For most area families, spring break starts Monday. But not everyone has a luxurious weeklong vacation to the beach or the slopes on the schedule.
If you’re looking for a quick getaway but don’t have the time to go far, there are plenty of destinations within a short drive of DFW that are perfect for a day trip. Explore one of these cities with the family and enjoy a quick respite.
We calculated the distance from downtown Fort Worth using Google Maps; your mileage may vary.
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Home of Dr Pepper, dinosaurs and the original Texas Rangers
Distance from Fort Worth: 90 miles
▪ Visit the Dr Pepper Museum and learn about this history of this Texas favorite. Take a self-guided tour of the museum to see a collection of memorabilia and history.
Following the museum visit, stop in the gift shop and at the soda fountain for a freshly mixed old-fashioned Dr Pepper or ice cream float.
The museum is open 10 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon-4:15 p.m Sunday. Admission is $5-$8, and drinks at the soda fountain are an additional charge. Large fountain drinks are half-price during happy hour, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon-1 p.m. Sunday. 300 S. Fifth St., Waco. 254-757-1025; http://drpeppermuseum.com.
▪ The Waco Mammoth Site is a small but impressive museum. It is an active dig site with six Columbian mammoths and other Ice Age mammals.
Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the site and Ice Age animals that lived in Texas. Tours are included in admission and take place every half-hour, no reservations needed. Admission is $7; ages 4-12, $5. The museum is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
The dig site is climate-controlled, and the walkway is wheelchair-accessible.
6220 Steinbeck Bend Drive, Waco. 254-750-7946; www.waco-texas.com/cms-waco-mammoth.
▪ The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum preserves the history of the law enforcement group and honors those who serve today.
The museum includes artifacts and information from the Old West to modern times, including weaponry, uniforms and a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit. Children can complete a scavenger hunt for a prize
Admission is $7; ages 6-12, $3. The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with the last ticket sold at 4:30 p.m.
100 Texas Ranger Trail, Waco. 254-750-8631; http://texasranger.org.
Wildlife, science and an indoor waterpark
Distance from Fort Worth: 132 miles
▪ Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a 140-acre preserve that is home to more than 30 big cats, rescued from around the United States.
Visitors can tour the facility and see tigers, leopards, lions and smaller cats in a natural environment. The guided tour takes about 45 minutes, and visitors can walk around independently afterward. Admission is $15; ages 6-12, $8. The refuge is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m.
17552 Farm Road 14, Tyler. 903-858-1008; www.tigercreek.org.
▪ Discovery Science Place is a hands-on museum that focuses on STEM subjects with exhibits organized into two categories: Discovery Landing and Hometown USA.
The first includes kinetics, archaeology, robotics, radio and television. The other includes a children’s play grocery store, bank, courthouse, nursery, veterinary clinic and restaurant. Admission is $8; ages 2-12, $6. (Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Members can take advantage of the reciprocating admission program.) Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
308 N. Broadway Ave., Tyler. 903-533-8011; http://www.discoveryscienceplace.org/.
▪ The Waterpark at The Villages is a short drive southwest of Tyler. It is the second-largest indoor waterpark in Texas with a wave pool, lazy river and four slides.
Admission is $20; under 48 inches, $17; under 36 inches, free. The park is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily during spring break.
18270 Singing Wood Lane, Flint. 903-534-8400; www.silverleafresortswaterpark.com.
Frogs, frontier and plenty of storytelling
Distance from Fort Worth: 150 miles
▪ The Abilene Zoo is home to nearly 1,000 animals from more than 250 species, including a Bengal white tiger, black rhino and new young camels. It is small, but can easily be walked in an hour or two and provides a close encounter with animals from around the world.
Friday is Frog Day, and visitors can learn about the colorful Coqui tree frog from keeper talks and do a craft in the Caribbean Cove area. The zoo recently opened an interactive mining sluice where kids can discover gems and fossils with an $8-$11 purchase. Admission is $6; $3.50 for ages 3-12. The zoo is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
2070 Zoo Lane, Nelson Park, Abilene. 325-676-6085; http://abilenezoo.org
▪ Frontier Texas! is a history museum that focuses on life on the frontier for the early settlers. Visitors can walk through exhibits that include artifacts, displays, murals and holographic narrators.
A “Guns of the West” exhibit recently opened. Children can pick up a scavenger hunt sheet to find items throughout the museum and turn it in for a free sheriff’s badge in the gift shop. Admission is $10; ages 3-12, $5. The museum is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
625 N. First St., Abilene. 325-437-2800; http://frontiertexas.com.
▪ The Storybook Sculpture Project in downtown Abilene includes 15 statues based on popular children’s stories, including Dr. Seuss, the “Guardians of Childhood” series and others. Pick up a map and legend at the T&P Depot or other locations. Sculptures are outdoors and can be observed at any time; the depot is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. T&P Depot, 1101 N. First St., Abilene. 325-676-2556; www.abilenevisitors.com/Public-Sculpture.
▪ If you have more time, Buffalo Gap Historic Village is a short drive south of Abilene.
The village has 15 historic building from the 1800s through early 1900s. Pick up an audio guide for a self-guided tour and spend an hour or an afternoon learning about life in West Texas more than 100 years ago. Admission is $4-$7. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
133 N. William St., Buffalo Gap. 325-572-3365; http://tfhcc.com.
Take a train ride, tour or ghost walk through history
Distance from Fort Worth: 200 miles
▪ Take a narrated tour on the Historic Jefferson Railway and learn about the history of East Texas.
Ride in an enclosed or open-air car of an antique gas-powered locomotive on a one-hour trip through the woodlands and bayous. Trips include a stop at Diamond Don Gator Pit to observe the daily alligator feeding. All rides are $10 per person during the month of March. Check the website for spring break hours.
400 E. Austin St., Jefferson. 866-398-2038; Jeffersonrailway.com.
▪ The Jefferson Historical Museum has two floors, a basement and attic filled with antiques and artifacts from early Jefferson in the restored 1888 Federal Court House and U.S. Post Office building.
American Indian artifacts from the Caddo, pioneer tools, textiles, toys and Civil War memorabilia make up the collection. Admission is $3-$7. The museum is open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
223 W. Austin St., Jefferson. 903-665-2775; http://jeffersonmuseum.com.
▪ The Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk Tours are led by Jodi Breckenridge, who tells stories while leading participants to eight destinations of historic and paranormal significance.
Ticket sales and departure location are at The Sandwich Shoppe. Admission is $14; ages 6-11, $7. Tours begin at 8 p.m. and last about two hours.
West Austin and South Vale streets, Jefferson. 903-665-6289; http://jeffersonghostwalk.com.