As the fourth largest city in the United States, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Houston. But when you need to get out of the city for the day, there are also plenty of day trips from Houston, since city is ideally situated and a short drive away from both the coast and the Texas Hill Country.
Here are the 15 best day trips from Houston.
1. Galveston Island
Galveston Island is one of the most popular and best day trips from Houston. Located in the Gulf of Mexico, the island is less than an hour away from Houston, and offers more than 30 miles of sandy beaches to enjoy, along with plenty of water activities, such as fishing, boating and many water sports.
Stroll along the pedestrian-friendly Seawall Boulevard and browse for souvenirs or grab a bite to eat or drink. Visitors looking for more thrills will find them in the many rides and attractions at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, Schlitterbahn Waterpark and the Moody Park theme park.
For a bit of history, go on a tour of Moody Mansion, Bishop’s Palace or Ship Elissa. To easily tour the highlights of Galveston, join a guided tour.
Located around 165 miles away, Austin is one of the best day trips from Houston for foodies and music lovers. The state capital of Texas is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” It also has a thriving arts and culture and culinary scene.
Many of Austin’s live music venues, bars, restaurants and art galleries can be found in the historic Sixth Street District, and tours of the area highlights are available. The 2nd Street District is home to more than 40 boutiques and retail outlets.
For a bit of history, stop by the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museumor join a free guided tour at the historic State Capitol. Enjoy outdoor recreation at Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Metropolitan Park and Mount Bonnell.
For a memorable and unique experience, head to the Congress Avenue Bridge where you can see the thousands of bats that live under the bridge take flight at dusk.
3. San Antonio
Located around 190 miles away from Houston, San Antonio is home to the Alamo, the site of a pivotal battle where Texas fought for its independence from Mexico.Learn all about the Battle of the Alamo on a tour of the Alamo. For more history, explore the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
If art is more your thing, check out the San Antonio Museum of Art or the McNay Art Museum. Families with kids will enjoy spending some time at the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium or the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. For a more thrilling experience, head to the Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park. Before leaving San Antonio, be sure to spendsome time at the San Antonio Riverwalk.
Stroll along the stone walkways of the Riverwalk or opt for a cruise down the San Antonio River. Enjoy dining al-fresco at one of the many restaurants here, or head to the historic Pearl District for more culinary delights.
For a hassle-free experience, opt for a full-day guided tour of San Antonio to experience the best the city has to offer.
Alternatively, once you completely explored San Antonio & looking for some day trips from San Antonio there are many options within your reach.
Located around 235 miles away from Houston, Dallas is a vibrant and bustling city with plenty to offer visitors. Learn all about President John F. Kennedy and his assassination at the Sixth Floor Museum. Art lovers will have plenty to explore, as Dallas has one of the largest art districts in the country.
Explore the Deep Ellum neighborhood, the Dallas Art Museum and the Nasher Sculpture center, or catch a performance at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Nature lovers will enjoy the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
For families with kids, a visit to the Dallas Zoo or the Dallas World Aquarium is sure to delight. Other highlights include the Perot Museum, Reunion Tower and the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
Before you leave, be sure to indulge in some retail therapy at Galleria Dallas and to try some local dishes – opt for a guided food tour to sample local favorites.
Located only 20 miles away from Houston, Kemah is one of the best day trips from Houston for those looking for easy, family fun. The main attraction here is the Kemah Boardwalk, a sprawling entertainment complex with arcades, midway games,amusement park rides and more. It’s free to walk the boardwalk, and you can pay per attraction for rides and games.
To experience the water, go for a thrilling ride on the Boardwalk Beast, a leisurely cruise on the Boardwalk FantaSea orpaddle out on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. There are also plenty of dining options here to suit all tastes, including the popular T-Bone Tom’s and the Aquarium Restaurant, with its Stingray Reef and Rainforest Exhibit.
6. Port Arthur
Located around 90 miles east of Houston, Port Arthur sits along the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of the best day trips from Houston for outdoor recreation, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, water sports and wildlife spotting.
Port Arthur also offers easy access to Sabine Lake, Sea Rim State Park and the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. To enjoy nature with all sorts of fun activities, head to Pleasure Island, a man-made entertainment hub with plenty of entertainment options. For a dose of history and architecture, explore historic Rose Hill Manor and Pompeiian Villa.
Learn about the region, including notable residents such as Janis Joplin, at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Get in touch with your spiritual side at the Faith Trail, where some of the most visited religious sites in the area are located.
Located around 75 miles northwest of Houston, Brenham is a charming country town surrounded by rolling fields, farmland and oak trees. Visitors flock here in the spring to see vast fields of bluebonnets in bloom. The downtown area is lined with historic buildings, antique and boutique shops, galleries and a nice selection of restaurants.
Spend some time exploring the Brenham History Museum and the Giddings Stone Mansion. Sample some local craft beer at the Brazos Valley Brewing Company. If wine is more to your taste, there are several wineries just outside of town, including Texas Star Winery, Pleasant Hill Winery and Saddlehorn Winery.
