Day Trips from Dallas - Wright Amendment edition
March 21, 2013 2:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for personal recommendations or books/websites that suggest activities for day trips in the cities to which one can fly from Dallas Love Field, taking the Wright Amendment into account. (Basically, there is a limited list of cities where one can fly non-stop from Dallas Love Field Airport). City details inside.

I've recently started working at a job where I can fly for free and I have every other Friday off. I'd like to take advantage of this, and one of the ways I thought of keeping it cheap is by taking day trips - no hotel charges, preferably public transportation (but rental car would be ok if needed), a short flight out in the morning and then come back on the late flight the same day. I might have a friend travel with me, but I will most likely travel alone.

Someone recently told me that St. Louis is a good city for this - she said there is a train from the airport which takes you right to the area with museums, which is right near the Arch. That got me thinking about the other cities that are easy for me to get to, so I thought I would ask the Hive:

Given the following list of cities, what do you recommend to do/see/eat which are easy to get to/from the airport? Especially if there are a few things in the same area that I could do in a single day.

In TX: Amarillo, Lubbock, El Paso, Midland/Odessa, Austin, Houston (Hobby), San Antonio (I live in Dallas).

Outside TX: Wichita, Kansas City, St Loius, Branson, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Omaha, Birmingham, New Orleans, Little Rock.

Assume I know about the most famous thing in each city: The French Quarter, the Alamo, Bricktown, etc, but I don't know if there is an easy way to get there from the airport. Assume I can google for each city, so I'm looking more for personal experience or website recommendations. Assume there is an early flight in and a late flight out; I'll take care of the actual flight schedules. I'm just looking for itineraries.

Things I like: museums, unique natural features/landscapes/parks, interesting architecture, famous sites from TV/movies/history, mild outdoor activities: say an hour walk/hike, a mild bike ride, a Segway tour, but nothing extreme. I also like weird stuff, like the biggest ball of string or a collection of gems from various parts of the world. I like the things that you can see/do in that city that you can't see/do anyplace else (or not very many places).

Food I like: burgers, barbecue, sandwiches, home cooking, Italian, Mexican, Chinese (the Americanized style), casual.
Food I don't like: hot peppers, seafood, Indian, Asian that feels too far out of my comfort zone, really formal/expensive restaurants.

I'll have other times where I want to go for a whole weekend or longer, and other times when I'm willing to take 2 flights or wait for the Wright Amendment to expire; Right now, I'm just asking about day trips I can get to on one flight.

posted by CathyG to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
New Orleans: Public transportation to and from the airport does exist, but it involves changing busses between Orleans and Jefferson Parish which can lead to long waits. Also the service stops short of downtown in the late afternoons, which would strand you and require a third public transport leg on the Canal Street streetcar to get you out to the pick up spot. It's not UNdoable, but I'd take a cab, especially for such a short stay. The RTA's page on getting to the airport is here.

As far as renting a car at the airport, you'd likely pay the same as cab far between the rental rate and parking in the Quarter, unless you get a good deal. Cab fare is flat rate $33 each way to the airport. And if I was coming for a day, I would most likely just stay in the Quarter for all that time. There are plenty of museums, interesting architecture, movie sites, and restaurants that fit your requirements to fill a day. If you did rent a car, you could more easily do City Park and the art museum, or Audubon Park and the Riverbend/Carrollton neighborhoods, or Magazine Street. You can do all of that on public transportation as well, but I think it would be a lot to come from the airport AND do sightseeing in one day using only public transport. I say all this as someone who lives here without a car and relies for public transport for the majority of my travel.
posted by CheeseLouise at 2:34 PM on March 21, 2013

Austin has tons of walk/bike opportunities, a Segway tour if you are really into that, the state capitol, the LBJ library (which was actually very neat, I just went,) the Cathedral of Junk, all sorts of stuff.

But I will note that it is probably just about as fast to drive straight down from Dallas as to fly, given the rigmarole around airports. It's 3ish hours border to border, so consider that when you're thinking about parking + security + flight + time to get a rental car.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:51 PM on March 21, 2013

Albuquerque rates at least three trips:

1) From the airport, take the #50 bus (the only one there) to downtown. Transfer to the #766 Rapid Ride Red Line westbound, and get off at Old Town. Walk around the plaza, and check out all the tourist stuff. Go to the Albuquerque Museum and/or New Mexico Museum of Natural History. Have lunch at the Slate Cafe at the museum, or Little Anita's, or Seasons.
2)The next time you come, take the 50 bus downtown and walk over to the Rail Runner station. Take the train to Santa Fe. The possibilities there are many, but the train ride itself is worth the trip.
3) Take the 50 bus again, transfer to the westbound 766 again, and get off at the Bio Park stop (the next one after Old Town). Take a walk along the Bosque bike trail. Take the bus back downtown and have lunch at Thai Orchid or Gold St. Caffe or P'tit Louis.
posted by gteffertz at 5:14 PM on March 21, 2013

You can get from the airport into central San Antonio by bus. The trip planner has you make two transfers to get to the Alamo, but it looks like you should skip the last one. The, uh, way the Alamo is presented is probably more interesting than the Alamo itself. It's light on actual history and heavy on romanticisation in a way that was just totally baffling to me. And there's a Ripley's Believe It or Not down the street, which I was not expecting. San Antonio would like the River Walk to be a tourist attraction and it is, but not one worth going out of your way to see.

There's a transportation museum out by the airport, but it might actually be really hard to get to from the airport (you'd have to walk round the perimeter fence or something--I remember a lot of driving round the edge of the airport).

I sort of gratuitously plug El Milagrito in all San Antonio-related posts. However, unless something's changed, there's nothing very interesting in that neighbourhood. It is walkable from downtown, but only if you like walking.
posted by hoyland at 7:45 PM on March 21, 2013

Thanks, guys. I'll add these to my planning book, and start taking some trips!
posted by CathyG at 2:50 PM on March 22, 2013

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