Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Sticking around for summer? 11 great places to visit in or near DFW
Road trip, anyone?
Are you ready for the weekend? Whether you want to take a break from thinking about school and explore with a friend or take some time to recharge your batteries by yourself, there are tons of things to do within driving distance from SMU that you might never have thought about.
In and around Dallas there are many different types of attractions that would be perfect for a day in the sun. Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor are about 30 minutes away and are great for big groups of friends.
Nikki Chapman, a junior at SMU who spent last summer in Dallas said, “Six Flags is always super fun and only a short drive away. My advice, though, is to bring an even number of people in your group.” This is important because most rides have passengers sit two to a row. The only downfall for Six Flags is that it is a little pricey, but if you buy tickets online they are a little cheaper.
Just across the street is Hurricane Harbor, the water park Six Flags owns. With 25 different water slides of varying “thrill rating,” there is something for everyone. It is the perfect way to cool down once Dallas summer heat starts to kick in. If you get a group of 15 or more, tickets are only about $22.
Another attraction Dallas has to offer is the Dallas World Aquarium. Located near American Airlines Center, it is much more than just an aquarium. The front path is surrounded by exotic birds, and after passing through the entrance, you are in an open area where monkeys, birds, and other animals roam free. It has most small animals a normal zoo would have, plus a huge variety of fish. There is a tunnel visitors can walk through and be surrounded by different types of sharks. SMU junior Samantha Deutchman went to the Dallas World Aquarium earlier this year.
“There were a ton of renovations happening when I was there so I’m sure it is going to look really cool this summer,” she said.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Dallas is a fun way to get out of the heat and into the air conditioning. There are tons of exhibits that will take you back to your childhood when going on a field trip was the most exciting thing that could happen. There is also a cutting edge theater that has “one of the most sophisticated digital projection and sound systems available today,” according to the museum website. Ticket prices are $20 to get into the exhibits and the theater.
There are many other things to do in Dallas, like visit the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Museum of Art, or the Dallas Zoo. Each is about 20 minutes away from campus, and the DART has its own Zoo Station that will take you directly to the entrance without having deal with parking.
Outside of Dallas
How about a road trip? Austin is only about a three and a half hour drive away, and there are endless things to do there. The music scene is unlike anywhere else in the country, and the art festivals are something to experience. On top of everything it has to offer, Austin has some of the best food in Texas, and there are tons of quirky little restaurants to check out while you’re there.
Right outside Austin is the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve. This place is a swimming hole that is surrounded by walls of limestone, so it has the feeling of being underground. There is a waterfall the spills over the side to create a beautiful place to cool off while experiencing nature like you’ve never seen it before.
Jess Johnson, a senior at SMU, has been to Hamilton Pool and warns, “Sometimes there is a line you have to wait in because there is a limit to how many people are allowed in the pool at one time.” While there is no entrance fee, there is a $10 parking charge, cash or check only.
About four hours southeast of Dallas is Wimberley Blue Hole Regional Park. Within the park there is a swimming area called Blue Hole that is almost hidden from the rest of the park like a small oasis. There are also hiking and biking trails winding all around the park as well as a campsite for people wanting to spend a weekend there.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is about four hours southwest of Dallas and offers an amazing trip to the outdoors. Less crowded and left in its natural state, Enchanted Rock has many things to offer. Hiking, technical rock climbing, backpacking, bird watching, and stargazing are among the many things to do. There is also a campsite so visitors can spend the weekend enjoying nature. But because the park is a Natural Area, all of the park resources are protected by law, so bring your own firewood. One of the main attractions is hiking the summit trail to the top of the 425-foot pink granite batholith. There is a small $7 fee for visitors and a $17 fee to use the campsites.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is six and a half hours northwest of Dallas. It is has breathtaking scenery and has been called the Grand Canyon of Texas. There are endless activities including horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and scenic drives. There are also a couple different campsites around the park, some with running water and electricity and some without. There is $5 visitor fee and camping costs $12 in the primitive areas and $24 in the areas with electricity and water. Palo Duro Canyon, although far, is a place everyone who lives in Texas should visit.
So if you are staying in Dallas for an internship or work or school, there are tons of different ways to get out of the house and explore the world around you.
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