It may surprise you to know that there are great beaches in Texas. And many of them are located within driving distance of Houston, the Lone Star State’s biggest city. Some, like Sylvan Beach, make great day trip destinations, when you just need a break from the Texas heat. Others, like Port Aransas, are super Texas road trip destinations with plenty of beach house rentals for extended stays. Here are the best beaches near Houston to find one that’s right for your next family vacation.
201 Seawall Blvd
Galveston, TX 77550
Just an hour’s drive from Houston, Stewart Beach has been named one of the 10 Best Texas Beaches for Families. It is also one of Galveston’s premier family beach parks.
Stewart Beach offers a number of amenities and events that make for a day of family fun. There are frequent events such as sports competitions, beach yoga and drive-in movies. My 8-year-old son loves the fact that there are lessons where he can learn to build the perfect sandcastle. Stewart Beach is also home to the annual Galveston Family Beach Challenge!
If you don’t want to lug your own beach chairs or umbrellas, they are available to rent at the park. There is also a pavilion, concessions, restrooms and showers as well as trained lifeguards on duty. However, if you want to sit back and relax with a cold adult beverage in hand, Stewart Beach is not for you because alcohol is not permitted.
When not splashing around at the beach, younger kids in the family can play at the children’s playground. Meanwhile, older kids and adults can get competitive on one of the beach volleyball courts.
1304 Monument Drive
Surfside Beach, TX 77541
Located in Brazoria County, Surfside Beach is situated on Follet’s Island by the Gulf of Mexico. It is just an hour outside of Houston and one of the busiest beaches in the Brazosport area. It is also a popular beach among families in Dallas, a 4.5-hour drive away.
Locally known as Surfside, this beach has miles of seashell-covered sand and marine life. Families can spend the day fishing, boating, birdwatching, or collecting seashells. In addition to its miles of pristine beaches and popular Surfside Jetty County Park, there are also boat ramps, a bike trail and offshore fishing charters.
Surfside also has plenty of options for local restaurants with fresh seafood and delicious burgers. When you’re done refueling, spend some time shopping at one of the souvenir shops. And when it’s time to call it a day, there are plenty of lodging options such as beach house rentals, hotels and RV parks.
With something to suit everyone’s interests, Surfside Beach is an excellent way to spend the weekend getting your feet wet with the family.
R.A. Apffel Park
1923 Boddeker Drive
Galveston, TX 77550
East Beach is a beautiful, large and scenic beach located at the far eastern tip of Galveston Island, just an hour away from the city. It is the state’s largest and liveliest beach, earning its place as one of the best beaches near Houston.
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There are all kinds of outdoor activities for the entire family to partake in including beach-combing, beach volleyball, horseback riding, playing at the playground or simply strolling the boardwalk. There’s also an entertainment stage and outdoor pavilion where special events and concerts are available throughout the summer, and where you can host your own private beach party. Additionally, there are also concessions and other amenities such as restrooms, showers, and chair and umbrella rentals available.
Unlike many of the beaches on Galveston Island, alcohol is permitted as well as available for purchase at East Beach. It is also very popular among young party-goers, so families looking for a more low-key and peaceful environment may want to consider other beaches in the area.
636 N. Bayshore Drive
La Porte, TX 77571
If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city, Sylvan Beach Park is a short drive away. With no seaweed and beautiful fine, white sand beaches, it’s a great way to pass the day and soak up refreshing ocean breezes with the family.
This 32-acre beach park is excellent for families with younger children because of its smaller, swimmable waves. As a mom, I feel comfortable knowing that my son can safely play on his own in the water. There are also plenty of other activities for the family to enjoy including a playground, skate park, fishing pier and boat ramps.
With complimentary parking, clean benches and picnic tables as well as an air-conditioned pavilion, Sylvan Beach Park is ideal for private parties and gatherings. When it’s time to freshen up, there are restrooms and showers on site.
Bolivar Peninsula Texas
2275 Hwy 87, Suite 10
Crystal Beach, TX 77650
Located two hours outside of Houston, Crystal Beach is a seven-mile stretch of beach located on the 27-mile Bolivar Peninsula. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind beach in that you can actually drive on and park on the beach.
Popular for birding and birdwatching, Crystal Beach is a relaxing getaway for families who love nature and wildlife. There is plenty to do including swimming, fishing, boogie boarding or sunbathing. I know my son will happily pass the day collecting seashells and searching for shark teeth or building multiple sandcastles. Crystal Beach is also a great place to set up the BBQ grill!
At the south end of the peninsula is the Point Bolivar Lighthouse, an excellent backdrop for a family photo.
Matagorda, TX 77457
For the bird-lovers in the family, the Matagorda Bay Nature Park is a beautiful place to birdwatch as well as enjoy the flawless, pristine beachfront.
With two miles of beachfront and 1,600 acres of coastal marshes and dunes, Matagorda Bay Nature Park sits near the mouth of the Colorado River. It is a great Houston area beach for glamping, camping and RVing. There are also plenty of other family-friendly activities for all ages including swimming, mini-golf, beach-combing, kayaking, river rafting and picnicking. If you don’t want to lug along all of your beach equipment, the park service offers beach wagons, chairs and paddle boards to rent.
For private parties and events, there’s an indoor oceanfront rental space with A/C, heat and a kitchen. Soon, the park will also offer 10 beach bungalows to sit back and relax with family or friends. Additionally, there’s also a gift shop available to buy snacks when you get hungry and souvenirs to buy to remember your trip.
500 El Jardin Drive
Seabrook, TX 77586
If you want a peaceful and serene beach trip with your family, El Jardin Beach is the place to be. Located 40 minutes away in Seabrook, this small, scenic beach is just four and a half acres in size. However, it doesn’t feel overly crowded or overwhelming like some of the other Houston beaches.
