While a trip to Dallas alone offers plenty of options for entertainment, dining and shopping, taking a short drive offers you a whole new world of possibilities. Note that public transportation is available to some, but not all, of these cities, but the simplest way to travel is to drive or pay for a ride.
Here's a sampling of spots you might consider for a delightful day trip.
Arlington is huge for sports. We'd suggest starting with the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium, which offers fascinating tours and holds a world-class art collection. The Texas Rangers' ballpark, Globe Life Park in Arlington, is within hiking distance of AT&T Stadium and offers guided tours for visitors who want to see the team's dugout, the press box and batting cages (subject to availability).
If you find amusement parks amusing, stick around and visit Six Flags Over Texas thrill rides and shows or Hurricane Harbor for speedy slides and splash spots for tots. Looking for something more unique? Try the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame.
Hit the square; it's a great starting point for those who want to get familiar with Little D. Standouts include the wealth of used books at Recycled Books, old-fashioned ice cream shop Beth Marie's, handmade local goods at the DIME (Denton Independent Maker Exchange) Store and old-timey shop Atomic Candy. The Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum features American Indian pottery, weaponry and early American artifacts.
This energetic city also boasts a thriving music scene, in part because of the talents coming out of the University of North Texas, which has one of the best music programs in the country (music.unt.edu). You'll find dozens of music venues both on- and off-campus.
The Cultural District is home to an amazing collection of museums, including the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Sundance Square's beloved Bass Performance Hall (basshall.com) is a great spot for music, theater, comedy and more.
Other fun: Watch the water cascade at the gorgeous Philip Johnson-designed Fort Worth Water Gardens, check out the Fort Worth Zoo and take in the beauty of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. In the historic Stockyards, don't miss the cattle drive. Finish your day with a country-music concert at Billy Bob's Texas.
Frisco is sporty. A notable, new addition is The Star in Frisco, the Dallas Cowboys' new world headquarters (dallascowboys.com/thestar), where you can take a tour. Other venues include Toyota Stadium, where soccer team FC Dallas plays; Dr Pepper Arena, the home of the NBA D-League's Texas Legends and the home practice facility for the NHL's Dallas Stars; and the sweetly old-fashioned Dr Pepper Ballpark, where you can root for the Frisco RoughRiders double-A baseball team.
If you're looking for a fab photo op, check out the bronze cattle drive at 3155 Parkway Drive; it's the longest continuous-themed bronze sculpture collection in the U.S. and depicts cowboy life along the Shawnee Trail. The Texas Sculpture Garden at Hall Office Park is the largest private collection of Texas sculptures on free public display.
Tucked between Dallas and Arlington, Grand Prairie has become a huge entertainment center, with the Lone Star Park thoroughbred horse-racing track; the 6,350-seat Verizon Theatre performance hall; and other venues. The kids (and, let's admit it, adults too) will get a kick out of Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Louis Tussaud's Palace of Wax.
If you're in the mood for weekend vintage and thrift shopping, explore Traders Village. The giant flea market draws more than 3.5 million visitors annually to its 161-acre site. Great Eastern-style shopping, food and services can be had at Asia Times Square and Hong Kong Market Place.
Don't miss the boutiques, dining spots and wine tasting rooms in this charming downtown area. Grapevine pays homage to its transportation heritage with the ultrafun Grapevine Vintage Railroad, which makes nostalgic trips with vintage locomotives. Or, consider taking the kids to Legoland Discovery Center or Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium; both are at Grapevine Mills mall.
Visit the interactive Interurban Railway Museum to learn about the history of the Texas Electric Railway and get the scoop on how Plano mistakenly received its name. Here's a fun one: You can also test your hand at milking cows at Heritage Farmstead Museum.
You shouldn't leave Plano without at least one shopping spree. As home to more than 70 shopping centers, including Legacy West, The Shops at Legacy and The Shops at Willow Bend, it's a great place to treat yourself.
CORRECTION, 10:45 a.m., Sept. 6, 2017: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified a photo of the Kimbell Art Museum as the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.