I-35 between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth is a source of dread for many, if not all, Texas motorists and travelers. Between the constant construction and the sheer number of cars on the road, the interstate has become a congested mess. If you’re making the trip north or south we suggest taking an alternate route, so that you can enjoy some new scenery, explore some charming Texas towns, and most importantly avoid the nightmare that is I-35. We’ve mapped out a road trip from Austin to DFW that cuts slightly west, assuring minimal traffic and maximum fun.
Exiting Austin, the TexTraveler should hop on US-183 N and follow it for roughly 69 miles all the way to Lampasas. Once you reach Lampasas, we recommend checking out the recently refurbished Courthouse, as well as the surrounding Downtown Square, both are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Thanks to a local initiative, focused on beautifying the downtown area, travelers can now enjoy at least 8 original murals, located throughout the downtown district. Lampasas is also situated on Hancock Springs, providing a great opportunity to check out some local parks and beat the heat in the famed sulfur springs. Take a walk around the Cooper Springs Nature Trail or mosey around the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden for a truly relaxing afternoon.
From Lampasas take US-281 N for approximately 45 miles until you happen upon the charming little town of Hamilton. Situated in the Pecan Creek Valley, beautiful Victorian style homes line the main street of this charming Texas village. Be sure to check out the native limestone Courthouse, built in 1887 and registered with the National Register of Historic Places. The courthouse also functions as the County Museum. Hamilton is also home to the Red Wing Dove Vineyard and Winery, which churns out award winning red wines and cool whites to wet your whistle in the Texas heat.
Upon exiting Hamilton stay on US-281 N for another 66 miles, until you hit Hico, home of the famous Koffee Kup Family Restaurant and Billy the Kid Museum. Hico takes pride in their small town heritage – the town slogan is “Hico Texas: Where everybody is somebody,” and in this tiny town that statement is probably pretty accurate. Hico’s historic downtown district is full of down-home charm, characteristic of rural Texas. Be sure to grab a plate of chicken fried steak from the Koffe Kup and brush up on your Western lore at the Billy the Kid museum, or even check out the nearby St. Olaf Lutheran Rock Church, originally built in 1897.
Next up on the dusty trail is Glen Rose. From Hico take TX-220 N until you reach US-67 and then wind around until you reach this awesome little city. Located about 15 minutes southwest of Glen Rose, you can find the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center where visitors can view and interact with a truly impressive array of wild animals, from giraffes to jack rabbits and everything in between. Inquisitive visitors can also check out Dinosaur Valley State Park, located on the beautiful Paluxy River. Visitors can hunt for legitimate dinosaur tracks or simply enjoy the great outdoors in this pristine state park. Glen Rose is also home to Big Rocks Park, located just off US-67. Glen Rose has a lot to offer and is great for kids and adults too; we highly recommend you take the time to enjoy all that the city has to offer.
To get to Fort Worth from Glen Rose just stay on US-67 until you hit Chisholm Trail Parkway in Cleburne, and then stay on Chisholm Trail until you make it to the big city of Fort Worth! This “scenic route” could definitely add some time to your trip if you make all the stops, however if you’re in a hurry you could make the trip in around 3.5 hours, which is comparable to the time it takes on I-35 with only minimal traffic. Avoid the stress and gain some new experience by venturing off the beaten path and exploring some lesser-known regions of Texas.
For a map of the route, click here.