the route, and how long you plan to spend on the road, you can definitely fit in two or three meals!
Fill Up on Gas at the Beginning of Your Trip so You Don’t Have to Stop
This is probably the most practical tip we have for your Dallas to Austin drive. Starting your drive with a full tank of gas will eliminate excess stops at gas stations and inflated prices if you are close to empty in a very small town. A full tank of gas also will provide security of resources if you get lost and ensure you don’t end up on the side of the road!
With a full tank of gas, you will have the freedom to make extra stops if you find additional appealing things to do between Dallas and Austin! When the practical things are taken care of, you can focus more on the fun things!
Best Things to See Between Austin and Dallas
About 30 minutes north of Dallas four miles off I-75 in a town called Ennis is Bluebonnet Trail. There are over 40 miles of mapped driving trails through fields of Bluebonnets, the Texas State Flower! Although this location is north of Dallas, while Austin is South, it is definitely worth the detour!
The trails are open during the month of April while the flowers are in bloom and it is a must see! The driving trails are publicly owned, but the land is private property so all signs must be obeyed!
There is a plethora of lore around why Bluebonnets became the Texas State Flower, but the reason they got their name is undisputed. The flower looks much like a women’s sunbonnet, worn to protect their face and neck from the heat of the Texas sun. Since the distance from Austin to Dallas is less than a half day’s drive, the quick drive up to Bluebonnet Trail is a beautiful diversion!
Waxahachie was settled in 1850 and made prosperous and successful by the cotton industry. Taking I-35, the drive from Dallas to Waxahachie is 40 minutes. You can also take I-45 and cut over on FM (Farm to Market road) 878 and that route takes about 45 minutes.
Not far outside of Dallas, this is a must see because it is a historic town with a wide array of festivals throughout the year! In April there is the Crossroads of Texas Film and Music Festival, in June the Gingerbread Trail, in July the Crape Myrtle Festival because the streets are lined with blooming Crape Myrtle flowers! The year finishes with the Texas Country Reporter Festival in October, a World War II reenactment in November, and numerous Christmas activities in the December.
If your visit doesn’t coincide with one of their festivals, it is not a problem! The town has plenty to see and do. From city parks, murals, historic homes and buildings, live music, breweries, a handful of salons and spas, and even a Waxahachie Haunted History Tour!
When driving from Dallas to Austin, Waxahachie is a perfect stop!
West, Texas is a small town an hour and 20 minutes south of Dallas along I-35. You can also take US-67 to I-35 for a slightly longer route at an hour and 25 minutes.
West has interesting things to do between Dallas and Austin as another historical town with a population of less than 3000 people. Settled in the 1880’s, it is so named because a railway station was built on land owned by Thomas West. The rail station brought in commerce and Mr. West was acting postmaster and proprieter of the general store as well as owned a hotel, furniture store, and a bank.
The area has a heavy Czech and German influence because many immigrants settled in West opening stores and restaurants, sharing their culture. The Czech continued their cultural custom of having large families and by the 1920’s they made up a majority of the town.
Due to this rich history, visitors now can enjoy Czech bakeries selling Kolaches, Czech gift shops and Czech antique stores. Walking through downtown you will undoubtedly hear people speaking Czech in the streets! With such a rich Czech culture, it is no wonder that West, Texas is known as the “Czech Heritage Capital of Texas”.
Waco is about halfway when driving from Austin to Dallas with an hour and 39 minutes to Dallas and an hour and 34 minutes to Austin. Founded in 1849 by the Huaco native peoples, Waco now boasts a population of 135,000 people!
There is so much to do in Waco you could really spend several days and still not see it all. The Magnolia Trail is a popular activity for fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines. Baylor University for those looking to tour one of Texas’ historic colleges. Cameron Park Zoo and the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat if you’re an animal lover. There are city parks and arboretums. Distilleries and breweries. A deluge of restaurants and coffee shops! Perhaps the most interesting attraction in Waco is the Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute!
Waco truly is one of the best stops you can make on your drive from Austin to Dallas!
Chalk Ridge Falls Park
Chalk Ridge Falls Park is an hour north of Austin and a beautiful place to spend an afternoon hiking! The trail through the park is about five miles long. The first part is paved, but eventually becomes a bit rocky.
Chalk Ridge Falls Park boasts a waterfall called Chalk Ridge Falls, a boardwalk to allow easier traversing of parts of the trail, a cable suspension bridge to cross the creek, plenty of spots to wade into the river, bluffs with breathtaking overlooks, and some parts of the trail provide ample tree cover and shade.
The distance from Austin to Dallas is not extreme by any means, and being able to get outside in nature and walk around for a bit might be the perfect start to a great road trip!
Georgetown is 30 minutes north of Austin and boasts having the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas! With a population of 71,000 people, it’s enough of a city to offer a little bit of everything!
There are plenty of breweries, but Georgetown also offers a handful of wineries! Downtown Georgetown offers historic buildings and the Daytripper World Headquarters as well as splash pads and natural swimming holes. There is a thriving night life and also plenty of kid-friendly activities for the whole family. There is any kind of food imaginable throughout the city.
Perhaps the most unique tour in Georgetown is Inner Space Cavern which is a living cave housing formations that have been growing for 80,000 years! On the drive from Austin to Dallas, this is something you definitely can not miss!