1. Galveston, TX
Galveston Island is located on Texas’s gulf coast about 50 minutes from Houston. Galveston has some of the greatest attractions in Houston area including Moody Gardens, Schliterban Waterpark, Pleasure Pier, offshore fishing, the Strand Historic District, and Texas beaches.
If you love history then you will love Galveston. You can take tours of some of the historical mansions that survived the tragic hurricane of 1900, a massive storm that killed over 6,000 people. Or if you like marine history you can tour the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, a ship that sailed the Gulf of Mexico, located at Texas Seaport Museum on Pier 21.
Whether you are going with your family, friends, or special someone there is a little bit of something for everyone in Galveston. RV parks, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and hotels await your stay in this resort town.
Check out our list of Top Things to Do in Galveston with Kids for a list of family friendly attractions.
2. Conroe, TX
Conroe is just 45 miles north of Houston and is the home of beautiful Lake Conroe, a 21-mile lake. Boating, fishing, hunting, golfing, swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, pleasure boating, etc. on Lake Conroe is one of the main attractions of this town. Boat ramps, marinas, and restaurants are along the shoreline providing easy access to these services. Resorts, RV parks, and clean comfortable accommodations are available for tourists.
Visit one of the twenty parks located throughout the city providing playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas, biking and hiking trails.
Candy Cane Park is the home to Heritage Museum of Montgomery County. This museum features the pioneer home of Charles B. Stewart, who designed the flag of Texas and the Texas state seal. It is located north of Highway 105 off I-45. Heritage Place is a popular site for weddings, festivals, and concerts.
If you’re not looking for outdoor recreation there are antique shops located in downtown Conroe or check out the historic Crighton Theater for a live performance, musical, or show.
3. The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands is a master planned community just 30 miles north of Houston that is well-known for its variety of restaurants, shopping, events, and entertainment venues.
Many events and concerts are held at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, an amphitheater that hosts headliner performing and contemporary musical artists in the Houston area.
Big headliners are not the only concerts in The Woodlands though. During the spring, The Woodlands hosts Concerts in the Park at Northshore Park, which are free concert events where visitors are welcome to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and coolers and enjoy the music on the lawn.
The Fountains at Waterway Square are an attraction held at Waterway Square in the center of The Woodland’s shopping and entertainment district. The fountains are choreographed to dance to the music and are scheduled to play often throughout the day. The times change periodically so make sure to check the website for the schedule.
The Waterway Cruisers are water taxis that run on the weekends that will take you up and down the waterway for a fee. In the Texas heat, the AC on the taxis is a real treat.
The Waterway Trolleys are free to those wanting to ride. They circulate on a specified 3.2 mile route through The Woodlands attractions and shops with stops along the way if don’t want to walk.
A great attraction for outdoor lovers is the Riva Row Boat House where you can rent a kayak and row around a designated spot in the waterway.
4. Kemah, TX
Kemah is located about 25 miles Southeast of Houston on Galveston Bay. Located near the Gulf Coast, Kemah is a seaside town that has some great attractions to visit like the Kemah Boardwalk – home to waterfront restaurants, amusements, charming retail stores, festivals and seaside shows every day. There’s also a playground and dancing water fountains (bathing suits allowed) to keep the kids entertained. One of the attractions located on the Kemah Boardwalk is Stingray Reef, where you can touch and feed live stingrays.
The Stingray Reef was also featured on 25 Zoos, Safaris, Petting Zoos, and Animal Encounters in Houston!
A bonus about Kemah Boardwalk and Space Center Houston is that they area part of the CityPASS program! CityPASS is an awesome deal for those wanting to visit several popular Houston attractions over the course of a few days. Space Center Houston admission is included with CityPASS and if you choose Kemah Boardwalk as one of the attractions you will have an all-day pass for most of the rides on the boardwalk.
There are plenty of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and RV campsites to stay in this seaside town.
5. Brenham, TX
Brenham is charming town about 1 hour northwest of Houston. It is a little further away than some of the towns mentioned here but still close enough for a day trip and it’s such a great little town I couldn’t leave it off. Brenham is a great escape from Houston and a true Texas treasure. You will instantly notice that small town/neighborly feel when you visit one of the local restaurants or stores.
