With summer tipping over the halfway point, the realization has sunk in that some of us haven’t taken a summer vacation. Some years, a summer vacation just isn’t in the cards. Myriad reasons stack up that prohibit a vacation-rich Instagram feed.
But no frets. We’ve rounded up plenty of staycation ideas for you that won’t deplete the vacation days you’ve built up. You can experience a quick getaway in your backyard and return to reality within 24 hours.
No matter what part of DFW you reside in, Uptown Dallas is a fun destination where you can gulp some libations on a patio and pretend you’re in an alternate cosmopolitan universe.
For the ultimate cosmo experience, The Ritz-Carlton on McKinney Avenue offers a "guacamologist" on select evenings. This culinary master will pop shots of guac in your mouth, accompanied with a mini margarita shot. And it’s all free.
It also has a luxurious spa that involves an eight-handed synchronized massage — just in case two hands aren’t sufficient for the ultimate blissful escape. And while the Ritz may come with a high-dollar tag for your accommodations, balance it out with a free trolley ride through Uptown and downtown on the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority trolley.
If you care to venture a wee bit north, Le Bilboquet is tucked away in the Knox neighborhood and will whisk you away with the cuisine and ambiance. Your conversation will sparkle, just like the Champagne.
If your sweet tooth is hollering out, as it does often on vacation, make sure you check out the most decadent and ridiculous desserts at Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse, from the mountainous rainbow cake, dripping with gummy bears and sugar, to the towering light-up cotton candy dessert, topped off with cookies and other sweet nibbles. A cautionary word: Be sure you have someone who will help you eat it.
The Harwood District allows you to escape to multiple countries and experience foreign cuisine — and all sans your passport. You can start the morning off sipping lattés at the oh-so-chic Magnolias Sous Le Pont for breakfast.
Your faux-French escape can trickle over to lunch at Marie Gabrielle. After lunch, venture over to the Marie Gabrielle Gardens for a game of giant chess. To punctuate your European jaunt in your backyard, scurry over to Dolce Riviera for a decadent Italian feast. Beautiful greenery engulfs the patio, and the cocktails are more than Instagram-worthy.
Cap the night off with the ultimate cocktail at Happiest Hour and experience a good ol’ traditional Texas bar. Home sweet home. Texas-inspired cocktails flow generously through the menu.
A mere stone’s throw away from Harwood is the W Hotel in Victory Park if you’re looking for a modish place to stay. The pool deck is all the rage in the summer. And did we mention the Hard Rock Cafe is just around the corner? What vacation is complete without snagging a Hardrock Cafe shirt as a souvenir?
Unless you work downtown, this may not be a spot you frequent. But embrace the city with this one. Park your car once and travel on foot the whole weekend. One of the most iconic and attention-grabbing hotels downtown is The Joule.
“Staying at The Joule allows locals to see Dallas through a new lens,” says Justin Fields, general manager and vice president of hospitality. “Without even having to leave Main Street, guests can enjoy several of our award-winning restaurants, world-class retail destinations and top-of-the-line wellness experiences, all in a relaxed but luxurious environment.”
And relaxation is a must here. Lounge 10 floors above Main Street at the serene pool, or enjoy the ice fountain in the spa’s steam room. And if you care to frolic off to an alternate destination, the complimentary Audi house car can take care of that. You’ll definitely experience out-of-the-box with this joint.
This neighborhood is always booming and buzzing, and parking spots are scarce because it’s overflowing with culture, music, culinary odysseys, cold sips and a barrel of laughs.
Dallas Comedy House loves to serve as the comic relief for any night in Dallas.
"DCH is a one-of-[a-]kind comedy venue for DFW,” DCH owner Amanda Austin says. “We have comedy shows for everyone. Improv, sketch, standup and storytelling shows fill our calendar of shows, which includes over 100 shows per month. It's the Disney World of comedy but cheaper and with shorter lines."
And you won’t go hungry wandering the streets of Deep Ellum. Emporium Pies recently opened a new location in this neck of the woods, and yes, lines are still bursting out the door. Speaking of long lines, Pecan Lodge is always a staple. The smell of the brisket alone causes you to stop in your tracks. And Stirr continues to cause quite the stir as one of the new primetime patio spots for the summer.
About two miles away, you’ll stumble into the South Side on Lamar neck of the woods. A mainstay to pair with your Deep Ellum outing is the NYLO Dallas South Side. Its lobby is quaint and posh, tricking you into believing you’ve stumbled into a trendy, urban boutique hotel in another city. Make sure you hit up the patio at sunset for a dreamy summer night view.
Stretching outside the Dallas city limits to Las Colinas, a relaxing oasis awaits. Four Seasons Resort and Club offers Dallasites an escape complete with spa, golf, pool, exercise options and dining.
"Our resort is miles from the hustle and bustle of the city, and you get a true destination resort experience without having to catch a flight somewhere,” says Dirk Burghartz, regional vice president and general manager at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. “Guests can park their car for a long weekend and not feel the need to go anywhere except to enjoy the array of amenities available at the resort."
