Looking for fall travel ideas from Dallas? We have 25!
Discover the best fall travel destinations in Texas and surrounding states to explore this season.
One of the best times of the year to travel
Fall is (finally) here. One of the most beautiful and pleasant seasons of the year and the perfect time to embark on scenic fall road trips.
The changing fall foliage, dropping temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower prices – low-season baby! -make fall one of the best times of the year to travel around. Texas and its neighbors offer outstanding travel opportunities – and it is about time to start exploring them!
Get wowed by the beautiful fall colors and clear skies. Enjoy the best Texas trails at breathtaking State Parks. Soak in at wonderful hot springs. Embark on wine tours to explore award-wining Texas wineries. Cross dream travel destinations off your bucket list. And more!
Outstanding fall travel destinations in Texas and surrounding states
From fall day trips, to the best weekend escapes, and longer road trips suitable for long weekends, Thanksgiving Week, or fall vacations, in this post you will find the 25 most awesome fall travel destinations to visit from Dallas.
Trip ideas suitable for all tastes, budgets, and time frames, and perfect to be experienced in late September, October, November, and early December.
Explore below our Fall Travel Guide. Discover the best places to visit in Texas and surroundings this fall, and the top things to see and do in each one of these travel destinations. Then choose your favorite vacation ideas and embark on amazing fall adventures!
1. Tyler State Park
Distance: 100 miles/ 1 h 30 min from Dallas
Tyler is one of my favorite State Parks near Dallas year-round, and one of the top fall travel destinations in Texas.
It is the closest place to Dallas to experience the beautiful Piney Woods regions of East Texas, and the dramatic change of landscape from the flats we are used to around Dallas make it worth the trip.
Visit Tyler State Park anytime during fall season and you’ll love it. You can enjoy swimming early in the season, and hiking at any time. Mid-fall, in early November, Tyler is also a great place for fall foliage.
Nearby attractions include famous Canton First Monday Trade Days and Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary. Combine a visit to Tyler State Park to one of these two places for an awesome fall day trip from Dallas.
2. Piney Woods Wine Trail, TX
Distance: 70 miles/ 1 h 00 min from Dallas
East Texas has its own wine trail, with 19 wineries and vineyards, and locations as close as one hour driving from Dallas.
Head there and take a self-guided wine tour. Visit beautiful vineyards, taste award-winning wines at charming tap rooms, and pair amazing food with Texas wine to warm up in style in those amazing cold and sunny Texas autumn days.
Here you find all wineries part of the Piney Woods Wine Trail. Each establishment offers its own set of experiences, ranging from wine tours in specific days of the week (some requiring reservations), to on-site restaurants, tasting rooms and wine stores. Click on the links for more information about each winery, make your own itinerary and go explore!
I highly recommend visiting Enoch’s Stomp Vineyard – I had an amazing experience there – and Kiepersol Vineyards. Other top-rated wineries from the list are Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, O’Farrell Country Vineyards and Naca Valley Vineyard.
3. Daingerfield State Park
Distance: 135 miles/ 2 h 00 min from Dallas
Explore beautiful Daingerfield State Park, one of the best places near Dallas for fall foliage and autumn colors. Enjoy the outdoors in the beautiful Piney Woods region of Texas – activities in the park include hiking, paddling, fishing, and camping.
Daingerfield is a small and top-rated East Texas State Park. The changing colors reflecting on Lake Daingerfield create a mesmerizing landscape and make it especially gorgeous during fall. Visit it in early November for the best experience.
A true hidden gem only a short distance from Dallas, Daingerfield State Park is ideal for a fall day trip. Or for an unforgettable camping adventure – make some s’mores under the stars after an active day hiking and paddling surrounded by vivid color trees and you will know what I am talking about!
You can also visit Daingerfield as part of this amazing road trip through East Texas, including other gems such as the Piney Woods Wine Trail and Caddo Lake (next).
