As one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, there is no denying that Dallas–Fort Worth is a bustling community. When you need a break from all of the hustle and bustle of the city, it is nice to know that there are numerous quaint small towns to visit near Dallas. These small towns are big on charm, and they have just the right mix of tranquility and modern conveniences to give you the perfect break from the city.
I have lived in the Dallas–Fort Worth area my entire life, so I fully understand the need to escape every once in a while. When I don’t have time for a full-blown vacation, I take the day (or weekend) to explore the small towns in the area instead. Years of touring the small towns near Dallas have allowed me to compile this list that I am happy to share with you today!
All of the suggestions in this article are within a 3-hour drive of Dallas, making them quick and easy to explore. So pack your bags, and let’s set out exploring some of the most charming towns in and around the Dallas–Fort Worth area.
1. Canton, Texas
1 Hour From Dallas
Home to Canton Trade Days, one of the largest flea markets in the United States, Canton draws thousands of visitors to its doorstep each month. To visit the Canton Trade Days, plan your visit on the weekend before the first Monday of the month.
In addition to Trade Days, Canton has several other unique activities to keep visitors busy during their time in the city.
One of the unique things to do in Canton is to stay in a covered wagon at Silver Spur Resort. History lovers will want to check out the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial and the Blackwell House Museum. For those of you wanting to shop, there are several fun shops and restaurants located in Downtown Canton.
2. Waxahachie, Texas
30 Minutes From Dallas
Waxahachie, Texas, is an impressive small town filled with Victorian homes and loads of fun boutique shops.
Founded in 1850, Waxahachie was instantly a wealthy town thanks to its involvement in the cotton industry. This wealth is evident still today as you make your way down the tree-lined streets filled with prominent Victorian-style homes, many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The history doesn’t stop at the homes, though. Make your way to the downtown area to see the historic buildings that have been transformed into boutique shops and restaurants.
Known as the “Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas,” a visit to Waxahachie during the summer months allows you to see the city abloom with the flower. Not only that, but they even host a Crape Myrtle Festival every summer in July.
3. Ennis, Texas
30 Minutes From Dallas
When the Houston and Texas Central Railway came to the Dallas area in 1872, the small town of Ennis, Texas, was born.
The biggest draw for Ennis is the annual Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and Festival. Every spring, the town of Ennis welcomes thousands of visitors to see the fields of beautiful bluebonnets across the town. After shopping at the festival, visitors can drive over 40 miles of mapped bluebonnet trails to take in the most photographed flower in Texas.
If you find yourself visiting Ennis at other times of the year, be sure to see the artifacts at the Ennis Railroad & Cultural Heritage Museum or enjoy a performance at the Ennis Public Theatre. For a nostalgic night out, you can also visit Ennis Galaxy Drive-In! Visitors also enjoy the recreational activities offered at Bardwell Lake or the car races at the Texas Motorplex.
4. Granbury, Texas
1 Hour And 30 Minutes From Dallas
Just over an hour southwest of Dallas is the fun lakeside town of Granbury, Texas. Voted “Best Historic Small Town in America” by USA Today readers in 2021, Granbury is loaded with Southern charm.
The Historic Granbury Square attracts visitors year round thanks to the 40+ boutique stores housed in the historic buildings surrounding the square. This small area is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing, artwork, and home furnishings. When you have finished shopping, you can enjoy taking a break at the restaurants, wineries, and breweries that also call the square home.
The main attraction in Granbury is the lake. Lake Granbury encompasses 103 miles of shoreline and is perfect for fishing, riding jet skis, or skiing. Visitors and locals love visiting Granbury’s City Beach Park, which is located within walking distance of the town square. City Beach Park offers a protected swimming area along with a sandy beach so everyone can enjoy a day on the lake. The park is open year round and provides amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables.
Pro Tip: Granbury is full of fun wineries, breweries, and distilleries. If you enjoy visiting these, be sure to add them to your Granbury itinerary.
5. Jefferson, Texas
2 Hours And 30 Minutes From Dallas
You will find the town of Jefferson, Texas about 2.5 hours east of Dallas. People love to visit Jefferson because of its historic homes, museums, vintage railroad, and the Big Cypress Bayou.
After checking in at one of Jefferson’s many bed and breakfast accommodations, consider taking a ride on the Jefferson Historic Railway to explore the area on a vintage gas-powered train. This ride is especially fun during the holiday season when they offer the Christmas Express, a ride that includes Christmas decorations along the track as you listen to the Story of Christmas.
In addition to the antique shopping and small town Texas charm, people also come to Jefferson to experience the Big Cypress Bayou. The Big Cypress Bayou is a series of wetlands at the edge of Caddo Lake. This region is said to have the largest variety of fish in any river system in Texas.
Pro Tip: The Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake areas are beautifully photogenic, so plan a guided tour of the river to ensure you get out on the water during your visit to Jefferson.
6. Glen Rose, Texas
1 Hour And 30 Minutes From Dallas
You would be doing yourself a disservice if you only visit the state park, though. Glen Rose also offers a great drive-thru wildlife safari, charming boutique hotels, and a historic town square area for visitors to explore.
Dinosaur Valley State Park helped to give Glen Rose its claim to fame as the “Dinosaur Capital of Texas.” While it is well known that dinosaurs once roamed this area millions of years ago, it is the evidence that they left behind that makes this park so special. When you visit Dinosaur Valley, you can see this evidence for yourself. Dinosaur tracks are permanently cemented in the mud of the Paluxy River inside of the state park. Not only can you see them, but you can also get into the river and stand in them! Once you’ve had your fill of the tracks, you can further explore the park by swimming in the river, camping, geocaching, or riding horses on their miles of equestrian trails.
Another huge attraction in Glen Rose is the drive-thru wildlife center, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Fossil Rim rescues, rehabilitates, and houses numerous animal species, including several endangered species. Visitors have the option of doing a self-guided tour in their personal vehicle or taking a guided tour on one of the safari’s vehicles. During the tour you will encounter numerous animals from all over the world, and even have the opportunity to feed them if you would like.
Pro Tip: Be sure and visit Big Rocks Park in Glen Rose for a beautiful little park located on the banks of the river.
7. Salado, Texas
2 Hours From Dallas
The charming town of Salado, Texas, is situated about 2 hours south of Dallas. Located on the banks of Salado Creek, Salado is the perfect escape for art and antique lovers.
The 1.5-mile stretch of Salado’s Main Street is the perfect place to kick off your trip to the city. Here you will find numerous boutique shops selling everything from custom artwork to clothing. I personally love visiting Salado’s art galleries, as the majority of the works here are from local artists.
A few blocks from Main Street, you will find the Salado Sculpture Garden. A dirt path leads you through the garden, which houses sculptures and art installations from numerous artists. Be sure to be on the lookout for the giant sock monkey and the cute rust-colored moose. During your time in Salado, you might also want to see a performance at the Tablerock Amphitheatre before spending a night in the historic Shady Village Hotel and having a nice meal at the Stagecoach Hotel, both of which have been a Salado staple for over 150 years!
Pro Tip: Salado is an extremely small town, but it is well worth spending a couple of nights in. You can enjoy the peace and quiet, do some shopping, and visit the local wineries for a nice, relaxing weekend.