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Best Day Road Trips From Houston

by Pankaj Upreti
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Road Trips From Houston

View of Houston city
Houston | Photo Credit – araza123

Houston is a city in Texas, United States. It is really great for vacations and even better if you wish to explore the areas around it via a road trip. The landscape of Texas and the travel opportunities it offers make for really great road trip options. From cities with museums and lavish restaurants, to drives through scenic landscapes, Houston road trips have a lot to offer.

There are many what to do in Houston, visit state parks around the city that will let you delve into nature and at the same time, there is a plethora of cities that will showcase their rich and vibrant culture for you. Keep reading below to find out about the best day road trips you can take from Houston, Texas.

Galveston Island

Galveston Island,  Around 50 miles south from the Houston.
Galveston Island, few miles from Houston | Photo Credit – eutrophication&hypoxia

This coastal location is one of very sought after day trips from Houston. Around 50 miles south from the city, Galveston Island is easily accessible and makes for a really great day road trip.  Galveston is known for its history and culture and more famously for its beaches. The city is built in a Victorian setting and the slow paced life of the area will make you want to stay here forever.

There are over 32 miles of beaches to explore on Galveston island and there are are a lot of things to do here like museums and antique shops. Great for sea adventures, you can take a cruise ship at Galveston Island out to the Gulf of Mexico to watch dolphins up close.

San Antonio

San Antonio, Must visit place from Houston
San Antonio, Must visit place from Houston | Photo Credit – Dewan S. Rahman

San Antonio is a city that is well known to tourists. A day trip to San Antonio is going to be a remarkable addition to your day trip scene while in Houston. The colonial history of San Antonio is what it is known most for. The Alamo is a major attraction here, which is a 18th century Spanish mission building that has been preserved as a museum.

This building is a marker and memorial to the Texan battle of independence in 1836. The city is a varied mix of colonial and modern culture, and along with the museums and buildings in the city, San Antonio has a number of nature areas for you to relax at. Take the Riverwalk for example and the Natural Bridge Caverns, both really great places that would make your day trip to the city want to never end.


Dallas, best day trips from Houston
Dallas, best day trips from Houston | Photo Credit – Peyri Herrera

Dallas is a Texas city that can be named as one of the best day trips from Houston.  Home to over 1.3 million people, Dallas will welcome you into its community and make you never want to leave. This city is modern and still is able to preserve history inside. There are a number of clubs, restaurants, and museums in Dallas that make it one of the best cities to visit while you are in Texas.

Find yourself at Dealey Plaza and explore the exhibit of JFK. The place also offers a great deal of information regarding the assassination of the president. Another great location in Dallas is the Dallas Museum of Art that lets you connect with history through a stroll. There are displays here that can be classified as really ancient, some as old as 5000 years old.

Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park, Awesome trip from Houston
Brazos Bend State Park, Awesome trip from Houston | Photo Credit – TimothyJ

This state park is located along the Brazos river in east Texas. Find a great load of activities to do while you’re at Brazos Bend such as camping, wildlife photography, biking, hiking and bird watching. Fishing at the state park is another very sought after activity. The natural beauty of the park will have you relaxing in no time at all. There are swamps, marshes, ponds, lakes and grasslands here, all of which can be accessed via guided tours.

Stargazing is another activity that is prevalent here as the place is free from pollution and is serene and peaceful. You can even opt for horseback riding while you are here, contributing to just how rewarding day trips to the state park can be. Clearly, a visit here makes for one of really awesome trips from Houston.

Sam Houston National Forest

Few minutes drive from Houston city, Sam Houston National Forest
Few minutes drive from Houston city, Sam Houston National Forest | Photo Credit – Adrian Delgado2012

This is another of really great day trips from Houston. The Sam Houston National Forest is located around 50 miles from Houston city. You can find a lot of things to do while you are here, such as hiking through its numerous trails and even mountain biking. This is the most popular of the four national forest regions in Texas.

There are a number of ecosystems here, each unique and features unique wildlife. Natural features in the National Forest include creeks, rivers, lakes, streams all connected via trails that run through the entirety of the park. The most famous trail here is the Lone Star Hiking trail.


Austin | Photo Credit – Counse

Austin is a famous city in Texas and is one of the best day trips from Houston. It takes around 2 hours to drive from Houston to Austin and the city is known for being Texas’ capital and for its vivid nightlife. Known for blues music, Austin is the music capital of Texas and while you are here, be sure to delve into the music scene of the city.

You will find many things to do while in Austin such as boating in the Lady Bird Lake and swimming at the Barton Springs Pool. Zilker Park is a really great place to relax and unwind while here in Austin.

Ice Cream at Houston

While not technically a day trip from Houston, but we felt like we must mention the joy of the famous Blue Bell ice cream while you find yourself in Houston. The Blue Bell Creameries make ice cream in the old fashioned way, and craft the most delicious cones for you to try.

Supple, delicious and absolutely flavorful, be sure to enjoy ice cream while at Houston as a great experience. Grab a cone and then move over to any of the day trips listed in this article.

Mustang Island

Mustang Island | Photo Credit – Angel Schatz

Mustang island is one of the best day trips you can take from Houston. An active location for many species of birds, over 400 to be exact, Mustang Island is known to be a birdwatching paradise. The place is also an active nesting site for sea turtles, and therefore the authorities are known to caution visitors into being careful.

The beach at Mustang Island is spread over 5 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. While you are here, there are many things that you can do, such as hikes in the coast and swimming in the sea.

New Orleans

New Orleans | Photo Credit – Pedro Szekely

Louisiana’s crowning city, New Orleans is an example of what iconic culture means. A colonial town that still keeps alive its vibrant culture, New Orleans is a really great place to visit from Houston. Like Austin, the music scene in New Orleans is just breathtaking, and there are live shows and musicians down on every corner you can find.

