Houston is a bustling city itself, but if you feel like going exploring on a day trip, there are plenty of great destinations only an hour outside the city.
As the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston, Texas, is home to more than 2 million people who thrive on the bustling city’s diverse culture, cuisine, and attractions. Houston appears on numerous “best of” lists for travel, but it also sits in close proximity to several other cities with appealing things to see and do. If you want to incorporate some day-trip fun into your free time without traveling too far, consider one of the following destinations, all within an hour’s drive of the Bayou City.
Spend the day on island time when you visit Galveston Island, located an hour southeast of Houston. Hit one of the beautiful beach parks, such as Galveston Island State Park, a popular picnicking beach with more than 200 acres of undeveloped land and a gorgeous shoreline. Stewart Beach is another popular option, with nearby entertainment options, lifeguards, and family-friendly spaces, including a pavilion with a snack bar and showers. For a beach-like experience with a little less sand, visit Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
If you prefer your entertainment on dry land, take a stroll along the famed Pleasure Pier and enjoy a range of rides, shops, and restaurants. Bring the outdoors in at Moody Gardens. The park features three unique pyramids that house an aquarium, rainforest garden, and discovery museum.
Located about an hour from Houston, Texas City combines rich history with famous waterfront attractions like the Texas City Dike Levee, the longest manufactured pier in the world. The levee is a popular spot with both locals and visitors who enjoy fishing and picnicking amidst sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico. To get in touch with the city’s historic side, check out attractions such as the Davison Home and the Texas City Museum.
Brazos Bend State Park
Put on your best walking shoes and get ready for a little something wild at Brazos Bend State Park, located just 50 minutes from the city. The park features everything from wildlife viewing opportunities and horseback riding to hiking, biking, and geocaching. The park’s trails, including the paved Creekfield Lake Nature Trail, offer excellent vantage points for watching local wildlife and experiencing the unique ambiance of Texas’s wetlands. Other popular activities include exploring the exhibits and bronzed wildlife, hiking the trails around the lakes and in the forest, and fishing one of the park’s scenic lakes (no license necessary).
Just 40 minutes from Houston, the lively bayside city of Kemah offers everything from a classic seaside boardwalk to carriage rides and chilling tours of the city’s haunted lighthouse district. No visit to the “Gateway to the Bay” would be complete without a stop at Kemah Boardwalk, home of a huge range of entertainment options that vary from rides and live shows to shopping and restaurants.
For water-based activities, charter a sailboat with Sailaway Clear Lake Charters and sail into the bay, or visit Stingray Reef at Kemah Aquarium. Back on land, Clear Lake Park features 59 sprawling acres with an ancient Indian burial ground and a fishing pier.
Located just over an hour from Houston, Brenham may seem like a far-flung option, but if you’re a nature lover, it’s worth a few extra minutes to experience Texas’ Bluebonnet Country. Located midway between Houston and Austin, Brenham has a friendly vibe with natural beauty, history, and four local wineries that are part of the region’s wine trail. Texas Star Winery, Saddlehorn Winery, Pleasant Hill Winery, and Windy Winery all offer tours and tastings that may vary with the season.
Tour the historic downtown area, ripe with charming sites like Barnhill Center at Simon Theatre and Brenham Heritage Museum. If you’re in the area early enough, head to the Inn at Dos Brisas for a phenomenal three-course brunch at the only Forbes five-star restaurant in the state.
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