Feature image by local photographer Joseph Haubert

Weekend getaways are great, and staycations can be fabulous too. But if your schedule or budget is super tight, a daycation can be all you need to refresh and recharge. Escaping the daily traffic grind is an important element of a great daycation. That’s why we suggest checking out the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Light Rail for a day.

Bonus Fun Stuff: 7 Things That Make Grand Prairie Great: Then and Now.

The DART rail system is 85 miles of light rail running all through DFW; it’s the longest light rail system in America. Park and ride facilities at most stations provide easy access in many Dallas suburbs and a $5 all-day pass won’t break the budget. Visitors coming from Denton or Fort Worth will need a Regional Pass that includes DCTA or TRE to ride into Dallas and back home again. ($10 for a Regional all-day pass, as of this writing.)

Photo by Nic. Hernandez on Flickr

Most of our suggestions are on the Orange and Red Lines. If you live nearer the Green or Blue lines, ride in to a transfer station to get started. The M-Line and D-Link are free, and with the exception of optional hops on to these, you won’t need to transfer to any buses. Routes shown below are walking routes from the DART station to the fun places we’ve suggested.

CityLine/Bush Station for Top Pot Doughnuts

Treat yourself – it’s your daycation! Photo from Top Pot

Park and ride from this beautiful station or make it your first stop of the day. Escape the ordinary for your morning coffee at Top Pot Doughnuts. Unlike traditional donut shops, this one has the feel of a vintage candy counter and gift shop – no fluorescent lights to remind you of a workday ahead.

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This station provides easy access to CityLine in Richardson, a beautiful multi-use area with new restaurants and shops opening all the time. Walk a little further and see all the latest shops and services in this area, including a recently opened Whole Foods Market.​


1251 State Street, Ste 700

Richardson, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Richardson



Enjoy a “hand-forged” doughnut that’s trans-fat free! The coffee selection at Top Pot is also top-notch. DART Routes: Red, Orange 

Categories: Fun Food

Plano Downtown Station for the Interurban Railway Museum​

Photo courtesy Plano Interurban Railway Museum

Make a fun morning stop in downtown Plano to visit the Interurban Railway Museum. Open from 10 to 2 on weekdays and 1 to 5 on Saturdays, this free museum gives visitors a peek into the transportation systems of the early 1900s.

This station is adjacent to the lovely downtown Haggard Park. Stroll around Historic Downtown Plano and enjoy a wide range of fun shops and restaurants.​ [Ed. Note: Nikola Tesla Exhibit opens May 2 and runs through September 2, 2016.)


901 E. 15th Street

Plano, TX  | Route Map

TURF: Downtown Plano



Interactive electrical displays explain how The T.E. Railway worked, and a tour shows you around Car360, a historic mail car from 1911. DART Routes: Red , Orange 

Categories: Fun Stuff

St. Paul Station for the M-Line Trolley

Photo courtesy Bonita de Boer Flickr

Riding one of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) antique trolleys is a fun activity in and of itself. Ride the full route, or get off at any of 38 stops around uptown, downtown or the arts district. You can get on the trolley at any of the M-Line signs around the area.

The St. Paul DART station provides the easiest access to the M-Line Trolley, and it’s just blocks away from the Dallas Arts District and Klyde Warren Park​. (Both the CityPlace/Uptown and Pearl DART stations also offer easy access to the M-Line.)


Bryan St, between St. Paul & Harwood

Dallas, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Downtown Dallas



The trolley ride is free and so is the DMA. Grab lunch from a food truck at nearby Klyde Warren Park, and then go right on back to relaxing. Dart Routes: Orange, Red, Green, Blue

Categories:  Fun Stuff

Akard Station for the Joule Hotel

Photo courtesy Mandi Pimental

Slip into The Joule Hotel on Main Street and sip a cocktail in the Lobby Bar or just have a stare down with The Eye (a modern mixed media sculpture of…yes – an eyeball!) across the street. If you want your beauty outdoors, the cooling water features of Pegasus Plaza are less than a block away.

Akard Station in the heart of downtown is easy walking distance from Elm and Main, two of the downtown area’s main arteries.


1530 Main Street

Dallas, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Downtown Dallas



Public areas of the hotel are decked in modern art. Main St. is exceptionally walkable with places to duck into to beat the heat. DART Routes: Orange, Red, Green, Blue

Categories: Fun Places

Bishop and Davis D-Link Stop for Cretia’s in Bishop Arts

Photo courtesy Cretia’s Bake Shop

If a cookie would make your day better, hop on the free D-Link bus and head over to the Bishop Arts district for a tasty treat. At Cretia’s you can enjoy a HUGE variety of cookies, pie, and other sweets, or even “real” food, if you want lunch or dinner.

You can pick up the bright pink D-Link Bus (free) at Main and Griffin (if you’ve been strolling Main Street) or at five other downtown area stops including the Pearl/Arts District DART station.


228 West Davis Street

Dallas, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Bishop Arts, Oak Cliff



Cake, cookies & pie, OH MY! Roam W. Davis or W. 7th to see more shops, restaurants & art galleries. DART Routes: Orange, Red, Green, Blue

Categories:  Fun Food

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​Ten of Arts Gifts – Downtown Carrollton Station

Photo from Ten of Arts

This crazy-fun gift shop in Historic Downtown Carrollton is the wacky pride and joy of its owners. Wander through this treasure trove of special gifts and fun “treat-yourself” items. You’ll wonder why you didn’t discover it sooner.

The pedestrian bridge across Belt Line takes you from this station right onto the square for fun shopping and dining.


1105 S. Broadway

Carrollton, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Carrollton



Creative, comfortable & cozy, you’ll feel right at home as you browse its every-changing selection of unique items. DART Route: Green

Categories:  Fun Places

Mockingbird Station for The People’s Last Stand

Photo from The People’s Last Stand

If your day away extends into evening, make your way to The People’s Last Stand at Mockingbird Station. Treat yourself to a shared plate that you don’t have to share, or enjoy a flavorful flatbread and a delectable cocktail.

When an entire shopping center shares a name with a DART station, you know you’ve reached a very special destination. More than 30 restaurants and retailers share their wares here, and you can catch a movie at The Angelika too.


5319 E. Mockingbird Lane, Ste 210

Dallas, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Dallas, SMU area



The vibe & the cocktails here are cool, yet casual, with very tasty farm-to-table-inspired noshes. DART Routes: Red, Blue, Orange

Categories:  Fun Food

Park Lane Station for Bowl and Barrel

Photo courtesy Bowl and Barrel

Barrels of beer and boutique bowling might be an odd combination, but they go together perfectly at Bowl and Barrel in the Shops at Park Lane. Roll a strike or just go on strike from work for a day and enjoy a one-of-a-kind place to have some fun.

The Park Lane station has a free shuttle to NorthPark Center Mall or you can explore the many stores and restaurants at the Shops at Park Lane.​


8084 Park Lane, Ste 145

Dallas, TX  | Route Map

TURF:  Dallas, North Park



Eat lunch or dinner with very shareable veggie, cheese or sandwich boards. Plus you can never go wrong with beer. DART Routes: Orange

Categories:  Fun Food

I’ll be the first to admit that riding the DART rail for the first time can be a little intimidating, but I hope this makes it a little easier. And if you’re a DART pro, you can enjoy our little finds or use their Trip Planning Tool to plan your own personalized Daycation.

Have you tried any of these spots, taken a ride on the DART rail, or found some extra fun places along the rail system? 

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