Dallas, TX and its sister city, Fort Worth about 30 minutes away, create the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area which includes many great attractions for a family road trip. These include several historical attractions as well as some great museums and restaurants. If your visit is graced with the beautiful weather that is common here, then a trip to The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a great choice. This facility was ranked by MSN as “one of the most beautiful gardens in the world” and it is broken up into several amazing garden sections.
There is a children's garden where children can explore and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Other great gardens include the stunning Crape Myrtle Allee, The Martha Brooks Camellia Garden, The Rose Garden, Margaret Elizabeth Jonsson Color Garden, and others. There is also an educational pavilion and a food pavilion that serves fresh sustainable foods in a beautiful garden setting.
Moving from plants to animals, The Dallas World Aquarium is an amazing place. This facility is more than just an aquarium and is set up like a hike through the jungle. You walk down a narrow path through the exhibits, starting up high in the rain forest canopy. As you walk, you slowly descend to the forest floor and then to the underwater exhibits. In addition to fish, you'll see birds, snakes, amphibians, alligators and many other interesting critters. It is a top-rate facility and a great stop for the family.
For history buffs, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Fort Worth Stockyards are must-sees. The former details the life, legacy, and assassination of President John F. Kennedy from the site where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots. It's an outstanding museum that allows visitor groups in at 30-minute intervals. If you plan to visit, buy your tickets in advance online. If you don't, you may wait in line for a long time or not get in at all.
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a national historic landmark located just north of Fort Worth. Most of the buildings here have been converted to shops, bars, and restaurants but the area retains its period feel. There are cowboys roaming the area in authentic garb and they do a cattle drive down the main street twice a day. It makes for a great day out with the family.
The trip to Springfield, MO can be done along several routes. The most interesting route is not the shortest route, which is often the case. Take I-35E out of Dallas to I-35 north to Oklahoma City. North of Oklahoma City you'll take I-44 east. This will take you through Tulsa and on to Springfield, MO.
While you are at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, you may as well hop over to a weird audio attraction. Located northwest of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a seemingly benign brick walkway area with a round concrete center. This is the Center of the Universe. If you stand at the center and make a noise, it will be echoed back to you many times louder. Anyone standing outside the circle will hear anything from nothing to a severe distortion of the sounds you make.
This odd acoustic phenomenon has been studied extensively with no concrete explanation as to why it occurs. Regardless of the reason, it makes for an interesting stop while you are in town.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a museum established to honor the jazz, blues, and gospel musicians of Oklahoma. The roots of cultural diversity in Oklahoma run deep as the state was settled by a wide variety of settlers. Jazz music rose from that cultural diversity and some of the nation's top Jazz artists cut their teeth in the clubs of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Muskogee. The museum has many exhibits and artifacts covering the history of these musical genera in Oklahoma. There is also a live performance stage that hosts performances by future, current and past stars of jazz, blues and gospel music.
For an overnight stay, try the Warrior RV Park on the city's southwest side. It has paved roads and concrete pads. Located just 11 miles from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, it is conveniently located for a visit to the hall of fame as well as the rest of downtown Tulsa.
Oklahoma City played a major role in the early cattle industry. It was central to two major cattle drive routes, one from the ranches in Texas to the south and the other from Kansas and Nebraska. This convergence of cattle traffic through the area made Oklahoma City a hotbed for cowboy activity. The National Cowboy and Western Museum pays homage to this history.
The museum collects and displays historical art and artifacts focused on western US culture. They have exhibits displaying the works of renowned western artists like Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Other exhibits include the American Rodeo Gallery, Art of the American West, The American Cowboy Gallery, The Museum of the Frontier West, and The Western Performers Gallery, and much more. This museum is a great visit to experience western US history.
Bricktown is a chic entertainment district that was built out of a series of brick warehouses along the Bricktown Canal in downtown Oklahoma City. Throughout this area, you will find boutique shopping, restaurants, bars, and live entertainment. There is a water taxi service that provides transport and dinner cruises through the district on the adjacent canal. Each boat is piloted by an ambassador that narrates the trip with interesting historical facts about the area. Brickopolis is a family-friendly entertainment center with mini-golf, laser tag, video games, and several restaurants.
Roadrunner RV Park is a good place to stay near town. This is a very clean, well-managed park with concrete roads and RV pads. It's located just off of I-35 on the way into town and just over four miles (less than 10 minutes) from Bricktown.
Springfield is the third largest city in Missouri which is located in the southwestern section of the state. Like many of the other cities in the region, Springfield had a rich cultural history and many great attractions for visitors.
For starters, Springfield is known as the birthplace of Route 66. The route originally opened in 1929, running from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. It was a primary route used by people migrating from east to west during the dust bowl of the 1930s. Today, much of the road has been replaced by interstates, but where sections of the road still exist its history is still celebrated. That's the case in Springfield where they hold the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival annually in mid-August along the downtown sections of Route 66 as well as in the nearby Park Central Square.
Another cool place (literally) to visit in Springfield is the Fantastic Caverns. These caverns have a very interesting history. Originally discovered by a farmer in 1862, the caves were kept secret to prevent confederate saltpeter harvesting. It was then explored and mapped by a group of local women who inscribed their names on the rocks inside. During prohibition, it housed speakeasies and in the 50's it was converted to a concert hall. Today, they operate tours using Jeep drawn trolleys which allow you to experience the beauty and rich history of the site without having to do a lot of hiking.
For a natural attraction try the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium. This is a museum set up to honor the conservation of natural habitats around the world. The sprawling complex includes recreations of habitats from the Himalayas to the deep oceans. It is set up so you can walk a 1.5-mile trail through the many exhibits in the building. Those exhibits include both preserved and live animal displays. It is also home to the National Archery and National Bass Fishing Halls of Fame.
Cooks RV Motorpark is located on the north side of town off of I-44. It provides excellent amenities and a quiet place to stay which is conveniently located just 6 miles from downtown Springfield.