From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Situated in the north-eastern part of Texas is Denton, a city with intriguing historical architecture, fun attractions, and a number of stunning natural areas. With over 140,000 people calling the region home, it’s the 24th-most populous city in Texas, yet attracts tourists each year in hoards.
This is because Denton is also known for its active music scene, and is the host of popular events such as the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo, Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, and 35 Denton Music Festival.
So, ready to discover the best of Denton, Texas? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Denton and its surrounding area are home to multiple state parks, helping you to get back to nature and leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city – even if only for a couple of hours. Here are our top picks within the region.
Conveniently, one of the most popular and scenic state parks within the region is just a 20-minute drive from Denton. Ray Roberts Lake State Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and offers fun recreational activities such as camping, hiking, horse riding, backpacking, swimming, paddling, fishing, camping, and nature viewing.
Almost an hour’s drive south of the city is Cedar Hill State Park, which is great for relaxing by the lake, touring an old Texas farm, or exploring the rugged limestone hills and rare prairie pockets. The park sits on the shore of Joe Pool Lake, so you can swim, fish, and boat or paddle. Additional activities include camping, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, and more.
Did you know Lake Murray State Park is Oklahoma's first and largest state park? It consists of 12,500 acres of forested, rolling hills, and is situated around beautiful Lake Murray. It features six campgrounds, an extensive trail system for hikers and mountain bikers, and an 18-hole golf course. Other activities include fishing, boating, picnicking, trail riding, hayrides, swimming, paddle boating, and so much more.
Fancy walking in the footprints of dinosaurs, left long ago? At Dinosaur Valley State Park, you can do just that! Put your feet in actual dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy riverbed where the first sauropod trackways were discovered. While here, you can also camp, picnic, hike, mountain bike, swim, fish and paddle in the river, watch for wildlife, look for a geocache, ride your horse, or visit the interpretive center.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway sits in the heart of cattle country and is under a 1.5-hour drive from Denton. Along with a lake, a rock-climbing area, and miles of trails, you can also make the most of your time here by camping overnight, bicycling, horse riding, geocaching, swimming, fishing, and so much more. It’s a little slice of paradise, while still being within a short drive from the city.
One of the best ways to truly experience Denton is by foot, so luckily, there are plenty of hiking trails in or near the city. These are some of our favorites!
Despite its tendency to have graffiti and litter, the Elm Fork Trail is still the most popular and well-known hike within Denton. It’s a 5.6 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail that’s great for all skill levels and is accessible all-year-round. Along with walking, the trail is also used for running, nature trips, and horse riding. Be warned though: after rainfall, it can become a little muddy or flooded, so it’s best to postpone your trip during or after wet weather.
In the Ray Roberts Lake State Park, you’ll find the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center Loop Trail. It’s a 5.3 moderately trafficked loop that features a lake and is easy enough for all skill levels to complete. Dogs and horses are also allowed to use this trail. You go through muddy marsh, thick forest, and prairie grassland. Be on the lookout for plenty of wildlife too, including frogs, turtles, snakes, birds, deer, and more.
Whether you’re craving comfort food, fast food, or a fine dining experience, this area has it all. Ready to satisfy those post-hike cravings?
What makes LSA Burger Co. the most popular restaurant within the region? According to the establishment themselves, it’s their Lone Star Attitude, not to mention their killer burgers and cold beer, lovingly prepared with the best ingredients and served with Texas hospitality. LSA Burger Co. is the first gourmet burger joint in Texas to honor the state’s musical legends and trailblazers. They state: “While your taste buds take a tongue-twisting tour, let your eyes and ears soak up our state’s eclectic musical culture.”
For a slice of the Old West, come on down to the Oldwest Cafe of Denton. You’ll find delicious breakfast and lunch items such as hash browns, eggs, and bacon, as well as biscuit and sausage gravy, chicken fried steak, omelets, Tex-Mex, flapjack dishes, and so much more. Trust us – you won’t be disappointed!
Known as Denton’s first “gastro-pub”, established in 2015, is the popular Barley & Board. It’s influenced by seasonal and fresh, high-quality ingredients in harmony with handcrafted brews, and is located in a historic building in the heart of Downtown Denton. Enjoy a mouth-watering lunch, dinner, brunch or happy hour, and don’t miss their special musical guests on Thursdays from 4:35 PM-6:35 PM.
Seven Mile Cafe is an innovative breakfast and lunch restaurant focused on providing an energetic atmosphere, engaging service, and top-notch food and coffee! The best part? They specialize in vegan breakfasts, including acai bowls, oatmeal, smoothies, scrambles, and more, meaning a healthy, alternative breakfast is just a short drive, or walk, away.
If you’re after the traditional barbecue and burgers that Texas is known for, look no further than Rooster’s Roadhouse. There are so many tantalizing, tastebud-tingling menu options to choose from, while we hear that their fries are a real winner. Pulled pork nachos, brisket burger, and jelly jar desserts? Count us in!
This craft beer bar and bottle shop has a vibe that’s unique not only to Denton, but to Central Texas. With over 20 taps and around 1000 canned and bottled beers available for purchase, The Bearded Monk is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to pick up a treat to take home – after popping a squat to enjoy a beer onsite.
After feasting and enjoying all that nature has to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Denton’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking for some fun activities to do with children? Look no further! The following attractions are sure to satisfy even the smallest humans for hours on end.
Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch is a 126-acre educational park that’s perfect for a fun day out. Their mission is to provide the North Texas community with the opportunity to experience rare and endangered exotic wildlife in a unique and personal setting. After all, what better way to learn about conservation than by seeing it up close and hands-on?
The Denton Water Works Park is one of the region’s most family-friendly attractions. It’s even more perfect when the sun is out and the weather is hot, as it offers four giant slides, two toddler slides, one giant indoor slide, a lazy river, children's play pool, sand volleyball, cabanas, and more. There’s something for absolutely everyone here!
Whether it’s date-night or you simply find yourself wandering around the city long after the sun has gone down – here are our top activities to enjoy in Denton during the darker hours.
Looking for a spooky night out? The Parker House Haunted Attraction takes place in a house that was once home to a murderous resident, making it the perfectly scary location for such an attraction. Take part in a realistic ‘Haunted Walk Through’ or take an interactive ride around the property in what’s known as ‘Outbreak’. Either way, you’re sure to have a scream of a time!
Is there a greater way to end the night than with a game of competitive ten-pin bowling? The best part is, at Bowlero, they offer great night-time specials, whether it’s a heavily-discounted Tuesday night deal or unlimited bowling for ‘after party Fridays’. Not a keen bowler? You can also try your hand at their fun and nostalgic arcade games!
Want to hit the town without it costing you a small fortune? Denton is full of fun and interesting attractions, including those that cost just a few dollars for you to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy the city “on the cheap”.
The UNT Sky Theater features a different Children's show for kids preschool to 6th grade each month, but don’t worry – adults don’t miss out! They also offer general audience shows, as well as a popular concert series. Shows also include a guided tour of the sky that evening. Admission ranges from just $5 - $16 per person, depending on the event.
Another popular attraction within the area includes the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum. Lectures, exhibits, and community organized events are scheduled throughout the year here, keeping this local gem an active site for experiencing the past. It’s a reminder of Denton County’s history and is a great place to pass the time. It gets better too, as admission is isn’t just cheap, but completely free.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Denton? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in the city that won’t cost you a cent.
It can be described as a quirky collection of old chairs filling a random vacant lot in suburban Texas, but really, The Chairy Orchard is so much more. What began as a random project between two neighbors (aka the “chairy fairies”) in 2013 has now turned into one of Denton’s most famous attractions, with people coming from near and far to donate a chair or enjoy the unique photo opportunity.
Located in the Historical Park, on Mulberry Street just south of Denton’s Historic Square, is the free-to-visit Bayless-Selby House Museum. It’s a Victorian Queen Anne-style house museum built in 1898 onto a farmhouse built in the 1880s. The house is furnished in pre-1908 Denton County décor, while a major collection is The Daugherty Collection of handpainted porcelain. Enjoy a guided tour and learn about the home’s intriguing past.
Live music is a key part of Denton’s identity, and it’s a major function of this craft beer garden/coffee shop as well. In addition to the shows you’ll see, the yard is stocked with everything you might desire for a laidback evening or Sunday Funday, from lawn games to fire pits, and the resident food truck (The Pickled Carrot) offers a variety of tasty eats. This beautiful venue is a guaranteed good time, no matter the occasion or day of the week.
The Denton Independent Maker Exchange is exactly what it sounds like: a haven for local artists to showcase and sell their creations, and the definitive stop for buying authentic, non-touristy goods. Skincare, stationery, local pottery, those cute glasses that are made from recycled Topo Chico bottles – it’s all here.
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Denton has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
It isn’t hard to see why Davanti Salon and Spa is one of the highest-rated spas within Denton. With relaxing and rejuvenating services such as Tulasara Facial Treatments, Dual Exfoliation Peels, and other specialized treatments including Microblading and Dermaplanning, it’s your go-to for all things beauty and wellness.
At King Spa, they strive to provide the best spa experience in a comfortable and welcoming environment. You can enjoy services such as deep tissue, Swedish, hot stone, and foot reflexology massages, as well as a variety of facials, cupping, an infrared sauna, and more. It’s the perfect place to end a long week or weekend!
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Denton is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
When it comes to all things fitness, Summit Climbing, Yoga and Fitness is the place to be. With classes in TRX suspension, climbing, core strength, yoga, and more, they’ve got your health and wellness needs sorted. They also offer youth programs, workshops, and camps, so fitness fanatics of all ages can reap the benefits.
Why do locals recommend Inspire Yoga for all of your yoga needs? It has earned the ‘Best of Denton County Award’ for best yoga instructors, best studios, and best training programs every year since 2011! Enjoy Vinyasa, Slow Flow (both heated and non-heated), Yin, and more. There are multiple classes each day too, so even with a busy schedule you’re sure to find the time for relaxation.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend weeks within Denton without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
In just a 1.5 – 2-hour drive from Denton, you can reach Wichita Falls, which is known as the “Gateway to Texas”. There are plenty of fun things to do in this city, including visiting the scenic Lucy Park, the World’s Littlest Skyscraper, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, Castaway Cove Waterpark, and so much more. It’s also a beautiful region filled with a number of parks and recreational areas, so why not get some fresh air, hit the trails, or cast a line?
For a longer trip out of the city, take a 4.5-hour drive south to San Antonio, a major city within Texas. The San Antonio River Walk is not to be missed, nor are other world-famous attractions such as the Alamo, a legendary fort and history museum, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Sea World, Six Flags Fiesta, Natural Bridge Caverns and so very much more. The only problem? You’ll be so spoiled for choice with attractions to visit, you might want to turn this into a weekend – or week-long – trip.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Denton that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Denton? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.