4. Turner Falls
Distance: 130 miles/ 2 h 00 min from Dallas
Turner Falls is the closest waterfall to Dallas, the largest in Oklahoma and a popular travel destination during summer.
On fall season the crowds disappear, and Turner Falls converts into a nature lover oasis, with crystal-clear water and gorgeous fall colors.
You much probably will not be able to swim there at this time of the year due to the low temperatures – during my last fall visit to Turner Falls swimming was not allowed.
But there are plenty outdoor activities there to justify your visit, such as hiking, caving, and zip-lining. And the Turner Falls surroundings are packed with awesome attractions and places to visit, such as Arbuckle Wilderness and Chickasaw Cultural Center.
Check this post for the best things to do in the area (destination # 2) and plan your fall day trip or weekend getaway to Turner Falls.
Weekend travel destinations 2.5 to 4.5 hours driving from Dallas, perfect for a fall weekend escape.
5. Caddo Lake and Jefferson, TX
Distance: 170 miles/ 2 h 30 min from Dallas
Caddo Lake is absolutely gorgeous and a must-visit destination for those living in Dallas.
It is the only natural lake in Texas, and home to the largest bald cypress tree forest in the world. The landscape is jaw-dropping and fall is my favorite time of the year to visit, hands down.
The weather is ideal – not too cold, or Texas hot – and the fall foliage highlights this nature wonder beauty. Caddo lake is overall a superb fall travel destination in Texas
How to explore Caddo Lake
You can explore Caddo Lake by boat – several companies offer tours through the swamps – or at Caddo Lake State Park, where you can hike, fish, camp, and paddle surrounded by the giant bald cypress trees. I recommend doing both – different experiences, both breathtaking.
Stay inside Caddo Lake State Park, camping or in a cabin, or at neighboring Jefferson, a charming small town said to be the most haunted place in Texas!
6. Beavers Bend, OK
Distance: 180 miles/ 3 h 00 min from Dallas
A cabin, a fire pit, some s’mores, awe-inspiring outdoors, and you have the perfect fall getaway.
Beavers Bend State Park is one of Oklahoma nature wonders and especially beautiful during fall, with the changing color trees reflecting in the water. It is a perfect place to disconnect from the world and dive into nature.
The pleasant fall temperatures make it one of the best times of the year to enjoy the several outdoor activities offered there as well. Check here the best things to do in Beavers Bend and plan your fall getaway (Destination # 5).
7. Wichita Mountains, OK
Distance: 215 miles/ 3 h 10 min from Dallas
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is one of Oklahoma’s most famous and beautiful nature spots and only a short drive away from Dallas.
Best experienced during spring and fall mild weathers, it is an outstanding place to enjoy the outdoors, and offers an abrupt change of scenery from the North Texas plains.
The place is all about hiking and breathtaking landscapes.
Best things to do there include hiking iconic Mount Scott for panoramic views, wildlife viewing and photography. And of course exploring the over 15 miles of designated walking trails through rocky mountains, forests and prairies, uncovering hidden gems – such as the cascades along Narrows Trail and Post Oak Falls – along the way.
8. Colorado Bend State Park, TX
Distance: 188 miles/ 3 h 20 min from Dallas
Take advantage of the cooler weather to explore Colorado Bend State Park and its jaw-dropping Gorman Falls, one of the biggest waterfalls in volume of water and height in the Texas State.
Fall is the perfect time of the year to hike Gorman Falls. The weather is mild and pleasant. The setting is even more stunning with the fall foliage, that turn every Texas State Park into a gorgeous palette of autumn colors – Colorado Bend State Park is no exception.
There are tons of outdoor activities to enjoy there, including hiking and touring caves in their natural state (only available through guided tours).
Gorman Falls is a Texas gem totally worth the trip, a perfect fall travel destination in Texas to visit from Dallas. Check on this article everything you need to know to plan your trip to Colorado Bend State Park and hit the road (Destination # 6)!
