Spend a day on the sand at Stewart Beach. Photo courtesy of Stewart Beach Park/Facebook
Spend a day on the sand at Stewart Beach. Photo courtesy of Stewart Beach Park/Facebook

Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Galveston

Longing to feel the sand between your toes this summer? Some of the best Texas beaches are located just an hour or so south of the greater Houston area on Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you're looking for a seaside escape for the day, a weekend, or longer, these beaches are all awesome options for some family-friendly summer fun in the sun. For more ideas, activities, and things to do for the whole family, check out our Summer Fun Guide for Houston kids.

Note that some of the beaches below are still operating at limited capacity; check websites for most recent info before heading out, and for the safest experience, please adhere to current social distancing protocols.

1. Stewart Beach

As one of the most popular family beaches on Galveston Island, Stewart Beach boasts lounge chair and umbrella rentals, clean restrooms, and lifeguards. Large shower and changing areas make this beach ideal for day trips; you can wash the sand off before the car ride home. Stewart Beach is home to fun events such as sandcastle building lessons, and also features a playground, pavilion, and sand volleyball courts. Summer admission per vehicle is $12 Monday-Friday and $15 on the weekends, holidays, and during special events.

2. East Beach

East Beach is known as Gaveston Island's party beach and features an array of festivals, concerts, and sandcastle building competitions throughout the summer months. There is also a playground for the kids, a concessions stand, a pavilion, public restrooms, and other amenities that make it one of Galveston's most popular beachfront destinations. Admission fees are $12 per vehicle Monday-Thursday, and $15 per vehicle Friday-Sunday, on holidays, and during special events throughout the summer months.

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The quaint streets of Beachtown provide a picturesque backdrop for beach adventures.

3. Beachtown Development

Beachtown Development is a bit off of the beaten path at the very east end of the island. The gorgeous beachfront community features beautiful beach houses, a quaint cafe, and a tasty ice cream shop. While Beachtown does offer several paid beach entry points at $13 per vehicle, free public beach access can be found at access point 1A. A short walk from the parking area over the dunes brings you to a stretch of spacious beach to set up chairs, eat a picnic lunch, and relax. Even on a holiday weekend, this area is typically less crowded, making it a great spot for kite flying or bringing the family dog for a swim.

4. Galveston Island State Park

Perfect for an adventurous family beach outing, Galveston Island State Park has so much to offer. In addition to swimming and sand play on the beach, enjoy hiking, biking trails, and fishing piers. Bring along your kayak or canoe to take advantage of the park's unique paddling trails. The daily entrance fee is $5 for adults, kids ages 12 and under are free. Restrooms, showers, and picnic tables are located throughout the park. Campsites for tents and RVs, as well as rental cabins, are available. See the state park's website for full pricing details.

Summer 2021 info: Galveston Island State Park is open on the bay side only. The beach side is closed for renovations until 2022. Advance day pass and camping reservations are advised, because capacity is still limited. Reserve online or by calling 512-389-8900. 

5. Sylvan Beach Park

Located on Galveston Bay in La Porte, Texas, Sylvan Beach Park offers some fantastic amenities for families looking to enjoy the surf and the sand. The white beaches are known for having smaller waves than those found in Galveston, and there is a playground for children plus a skate park. Fishing off the pier is only $4 for the day, and it's a great spot to catch fish. There are also lifeguards on duty throughout the day. Admission and parking are both free and open to the public.

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Take advantage of windy beach days to fly a kite.

6. San Luis Pass Pocket Park

With gorgeous beachfront stretches and an educational wetlands preserve, the San Luis Pass Pocket Park is the perfect place to spend a beach day. Picnicking, bird watching, and kite flying are among favorite activities at this beach, located on Galveston's west end. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for daily rental. Outdoor showers make it easy to rinse the sand off before heading home for the day. Summer admission per vehicle is $12 Monday-Friday and $15 on the weekends, holidays, and special events.

7. Surfside Jetty County Park

Surfside Jetty County Park is a free park that boasts a beachfront playground and is a great spot to spend a day on the water. The playground structure features three ladder levels with several winding slides little ones love! Take advantage of covered picnic areas, paved parking, and convenient restrooms at this 15-acre park. The park has something for everyone, including fishing, swimming, bird watching, shelling, and beachcombing.

Summer 2021 info: Capacity is limited to 75 people.

Photos by Ashley Jones unless otherwise noted

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