World-famous Canton makes for a day trip from Dallas to remember, all on one tank of gas. Only about an hour outside of Dallas on I-20 east, this 60-mile journey leads to a four-day shopping marathon, zip-lining thrills, East Texas gators, food fit for royalty, fascinating trinkets and crowds of friendly faces. All this, a 19th century town square and Texas hospitality have made this the place to be when it comes time to road trip.

Getting There
From Dallas, follow I-20 east into scenic Van Zandt County, one of the area’s most enchanting drives. Rolling prairies and open terrain fills the journey between towns with photo opportunities. For a break, stop in Terrell, just east of the Dallas suburb of Mesquite and walk off some energy at the Tanger Outlet mall off of Highway 80.

What To Do

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First Monday Trade Days
800 Flea Market Road
Canton, TX 75103
(903) 567-6556

Price: free

Don’t let the name fool you, First Monday Trade Days are not on Mondays, but allow shoppers from far and wide to cover 28 miles over four days of shopping every month. For a century and a half, First Monday Trade Days has attracted shoppers from all over Texas to peruse furniture, homemade sundries, produce, jewelry and even clothes. For many, First Monday Trade Days is the biggest attraction in Canton for both fun and great finds.

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796 N. Trade Days Blvd.
Canton, Texas 75103
(903) 567-2681

Price: $55

Wired’s zip line course set the bar for zip lining in Texas. With the longest lines and tallest towers, it is a course fit for those who like to push their limits. Certifiably safe, see East Texas foliage and a fantastic thrill on this record-breaking ride, buzzing down 3,500 feet of gorgeous views in the company of other adventurers. A ride on a zip line can be empowering, fear-conquering and breathtaking all at once.

Related: Best Day Trips for Families Around Dallas/Fort Worth 

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East Texas Gators & Wildlife Park
9515 FM 1255
Grand Saline, TX 75140
(903) 962-5630

Price: $6 adults/$5 for children ages 2 to 12

East Texas Gators and Wildlife Park was created for those with an affection and curiosity for animals. The park is home to real live alligators, from the newly hatched to those who measure larger than 13 feet. Habitats are designed with nature in mind for the residents of the park, while the visitors enjoy picnics under pavilions, a concession house, bounce houses and aquariums. Make a connection to East Texas wildlife with a memorable experience for the whole family.

Museum (photo credit: Thinkstock)

Canton Plaza Museum
119 N. Buffalo St.
Canton, TX 75103
(903) 567-1849

Price: free

A multifunctional historical center, the Canton Plaza Museum is located in the Plaza Theater building, dating back to 1946. Several exemplary collections are housed here, including one of the largest bell collections in the country, a First Monday museum, a fire engine from 1938, a menagerie of items from the Civil War, and the Kennedy collection of Native American artifacts and models.

Related: Best Day Trips for Families Around Dallas/Fort Worth

Where to Eat

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Savannah Winery and Bistro
574 E. Dallas Highway 64
Canton, TX 75103
(903) 567-6810

For more than 30 years, Chef Todd Kivett has enticed and satisfied the elegant appetites at Anitole restraunt, Mansion on Turtle Creek and Sky Ranch. He now whips up specials sauces, soups and savory romantic dishes at the Savannah Winery and Bistro. With a new chef special every night, the treats served up at this bistro are renowned for a reason. The delicate wines of Savannah Winery on the menu make for a worthy bonus with any of Kivett’s meals.

(photo credit: Soda Jerk via Facebook)

The Soda Jerk
100 W. Dallas St.
Canton, TX 75103
(903) 567-6800

Nestled in the charming historic square of Canton, The Soda Jerk is the love child of Judith Turner. A 1950’s inspired café, her treats and eats will inspire flashbacks and flashy smiles and provide a filler-upper for the rest of the day. The Soda Jerk lovingly welcomes hungry crowds and chatty visitors for a taste to talk about for the next 50 years.

Related: Holiday Shopping: First Monday Style  

Kena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at