9. Gruene, TX
Distance: 188 miles/ 3 h 20 min from Dallas
Craving small-town coziness? Head to Gruene. A Historic District in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, and one of the most charming small towns in Texas.
Gruene is all about wine, live music and nature.
The gorgeous Guadalupe River runs across the town, offering outdoor activities opportunities. And inspiring views from some of Gruene’s best restaurants. Canyon Lake is right next door to Gruene, as well as beautiful Natural Bridge Caverns. Texas oldest dance hall is right in the heart of Gruene, and offers daily live music.
10. Talimena Scenic Drive, OK
Distance: 230 miles/ 3 h 30 min from Dallas
Known as one of the best places near Dallas for fall foliage, Talimena National Scenic Byway runs for 54 miles between Talihina, Oklahoma, and Mena, Arizona. It winds through beautiful Winding Stair Mountains and Ouachita National Forest.
You can easily cover Talimena Scenic Drive in a 2-hour drive – but you would be missing the point then. This is a place to soak into nature, to unwind, and to be experienced in a slower pace.
Make several stops along Talimena Scenic Drive to contemplate the gorgeous vistas from the many scenic viewpoints (grab your map in the Tourist Info Center in Talihina). Explore historic spots such as Horse Thief Springs and the Pioneer Cemetery. Hike to the top of Queen Wilhelmina State Park, on Rich Mountain, for stunning panoramic views of Oklahoma and wildlife viewing opportunities. Cross famous (and long) Ouachita National Recreation Trail off your bucket list.
Talihina and Mena offer various lodging options, including charming B&Bs. Queen Wilhelmina State Parks offers lodge and camping areas. For other camping options along Talimena Scenic Drive, check this interactive map.
11. Wimberley and Dripping Springs, TX
Distance: 230 miles/ 3 h 40 min from Dallas
Amazing nature walks to the most beautiful spots of the Texas Hill Country. A beautiful fall foliage scenic drive. Award-winning wines and vineyards. Oh, and incredible stargazing! It cannot get any more “fall” than that.
Take advantage of the diminishing crowds and head to Dripping Springs and Wimberley during fall to enjoy its amazing surroundings. Both small towns are within a short driving distance from each other and can be used as your base to explore the area. Wimberley is especially charming and would be my choice.
Wind through Devil’s Backbone Scenic Drive from Wimberley to Blanco, particularly stunning during the autumn months with the changing tones and fall colors.
Observe star-filled skies attending an Observatory Program at Reimers Observatory.
Take a wine tour through award-winning local wineries and vineyards: Solaro Estate Winery has beautiful vineyards, Duchman Family Winery was listed by HGTV as one of the 20 most picturesque in the US, Driftwood State Winery offers hilltop views of the Texas Hill Country and Fall Creek Vineyards, the oldest winery in the Texas Hill Country, has a tasting room in the area.
Explore the must-see Texas gems Hamilton Pool, Westcave Outdoor and Discovery Center, Jacob’s Well and Wimberley’s Blue Hole. While is probably too cold for a splash in autumn, these places are still stunning and enjoyable for an easy hike and contemplation.
And, most important, probably easier to get in at this time of the year – if you could not get summer spots (which usually fill up months in advance), this is your chance. I have visited all these nature wonders off-season and LOVED it – had these out of this world places almost for myself!
12. Enchanted Rock, TX
Distance: 255 miles/ 3 h 50 min from Dallas
The bottom line is: you need a slightly cold weather to visit Enchanted Rock and survive the hike lol. So, take advantage of fall and cross this Texas nature wonder off your bucket list.
A giant pink dome emerging in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, Enchanted Rock is a unique formation and the hike to the top a must-try experience for those living in Texas.
The hike is steep, but not too harsh – I did it with a 3-year-old in tow and not in my best shape, honestly. But there is absolutely no shade along the way, so while many brave people can do this hike under the Texas heat, I would highly recommend against it.
