Houston is one of the South’s most popular cities, and there’s a whole lot to love. Whether you’re a native to this large city or just visiting, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy inside city limits.
If you’re looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours or even a few days, the beach is one of the best options. There are plenty of fun beach towns, beautiful shorelines, and state parks just a few hours away from Houston.
Scroll down to see the top 12 best and most beautiful beaches near Houston – and plan a day away from the big city, soaking up the sun, splashing in the waves, and relaxing with a great view.
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1. Sylvan Beach Park
The closest beach to Houston is Sylvan Beach Park. Less than 30 miles away from downtown, you won’t have to drive far to enjoy some wholesome ocean fun.
The sandy beach invites sun tanners and swimmers alike to its shore, and the water itself has a reputation for being clean and seaweed-free. It’s also very calm in comparison to some of the other beaches near Houston, making it a perfect place for families to bring their kids to swim and splash around for the day.
Other beachside activities including fishing from the long pier, enjoying a picnic at one of the many tables, or spending some time on the playground. There’s even a boat launch here if you’re looking to explore the water beyond the shoreline.
Don’t miss the annual crawfish festival in the spring for some great music and tasty food.
2. Surfside Beach
Located on the Gulf Coast about an hour south of Houston, Surfside Beach is a popular stretch of sand for those living in the metropolitan area. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Texas, and boasts four miles of white sand coastline.
The waves are small but consistent, making it a favorite for beginner surfers, boogie boarders, and anyone else looking to play in the water.
The beach is surrounded by marshes, bays, and rivers, which also makes it a good spot to see some wildlife. The town surrounding the beach is also a fun spot to explore once you’ve had enough sun, and if you feel like sticking around the area for more than a day you can drive your car up to one of the beachfront campsites and turn your beach day into a weekend retreat.
Make sure you bring all the essentials with you, as Surfside Beach offers little in the way of amenities in comparison to some of the other beaches on our list.
3. Stewart Beach
One of the best beaches for families in the Houston area can be found about an hour away in Galveston.
It checks all the boxes for a perfect beach day, with soft sandy shores, calm, clear waters, and lifeguard patrols to give you some extra peace of mind. You’ll have everything you need to stay entertained, including volleyball courts, picnic pavilions, concessions, a playground, and even a gift store.
This popular beach is open all year round – but you can expect crowds throughout the summer. Expect to pay a small parking fee no matter what time of year you visit.
4. East Beach
Another favorite beach in the Galveston area is East Beach. This one is more popular with adults, as it is the only beach on the island that allows alcohol. Just be sure you don’t pack any bottles in your cooler, as glass is prohibited at East Beach.
There is also a number of fun events hosted throughout the year including festivals, concerts, and sandcastle building competitions. This beach is high energy from March through October, making it one of the most fun places to sit back and relax while you soak up some rays.
This beach is both party and pet-friendly, so don’t hesitate to bring your four-legged friends as long as you keep them on a leash and clean up after them.
5. Galveston Island State Park
Those looking to get away from the crowds and commotion of Houston will find one of the best beaches at Galveston Island State Park. You’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the park, but once inside, a variety of activities await including hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking, and fishing.
There are plenty of bird-watching opportunities from the shoreline as well. Keep your eyes peeled for blue herons, egrets, pelicans, and Mexican eagles as you soak up some sun.
If you find it hard to leave this oasis after just a few hours, you can rent a campsite and enjoy the tranquility of this area for a night or two.
Those looking for some peace and quiet will love the serenity of the Bolivar Penninsula. With nearly 30 miles of beach that’s never overcrowded, you’ll have plenty of space to relax and enjoy the unspoiled nature that surrounds you.
You will truly be in nature without any of the amenities that some of the other beaches have to offer, so make sure you plan your trip accordingly. Visitors should also note that the beach is not full of white sand, rather crushed shells, rocks, and lots of seaweed.
One of the best things about this beach is that parking is free, and those who don’t mind roughing it a bit will be rewarded with a calmness that is often hard to find this close to Houston.
Sea Rim State Park is another quiet option for a day at the beach, and it’s less than two hours away from Houston.
This massive park boasts beautiful white sand beaches surrounded by nature, making it the perfect place to get away from all the hubbub of the big city.
You can swim, kayak, hike, or even enjoy a horseback ride along the beach. There are also a few walking trails that traverse the wild marshes that are great for wildlife watching. If one afternoon here isn’t quite enough, there are a host of campsites along the shore as well.
Situated at the mouth of the Colorado River, this picturesque nature park is one of the best and most beautiful beaches near Houston. You can get there in under two hours from the downtown area, and once there, you’ll be greeted with white sand beaches, clear, clean water, and likely a nearly empty beach.
If you don’t feel like hauling all of your beach gear, you can simply rent supplies from the park. If you want to extend your trip, you can book a stay in one of the two Airstream trailers they have on-site. Of course, you can always camp in your own tent or RV as well.
The nature preserve is also a fun place to go birding, kayaking, hike through coastal marshes, or learn more about the flora and fauna of the area at the nature center. One of the best parts of this park is that entrance is free, year-round!
Located about an hour south of Houston on the Gulf of Mexico, Quintana Beach is one of the best in Texas.
The park spans across 52 acres, with soft white sand and a host of fun activities that the whole family will enjoy. All the classic beach day activities are at your disposal, from sunbathing and swimming to sandcastle building and boogie boarding. When the tide is out, beachcombing is another great way to spend your time here.
There’s also a lighted fishing pier, volleyball courts, a playground, and some paved trails that are great for bird watching. Two historic homes sit inside the park, so when you’ve had enough sun, you can visit and learn about these notable relics.
Bring your RV or book a cabin for the night. Tent camping is not available at this park, but nearby you’ll find free pitches at Bryant Beach and Follet’s Island Beach.
One of the most beautiful beaches in the country can be found at the Padre Island National Seashore, though it is a bit of a drive from Houston (around four hours to be exact). Spending a weekend or more here will allow you to enjoy all that the area has to offer.
The pristine coastline begs to be admired, and you could easily spend your whole weekend soaking up the sun or dipping your toes in the beautiful blue waters.
For those looking for more exciting things to do at the beach, you can partake in off-roading adventures, hike along miles of trails, reel in some fish, or go for a paddle.
Another popular family beach on the west end of Galveston, Jamaica Beach City Park offers a plethora of activities for kids of all ages and is a short drive from Houston.
Spend the day playing in the waves, relaxing on the warm sand, shooting hoops at one of the basketball courts, or frolicking on the playground. The park also has a public pool which you can access for a small fee.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite you can head over to the well-maintained picnic pavilion to enjoy some lunch.
The lovely Rockport Beach is quite a ways away from Houston, but those who make the trek will be rewarded with a stunning stretch of white sand beach.
Rockport is a great place for families due to the lack of big waves, and is also popular with couples looking for a romantic getaway.
The town is a fun place to spend the day, so don’t hesitate to check out the historic downtown area or grab a bite to eat once you’ve had enough of the sun and sand.