New Orleans is also known as big easy, and once you are here, you will lose yourself in the blues and country music scene down here. Nightlife at New Orleans is another matter entirely. New Orleans is an experience of a lifetime, with welcoming people and beautiful music, coming here is certainly the best decision to make.

Sabine National Forest

This place lies in the Eastern border of Texas. The hiking trails here featuring pine forests are absolutely breathtaking, and boating at the Toledo Bend Reservoir is a great experience in itself. Head on to Red Hills Lake while you’re here and find the Boles Field shelters as places of interest.

The park allows camping overnight, so get your tents and picks and find a nice place by the river. There are a number of natural wonders here, such as ponds, lakes and streams. Get lost in the magic of the Sabine forest.

USS Lexington

USS Lexington | Photo Credit – Alan Wilson

Also known as Lady Lex, the USS Lexington is a US NAVY ship that was very significant for the country from 1925 to 1942. The ships tenure ended when it sunk in the Coral sea. You can tour the USS Lexington with your guide and learn more about the intricacies of the US Navy. There are guided tours and informative excursion to spend time at while you are here, making this a veritable day trip.

The ship as 11 decks and you can even get the thrill of experiencing a flight simulator while you are here. This flight simulator allows you to land on the USS Lexington aircraft carrier and you can even test out a virtual battle station using it. All in all, this trip from Houston can be a great addition to your travels and is certainly one you must undertake.

Southern Star Brewery

The Southern Star are famous for their brews all over the state and the country. They are known to be the pioneers of craft beer in Texas ever since they started in 2007. Over the years, their demand has increased significantly and they then began to operate from a new location which features a custom tap room.

The brewery is unique in the fact that they offer insights into the making of their liquors. You can plan a trip here and come to learn about the brewing process and learn even more about their uniquely tasting beers. The brewery offers tours every Thursday to Sunday from 2 to 4 PM.

Railean Rum Distillery

Another one of alcohol themed day trips, a visit to the Railean Rum Distillery will take you to San Leon which is a small community with ‘a fishing problem’. The distillery will provide you with tours where you will be able to learn not only about the brewing process, but also the distilling, ageing and bottling.

Texas has had a rich history with alcohol, wit bootlegged moonshine being produced in a large scale during the prohibition. The Railean Rum Distillery is a reminder of those days. Whiskey, Rum, Vodka and Agave are produced here and the taste of the place is nothing short of incredible.

Museum in Houston

Okay, this is another section which explores day trips in Houston rather than from. There are a number of museums in Houston and visiting them can make for a really great day trip. In this section, we will point you to the best museums you can visit while you find yourself in Houston:

  • Space Center Houston: This is a really great place and explores a theme that Houston is most known for: space. The center showcases replicas of shuttles and even a replica of Skylab, a space station known to be the first in America. The center features information about NASA projects such a moon landing and the future colonization of Mars. Bring children here and they are sure to learn loads and loads about space and science. The Johnson Space Center is accessible through here, the place of Houston’s mission control and astronaut training center. There are tram tours available here that will let you tour the entire facility and explore areas such as the Rocket Park, where there are old rockets on display.
  • Stark Museum of Art: This is another one of really famous places in Houston. You must visit Stark Museum while you are here as it houses one of the world’s largest collections of Western American art. A place full of knowledge, you must come here and let the learning speak to you. There are dramatic landscapes, replicas of people and wildlife and exhibits featuring artworks, books and manuscripts.
  • San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site: This national site is the home to the 567 feet tall San Jacinto Monument that celebrates the decisive battle of Texas. The museum here relates the story of Texan independence and also features other historic exhibits. While you are here, be sure to ride the elevator all the way up to view the entire site from an observation deck.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts: This museum contains over 63000 works that range from Italian Renaissance to Impressionism and decorative arts. The museum contains exhibits featuring arts and culture from all over the world, with some of the pieces being as old as 6000 years. Take a guided tour while you are here to guarantee a perfect exploration of this huge museum. The two main areas of the museum are the Audrey Jones Beck building and the Caroline Wiess Law Building. The connection between these two is called the Wilson Tunnel which is a major attraction for the museum.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science: Located in Hermann Park, this is the most visited museum here. The attractions of the museum include ice and stone age exhibits to space age explorations. Find dinosaur exhibits here along with rare gems, fossils and artifacts representing many ancient cultures. There is also a planetarium here. Take a guided tour to fully explore this great location and take away with you history, culture and knowledge.

There are many more museums in Houston, which would perhaps be best explored in a list of their own. You can spend your entire day visiting Houston museums and still be short of visiting all of them. For a day trip, this is a really great thing.  There are many more and you can plan your trip to make an entire day of museum visiting.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur | Photo Credit – SC National Guard

Located around an hour and a half away, Port Arthur can be the dream escape you are looking for. Lying on the coast and as such has more than one beaches. Relax in the sand and surf, sunbathe and swim to your heart’s content. There are many species of wildlife native to the region and of the things to do here, the focus is on outdoor activities.

You can choose to hike, cycle, fish and even engage in boat tours and watersports. Apart from these outdoor activities, Port Arthur also features a number of cultural destinations such as museums, and a location known as Faith Trail which is known for harboring monuments dedicated to a number of religions. Be sure to try delicious food at one of the many restaurants while here in Port Arthur.

We hope our list features the best things to do around and nearby Houston was helpful to you in your travel planning. Houston is a really great place and not only is filled with a number of attractions, the areas surrounding it are also great locations in themselves.

In this time problematized with the Covid 19 crisis, be sure to travel safely and take care of your health as well as of others. Be sure to maintain and follow the social distancing norms and make sure your travels are exciting, safe and filled with happy memories!

Please also read things to do in Houston.

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