The views from the top are amazing and hiking Enchanted Rock is a fulfilling experience. You can camp there or visit it as a side trip from Fredericksburg (see below), which is another great fall travel destination in Texas.
13. Fredericksburg, TX
Distance: 260 miles/ 4 h 10 min from Dallas
Fredericksburg is a must-visit fall travel destination.
The German heritage town is also the wine mecca in Texas, home to the state’s best wineries and vineyards along Wine Road 290. It is also nestled in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, an amazing place to enjoy the fall colors.
The charming small town has tons of good restaurants and wineries, and is surrounded by great nature spots that can be visited as side trips.
In this post you find a complete travel itinerary to Fredericksburg (destination #14), including Enchanted Rock. Must-sees and best things to do, to enjoy your fall stay in Fredericksburg to the fullest.
14. San Antonio, TX
Distance: 290 miles/ 4 h 00 min from Dallas
San Antonio is beautiful year-round and one of the top travel destinations in Texas. Tex-Mex culture, Spanish history, the Riverwalk, manicured neighborhoods, and tons of entertainment options are the reasons why this beautiful Texas city is usually at the top of the list of the best places to visit in the US.
I highly recommend you visiting it at least once while living in Texas – or even during a short stay – and here you can find all of the must-sees in San Antonio and the very best things to do there.
But to experience the city at its best, consider visiting late fall, more precisely on Thanksgiving week or on the first weeks of December.
The Christmas Lights along the Riverwalk, as well as the several Thanksgiving celebrations that take place in the city, are something out of this world. And visiting San Antonio at this time of the year is the perfect way to kick off Christmas season in Texas.
15. Hot Springs, AR
Distance: 285 miles/ 4 h 20 min from Dallas
Hot Springs is a must-visit travel destination for those living in Dallas. Not only fall brings the perfect weather to explore Hot Springs National Park trails, but the landscape becomes even more stunning during fall foliage.
There you can hike. Stroll through the charming historic district. Soak into natural hot spring waters at the famous Bathhouse Row. Visit the only brewery inside a National Park and try beer crafted with thermal spring waters. Visit the nearby awe-inspiring Anthony Chapel.
Check in this post the best things to do in Hot Springs and surroundings (destination # 16) and plan the perfect fall getaway there.
Best places to visit during fall in Texas and surroundings for when you have some extra free time!
16. Lost Maples State Natural Area, TX
Distance: 350 miles/ 5 h 30 min from Dallas
If you want to get serious about fall foliage, a fall trip to Lost Maples State Natural Area is a must.
Known as one of the best places in Texas for autumn colors, Lost Maples is probably the most sought-after fall travel destination in Texas. Reservations to get there during fall prime time – early to mid-November – should be make months in advance. Fall foliage varies year by year, so check the Lost Maples Fall Foliage Report for current conditions.
Lost Maples offers over 10 miles of trails, and camping. East Trail, a 4.6-mile loop trail, is the perfect fall hike, with beautiful overlooks and jaw-dropping views from the top.
Top-rated Lost Maples Winery is just off the park and offers a tasting room, perfect to chill out after a great hiking day. Love Creek Orchards is about 30 minutes away and famous for its pumpkin patch, apple pies and apple ice cream.
Garner State Park (next) is only 40 minutes away from Lost Maples, so consider visiting both places in a single trip.
17. Garner State Park, TX
Distance: 365 miles/ 5 h 30 min from Dallas
Another Texas destination famous for the fall foliage, Garner State Park is only a short drive from Lost Maples and a must-visit Texas nature preserve.
Old Bald Summit and Blinn River Trail are musts. The first one, a short but steep 0.5-mile trail to a scenic overlook with awe-inspiring views. The second an easy and short trail along crystalline Frio River, with the beautiful changing color trees reflecting on the water at this time of the year.
You can camp inside Garner State Park or stay in one of the several lodging options in the area (search for Concan, TX).
