Living in Dallas in the summertime is honestly kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, it's going to be hotter than hell and utterly miserable until at least September. On the other, there are plenty of things to do that make it feel like you're actually on vacation without ever having to leave the city. This mix of activities and places to relax means that even if you don't have the money or time to skip the city for a few days off, you can still get to that vacation state of mind without ever leaving the Metroplex.
Staycations have become increasingly popular in recent years, likely due to the economic downturn, and Dallas-Fort Worth is a great place to plan a little adventure in your own backyard. Sure, you could always drive to Austin or San Antonio, but there's no need to get too far outside of the city limits with these ten excellent places to staycation.
The Joule If you're looking for a staycay that is more bourgeois than budget-friendly, you must go to The Joule hotel in Downtown Dallas. Aside from being one of the city's best boutique hotels and favorite of every celebrity that comes through town, The Joule has a whole lot to offer. The infinity Get your sweat on at the immaculate Vital Fitness gym, caffeinate at top-notch coffee shop Weekend, and drop a few ducats on new threads at the trendy Traffic LA boutique. If The Joule doesn't fit your budget or you aren't able to reserve a room, feel chic on the cheap by sneaking into one of the daily yoga classes held in front of that giant eyeball sculpture across the street.
Spa Castle Relaxing is the most important part of being on vacation, and Spa Castle in Carrollton is entirely dedicated to blissing out. It might be too hot to spend much time in their "detoxifying" saunas, but the co-ed pool area at Spa Castle is the perfect place to chill. Swim-up bars and heated pools full of massaging jets are appealing on their own, but this is the time for you to treat yo' self and spring for a full-body massage or scrub to melt away the stresses of living in the searing inferno that is Dallas all summer long.
Dinosaur Valley State Park Camping is a thing that some people actually enjoy, and Dinosaur Valley State Park is a really cool place to sleep outside. Toughing it out Survivorman style is already pretty damn interesting, but the addition of stomping through fossilized dinosaur tracks and searching for a geocache can be equally exciting. This option is especially good if you're really on a budget - campsite rentals with electricity and water hook-ups are only $25 a night - and best of all, you can even bring your horse.
The Perot Museum of Science Apparently, it is actually possible to have a sleepover at Dallas' coolest place to nerd out, The Perot Museum of Science. You'll probably need to wrangle up a couple of kids to take (hopefully your own, but maybe you have a few friends that could let you borrow a child), but adults can pay $30 a night for a real Night At The Museum type experience at the Perot, complete with a midnight snack and 3-D movie.
Fort Worth Even though it's just a short drive away, Fort Worth really does feel like a whole other world. Book a room at one of the historic hotels in Sundance Square and explore the bustling nightlife and excellent restaurants before a day at the highly-regarded Kimbell Art Museum. If you're a transplant to Dallas or otherwise unfamiliar with Cowtown, you'll have to make the obligatory trip to the Stockyards for the cattle drive, even if you really aren't that big of a fan of the smell of cow shit. Don't tell the locals that, though - they'll tell you that Fort Worth just smells like money.
Six Flags & Hurricane Harbor It's probably an obligatory mention, but Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor is a great way to get a lot of staycation bang for your buck. Even if you haven't been a kid in many years, you can still get the kind of adrenaline rush that makes you feel young on these rides. If it's too hot for you to hang out at Six Flags, there's plenty of water to cool down in over at Hurricane Harbor. If you're trying to miss the crowds, go on a Tuesday when most of the little ones are stuck in summer school and Moms and Dads are at work.
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Great Wolf Lodge Having kids can complicate the staycation prospects, especially when you're looking for the full experience. At Great Wolf Lodge, you can down cocktails while you tire out the kids at this epic indoor waterpark. If swimming isn't your kids' thing, there are plenty of other games and attractions, like a ropes course, XD theatre, and video arcade to keep them entertained while you unwind and guiltily rethink your decision to reproduce.
The Sanford House The Sanford House is a tiny gem of a bed and breakfast hidden smack-dab in the middle of Arlington's biggest tourist attractions. Grab a group of girlfriends and head to this charming old inn for a relatively budget-friendly weekend of pampering and relaxation at The Sanford House's full-service spa. At $400, the most luxurious spa treatment is still cheaper than plane tickets to just about anywhere, making it the perfect place to really restore yourself before heading back to the daily grind.
Ham Orchard Picking your own groceries doesn't exactly sound like a vacation to me, but a day at Ham Orchard in Terrell is uniquely relaxing. Those peaches you buy at the supermarket were likely picked when green and underripe, which means that they're nowhere close to as good as these tree-ripened beauties. During the week, there's also some barbecue smoking up on the Pavilion behind Ham's Farm Store, which sells homemade jams and other jarred goodies. This is the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination for true foodies.
First Monday Trade Days Open-air flea markets aren't everyone's idea of a good time, but those who enjoy antiquing, shopping, and people-watching can have a good time at First Monday Trade Days in Canton. You'll have to haul your RV or get a room at the luxurious Best Western or Days Inn, but you'll want to save all your cash for shopping anyway. First Monday Trade Days is one of the few places in this country where you can buy a live chicken, some antique farm equipment, and a new blinged-out handbag in the same place, so it's obviously worth seeing if only for the spectacle. Among the rows and rows of assorted junk, you'll almost certainly find a few (or five) things that you can't live without. Before you leave, swing through Dairy Palace for a perfectly-cooked greasy burger and milkshakes made with Blue Bell Ice Cream.