Are you planning your next summer vacation and looking at beach towns in Texas? Do you have any idea how many popular beaches there are along the Gulf Coast?
I hadn’t realized the sheer number of amazing beaches in Texas until I went there! I was blown away!
Texas is the second-largest US State and shares its borders with Oklahoma (North), Louisiana (East), the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua (South and South West), New Mexico (West), and finally to the South East, the coastline is shared with the Gulf of Mexico.
With miles of coastline, there are many beautiful beach towns in Texas that you can add to your bucket list.
Let’s Explore The Best Beach Towns In Texas
There is nothing better than spending time at the beach. That lovely crisp ocean breeze, while you sit listening to the waves and the seagulls around you, it’s the best way to relax and recharge.
I’ve created a list of ten of the best beaches in Texas that I think are a must-see.
Whether it’s white sandy beaches, salty sea breeze, seafood restaurants, or wildlife spots, these beach towns in Texas have so much to offer and are the perfect option for your next beach vacation.
10 Beaches In Texas You Must See
1. Galveston Beach
It’s often called “The Republic of Galveston Island” because it’s so different from the rest of Texas. Galveston is around 50-miles Southeast of Houston. It’s a barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast, with 32 miles of shoreline. Galveston is made up of a lot more than just one beach, and there are many parks.
From its colorful boardwalk full of that Southern charm, the fascinating shops you’ll find on The Strand, the East End Historical District with its Victorian architecture, to the lineup of all the museums and the many different seafood-inspired restaurants, there is a unique feel about this island city.
Galveston has the longest continuous sidewalk globally, and skaters, cyclists, and joggers consistently use it. Beautiful murals and lovely restaurants line one side of the main road, while on the other side of the road, there’s a 10-mile seawall.
And over that are Galveston Island’s most beautiful sandy beaches.
What To Do in Galveston
- Take the free ferry to Port Bolivar.
- The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is filled with eateries, shops, and amusement park rides.
- Head over to Moody Gardens amusement park to have some fun with the kids. This attraction has a lazy river, beach, and a wave pool. There’s a zipline, a rainforest zoo, an aquarium, and so much more.
- For some waterpark fun, go to Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
- And if you want something a bit more educational, visit the Galveston Children’s Museum.
- Stroll through the East End Historic District filled with colorful historic homes and their perfectly manicured gardens.
- On those rainy days, window shop along The Strand.
- And to end off the day, a great place to stop for an ice-cold beer is at Galveston Island Brewing.
- And there’s so much more!
Best Beaches In Galveston
Palm Beach – a gorgeous beach within a residential community.
East Beach – excellent amenities, pet-friendly, live concerts, and festivals.
Stewart Beach – Perfect beach for families.
Seawall Urban Park – so many tourist attractions and beachfront restaurants.
Surfside Jetty County Park – Perfect for bird watching, beachfront playground, and picnic areas.
The best time to visit is March and April, or October and November – it’s warm but not too hot. Accommodation prices during these months are pretty reasonable.
During the winter months, you’ll score good deals on accommodation! But the weather is not the best, and it gets pretty cold, so you won’t be able to enjoy the fun activities.
Galveston has quite a long summer. From May to September, prices are high, and the temperature is at its peak.
Where To Eat
With so many options, from cafes to delis, to high-end restaurants with outdoor rooftop dining, there’s mouthwatering food served everywhere in Galveston. So, whether it’s sweet treats, fresh seafood, or southern favorites, you are guaranteed to find something that will treat everyone’s taste buds.
Where To Stay
When it comes to finding accommodation in Galveston, you’ll have plenty to choose from for your Texas beach vacations. There’s something for everyone.
Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center – 7 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77554-8927
Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel – 2024 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77550-8029
Holiday Inn Resort: Galveston-On The Beach – 5002 Seawall Boulevard Galveston, TX 77551-5993
Did You Know?
The Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival cruise ships all travel to the Caribbean and Mexico from the cruise port in Galveston.
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To add to my list of beach towns in Texas, you need to visit Kemah. Located just 28-miles north of Galveston and 20-miles South of Houston, this is a Texas beach that you must see.
Kemah is an Indian word, and it means “facing the wind.” It was given this name because there’s always a breeze in the bay.
Kemah was once a tiny fishing town, but the city has since become a top tourist destination. Tourists are drawn to Kemah’s attractions and the lovely restaurants. In 2012 it was ranked the top tourism destination in the Greater Houston area.
Things To Do In Kemah
- Take a stroll along Kemah Boardwalk – the most popular attraction filled with shops and places to eat. Grab anything from sweet treats to surf wear. Then head on over to the amusement park, take a ride on the Ferris Wheel, and test yourself on the Boardwalk Bullet or the 140ft Drop Zone.
