Dallas to San Marcos Road Trip

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  • Waxahachie, TX
  • Hillsboro, TX
  • Waco, TX
  • Austin, TX
  • San Marcos, TX
  • Tips
  • Roadside assistance
  • Cheap insurance
  • FAQs
From the Cowboy Church in Waxahachie to the San Marcos River, you’re in for a treat with this Dallas to San Marcos road trip. This beautiful four-hour drive includes classic Texas views and surprising stopovers. You can do this drive in one day, but two is better.
Before you pack your snacks, make sure your car insurance is up to date and that you have roadside assistance with Jerry. It’s easy (and cheap) to add roadside assistance to your coverage. Let’s face it, a breakdown on the 35 in the middle of nowhere is the exact opposite of a great road trip.
Car insurance, check. Roadside assistance, check. Now start your engines and hit play on that road trip playlist! Here are the best stops on your route.
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Waxahachie, TX

For the out-of-towners, it’s pronounced walk-suh-HA-chee. The name comes from the indigenous words for “Buffalo Creek.” Only 45 minutes south of Dallas, we recommend a quick stopover here purely for the unique architecture and a great cup of coffee.
Why you should go: There are very surprising attractions here for a town most people have never heard of. Waxahachie is home to the Cowboy Church of Ellis County (think baptisms in a trough). The city’s nickname is the Gingerbread City due to the quaint architectural style of the buildings built pre-1900.
What you should do: You can visit the Cowboy Church for a sermon or a rodeo, if your schedule permits. Otherwise, head into town to enjoy some Victorian-era architecture.
The Munster Mansion is an exact replica of the house from the eponymous 1960’s sitcom show and you can take a tour from an enthusiastic guide. Webb Gallery is another great choice, as it specializes in “outsider art and artifacts of secret societies.”
If your tummy’s rumbling, eat at Two Amigos Taqueria or snag a coffee at the quirky Back Porch Coffee House.

Hillsboro, TX

There’s a lot more to see than just outlet malls in Hillsboro! Visiting Hillsboro is like taking a walk down memory lane.
Why you should go: Check out restored Victorian homes and get a real, small-town Texas experience off the beaten path.
What you should do: Visit the Roadside America Museum or the Hill County Cell Block Museum to see some unique artifacts. When you need a bite, head to A Little Taste of Heaven.
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Waco, TX

Another hour on the road will take you to Waco. DIY designers will especially enjoy Magnolia Market, run by Chip and Joanna Gaines, but there’s something for everyone in Waco.
Why you should go: It’s not every day you get to visit a TV-famous homewares destination. Waco is set on the Brazos River and the riverbank is a lovely place to stretch your legs and enjoy a quick jaunt through the cultural district of Waco.
What you should do: Start at Magnolia Market and enjoy hunting for design treasure. If you’d rather spend time outdoors, head to the urban Riverwalk or the nearby Lake Waco Wetlands for a more secluded stroll. If you’re interested in history and manufacturing, check out the Dr. Pepper Museum ($10 admission fee).
If you’re ready for lunch, we recommend Alpha Omega for refreshing and satisfying Greek food or Jake’s Texas Tea House for kitschy Texas decor and classic Southern meals.
Key Takeaway To stay fresh while driving, try to spend some time outdoors in the fresh air on each stopover.
A large rusted water tank stands against a bright blue Waco sky.
Waco, Texas

Austin, TX

It’s refreshing to be around people who take pride in their weirdness—and that’s Austin in a nutshell. With live music, art, great food, and natural beauty, you could easily spend a few days exploring this city. But if you’re only passing through, here’s what we recommend.
Why you should go: Austin has a vibrant creative scene, and it shows up in the food, the art, and the music. No matter where you meander here, you are guaranteed to find something beautiful and delightful. The city makes it easy with outdoor patios, graffiti, beautiful parks, and architectural beauty.
What you should do: The two best outdoor activities near Austin are Butler Trail and McKinney Falls State Park. The Butler Trail takes you near the river downtown and you may encounter bikers and joggers. McKinney Falls State Park is on the southern edge of town and has waterfalls, a 500-year-old cypress tree, and lovely trails (and bathrooms!).
In town, look for the HOPE Outdoor Gallery to experience world-class graffiti and street art. For food, you can of course find great Tex-Mex here but there are lots of other cuisines on offer. Try ramen and BBQ, or go to Evangeline Cafe for Cajun food. The Driskill is a nice place for an elevated bite to eat in a friendly atmosphere.
A stretch of road leads over a river and into downtown Austin. Far down the road, the Texas Capitol building is visible.
Austin, Texas
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San Marcos, TX

