Tired of walking in circles around your own neighborhood? Try making a circle all the way around Dallas County. Before LBJ/635 and even Loop 12, there was Belt Line Road. Driving all the way around Belt Line is a bona fide road trip: 92 miles, 15 cities, and parts of DFW you’ve probably never seen before.
Here’s a preview of what to expect and where to go if you drive Belt Line with the kids.
To make it easy for you and your family to follow Belt Line (or Beltline, or Broadway, or FM 1382—it has many names), we’ve made a map of the route with our recommended stops.
Pro Tip: Some of our favorite en-route restaurants are closed on Sunday, so you may want to scout out where you want to go before picking your travel day.
Fresh Air & Fresh Views
You’ll drive through just about every kind of environment in the county: urban and rural, over the Trinity River and by flat farmlands. In Cedar Hill close to Joe Pool Lake, you’ll feel like you’ve road-tripped to the Hill Country instead of southwest Dallas County.
While Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, you can hike the forested hills of Cedar Mountain Nature Preserve on an unpaved and (brand-new) paved trail. Park at Dogwood Canyon.
On the other side of town in Mesquite is the sprawling Samuell Farm, a park perfect for socially distant outdoor play, with fishing ponds, walking trails and open fields.
Historic Homes & Downtowns
Belt Line passes close to the historical heart of Garland, Carrollton and Grand Prairie (check online to for the opening date of the Grand Prairie farmers’ market). In Garland you can see an old Pullman rail car and take a self-guided walking tour—there’s even a hedgehog-led guidebook for kids.
Historic Downtown Carrollton has several popular restaurants, a funky candy shop and a bright pink house-turned boutique to peruse. Not far from downtown, tucked away behind an equipment supplier, is Carrollton Community Cemetery (known by most people as Carrollton Black Cemetery), where some of the city’s earliest black residents—many former slaves—are buried.
Only two of the original grave markers are left, though volunteers have added simple white crosses. Linger in this space to teach your kids about the diverse history of our area.
If you’re interested in historic architecture—or your kids appreciate big houses with cool towers—be sure to roll by two 19th-century farmhouses that are on the National Register of Historic Places:
You can spy the colorful W.A. Strain House from Belt Line in Lancaster as you cruise through green, open country with not an office park in sight. Go north on Lancaster Hutchins Road for a closer view of the turret and the intricate Queen Anne–style woodwork. The farm is still operated by descendants of the original Strain family.
In Mesquite, turn east on Kearney Street to see the Opal Lawrence Historical Park, anchored by a tall white farmhouse with an imposing belvedere. For now, it’s drive-by visits only, but watch for the park to reopen for tours.
Burgers, Shakes & Root Beer
There’s plenty of grub along Belt Line—especially the Addison portion, of course—but we’re partial to a couple of no-frills, old-fashioned burger joints that also serve up cool treats. Sid’s Rainbow Grill in Historic Downton Carrollton is straight out of the soda fountain days, serving up hand-dipped, Blue Bell milkshakes in addition to burgers, etc.
Meanwhile Del’s Charcoal Burgers in Richardson is known for its homemade root beer served in frosted mugs. Both restaurants are open for dine-in or pickup Monday–Saturday (though Sid’s is only open from 11am–2pm).
If you make the trek, tell us what you discover along Belt Line!
Images courtesy of iStock.