For those seeking beverages, the Outlaw Taproom is the resort’s Texas musician-themed bar featuring Texas beers, wine and craft cocktails. Each Thursday and Saturday night, live music booms out of the taproom from 6 to 9 p.m. To polish off the night with the ultimate Texas-sized dinner, head to The Ranch at Las Colinas, just down the road from the Four Seasons. From mini elk tacos to Texas crab dip, it has all sorts of options to sate any craving.
Keep heading west from Las Colinas and you’ll hit Grapevine. No Grapevine getaway is complete without sampling some of the city’s finest products. The Grapevine Wine Tours include
vino, vino and more vino. They’ll also sprinkle in some grub and a professional tour guide. The excursion will soak up about four hours of your day and stops at three wine venues in the area, so you’ll have three chances to discover your favorite new wine.
After your wine tour, you can retreat to a cozy room at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center. If you’re there on a Friday night, you’ll have the chance to catch a glimpse of the Friday Night Fireworks, complete with food, live DJ and outdoor games.On Saturday nights, the Gaylord entertains guests with a 20-minute, live-action comedy Wild West show complete with gunfighters, saloon girls, a trick roper and the hero, Cactus Charlie. If you’re seeking some daytime, poolside fun, the 10-acre outdoor pool and lazy river will keep you afloat for hours. There are also private cabanas available, so you can truly feel like you're miles away in a sunshine-filled oasis.
Fort Worth (pictured at top)
Of course there are Billy Bob’s and the Fort Worth Stockyards. No Cowtown jaunt is complete without those. But to shake things up and perhaps visit something new and untapped, the Fort Worth Ale Trail is a must for craft beer lovers. The trail includes 10 local breweries, and folks can snag their own Ale Trail passports and fill them up with stamps at each brewery along the trail.
"The Texas Ale Trail has helped put Fort Worth on the craft beer map,” Fort Worth resident Brian Carman says. “It has shown locals that great beer is brewed here and gives them [a] way to enjoy the weekend. It also gives tourists a unique way to experience our friendly burgh."
You can finish off the night in the rustic yet luxurious Omni Fort Worth. It's conveniently located in the heart of downtown, so you’re a close walk to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House or Fort Worth’s speakeasy Thompson’s Bookstore. Or perhaps you care to retreat to your hotel and dine at the Omni’s culinary destination, Cast Iron. Guests can check out the second installment of "Cowtown Unplugged: A Songwriter’s Showcase," which will feature the sounds of Reagan James, Brandon Rhyder and the great Texas legend Ray Wiley Hubbard.
“We wanted to do something unique and memorable, centered around live music that would give our guests an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and "Cowtown Unplugged" fits that bill,” general manager Josh Heidenreich says. “It’s incredibly special.”
A suburban staycation has the potential to be just as glamorous and luxurious as the best of them, thanks to Frisco's and Plano’s offerings and close vicinity to one another.
Looking to relax and unwind? "The Westin Stonebriar is a great place to enjoy the property's array of amenities, including the Stonebriar Spa and Tom Fazio Championship Golf Course,” says Marla Roe, Visit Frisco executive director.
And what Texas staycation is complete without Tex-Mex? Mi Dia from Scratch highlights the vast variety of Mexican cuisines and fuses in Sante Fe flavors. And there are dozens of margarita options, with more than 100 tequilas.
If you’re really looking to be a tourist for the day, you can check out The Star in Frisco on a tour of the new Dallas Cowboys facility. Top off the evening enjoying every flavor and cuisine imaginable at The Shops at Legacy.
This one is less than an hour away from Dallas’ city center and can fulfill any dude ranch fantasies. Family owned and operated, Beaumont Ranch is not simply a resort. It’s also a working cattle ranch with a herd of Texas longhorns, horses, llamas and other local wildlife.
Complete with 20,000-square-foot barns, rustic guest cabins, luxury suites and outdoor activities, this destination will definitely take your mind off city living for the weekend. There are so many outdoor activities to choose from, you may need to go back just to pack it all in.
Zip lining, ATV riding, roping, archery, cattle herding and trail rides will bring out your inner cowboy or cowgirl.
Historic Downtown McKinney is rich with cuisine, culture and shopping. It’s home to 20 restaurants and more than 100 businesses around the square and side streets. Some of the notable spots to check out include a nostalgic popcorn and candy store, a shop where you make chocolates and a magic store.
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Several of the restaurants and both wineries on the square host live music, and in the evenings and on weekends, local musicians perform on the sidewalks. Many restaurants use locally sourced meat, produce and dairy, and there is even an organic meat market, Local Yocal, that hosts Steak 101 classes.
“This is so fun, and you get to sample awesome meat they grill at the end of the class,” says Dee-dee Guerra, executive director of the McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau.
A busy day of eating, drinking and shopping calls for a cozy pillow to rest your noggin for the night. The Grand Hotel McKinney is right on the downtown square. There are 44 rooms in the boutique hotel, and no two are alike. It sits beside and above the four-star restaurant Rick’s Chophouse.
Within a mile of the square are three bed and breakfasts, if that’s more your speed: McKinney Bed & Breakfast, the Red Gate Inn and the Dowell House. All are in historic homes, so they will fit in nicely with the staycation theme of historic McKinney.