Before leaving town, be sure to stop at the Blue Bell Creamery and sample some of their delicious ice cream. Established in 1907, Blue Bell Creamery is a Texas institution. The birthplace of Texas is also nearby, at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
8. Texas City
Located only 40 miles southeast of Houston, Texas City offers a nice waterfront escape from the big city. One of the main attractions in town is the Texas City Dike Levee, one of the world’s longest man-made piers. Stretching for more than 5 miles, there are several boat ramps and plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic or go fishing along its length.
There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation here, including hiking, biking, kayaking and kiteboarding. Enjoy the beach at the Texas City Prairie Preserve. Learn all about the city at the Texas City Museum. Or shop until you drop at Tanger Outlets Galveston, featuring more than 80 retail shops.
Located only 27 miles away from downtown Houston, Cypress makes for a super easy day trip destination. Indulge in some retail therapy at the Houston Premium Outlets, featuring more than 140 retail outlets and discounted shopping. Families with kids looking for some educational play should check out the Little Beakers Science Lab for Kids.
For more active options, check out the Urban Air Trampoline Park and Adventure Park. There are several parks where you can enjoy nature and the great outdoors, including Cypress Park, Dyess Park and John Paul Landing Park. Golf fans should play a round at the Blackhorse Golf Club.
Round out your visit with a stop at the Boardwalk at Towne Lake, offering shops, restaurants and a variety of entertainment options.
10. Corpus Christi
Located along the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi is located around 200 miles southwest of Houston. Head to one of the many beaches along the Padre Island National Seashore to enjoy the ocean breeze, sandy shores and plenty of wildlife.
The USS Lexington, which fought in World War II, is also located in Corpus Christi. There’s an onboard museum, escape room, flight simulator and theater. Animal lovers and families with kids should plan to spend some time at the Texas State Aquarium, home to more than 450 different species of sea creatures, including some native to the Gulf of Mexico.
Other museums of note include the Art Museum of South Texas, the Selena Museum and the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.
Located in central Texas, Waco is about 185 miles northwest of Houston. First-timers should start with the Silo District Trolley, which offers visitors a free narrated tour of interesting spots downtown, including the Magnolia Market, made famous by HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” series.
Fans of the show can also tour some of the homes featured on the show. Waco has several interesting museums and attractions well worth visiting, including the Waco Mammoth National Monument, the Dr. Pepper Museum and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.
There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation here, including along the Brazos River, the Bosque River, Lake Waco and the Lake Waco Wetlands. If you’d rather sample the local flavors, there are several popular breweries, two wineries, a distillery and a food truck park worth checking out.
Located in central Texas, around 190 miles away from Houston, Killeen is the home of the Fort Hood military base.
For those with an interest in military history, the 1st Cavalry Division Museum and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Museum are must-see attractions. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation in Killeen, including three public golf courses and two lakes ideal for swimming, fishing, boating and more.
The Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area is a popular spot, and offers hiking and mountain biking trails, horseback riding, paintball, basketball and volleyball courts. Killeen is also home to the Mayborn Science Theater, one of the only planetariums in the region. And for a dose of history, check out the Bell County Museum.
13. College Station
Located around 95 miles northwest of Houston, College Station is the home of Texas A&M University.
The university itself offers several points of interest, including galleries and museums, gardens and the Bonfire Memorial. Take a campus tour or catch a game in season at famous Kyle Field. Other interesting museums in town include the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the Museum of the American GI, the Brazos Valley African American Museum and the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History.
See animals up close at Aggieland Safari. You can sample nearly 100 different wines at the Messina Hof Winery, which also allows visitors to pick and stomp grapes during harvest. And if beer is more to your taste, there are several breweries in town as well.
14. Lafayette, Louisiana
Located around 215 miles east of Houston, Lafayette is one of the best day trips from Houston for those looking to leave the state of Texas. Lafayette is in the heart of Cajun country in Louisiana.
Food is a huge part of Lafayette so be sure to try local favorites such as boudin, gumbo and po’boys. Music is another big part of the culture so be sure to listen to some live Cajun or zydeco music. There are plenty of restaurant options in downtown Lafayette, along with interesting shops, boutiques and galleries.
For a bit of history and culture, visit the 23-acre Vermilionville historic and folklife park. Enjoy some time on the water on the Vermilion River or on beautiful Cypress Lake on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s campus.
15. San Marcos
Located around 165 miles west of Houston, the city of San Marcos is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with more than 800 acres of outdoor recreation opportunities within the city limits itself.
There are plenty of parks, open spaces, and hiking and biking trails to explore. The San Marcos River is perfect for swimming, tubing, canoeing and kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. For those who want to get on the water but don’t want to get wet, a glass-bottomed boat is a great alternative.
Brush up on history and culture at the Calaboose African American Museum or the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. Visitors can also indulge in some retail therapy in San Marcos, with several popular outlet malls in town, including the San Marcos Premium Outlets and the Tanger Outlets.