Downtown Brenham has antique shops and local eateries along with the Ant Street Inn, a bed and breakfast. A map of the downtown area is available here. There are special events downtown throughout the year including live music outside downtown every Saturday night in July and the Christmas Stroll and Lighted Parade in December.
The Brazos Valley Corn Maize and Pumpkin Patch is open during October and November has hayrides, a giant corn maze, and other fall activities.
Another cool thing about Brenham is the Texas famous Blue Bell Ice Cream is made right in Brenham at the Blue Bell Creamery. You can take a tour of the creamery and see the workers in action and how Texas’ best ice cream is made. At the end of the tour you get a sample serving of ice cream! HELPFUL TIP: The creamery tour is only available Monday-Friday. However, if you go on the weekend you can still visit the gift shop.
There are also some great parks in the area that have playgrounds and special events like movies in the park or flicks at the pool. The Blue Bell Aquatic Center has 3 pools including one outdoors that is Blue Bell themed with a popsicle walk and a sundae slide.
The Chappel Hill Lavender Farm is open to the public most of the year. If you plan on visiting, make sure you contact them first or check their website for updated information on when they may be open. At the lavender farm you can cut your own lavender and take a tour of the farm (reservations required for tours). The lavender is usually in bloom from May-June and August – October and that is the peak operating season for the farm to cut your own lavender. There is also a gift shop to purchase things made from lavender.
To learn more about the wineries near Houston make sure you read 13 Wineries to Visit Near Houston!
There are a number of bed and breakfasts and hotels if you want to stay the night.
6. Spring, TX
Driving on I-45 about 20 miles north of Houston you can’t miss the Splashtown WaterPark, a 53-acre waterpark with a lazy river and water rides – a great place to cool off during the summer.
Spring also has a charming shopping district named Old Town Spring that offers over 150 antique stores, unique shops, and boutiques. You’ll also find restaurants, delis, and coffee shops sprinkled in throughout the town. It’s a great hidden gem for those that love to park the car and tour this tiny town (within a town) on foot. During the holiday season, Old Town Spring is transformed into a Winter Wonderland that features a spectacular display of holiday lights and family friendly activities. They are well-known for their annual crawfish festival in the spring.
Meyer Park is a 180-acre park with 26 soccer fields, two softball fields, a three-acre fishing lake, a duck pond, a basketball court, two children’s playgrounds, and one of the area’s most popular nature trails: Gourley Natural Trail. The half-mile long, asphalt trail connects Meyer Park with Collins Park. In addition to the standard children’s playground and athletic fields, Collins Park features a sand volleyball court, a skate park, a canoe launch, an amphitheater, and a natural-surface off-road bicycling trail.
Other attractions in Spring include Cypresswood Golf Course, Spring Cultural Museum, and the Civil War Museum.
7. Beaumont, TX
Located about 1 1/2 hours east of Houston, Beaumont tends to be known as a pass-through town on I-10. It is so much more than that though and is quickly growing to be a hotspot for antiquing. In Beaumont you will find a range of antiques shops from small boutiques to large antique malls. Most of the antique shops can be found in the Old Town Historic District along Calder Avenue in Beaumont. If you are an antique lover, a trip to Beaumont is a must!
Beaumont is not just for antique lovers though! If you like the outdoors then take a visit to Gator Country Rescue Adventure where you can feed live alligators and other reptiles native to the area. Hiking in the Big Thicket National Preserve or canoeing in Village Creek will expose you to the beauty of Southeast Texas.
Explore the history of oil at the Spindletop Museum or see the reenactment of the Lucas Gusher (view website for scheduled times and days). The Fire Museum of Texas is an actual working fire station that takes you through the evolution of firefighting and a history of heroism.
Crockett Street is the entertainment district and has a variety of nightlife where you will find a country dance hall, live music venues, and southern food all within walking distance of each other.
The neighboring town of Port Neches has a nice playground and splash park for the kids called Tugboat Island that any kid would love. TIP: The Splash Park is only open to Port Neches residents on Saturdays in June, July, and August. The Tugboat Island playground is still open to everyone else though. During the week and Sundays the splash park is open to everyone.
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