- Go on a thrilling boat ride with the Boardwalk Beast – Don’t expect it to be a slow cruise. The boat speeds around at high speeds, and the crew will make sure you get very wet. You can expect to pay $15 for Children under 12 and $20 for Adults.
- You have to visit the Aquarium Restaurant – here you get to have dinner next to a 50,000-gallon tank filled with stingrays, sharks, and fish. There’s also a rainforest exhibit with turtles, tarantulas, snakes, and piranhas. The whole family will enjoy it here!
- And don’t forget the NASA Space Center Houston! With exhibits for all ages, you will end up spending a whole day here.
Best Time To Visit Kemah
The busiest time of the year to visit this Texas beach is between June and August. During these Summer months is when flights and hotel prices are most expensive.
Springtime is also relatively busy because the temperature starts to warm up. Making it great for any tourist looking for things to do.
As the temperature starts to drop, tourism slows down in Kemah, so hotel prices become more affordable.
Where To Eat
There are so many fantastic restaurants to grab a bite to eat , these are my favorites,
Tookies – Absolute MUST when you visit! They make the best burgers.
Flying Dutchman – Best seafood restaurant with waterfront views on Kemah Boardwalk.
Where To Stay In Kemah
Kemah Boardwalk Inn – 8 Kemah Waterfront, Kemah, TX 77565
Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake – 3000 Nasa Parkway, Houston, TX 77058-4322
3. Freeport (Surfside Beach)
Drive 62-miles South of Houston; you’ll arrive in Freeport. Located in Brazoria County, Freeport is a small beach town in Texas with a vibrant history. Originally Freeport and Velasco were two separate towns, but in 1957 they joined and became the City of Freeport.
This popular beach town in Texas has two marinas, pretty beaches, the Brazos River. It’s a perfect diving destination, and it has excellent fishing opportunities.
What To Do In Freeport
Not only does Freeport have some of the best beaches in Texas, but there are so many cultural attractions too.
Along with all the water activities, here are a few things I enjoy doing when visiting:
- Visit Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge – an excellent place to see various birds and animals.
- Walk the 1-mile loop trail at Freeport Wetlands Trail.
- Explore the historical buildings.
- If you’re a golfer, there’s the 18-hole Freeport Municipal Golf Course.
If you’re planning your next vacation to beach towns in Texas, and want the warmest months, then June to August is your best bet.
Best Beaches in Freeport
Surfside Beach – Perfect for anyone who loves watersports. A popular surf spot with miles of beautiful golden sand and packed with marine life and pretty seashells.
Bryan Beach – Great beach for fishing, watching birdlife, and even camping.
Where To Eat
Whether you’re looking for takeout or dine-in, Freeport has some of the most popular restaurants.
Red Snapper Inn is the place to go for fresh seafood.
Did You Know?
Freeport’s motto is “Where Fun Happens.”
Freeport was once the shrimping capital of the world.
4. Bolivar Peninsula (Crystal Beach)
Bolivar Peninsula is another one of those top-rated beach towns in Texas. It is pretty secluded and sits off the main island. There’s a FREE ferry that goes from Galveston. If you’d prefer to drive, avoiding the ferry, the drive from Houston to Crystal Beach is around 92-miles.
With 27-miles of beautiful sandy beaches, there’s so much for everyone to do.
If you’re a nature lover, these beaches in Texas are perfect for you. It is full of wildlife, and Bolivar Peninsula is part of the Great Coastal Birding Trail. You’ll get the ideal opportunity to see blue herons and spoonbills, all in their natural habitat. And don’t forget to watch the dolphins.
What To Do In Crystal Beach
- History enthusiasts will love visiting Fort Travis. It was built in 1836 to protect Port Galveston.
- Visit Point Bolivar Lighthouse that stands 117ft tall and was built in 1872.
- Go venture down the waterslides at Fun Spot Waterslide.
- If you need to get a game of golf in, there’s always the 9-hole Rancho Carribe Golf Course.
Where To Eat
- Whether it’s burgers, steaks, or seafood that you’re craving, the choice is yours while overlooking the bay.
- Stingaree Restaurant is superb for fresh seafood and steaks.
- Jose’s Cantina serves excellent seafood dishes with a Mexican twist.
- Hardheads Icehouse and Grill for some fun live entertainment.
Where To Stay
Blue Wave Vacation Rentals – 843 O’Neil Crystal Beach, TX 77650
Bolivar Escapes Vacation Rentals – 2080 B Hwy 87 Crystal Beach, TX 77650
Cobb Vacation Rentals – 2290 Hwy 87 Crystal Beach, TX 77650
Crystal Palms RV Park – 1065 North Cove Crystal Beach, TX 77650
Beach camping is permitted for anyone looking at Texas beach vacations that want to keep their costs down.