El Jardin Beach is great for smaller families with younger kids who want a relaxing beach day. The beach faces the bay versus the Gulf of Mexico, so its waters are shallow and swimmable. Its proximity to the Houston port provides a nice view of the boats and barges that go by. There is also plenty of space to set up beach chairs or a small play area with toys for the kids.
If you plan on driving to this beach, make sure to arrive early. There are a very limited number of parking spots. Also, pack a cooler with food and drinks, because there are no concession stands at the beach. However, there is a green area with picnic tables nearby for a family picnic.
330 5th Street
Quintana, TX 77541
Just a little over an hour outside of Houston, Quintana Beach County Park is a great way to spend a family vacation in Texas. This 52-acre beachfront park is located on the upper Texas Gulf Coast and has six miles of coastline.
Quintana Beach offers day-use amenities, overnight facilities, free vehicle access and paved parking. Children and adults can easily pass the day enjoying the numerous natural attractions such as bird watching, fishing, swimming, surfing, beachcombing and searching for seashells. History lovers will be interested to know that Quintana Beach also is the old site of Fort Bates (1862) as well as the remains of the WWII Freeport Harbor Defense (1942).
Families who choose to stay overnight can easily do so with access to a full-service RV campsite, self-contained cabins, tent cabins, restrooms and showers. There is access to a community center with a kitchen, event center, covered pavilions, picnic tables and grills. Additionally, there’s a playground, volleyball court, hiking trails, a lighted fishing pier and an elevated boardwalk that leads right to the beach.
Galveston, TX 77554
Although there are a number of activities to enjoy at the Galveston Island State Park, going to the beach is by far one of the most popular things to do. To gain access to the park, there is a $5 entry free for anyone older than the age of 12. It tends to get pretty busy in the summer months so if you want a quieter experience, you may want to visit early.
Families can spend the day splashing and swimming in Galveston bay, fishing, kayaking, jet-skiing, birdwatching or simply soaking up the sun and sand. There are also a number of hiking trails to explore. For added adventure, there are airboat rides and tours available such as a thrilling jet boat tour and a historic paddle boat tour.
There aren’t an expansive number of facilities at the beach, but there are restrooms and a shower to rinse off the sand. Families who choose to camp out for the night have easy access to the beach from the camping sites. It is important to note that there are no lifeguards on duty at this beach.
19335 State Hwy 8
Sabine Pass, TX 77655
Less than two hours outside of Houston in the far southeast corner of Texas is Sea Rim State Park. Its 5.2 miles of Gulf shoreline and 4,000 acres of wetlands make it one of the best beaches in Houston for beach and nature lovers.
This unique park provides plenty of outdoor activities for the family including camping, birdwatching, beachcombing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. If you don’t have your own kayak or canoe, there are some available to rent at the park. Families can also pass the day fishing, hunting or taking a stroll through the marsh on the Gambusia Nature Trail Boardwalk. If you don’t want to explore the 10 miles of marsh on foot, you can take a horseback ride instead.
For families who want to stay overnight, camping is permitted. There are 15 campsites with utilities as well as a cabin. For families who want to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the water, primitive camping is available on the beach.
210 Seabreeze Drive
Rockport, TX 78382
Designated as Texas’ only certified Blue Wave Beach, Rockport Beach is definitely among the best beaches near Houston. If you’re looking for a clean, quiet beach to visit with the family or even as a couple, this is the place to be.
Located just under three hours from Houston, Rockport Beach is good for a weekend getaway. Because of its designation, there are several rules and restrictions that may make or break your beach experience. For example, no animals, beach driving, fireworks or open flames are permitted. So if you were hoping to spark up a bonfire to roast some s’mores, this beach isn’t for you!
However, there are plenty of picnic areas, a playground and a 800-foot fishing pier. The bird lovers in the family will be happy to hear that Rockport Beach is also a popular bird sanctuary.
403 W. Cotter Ave
Port Aransas, Texas 78373
Located 200 miles outside of the city, Port Aransas is one of the best beaches for families who want a relaxing weekend. Although located further than many of the other beaches (just over a 3.5-hour drive), the number of condos and resorts at various price points make it well worth a weekend getaway.
Port Aransas is a beach town that is ideal for families who want to enjoy a relaxing, no-frills getaway. There typically isn’t much to do at the beach, but that’s what draws families there. For my son and I, being able to relax and “do nothing” sometimes is exactly what we need. This beach fits the bill!
When you want more excitement, head to town for some shopping and exploring one of the many delicious restaurants.
Once a year in April, Port Aransas becomes home to the annual Texas Sandfest, the largest native sand structure and sandcastle competition in the USA. This event features live music, local vendors, arts and crafts, and educational activities for the kids. There’s even a beer garden for the adults.
20301 Park Rd 22
Corpus Christi, TX 78418
An island with the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier in the world, Padre Island National Seashore is one of the best beaches near Houston.
Just under four hours from Houston, Padre Island National Seashore is another excellent choice for a weekend getaway. And the park isn’t just home to 66 miles of natural coastline, dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats. It is also home to more than 380 bird species and a nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. It is also the site of the Spanish shipwrecks of 1554.
One of the most popular activities among families is to watch baby sea turtles hatch and get released into the Gulf of Mexico. This is by far one of my son’s favorite activities. Other activities include fishing, birdwatching, water sports, camping, off-roading and exploring the Grasslands Nature Trail. Showers and restrooms are available at the park for your comfort.
To enter the park costs $10 per day, per vehicle. The good thing is that the permit is valid for up to seven days. You will need an additional permit if you plan to park on the beach.
Have you visited any of the above beaches near Houston? If so, which was your favorite? Share with us in the comments!