Direct flights are a dime a dozen in Houston, but there’s just something about the adventure of the open road (to the tune of a good playlist) and a mid-trip stop at a country store. We’ve put the miles on our car and done our research to find five of the best road trips from Houston. This guide covers everything you need to make a solid road trip itinerary, find the best food, hotel options, festivals, and more. All you have to do is plug in the destination and fill up the gas tank.
From Houston: Approximately 350 miles; roughly a six-hour drive
Highlights: Houstonians already know the drive to New Orleans is one of the best road trip ideas ever (but the drive back can be brutal, so plan ahead!). It’s such a favorite road trip option, you don’t even need a map (just jump on I-10 East and watch your speed). Now is the time to visit, as the city is celebrating its Tricentennial and has received a ton of national recognition in the past six months.
In fact, The New York Times featured New Orleans as the No. 1 destination on its list of 52 Places to Go in 2018. The historic and modern charm of New Orleans is the ultimate setting for a romantic getaway, fun family vacation, or productive but enjoyable business trip. If you’re looking for a fun and fast way to see the city and cover a lot of ground, check out FreeWheelin’ Bike Tours, plus the city is completely flat, which makes for easy riding.
Stay: Loews New Orleans
At Loews New Orleans, you’ll find amenities and services that make you feel like you’ve just checked into an oasis of tranquility in a city that never stops; thankfully, it’s comfortable and convenient for if and when you choose to stop. And thanks to programs like Loews Loves Kids and Loews Loves Pets, everyone in the family is sure to have a great time. Start your trip with a boozy concoction from Bar Peters before stepping outside the hotel doors and into the heart and charm of The Big Easy.
Don’t miss: The Country Club is one of the most enthusiastic and champagne-charged scenes in the city, hidden away in New Orleans’ charming Bywater neighborhood. Go for brunch, cocktails, or get a day pass for the pool and enjoy.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
From Houston: 269 miles; roughly a four-hour drive
Highlights: Influenced by the music and festival culture of New Orleans and the Cajun roots of Lafayette, Baton Rouge is Louisiana’s melting pot, and, thankfully, it’s a quick trip from Houston. The city is home to a unique, dynamic culture full of history, celebration, and amazing food. Experience the city’s immersive music and arts scene, as well as the expanding food scene, complete with Southern staples like Poor Boy Lloyds and modern spots like Venezuelan-Dutch restaurant Cocha and the ever-popular Magpie Café (go for breakfast or infused cocktails). Don’t miss the newly opened White Star Market — Baton Rouge’s first gourmet food hall — featuring everything from wood-fired pizzas to Asian street food.
Stay: Watermark Hotel
What was once the headquarters of the Louisiana Trust & Savings Bank has been transformed into an art deco-inspired luxury boutique hotel. Paying homage to its former life, the interior of the hotel includes many of the original handpainted murals, marble walls, staircases, and old bank vaults of the Gatsby-era building. The hotel also houses elevated Southern restaurant The Gregory, a nod to the muralists behind the restaurant’s walls.
Don’t miss: At Teddy’s Juke Joint on Highway 61 (known as the famed “Blues Highway”), you can experience Baton Rouge’s signature “Swamp Blues,” which heavily influenced bands in the British Invasion. If you have a special place in your heart for music and charm, this is your spot.
From Houston: Approximately 175 miles, roughly a three-hour drive
Highlights: The Live Music Capital of the World has one of the most expansive event calendars in Texas, so there’s never a bad time for a visit. Take a paddleboard for a ride; go for a run in the super-fit city; pose at the photo-ops on nearly every corner; and indulge in some of the finest food at hot spots like Corner downtown (check out their craft tequila scene), Il Brutto for authentic Italian on East Sixth Street, the best food trailers, and more. After dinner, hit up Austin’s buzzing urban backyard party at Upstairs at Caroline and then catch one of the 250-plus music venues throughout the city.
Stay: Hyatt Regency Austin
Located on the shores of downtown Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, the Hyatt Regency Austin boasts an ideal location, with close access to Sixth Street entertainment, the Austin Convention Center, and South Congress Avenue. Don’t miss the Ultimate YETI Experience package, which includes drink vouchers at the neighboring YETI flagship store’s BARRR.
Don’t miss: If you only have time for one food truck visit, don’t miss Gourdoughs Airstream on South First Street, and order Mama’s Cake (yellow cake batter filling with chocolate fudge icing). Afterward, burn some calories walking down the SoCo strip, or go for a dip in Barton Springs.
From Houston: Approximately 251 miles, roughly a four-hour drive
Highlights: Visits to the Dallas Museum of Art, Perot Museum, and Klyde Warren Park are musts, but don't leave without a trip to Reunion Tower, where the rotating dining room offers exceptional views of the city skyline and amazing food. If you have time, Dallas has easy access to multiple surrounding cities that include their own must-visit attractions, such as The Star in Frisco (Dallas Cowboys Headquarters), Epic Waters Waterpark in Grand Prairie (the largest indoor waterpark in the nation), and Legacy Food Hall (Plano's newest foodie hot spot).
Stay: The Joule
The high-end, revitalized 1920s neo-Gothic Joule features one of the best pools in the U.S. — an infinity pool that hangs off the hotel, overlooks the famous Eye sculpture, and provides a great view of the Dallas skyline. Nosh at CBD Provisions, the delicious hotel restaurant, and hit the uber-cool speakeasy, Midnight Rambler. And, of course, you can’t miss the world-class spa that guests (and some celebs) rave about.
Don’t miss: Go where the locals go and visit Deep Ellum, where you'll find eclectic vibes at every stop, including murals, live music, rooftop bars, and one-of-a-kind restaurants.
Driving tip: If you're in the mood to experience some countryside views (and don't mind adding a few miles to your drive), take Highway 290 to Highway 6 and cut over to I-45 via Highway 90. Along this 260-mile, four-hour drive, you'll take the backroads, see cows and small towns, and cut your amount of interstate driving in half (Highway 90 drops you off in Madisonville, about halfway to Dallas).
From Houston: Approximately 215 miles, roughly a three-hour drive
Highlights: Known for the River Walk and the Alamo, San Antonio boasts many other attractions and a vibrant, cutting-edge arts scene. Ready to get spooked? Plan your visit around Texas' largest Day of the Dead festival, October 20 through November 3. This year will be even more special as the city hosts more than 20 official Dia de los Muertos events, part of its larger year-long Tricentennial celebration.
Stay: Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa
Located about 20-minutes from downtown San Antonio, this beautiful resort has everything from a five-acre water park, with a lazy river designed after the Guadalupe River, to 27 holes of championship golf at Hill Country Golf Club and signature treatments at the Windflower spa. With easy access to famous attractions like the River Walk, guests can easily take advantage of everything the city has to offer.
Don’t miss: Road trippers should take some time to explore the great microbreweries in the area, like Ranger Creek Brewing, Freetail Brewing Co., and Alamo Beer Company.