Houston, also known as Space City, is a vibrant and diverse city in the Lone Star State of Texas. While there’s plenty to see and do within the city limits, sometimes you need a change of scenery. Luckily, Houston is surrounded by beautiful destinations that make for perfect day trips. Whether you’re a couple seeking a romantic outing, a family looking for fun-filled activities, or seniors in search of relaxation, there’s something for everyone within a short drive from Houston. So pack your bags and get ready to embark on exciting day trips from HTX!
1. Galveston Island
Located on the Gulf Coast, Galveston Island is a popular day trip destination from Houston. Known for its stunning beaches, historic architecture, and lively atmosphere, it offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages. Spend a day sunbathing on the sandy shores, exploring the Pleasure Pier amusement park on the waterfront, or taking a stroll along The Strand, a historic district filled with shops and restaurants. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the impressive Moody Gardens, which houses a rainforest pyramid, an aquarium, and a discovery museum.
2. Kemah Boardwalk
For a day of fun and excitement, head to the Kemah Boardwalk. This waterfront attraction, located just southeast of Houston, offers thrilling rides, delicious dining options, and breathtaking views of the Galveston Bay. Take a ride on the Boardwalk Bullet, a wooden roller coaster, or enjoy a leisurely boat cruise along the bay. Indulge in fresh seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants, and make sure to catch the daily fireworks show for a memorable experience.
3. Sam Houston National Forest
Nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers will find solace in the Sam Houston National Forest. Situated north of Houston, this vast forested area provides opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife spotting. Explore the numerous trails that wind through the forest, such as the Lone Star Hiking Trail, which stretches over 100 miles. Immerse yourself in the serenity of nature, breathe in the fresh air, and admire the beauty of the towering trees and sparkling creeks.
4. Space Center Houston
No visit to Houston is complete without a trip to the Space Center Houston. Discover the wonders of space exploration and get a glimpse into NASA’s achievements. Explore interactive exhibits, touch moon rocks, and learn about the history of space travel. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a tram tour to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where you can see the Mission Control Center and even meet astronauts.
If you’re a fan of history and ice cream, Brenham is the perfect day trip destination for you. This charming town, located northwest of Houston, is known for being the birthplace of Blue Bell ice cream. Take a tour of the Blue Bell Creameries and learn about the ice cream-making process, followed by a delicious scoop of your favorite flavor. Afterward, explore the historic downtown area, filled with quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
6. Brazos Bend State Park
For an outdoor adventure close to the city, Brazos Bend State Park is a must-visit. Situated southwest of Houston, this sprawling park is renowned for its diverse wildlife and picturesque landscapes. Hike or bike along the scenic trails, and keep an eye out for alligators, birds, and other animals that call the park home. Don’t forget to visit the George Observatory within the park for a chance to stargaze and learn about the wonders of the universe.
7. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site
Step back in time at the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. Located northeast of Houston, this site holds great historical significance as it is where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. Explore the replica of Independence Hall and immerse yourself in Texas history. Enjoy a picnic by the Brazos River, visit the museum, and take a guided tour to learn about the birthplace of Texas.
8. Lake Livingston
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Lake Livingston, a tranquil retreat located north of Houston. This large reservoir offers a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, and swimming. Rent a cabin or camp by the lakeside for a relaxing weekend getaway. Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear and try your luck at catching bass, catfish, or crappie.
9. The Woodlands
Just a short drive north of Houston, The Woodlands is a master-planned community that combines natural beauty with urban amenities. Spend the day exploring the scenic Waterway Square, where you can enjoy outdoor concerts, dine at fine restaurants, and shop at boutique stores. Visit The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion for live music performances or venture into the George Mitchell Nature Preserve for a peaceful hike through the woods.
10. Moody Mansion
Located in Galveston, the Moody Mansion is a grand historic house that offers a glimpse into the lives of one of Texas’ most prominent families. Take a guided tour through the beautifully preserved mansion and admire its opulent furnishings and exquisite architecture. Learn about the history of the Moody family and their contributions to the development of Galveston.
11. San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
History buffs should not miss the chance to visit the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, located east of Houston. This site commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto, a pivotal moment in Texas history. Climb the San Jacinto Monument for panoramic views of the surrounding area, explore the museum, and take a stroll through the beautiful park. Learn about the struggles and triumphs that led to Texas gaining independence from Mexico.
12. Texas Renaissance Festival
For a unique and immersive experience, head to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission. This annual event, held in a recreated 16th-century village, brings history to life with live entertainment, jousting tournaments, costumed performers, and artisan crafts. Indulge in delicious medieval fare and immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the Renaissance period.
13. Huntsville State Park
Situated north of Houston, Huntsville State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Enjoy a day of hiking, biking, or horseback riding along the scenic trails that wind through the park’s lush forests and alongside the picturesque Lake Raven. Bring a picnic and relax by the lake, go fishing, or rent a canoe or kayak for a peaceful paddle on the water.
14. Kemah Lighthouse District
Located near the Kemah Boardwalk, the Kemah Lighthouse District is a charming waterfront area filled with shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll along the marina, browse through unique stores, and savor fresh seafood at one of the many waterfront eateries. Enjoy the laid-back ambiance and catch beautiful views of the bay.
15. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Nature enthusiasts should consider visiting the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, situated east of Houston. This vast wetland habitat is home to a wide variety of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatching. Explore the walking trails and observation decks, and keep your binoculars ready to spot egrets, herons, roseate spoonbills, and other migratory birds.
16. Texas City Dike
For a day of sun, sand, and sea, head to the Texas City Dike. Located on the outskirts of Houston, this man-made dike offers a stretch of sandy beach along the shores of Galveston Bay. Spend the day picnicking, swimming, fishing, or simply relaxing under the warm Texas sun. Enjoy the serene coastal views and the gentle ocean breeze.
17. Lake Conroe
Escape to Lake Conroe, a picturesque lake located north of Houston. This expansive reservoir offers a range of recreational activities, including boating, jet skiing, fishing, and golfing. Rent a lakeside cabin or stay at one of the resorts and enjoy a peaceful weekend surrounded by nature. Take a sunset cruise on the lake or dine at one of the waterfront restaurants for a memorable experience.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a dose of history, these day trips from Houston, Texas, have something for everyone. So pack your bags, hit the road, and explore the diverse attractions and natural wonders that surround the Bayou City. You’re sure to create unforgettable memories on these exciting excursions just a short drive away from HTX!