San Marcos is situated right smack in the middle between Austin and San Antonio. The city is surrounded by natural beauty and has a burgeoning food scene. In other words, it is the perfect road trip destination!
Why you should go: Within just 10 miles you’ll find gold on every street in San Marcos: local breweries, great museums, outdoor activities, and classic food under a big Texan sky. Once you settle beside the river, you’ll never want to leave.
What you should do: In town, you should definitely set aside time to look for antiques. San Marcos has a storied history and you’re guaranteed to find some treasures left by generations past. Swing by the beautiful Hays County Historic Courthouse to admire the columns before visiting the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos to learn about Hispanic heritage. The Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre is a fun stopover, too.
If Mother Nature is beckoning, take a glass-bottom boat tour on the San Marcos River. Get up close and personal by paddling, tubing, or even fly fishing. You can rent most of the necessary equipment from a number of vendors on site.
For food, we recommend eating at Mama Kat’s Restaurant (save room for pie!). For caffeine, head to Wake the Dead Coffee House.
Key Takeaway San Marcos is the perfect road trip destination—kick back and relax!
An aerial view of a field in San Marcos with a residential area in the distance. The sun casts shadows on the grass.
San Marcos, Texas

Tips for road-tripping in Texas

Texas is a beautiful place for a road trip. Planning can help you avoid the worst pitfalls, like traffic jams and potholes on poor-quality roads. But it’s important to remember that you can’t plan for everything.
Extreme weather patterns are more and more common, and the combination of wind and rain can lead to unsafe driving conditions. If you find yourself in the middle of a storm, don’t be a hero. Play it safe, drive slowly, and pull over if you don’t feel confident navigating the roads.
Road trips are meant to be fun! With snacks, games, and roadside assistance on your side, it’ll be hard to go wrong.
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Why you need roadside assistance

Roadside assistance is the second best thing to a crystal ball. It doesn’t let you see into the future, but it does allow you to drive confidently knowing that you have protection just in case anything does happen.
A roadside assistance membership with Jerry is only $6.99 and it covers a variety of rescue services. You get towing coverage, fuel delivery, flat tire assistance, lockout assistance, and even Uber credits.
Before you hit the road, get Jerry’s roadside assistance. You’ll be glad you did.

Finding cheap car insurance

Have you ever filled out car insurance forms? Then you know how miserable it can be. You probably didn’t know all the answers. You may have called your mom for help. And, when you finished the final questions, you certainly weren’t inspired to shop around and fill out more forms to make sure you were getting the best price. You just wanted to be done.
That’s the story of how people end up paying too much for insurance. Who can blame you for thinking that the plan and price would be competitive, accurate, and fair after answering all those questions?
Jerry is your ultra-talented car insurance broker for life. No need to sit across from him at a desk—Jerry is an app! It takes less than a minute to sign up and you’ll be presented with competitive rates from up to 50 top providers. Don’t lose coverage, find savings with Jerry.
“Excellent Service! It’s been a while since I’ve looked into comparing insurance companies. This app completely removed the hassle and awkwardness of interfacing with agents and “why do you want to go” questions. A few button clicks and a few questions later, I had a new policy with a new company saving over $100 per month. The best part was the fact that I was informed of every step of the entire process!” ーSatisfied Jerry user
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How long is the drive to San Marcos from Dallas?

Nonstop, the drive between San Marcos and Dallas will take 3 ½ to 4 hours. With a few stops to explore towns and grab a meal, you can expect to complete the route in 6 to 8 hours.

How do I pack for a two-day road trip?

It all depends on the activities you’ve planned! If you plan to do light walking around urban areas, then a change of clothes and toiletries will suffice. However, if you plan to go rafting or hiking, you may need extra items. Either way, make sure you pack road trip essentials.
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