15 Best Summer Day Trips From Houston

Galveston is a quick day trip from Houston. Pleasure Pier Gulf Glider photo by Carrie Taylor
Galveston is a quick day trip from Houston. Pleasure Pier Gulf Glider photo by Carrie Taylor

It’s summertime! Now what? Great family fun doesn’t need to mean a weekend away - there are lots of great summer day trips from Houston. You can spend some time at a nearby water park or at one of these other day-trip-worthy spots near Houston.

1. Galveston - 1 hour 15 minutes from Downtown Houston

No Houston family’s summer vacation is complete without at least one day trip from Houston to Galveston. There are tons of things to do, such as the rides and amusements at Pleasure PierSchlitterbahn Galveston, and Moody Gardens (you can easily make a day of just Moody Gardens, which is home to three pyramid museums and a water park).

 
Houston Space Center photo by Rebecca Ortiz

2. Houston Space Center - 30 minutes from Downtown Houston

Close at hand, but with enough activities to last all day, the Houston Space Center is a great day trip for any family. There are hours of fun from the tram rides to the Angry Birds play area at this iconic destination outside the city. There are always new exhibits, particularly with the latest Orion mission planning to travel to Mars. You can take the tram trips around the NASA facilities, touch pieces of the moon and Mars, and when everyone is tired out, enjoy refreshments in the large restaurant.

 
The Woodlands is an easy day trip from Houston. Photo courtesy of Visit the Woodlands

3. The Woodlands - 40 minutes from Downtown Houston

Spend some time in The Woodlands and then kick back and relax at The Woodlands Resort, home to a massive water area with lagoon-style pools, a lazy river, and whirlpools.

Related: Free things to do with Houston kids this summer

4. Conroe - 1 hour from Downtown Houston

There are many ways to enjoy this nearby town and beautiful large lake. Public access to the lake can be found at places like the 13-acre Lake Conroe Park where you’ll also find restrooms, a fishing pier, pavilions, and sports fields.

 
Families can cool off at Jellystone Park in Waller. Photo courtesy Yogi Bear Jellystone Park.

5. Jellystone Park - 1 hour from Downtown Houston

At Yogi Bear Jellystone Park you have the option of staying the weekend at the campground, cabins, or the lodge, or you can spend the day enjoying its miniature water park. There is a lazy river, swimming pool, water slides, and more. 

6. Huntsville State Park - 2 hours from Downtown Houston

Huntsville State Park is the gateway to the massive Sam Houston National Forest that touches Lake Conroe and spreads to the east. The park spans more than 2,000 acres and has 21 miles of trails, multiple playgrounds, nature center, and water activities. And while you’re there, stop to take a picture by the massive statue of Sam Houston off I-45.

 

Sea Rim Park photo by Chase A. Fountain, courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

7. Lake Livingston - 1 hour 30 minutes from Downtown Houston

With 450 miles of shoreline, Lake Livingston is one of the biggest lakes in Texas. At Lake Livingston State Park you can spend the day hiking, swimming, fishing, and playing on the playgrounds. Take advantage of the picnic tables and grills to rustle up a tasty feast. Kayak hire is also available. 

8. Kemah - 40 minutes from Downtown Houston

Just south of Seabrook you’ll find the Kemah Boardwalk with family-friendly rides and attractions, a giant Ferris wheel, carousel, the C.P. Huntington Train, arcade, stingray reef, and rainforest exhibit. And if you have time to spare, you can hop on a boat tour of the Houston Ship Channel. There are a variety of restaurants to cater to all budgets.

9. Blue Bell Creamery - 1 hour from Downtown Houston

This is a must-do item on any Texan family’s bucket list. Touring the creamery where Blue Bell ice cream is made and tasting their delicious desserts is closer than you might think and makes for a perfect day trip.

 
Sea Rim Park photo by Chase A. Fountain courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

10. Port Arthur - 1 hour 20 minutes from Downtown Houston

Take a day trip from Houston to explore the nearby coastal city of Port Arthur where families can enjoy hiking various trails and fishing at Sea Rim Park. You can even take a lantern-lit ghost tour of the city in the evening with older kids or tour the Museum of the Gulf Coast with the entire family to learn about this historic Texas town.

11. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge - 1 hour 30 minutes from Downtown Houston

The bayous and marshlands of Anahuac will transport you to a wildlife haven where alligators, birds, and fish can be seen in their natural habitat. Visit the refuge free of charge and learn all about what the wetlands of the Texas Gulf Coast have to offer. 

12. Surfside Beach - 1 hour 10 minutes from Downtown Houston

Just a bit further south than Galveston Island, Surfside beach boasts pristine parks, amazing fishing areas, and plenty of places to set up camp for a day at the beach with your entire family. The small coastal community offers several waterfront restaurant options that are typically way less crowded than the ones on Galveston Island, but offer similar spectacular views. 

Related: Best Beaches in Texas for Families

13. Brazos Bend State Park - 1 hour from Downtown Houston

If your family loves camping, fishing, bird watching, hiking, or just being in nature, Brazos Bend State Park is a must-visit area for you to explore. The park and nature center offer a plethora of activities for families to enjoy including canoeing and horseback riding. Find out more about how to get up close with alligators at the state park and elsewhere.

14. George Bush Presidential Museum at Texas A&M - 1 hour 30 minutes from Downtown Houston

If your family enjoys history or politics, touring the George Bush Presidential Museum on the Texas A&M campus is a can’t-miss activity. This is a great activity for kids who are eager to learn, but probably best suited for those ages 10 and up, otherwise you might be doing a ton of reading out loud to younger kids as you take the self-guided tour of the 41st president’s collection of memorabilia. 

 
Photo courtesy of the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum

15. Beaumont - 1 hour 15 minute from Downtown Houston

Visit the city of Beaumont where your family can explore the beautiful Beaumont Botanical Gardens, see the country’s biggest fire hydrant for free at the Fire Museum of Texas, and tour the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum at Lamar University.

 

This post originally published in 2017.

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