5. Rockport Beach Texas
Rockport Beach is around 300-miles from Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. And unlike any of the other beach towns in Texas, with all its character and perfect small-town feel. The name Rockport comes from the rock ledge that lies underneath the shore.
In 2017 Rockport was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, but it has since bounced back.
What To Do In Rockport
- Walk along the path to Little Bay Shores.
- Relax under a cabana umbrella on the beach for the day.
- Visit the Texas Maritime Museum and learn about pirates, oil drilling, and the Gulf Coast history.
- Goose Island State Park. I highly recommend visiting this bird sanctuary.
- An absolute must-see is the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Where To Eat
Paradise Key Dockside Bar and Grill is the best place to eat.
Our Family Kitchen is great for families with kids.
Where To Stay
Little Bay Club – 1801 Broadway Street Rockport, TX 78382
Hunts Castle – 725 South Water Street Rockport, TX 78382
Days Inn – 1212 Laurel Rockport, TX 78382
Bahia Vista RV Park – 5801 Loop 1781 Rockport, TX 78382
Did You Know?
Rockport is the first Blue Wave beach. This means that this Texas beach is well managed and clean from a sustainability perspective and focuses heavily on protecting the environment.
Rockport Beach does not allow dogs on the beach.
6. North Padre Island
Are you looking for more beach towns in Texas? You might want to consider visiting North Padre Island.
North Padre Island is a barrier island, not like any of your typical Texas beach vacations. Don’t expect resorts and shops filled with souvenirs. What you can expect is miles of peaceful beach.
What To Do
- With the warm water and semi-tropical climate of the Gulf of Mexico, there’s so much for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.
- There’s kiteboarding, windsurfing, or sailing.
- Go fishing or bird watching.
- Horse riding on the beach
- Play a round of golf or take the little golfers in the family to the miniature golf course.
Best Beaches in North Padre Island
Big Shell Beach – not suitable for sunbathing but an excellent beach for taking photos and finding shells.
Little Shell Beach – lovely calm beach
Whitecap Beach – a great surf spot and a very scenic beach.
Malaquite Beach – Beautiful beach with covered picnic areas. This beach also has outdoor showers and changing facilities.
Witness North Padre Island’s Kemps Ridley baby sea turtles making their way from hatching on the shore to being released into the ocean for the very first time. This momentous occasion occurs between later June to Mid-August. It is so beautiful to witness.
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7. South Padre Island
Unlike North Padre Island, South Padre Island is one of the trendiest beach towns in Texas. It’s a top-rated Spring-break destination. Located on the southern border of Texas, it’s about a 5-hour drive from Houston.
Known for its tropical climate and super clean waters, South Padre Island, is one of the most beautiful beach towns in Texas. And it’s known as the world’s sandcastle capital!
Things To Do In South Padre
- Hop on a dolphin cruise
- Visit Sea Turtle Inc to get up close and personal with the sea turtles.
- After Sea Turtle Inc, why not visit the Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center.
- If you want to learn more about the area, pop into the historical sites Treasure of the Gulf Museum, Port Isabel Historical Museum, and the Port Isabel Lighthouse.
- Get wet at Beach Park at Isla Blanca, filled with various water rides and a surfing machine.
- You can even have Sandcastle Building Lessons.
Where To Eat
A huge plus when visiting any of the beach towns in Texas is that there’s always fresh seafood.
Both of these restaurants offer superb ocean views with outdoor seating and a wide variety of delicious seafood dishes:
• Café on the Beach at Palms Resort
• Beachside Bar & Grill at Pearl South Padre Island Resort
Where To Stay
La Copa Inn Beach Hotel – 350 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597-6501
Sapphire Condominiums – 310A Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597-6507
Peninsula Island Resort & Spa – 340 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597-6501
Pearl South Padre – 310 Padre Boulevard, South Padre, TX 78597-6501
Isla Grand Beach Resort – 500 Padre Boulevard, South Padre, TX 78597-6615
Best Beaches in South Padre Island
Dolphin Cove Beach
Beach Access – family friendly with nice warm water.
Barracuda Cove Beach – this beach is very secluded and just about empty all year round.
If you’d prefer to avoid the loud partying during Spring break, I recommend visiting between September and February.
Did You Know?
South Padre Island is the furthest of the beach towns in Texas from any of the big cities.
When looking at the map, South Padre Island doesn’t look too far from North Padre. However, they are actually around 200-miles apart.
You cannot drive directly from North Padre Island to South Padre Island. On the southern end of the National Park, Mansfield Channel, an artificial waterway goes through Padre Island. So, if you need to drive down, the only way to get from North Padre to South Padre is to drive inland, down Highway 77, and then back out to the south end. This trip will take around 3-4 hours.
