Not only does the Lone Star State offer visitors a glimpse into its contribution to American history, but currently Texas is also home to 600 miles of sandy shores along the Gulf of Mexico. The temperate waters and cool breezes make its beaches perfect for anyone wanting a break from daily routines, including families with children, sports enthusiasts, beachcombers and sunbathers. Texas beaches offer some of the best surfing in the nation.
An hour away from Houston, Stewart Beach on Galveston Island provides beachgoers a host of family-oriented activities such as the ever-popular sandcastle competitions, judged by the American Institute of Architects. Sports-minded patrons can engage in friendly matches of volleyball or jump into the warm water for some swimming or surfing. Park amenities include umbrella and chair rentals, a souvenir shop, children's playground, an outdoor pavilion with a snack bar and a bath house. The beach is open from March to September. Admission is $8 for cars and $16 for buses/recreational vehicles.
About 60 miles south of Houston, the historic coastal community of Surfside Beach is considered the Cradle of Texas because it is where the "Original 300 Settlers" first set foot on state soil. As its name implies, Surfside Beach offers the more consistent surf on the upper Texas coast. Surfers can enjoy deep water, just 8 miles offshore and long jetties for small swells and hold double overhead. Surfing is best a half mile north of the jetty.
East Beach on Galveston is the biggest beach in Texas. Approximately 45 minutes south of Houston, it holds about 7,000 cars, making it ideal as host to outdoor concerts, special events, festivals, live bands and promotions. East Beach attracts visitors wanting to mingle with other beachgoers and those wishing solitude. Drinking is allowed on the beach. Admission is $8 for cards and $16 for buses and RVs. Patrons can rent chairs and umbrellas on weekends from May through August. The beach is open from March to September.
Located at the northernmost end of Padre Island, Port Aransas on Mustang Island is ideal for some downtime. Leisurely stroll along the 5-mile shoreline and comb this central coast beach for sand dollars as warm water greets your ankles. Claim your spot in a secluded area, laze under an umbrella, read a book and relax amid gentle gulf breezes. The sports-minded have options--kayaking, swimming, surfing, parasailing or camping out for an overnight stay at the beach. The park is open year-round with free 24-hour ferry service.