via Flickr: Chet Yeary
Kristina Rowe, NewsCastic
Driving is a given in DFW — you could even say Dallas is a car town. But sometimes you want to get out of town. We think that’s a great idea. Even though there’s not much in the way of scenery for your drive, you can still get to some pretty cool places on a single tank of gas. Here are seven places worth noting while palling around in Texas:
1. The Rose Capital of the World
Just start driving east on I-20, and in about a hundred miles, you’ll reach Tyler, Texas. Known for its rose gardens, the Tyler area is also home to a state park, a zoo, and the American Freedom Museum.
Plan a trip in October to enjoy the Rose Festival, but you’ll see evidence of the town’s prominence in the rose industry any time of year. If you want to stay the night before heading back, camp out at Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines.
2. Experience a Monday that’s not a Monday
Before you get to Tyler on I-20, you might want to take the exit for Canton, home of First Monday Trade Days. The original first Monday tradition in Canton started in the 1850’s when a circuit judge paid a monthly visit to Canton. People brought goods to buy and sell in the town square while legal matters were settled.
The trading event eventually outgrew the town square. Since the 1960s, Canton’s Trade Days have been held in a city-owned six-acre event park. Shoppers will find an incredible range of shopping sundries in outdoor lots, indoor booth buildings, and a Civic Center lined with collectible and antique vendors. Don’t come on the first Monday of the month, though. The events are held the Thursday through Sunday preceding the “first Monday.”
3. Navigate North for Something Wild
Set your GPS for Pilot Point, Texas and head north for a particularly interesting adventure. Just over 50 miles from Dallas, Pilot Point is a 150-year-old town and home to a wonderful wildlife park, Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch (open weekends only.)
Lake Ray Roberts and Isle du Bois State Park are also nearby, offering all kinds of outdoor adventures. If you dare to brave the traffic on 35 on the way home, you can take a gander at how much Denton has grown in the last decade.
4. Head West to Wander around a Winery
Just 46 miles from downtown Dallas, the trip to Burleson is an easy one, even from the northernmost suburbs. Once there, you’ll find the scenic Lost Oak Winery, recently named one of the 10 most beautiful wineries in Texas.
While you’re there, you might also check out the Burleson Antiques Mall and enjoy a locally loved Grumps burger.
5. Bluebonnets, Drag Racing, and Polka, oh my!
Less than 40 miles from downtown Dallas, Ennis is known for a few amazing things. It’s the home of the National Polka Festival and the “Official Bluebonnet Trail of Texas” every spring. All year long you can watch some drag racing at Texas Motorplex or watch a movie the old fashioned way at the Galaxy Drive-In.
6. Drive Towards Oklahoma
For a drive in the country take 287 N to 175 and you’ll land in Nocona. Since the Nocona Boots was founded here in 1925, it has become a shopping station for all things leather. In the small town’s shops, you’ll find Nocona boots, handbags, belts, wallets, saddles and tack. There’s even a baseball glove factory you can tour.
7. West, Texas for Czech Stop Bakery
You actually have to drive south to get to West, Texas. This little town is the Czech Heritage capital of Texas and needs to be a “Czech point” on any drive through central Texas.
The West Fest celebration is held annually on Labor Day weekend, but any time is a good time for kolaches. The Czech Stop is just one of several bakeries in town offering up this beloved Texas treat. Work off some of the calories splashing around at The Playdium, a 1.2 million gallon water park fed by cold spring water. Just be sure to wait an hour after eating before swimming, like your momma taught you.
8. And One in Oklahoma – for good measure
It’s not in Texas, but you can get to Turner Falls Park in Oklahoma on a tank of gas, and DFWers have been cooling off in those waterfalls for decades. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out.
Here’s another “bonus” trip you can make on a tank of gas, and it’s pretty amazing. In Dallas, where street names are known to change as often as every block, you can drive down miles and miles of Preston Road without a name change. Start in the Turtle Creek area and make your way north, through Plano, Frisco, Prosper, and Celina, and still it keeps going. You can make it almost all the way to Oklahoma, and you’ll find shopping and dining delights all along the way.