Heading to the beach is one of the most enjoyable and carefree ways to enjoy a family trip. Here in Houston, we're never too far from the beach down in Galveston, but that's not the only place where you can enjoy awesome beaches and family-friendly activities on a summer vacation. These seaside havens on the Texas coast each offer unique experiences, but all have amazing beaches where kids can run wild and build sandcastles until their heart's content while you relax and soak in the peaceful sounds of the ocean.
Whether you stay at a family-friendly campsite, a beach-side hotel, or rent a beach house, you can be sure that your family will enjoy plenty of fun in the sun together when you head to one of these coastal spots.
Kids can enjoy playing the day away on Stewart Beach in Galveston./Photo courtesy Ashley Jones
Best Beaches in Galveston
The infamous Stewart Beach is known on the island for being the most family-friendly of all of the public beaches in Galveston. Located extremely close to the endless attractions at Pleasure Pier, there are also bathrooms and showers located on site that are much nicer than most any you will find throughout the rest of Galveston's beaches. Chairs and beach umbrellas are available to rent and there are numerous food options within walking distance right across the street from the Seawall. Lifeguards are also on watch each day to help keep your family safe in the water. Home to fun events like sandcastle building classes and competitions, Stewart Beach also features a playground, sand volleyball courts, and a covered pavilion. Summer admission is $12 per vehicle for entry Monday-Friday and $15 on the weekends, as well as on holidays and during special events.
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Galveston Island State Park
If you're looking for a family-friendly beach where you can park your RV or go tent camping, Galveston Island State Park is probably exactly where you and your family need to spend your next beach vacation. Families can enjoy gulf swimming, hiking or biking various trails, and fishing from multiple piers. The park is also home to unique paddle trails where you can canoe or kayak. Clean restrooms, showers, and picnic tables are located throughout the park. Some picnic table areas even feature shaded coverings to help shield you from the hot Texas sun. Not far from the park is Pirates Treasure Adventure Golf where the entire family can play a rousing round of mini golf. Daily entrance fee per person is $5 for adults and kids under age 12 are free. Campsites for tents and RVs are available for an additional fee. See their website for details.
Playing in the sun and sand at Rockport Beach./Photo courtesy Rockport Beach via Facebook
South Texas Beaches
Rockport Beach - Rockport
Rockport boasts that it is "Texas' first blue wave beach" thanks to the endless gentle blue waves that can be found lapping at the Texas coastline in this coastal community. Your kids will love splashing in the clear water and the entire family can enjoy sweeping views and gorgeous sunsets from the jetty at the end of Rockport Harbor. The Rockport Beach Festival grounds are home to numerous festivals throughout the year and also hosts Rockport Market Days monthly featuring a number of arts and crafts vendors. Please note that pets and glass containers are prohibited at Rockport Beach. Parking rates are $5 per day or $20 for a yearly pass. Disabled veterans are eligible for a free annual pass with approved documentation. Multiple beach-side pavilions are available to rent for a fee.
Related: Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Galveston
Mustang Island State Park - Port Aransas
Mustang Island State Park features clean beaches with hard-packed sand that is perfect for making sandcastles. It's a family-friendly beach that has been a go-to for locals and tourists for decades. Tent and RV site rentals are available for a fee. In addition to swimming at the beach, you'll find a variety of activities to do at Mustang Island including jetty fishing, bird watching, canoeing down a paddling trail, and camping, as well as shopping in the nearby Port Aransas shops. One tip found all over reviews of the park do note to watch out for the small sting rays that like to hang out in the shallow water here. Entry to Mustang Island State Park is $ daily per adult and free for kids ages 12 and under.
Enjoy lounging beachside with the entire family at Mustang Island./ Photo courtesy Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce
McGee Beach - Corpus Christi
At McGee Beach, you'll find manicured sand that is usually free of seaweed and debris with calm waters that are perfect for kids to swim in. Free street parking near McGee Beach and no entrance fee means you can play all day for free and spend your money on the yummy local cuisine just steps from the beach. There are public restrooms on site and the beach is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long! Playgrounds are located right across the street from the beach if your kids need a break from the sand and water.
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Isla Blanca Park - South Padre Island
There are multiple beach access points in South Padre Island all featuring powdery soft sand that is the whitest you'll find in Texas, but Isla Blanca Park features beach access and so much more. A public boat ramp, beach access points for swimming, showers and restrooms, two beachfront pavilions with food options on site, a walking trail, jetties to explore, as well as chair, umbrella, and cabana rentals. Tent camping and RV sites are available for a fee. Daily entry is $10 per vehicle and annual passes are available for $100. Just be sure to avoid going for spring break if you don't like loud crowds, as South Padre Island is a hot spot for collegiate spring-breakers. After you get your fill of the gorgeous sand at the beach, families can enjoy heading to Schlitterbahn for thrilling water rides or head to Sea Turtle Inc. where you'll be able to get up close and personal to amazing sea turtles.
Top Photo courtesy South Padre Island Convention & Visitor's Bureau via Facebook