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The sprawling city of Dallas—the third largest city in Texas and ninth largest in the country—is home to a remarkable theatre by Frank Lyold Wright, noted art museums, the nightlife of Deep Ellum, and even the graves of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Suffice it to say there is enough history, culture, art, and music to keep visitors and native Texans more than occupied. But Dallas also serves as a gateway for those interested in exploring the rest of the lone star state. Here, five of the very best weekend trips from Dallas:
A mere hour from Dallas, Granbury has small town charm but big city history. From the old jailhouse on the square to the Opera House dating back to 1886, the roots of this city are felt even as you’re just walking to grab a morning coffee at The Coffee Grinder. When you’re not wandering through Historic Granbury Square—or spending your afternoon at Revolver Brewing—head to Lake Granbury or get some sun at Granbury City Beach Park. As for evening entertainment, after dinner at Eighteen Ninety Grille & Lounge, take in a production at the Opera House or an old movie at the historic Brazos drive-in theater. For a romantic weekend escape, reserve your suite at the Inn on Lake Granbury, a lakefront property that’s also walking distance to downtown. The bed and breakfast even has two high-end, standalone cottages for rent: The Cottage and The Lake House.
The buzz of Austin is as homey and inviting as it is hip and exciting. Austin Proper Hotel, A member of Design Hotels, is where you’ll want to be if you're looking for a trendy, luxury hotel in the heart of downtown's Second Street District. Here, the passionate and compelling vision of designer Kelly Wearstler meets the culinary creativity of Austin tastemaker McGuire Moorman Hospitality. Alternately, stay at the W Austin, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner, to immerse yourself amongst their curated art collection and take full advantage of the WET Deck, where guests are regularly treated to live music performances. To opt outside in Austin, head to Lady Bird Lake or the lush-but-urban green enclave of Zilker Park. A weekend is truly not enough to experience the entirety of Austin’s food scene, but start by trying the breakfast tacos at Taco Joint, ordering up the beef and pork ribs at la Barbecue, and having dinner at Olamaie, serving elevated southern fare. Live music is a quintessential part of the Austin experience, so check out The Continental Club or Elephant Room after dinner. For a more distanced evening entertainment choice, head to the chic drive-in movie theater in Austin, The Blue Starlite.
San Antonio is perhaps the farthest weekend road trip from Dallas—rounding down to a three-hour drive is charitable, to say the least—but it’s one of the most rewarding. San Antonio really is a city unlike any other, from the classic sights, like The Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk, to the hidden gems, including the bat colony at Bracken Cave, the 300-year-old Mission San Jose, and the city’s stunning Japanese Tea Garden. After exploring the sights during the day, kick back at a few of San Antonio’s best breweries—we’re partial to Pearl Brewery and Freetail Brewing Co. As San Antonio eats go, waiting in line at 2M Smokehouse is well worth it, as is brunch at Bistro09 and an indulgent dinner at Battalion. Finally, luxury accommodations abound in San Antonio; stay at La Cantera Resort & Spa, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner known for their full-service Loma De Vida Spa. For a boutique hotel vibe, snag the river suite—with floor-to-ceiling windows and a panoramic view of the river—at Hotel Emma, also an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner.
Stop in for afternoon tea (or spend the night) at The St. Regis Houston, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner, in the city's Uptown district. The St. Regis has a glamorous outdoor pool and is conveniently located right by Memorial Park. Visitors can also consider staying at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner, where the rooms feature coveted views of the Houston skyline and The Cellar, their high-end wine bar, offers private dining for those celebrating a special occasion. Houston is a great city for kids, with attractions like Space Center Houston (where the kiddos can experience mission control), the Downtown Aquarium, and the Houston Zoo. In terms of outdoor recreation, Houston ranks in the top cities for amount of acreage dedicated to parklands with 52,912 acres of outdoor public greenery; amble along the water at Allen’s Landing, or run along the trail through Bay Area Park. In the evening, dine at SQUABLE or La Lucha, and take in a concert at Jones Hall, where the Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony performs.
In east Texas, Caddo Lake is one of the premier lake getaways in the south; the vast lake is lined with cypress trees and home to 50 miles of kayak and canoe trails. Rent kayaks and canoes at Riverbend Outfitters, book a guided swamp tour with Captain Ron to scout the lake’s alligators, or try your hand at bass fishing when you rent poles with Fishing Caddo Lake. If you’re in need of a break from the water at any point, take the whole family aboard the Historic Jefferson Railway steam train, or arrange for a narrated carriage tour of Jefferson with Lone Star Carriage Company. For dinner, head to RiverBend Restaurant on Caddo Lake to enjoy fried seafood with a southern twist on the waterfront. Stay at one of the bed and breakfasts in Jefferson, like White Oak Manor and Carriage House.