On the Road
Denton parlays its cool college cred into a hip spot north of Dallas
As the home to University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and a segment of the North Central Texas College, Denton is the quintessential eclectic and cool college town.
Naturally, this attracts visitors making the road trip to tour campuses and visit students, but even if you aren't doing the college thing, Denton is a hip and historic place for a weekend getaway — or the perfect pit stop when you’re getting away to someplace else.
When you’re in town, here are just a few of the things you can do.
Listen to the sound of music
Recognized as a Music Friendly Community, Denton boasts many talented local musicians while bringing in touring bands from around the country. On any given night, you can find jazz, country, blues, metal, and rock and roll at any number of restaurants, breweries, and more along with one-of-a-kind venues across town.
Among those venues is a true Texas music icon, Dan’s Silverleaf (formerly Dan’s Bar) which has been serving up live music in one form or another for decades.
Andy’s Bar resides in one of the oldest buildings in the area — 1877! — on the historic downtown square. There, you’ll find three levels of unique experiences including a cocktail lounge, concert venue, and underground bar and kitchen.
Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios is another legendary spot with both outdoor and indoor stages and bars.
And if you happen to be passing through in October, get in on Twilight Tunes, a free outdoor concert series hosted downtown every Thursday night.
Discover only-in-Denton things
Known as one of the most Denton-esque spots, the Chairy Orchard is precisely what it sounds like. Sitting in an empty lot are hundreds of chairs of all shapes, sizes, and types, and it’s all maintained by two neighbors: the Chairy Fairies. It’s a ‘grammable spot that also doubles as a good afternoon picnic locale.
For more quirky fun, you can also go on the hunt for the famous Purple Door. Ask around if you can’t find it, and you’ll be pointed in the right direction.
While you’re searching, keep your eyes open for wall art everywhere. Denton is known for its large (and small!) murals created by a variety of local artists. In the mix are huge American and Texas flags, trippy flowers, fantastical unicorn scenes, musical paintings, and so much more.
If hunting ghosts is more your thing, Old Alton Bridge has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and Buzzfeed Unsolved — you can even sign up for a haunted tour with Becks Ghost Hunters.
Afterward, you’ll be right on time to head to Back Dough, tucked behind Queenie’s Steakhouse. When the neon’s lit around 10 pm on Saturday and Sunday nights, the fresh donuts are flying.
For a cool treat to beat the Texas heat, step back in time at Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, where the waffle cones are freshly made and the ice cream is churned with a machine that dates back to 1927. There’s an endless list of indulgent flavors, including spiked varieties like Jack & Coke, Texas Honey Whiskey, and more.
Frios Gourmet Pops has summer-perfect creamy and fruity popsicles with a walk-up window and drive-thru.
More frozen goodness is found at Gnome Cones in the heart of downtown, serving up all-natural shaved ice for all ages and “Gnaughty Gnomies” for the 21-and-up crowd.
Make it a parks and rec day
With 37 trails, 31 playgrounds, and 41 parks, Denton has your outside time covered. Of course, tee time is included in that, with a number of courses nearby.
Wildhorse Golf Club is open to the public, and the 18-hole championship course is located at the beautiful Robson Ranch.
South Lakes Park is a great destination for some green space and fishing; its pond is stocked with catfish and rainbow trout.
And every Saturday at the Denton County Historical Park, the Denton Community Market ushers in live music, kids’ activities, local farms, local artists, food trucks, food vendors, and more.
Road trip essentials mean coffee, good food, and gas. Check, check, and check on all three. First, you should know Denton is home to a Buc-ee’s, the gas station most famous for its clean restrooms but also for its snacks, shopping, and all the beaver-related merch you could want.
You’re also never far from your caffeine fix in this college town, with nearly 20 places for coffee, tea, and more.
Seven Mile Cafe is good bet for lattes and healthy (and healthy-ish!) breakfast and lunch items. Their scratch-made pancakes basically double as dessert and come in multiple varieties, including birthday cake and cookies and cream.
There’s also a Kava Culture in town — kava is a root from the South Pacific that has an exotic and earthy flavor that’s said to provide a natural sense of calm. This place also brews up an array of elixirs and sparkling botanical teas to boost your mood.
For a literal pit stop, don’t miss Metzler’s for barbecue, all-you-can-eat ribs, and German favorites; it’s a longstanding tradition that’s nestled inside a convenience store. Juicy Pig Barbecue is another solid choice for smoked goodness.
It’s always Taco Tuesday at Killer’s Tacos, which has a cult following for such hot menu takes as Bitchin Barbie, Screamin' Bazinga Zonkers, and Nice Rack of Street Tacos.
Have a beercation
The craft beer movement isn’t lost on Denton. Start with Denton County Brewing Company, an adult playground with signature beers, guest taps, wines, ciders, and sake along with board games, trivia nights, delicious appetizers, and the coolest bar staff in the game.
It’s beer and beyond at Harvest House, Denton’s largest all-in-one concert venue, bar, beer garden, and a juice/coffee shop that serves up cocktails, coffee, kombucha, tea, smoothies, and freshly squeezed juice.
Lounge on the spacious patio with fire pits and be entertained by amazing musical talent. In the back yard and side yard are a variety of games, including pool, corn hole, darts, Jenga, and giant Connect Four. A resident food truck serves up gourmet tacos, burgers, egg rolls, and their famous banh mi sandwiches.
Howling Mutt Brewing Co. is a brewery with bold, big flavors despite its smaller size.
Stay a while
Of course, if your Texas road trip through Denton turns into an overnight stay, there is a variety of hotels and lodging options, such as the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center Hotel.
Another is the supremely charming Brownlow House, a historic 1912 Victorian home that has been renovated into a gorgeous bed and breakfast.
You''ll also find an array of hotels and RV parks and campgrounds.
Discover more ways to maximize a long or short pit stop in Denton here.