Day Trip­per: North Texas on a Tank of Gas

Where Dallas - - WHERE NOW -

Sure, DFW is full of ac­tion and en­ter­tain­ment, but let’s face it: Some­times you need to get out of the city and ex­plore. A few hours’ drive from the Metro­plex, there are plenty of places to do just that, from his­toric small towns to scenic state parks. All you need to en­joy them is a tank of gas and a sense of ad­ven­ture.

WACO

About half­way be­tween Dal­las and Austin on I-35 is Waco, where folks from all over Texas are flock­ing to its re­fur­bished down­town area for unique ex­pe­ri­ences in din­ing, ship­ping and en­ter­tain­ment.

Mag­no­lia Mar­ket at the Si­los, an old Cot­ton­seed Mill on Web­ster Av­enue, is par­tially re­spon­si­ble for Waco’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity, thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines of the hit HGTV show ‘Fixer Up­per.’ Upon ar­rival at the Si­los, shop the Gaines’ rus­tic-yet-re­fined home dé­cor store, games on the lawn, a gar­den with a wooden teepee for chil­dren and food trucks serv­ing up a range of items, from crêpes to pizza to gourmet grilled cheese sand­wiches. The new­est ad­di­tion to the Si­los is Mag­no­lia Flour, a bakery slated to open in May.

Not far from the Si­los is BSR Cable Park, pre­vi­ously voted “best cable park in the world.” With a six-tower cable sys­tem of cus­tom rails, slid­ers, boxes and other obstacles, BSR’s bi-level lake will sat­isfy even the most se­ri­ous wake shred­ders. A se­cond cable sys­tem gives beginners and young wake­board­ers a head start. Open daily, the state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity is also home to a lazy river, the Royal Flush su­per slide, vol­ley­ball courts, a sand beach and a full-ser­vice bar and grill.

For ge­ol­ogy buffs, visit Waco’s Mam­moth Site, which be­came a na­tional mon­u­ment in 2015. The site com­prises the re­mains of 24 Columbian mam­moths—the largest mam­mals in the world at the time, stand­ing roughly 14 feet tall and weigh­ing up to 20,000 pounds. The well-pre­served site re­mains the only recorded dis­cov­ery of a nurs­ery herd of Pleis­tocene mam­moths, which lived from about 2.5 mil­lion years ago un­til around 10,000 years ago. Dur­ing the ex­ca­va­tion, sci­en­tists also un­cov­ered fos­silized re­mains of a camel ( and the tooth of a young saber­toothed cat.

For his­tory and mu­seum junkies, the May­born Mu­seum Com­plex is also a must-visit. Hous­ing a 28-foot model of a Pliosaur and an in-depth look at Texas’ his­tory and her­itage, ex­hibits in­clude an old set­tlers’ vil­lage, a log cabin and a Co­manche tipi. Of course, don’t miss the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Mu­seum, the Dr Pep­per Mu­seum and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

GRAN­BURY

Take US-377 80 miles west of Dal­las to Gran­bury, home of the first town square in Texas to be listed on the Na­tional Regis­ter of His­toric Places. Here, vis­i­tors will find bou­tiques, restau­rants and tast­ing rooms, and charm­ing bed-and-break­fasts. Built in 1886 and ru­mored to be haunted, the Gran­bury Opera House fea­tures im­ported chan­de­liers, twin curved stair­cases, its orig­i­nal lime­stone walls and bal­cony rail­ings for a gen­uine, nos­tal­gic and his­toric feel. Ren­o­vated in 2013, it plays host to a reg­u­lar sched­ule of per­for­mances and pro­duc­tions. Visit lo­cal Bark­ing Rocks Win­ery around the cor­ner from down­town for a fla­vor of Texas grapes, or re­gional fa­vorite Re­volver Brew­ing for craft beer (lo­cals love the Blood & Honey ale) and a brew­ery tour, plus live week­end en­ter­tain­ment.

MIN­ERAL WELLS

For an off-the-beaten-path ad­ven­ture, head to Min­eral Wells, about 90 min­utes north­west of Dal­las. Leg­end has it that magic heal­ing prop­er­ties ex­ist in the water of the small town’s nat­u­ral springs. En­joy the beauty of the state park or take home your own bot­tle of “Crazy Water,” just like folks did in the late 1800s. At the Crazy Water Bath House, in­dulge in a 20-minute soak in the magic water or a rea­son­ably priced spa treat­ment.

A pop­u­lar re­sort town in the early 1900s for af­flu­ent trav­el­ers seek­ing the heal­ing magic of Min­eral Wells would re­serve their ac­com­mo­da­tions at the now-de­funct Baker Ho­tel.Now un­der­go­ing full ren­o­va­tions with no re­open­ing date in sight, the 14-story, Art Deco-style ho­tel is known for its ghost sto­ries, which have be­come as leg­endary as the magic water for which the town was named.

BSR Cable Park

Mam­moth Site

Mag­no­lia Mar­ket

Min­eral Wells State Park

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