8. Port Aransas & Mustang Island
Port Aransas and Mustang Island is small but one of the most popular beach towns in Texas. Ranked in the top 10, and it’s about 210-miles from Houston.
It is believed that about 4500 years ago, the islands all along the Texas coast started as submerged sand bars.
Originally known as Wild Horse Island, then became Mustang because of the “Mestenos” (wild horses) that the Spaniards brought to the island in the 1800s.
Things To Do In Port Aransas
- Visit local art galleries and the Port Aransas Art Center.
- Check out the exhibits at Port Aransas Museum showcasing island living.
- Take a look at Chapel on the Dunes, which is the oldest church on Mustang Island.
- Cruise the beach or around town on a bicycle or get a colorful golf cart.
- Or go parasailing, windsurfing, or kayaking all year round.
Where To Eat
There are so many options and fresh seafood restaurants scattered throughout this Texas beach town! There is something for everyone.
Where To Stay
Port Aransas has so much to offer when it comes to places to stay. Whether you want the privacy in your own beach house, a cozy beach cottage, a motel room, a hotel, a luxury condominium, an RV park, or if you enjoy sleeping under the stars, there are campgrounds too. Whatever it is that you choose, there is something to suit everyone.
Best Beaches In Port Aransas
Port Aransas Beach – lovely clear warm water. This Texas beach allows camping and campfires, so you and the kids are sure to have a fantastic time.
Horace Caldwell Pier – Excellent surf spot and great for fishing.
IB Magee Beach Park – Charming and very popular beach with amenities and campsites.
The Summer months are considered peak season. Therefore, a lot busier, and the accommodation price goes up. To avoid the large crowds, an alternative time to visit is Spring and early Fall.
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9. San José Island
Also known as Saint Joseph Island, another beautiful barrier island located on the Gulf Coast of Texas, not far from Port Aransas and Matagorda. Originally it was a ranch, but today it is managed for wildlife.
San José Island is 190-miles from Houston, but no vehicles are allowed on the island. The only way to immerse yourself in this unspoiled coastline is by taking a passenger ferry boat from Port Aransas.
The ferry boat roundtrip costs:
$12 per adult
$6 per child
This island is 21—miles long and 5-miles wide. Access is permitted on public land only, meaning there’s no access beyond the vegetation line on the beach. With its 21-miles of total undisturbed golden sand, this is the perfect location to take in all the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.
There are no shelters of any kind here. So, after a lovely day soaking in San José Island’s natural beauty, head back to Port Aransas for things to do, places to eat, and your accommodation.
It is important to note that this island is privately owned, so please always respect the land when visiting.
If you are looking for beach towns in Texas that are great for fishing, offer kayaking, and the best location for bird watching, then Matagorda is the right place to be!
98-miles drive from Houston, this fisherman’s paradise gives visitors the perfect opportunity to escape the crowds and make the most of their Texas beach vacations by relaxing with family and friends.
When you arrive, the world just fades away as you look over to the sparkling water and listen to the gentle waves lapping the shore.
Things To do In Matagorda
Matagorda Bay & Beach is fantastic if you want non—stop activity, as well as total relaxation. There are so many ways to explore Matagorda.
- Cast your line on one of the many chartered fishing adventures offered.
- Travel back in time while visiting one of the historical sites.
- Visit Matagorda Bay Nature Center and connect with Mother Nature while exploring the various wildlife areas.
- Plan a kayaking trip for the day or go out on a boat.
If it’s surfing you want, you’ll find some of the best waves on the Gulf Coast by taking a boat to the nearby Matagorda Island. Here you’ll find miles of unnamed perfect beach breaks.
Where To Eat
There is no shortage of restaurants offering a variety of fine wine, beef, and chicken, mouthwatering fresh seafood, and delicious desserts.
I highly recommend trying the local fresh seafood dishes.
After a day of fishing, there’s also the option of fixing up your own dinner with your catch of the day.
Where To Stay
No matter the occasion, there are numerous accommodation choices, from cabins and fishing lodges, luxury condominiums to various beach houses and lovely waterfront rentals.
Matagorda gives you the chance to slow down, recharge, and enjoy every minute with your family and friends.
Always make sure you are prepared for the sun. Don’t forget sunscreen, a hat, an umbrella, and wear sunglasses.
Be aware of and do not disturb any sea turtle nesting areas!
So, if you need to wind down, soak up some sunshine, get sand between your toes, collect shells, or go fishing, pack your car and head towards any one of these beach towns in Texas. They will surprise you and you might find exactly what you’re looking for.
I hope this list has helped with your decision. Do let us know where you’ll be heading first.
I hope you enjoyed reading our article if you are planning a weekend away or a longer trip check out our other articles like this one on TravelCroc.com.