18. Palo Duro Canyon and Amarillo, TX
Distance: 380 miles/ 5 h 45 min from Dallas
The second largest canyon in the US, only behind majestic Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon is a must visit-state park in Texas. Fall mild temperatures are ideal to explore the park trails, including the iconic Lighthouse Trail.
The park offers lodging and camping, as well as activities such as zip-line, horseback riding and mountain-biking. Check in this post a complete itinerary to explore Palo Duro Canyon and the best things to do in the State Park surroundings (destination #1).
Texas Historic Route 66
Alternatively, you can lodge at nearby Amarillo and take advantage of your visit to Palo Duro Canyon to explore the Texas portion of Route 66.
Some cool Historic Route 66 roadside attractions to check in the Amarillo surroundings are the Conoco Tower and U-Drop Inn Cafe in Shamrock, the Britten Leaning Tower in Groom, VW Slug Bug Ranch in Panhandle, Big Texan Steak Ranch and Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, and Route 66 Midpoint in Adrian.
19. Eureka Springs, AR
Distance: 390 miles/ 5 h 45 min from Dallas
Nestled in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, in Arkansas, Eureka Springs is a picturesque mountain town full of history and surrounded by amazing nature spots.
An escape to the mountains surely sounds good, and Eureka Springs is a great place for that. Head there on fall season for the beautiful fall foliage and to enjoy the best things Eureka Springs and its surroundings have to offer.
Stay at historic Crescent Hotel and Spa, an over 100 years old hotel said to be America’s most haunted hotel (Ghost Tours available, also for non-guests). Explore the charming historic downtown. Attend a famous magic performance at Intrigue Theater.
Visit nearby Thorncrown Chapel, a unique glass structure in the middle of the woods. Get a new perspective on fall foliage ziplining through the Ozark Mountains. Tour Cosmic Cavern, one of the most beautiful caves in Arkansas. Visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a non-profit rescue for exotic cats. Go paddle beautiful Kings River.
Side Trips from Eureka Springs: Ozark National Forest and Buffalo National River
If you have some extra days, consider taking some cool side trips from Eureka Springs to explore the area.
The charming mountain town is also only one hour away from Buffalo National River, a gorgeous nature preserve offering hiking and paddling.
And about 1h30 driving from gorgeous waterfalls and hiking destinations at the Ozark National Forest, such as Hemmed-In Hollow Falls, Glory Hole Falls and Eyer of the Needle Falls, just to name a few of the area’s nature wonders.
20. Big Bend National Park, TX
Distance: 550 miles/ 7 h 30 min from Dallas
A West Texas Jewel, Big Bend State Park is one of the most secluded State Parks in the US and the ultimate outdoorsy’s paradise.
It is a place best experienced camping and hiking, and fall weather is ideal to engage in both activities.
Choose from over 200 miles of trails to explore – Santa Elena Canyon, Window View and lost Mine Trails are musts. Take a scenic drive. Soak into the Hot Springs at the Hot Springs Historic District.
The possibilities there are endless and a fall trip to the Big Bend National Park is a sure way to disconnect from the world, reconnect with nature and recharge your batteries!
21. Marfa, TX
Distance: 520 miles/ 7 h 30 min from Dallas
Marfa is one of the most unique travel destinations in the Lone Star State. A tiny town nestled in the middle of the desert, home to one of the most famous glamping spots in Texas, El Cosmico – make sure to book your stay there way in advance!
It is possibly the most eccentric travel destination in Texas, and fall is the perfect time of the year to uncover its mysteries.
Marfa has offbeat attractions such as the mysterious Marfa lights, the world’s smallest Target store (?) and a sculptural installation resembling a Prada Store.
But Marfa is more than its odd landmarks. It is a place to unwind and absorb the desert landscape, and its surroundings offer amazing things to do, such as Davis Mountains State Park and the McDonald Observatory.
Marfa is only 1h30 from the Big Bend National Park, so if you have the time (Thanksgiving week maybe?) combining both destinations in one single trip is an amazing option.
Monahan Sandhills is on your way from Dallas to Marfa and a unique Texas State Park, where you can surf the dunes – make sure to include it in your itinerary.
22. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX and Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Distance: 530 miles/ 7 h 30 min from Dallas
Those are definitively bucket list destinations for adventurous types. We are talking about the toughest hike in Texas, to the State’s highest point, and one of the largest and most amazing cave systems in the US, featuring over 100 caves.
Fall, along Spring, are the best seasons to face the challenge of hiking Guadalupe Peak – doing that under the Texas heat or frozen temperatures is far from ideal. And the Carlsbad Caverns are gorgeous any time of the year.
So, take advantage of a fall long weekend or vacation, and hit the road to uncover these incredible nature gems within a driving distance from Dallas.
23. Taos and Santa Fe, NM
Distance: 640 miles/ 9 h 15 min from Dallas
Northeast New Mexico is GORGEOUS and makes a superb Thanksgiving Week travel destination. It is a great place to visit from Dallas late fall – I loved this trip so much I have already taken it twice!
Santa Fe, Taos, and surroundings offer tons of interesting things to do, including jaw-dropping outdoors, top-notch ski resorts, charming small towns, historical and cultural attractions, and unique culinary and architecture.
While snow season is still not at its peak on Thanksgiving, with some luck you might be able to hit the slopes at famous Taos Ski Resort – the ski season usually starts on Thanksgiving there, with limited ski slopes opened (more than enough to have tons of fun if you are an amateur like me).
Even if there is not much snow (varies from year to year), this portion of New Mexico still offers plenty amazing things to do to keep you wowed and occupied for a good time!
Discover in this post a complete Thanksgiving itinerary to Taos, Santa Fe, and surroundings, with all must-sees in the area, and unbiased reviews of the top local attractions.
24. Breckenridge, CO
Distance: 820 miles/ 12 h 30 min from Dallas
While you might be able to get some snow in Taos, if you really want to hit the slopes and get serious about skiing or snowboarding, the ski resorts in the north of Colorado are your best bet. And Breckenridge in an absolutely outstanding option there.
Breckenridge is a charming ski town with all amenities you need to enjoy your late fall escape to the mountains to the fullest.
Take advantage of your Thanksgiving break and head there, stopping by breathtaking nature attractions in Cañon City and Colorado Springs – Denver is also on your way.
Here you find a complete road trip itinerary from Dallas to Breckenridge, including all must-sees along the way – there are tons of cool places to stop in Texas and Colorado!
25. Grand Canyon and Surroundings, AZ
Distance: 1060 miles/ 15 h 30 min from Dallas
If you must choose only one single long road trip while living in Texas, pick this one. It is quite a drive from Dallas, I agree. But do not leave me just yet.
The road trip from Dallas to the Grand Canyon is a once in a lifetime experience and will take you through gems along the way, in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, towards iconic travel destinations most people only dream about visiting someday.
Enjoy that you are within a (long but doable) driving distance from breathtaking places such as the Grand Canyon itself, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona, only to name a few, and take advantage of Thanksgiving week to cross those astonishing places of your bucket list.
This is what I did last Thanksgiving. And here you find the complete itinerary from Dallas to the Grand Canyon, with all of the places you cannot miss along the way, as well as insider tips to avoid getting caught into tourist traps.
Now it is your turn!
Dig into this fall travel guide, make your own fall travel bucket list and start exploring around. Wander through the best of Texas and surrounding states and enjoy life to the fullest!
Which is your favorite fall trip idea? Is there any destination within a driving distance from Dallas that you would add to this list? Leave a comment below.
Covid-19 is impacting travel hard everywhere. Closures and cancellations are to be expected and not every place and activity mentioned in this post will be available. Please check directly with each establishment if they will be operating on the dates you’re wishing to visit, make reservations in advance whenever possible (many places are limiting the number of visitors) and always have a plan B. With some flexibility you can still have a great time traveling, and do so in a safe manner (always follow the CDC recommendations!).