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Day Trip Ideas Near Houston

Day Trip Ideas Near Houston

Explore these day trip ideas near Houston for the whole family.

Everyone likes to escape the big city life for a day somewhere not so fast-paced. Is that you? Small towns are known for that. Some of the best day trips from Houston are only an hour’s drive, depending on where in the city you are starting out.  Whether you’re a local, a visitor, or on a business trip with a day to spare, review these day trip ideas near Houston for the entire family, then get in the car and drive.

Amazing Day Trip Ideas Near Houston

It’s time to get in the car for a road trip to a place other than the busy city. Let’s go.

• Lake Conroe

Lake Conroe is a beautiful 21,000-acre lake that offers water sports of every kind. When I visited last year, I went on a boat, but renting a kayak or jet skis is fun, too. There are two public access points for swimming. Fishing is also a favorite recreational pastime at the lake.

How To Get There:

From Houston on I45 N, like you’re headed to Dallas, is about a 47-minute drive from downtown Houston …on a good day.

• Sam Houston National Forest

Take a drive to the great outdoors to one of the best National Forests in Texas. Sam Houston National Forest is one of the finest forests in Texas, showing off its natural beauty. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the forest. Look for the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail.

How To Get There:

If you go to Conroe, set your GPS to the forest, which will take you to the backroads. It’s where I took the above photo. If you love nature and the outdoors, you’ll want to take some time to explore this national forest. It’s a little over an hour’s drive from Houston and is in New Waverly, TX.

Admission: Different fees apply for various activities. Call ahead. Many have told me they get in for free, and camping is free.

• Port Arthur

Port Arthur has great local wildlife, Sea Rim State Park with a sandy beach to put your feet in or swim in, Janis Joplin’s hometown, and the Museum of the Gulf Coast are fabulous. I could have stayed all day reading about famous actors and singers from the area and about the legendary Janis Joplin. Explore other ways to have a great day in Port Arthur.

How To Get There:

If you have a full day to spare, start on US- 90 E for about 2 1/2 hours. If you plan to go birding, bring some insect repellant – the mosquitoes are horrible.

• Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail

About an hour away from Houston, you can be on a self-guided wine trail winding around to several different wineries in the area. What a perfect thing to do on a beautiful spring day. The Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail offers several themed wine tours throughout the year.

How To Get There:

A great place to start is at Cork This! Winery (Montgomery, TX), ending at Saddlehorn Winery in Burton, TX.

Cattail Marsh

• Beaumont

Beaumont has many attractions such as museums, Gator Country, and Cattail Marsh Wetlands at Tyrrell Park Wetlands to watch the birds. Grab some Cajun food anywhere in town when you’re ready to eat. Here is more information on fun things to do in Beaumont with kids.

How To Get There:

Beaumont is 86 miles east of Houston on I-10 … keep going, and you’ll be in Louisiana.

• Water Parks Near Houston

If the kids are with you, you’ll likely be talked into going to a water park. If so, Typhoon Texas Waterpark is a 30-minute drive from downtown in Katy, TX, and Calypso Cove, also about a 30-minute drive in the other direction in Baytown, TX.

• Texas State Parks Near Houston

If you want to hit a few state parks nearby, here are some that would make a great road trip.

Brazos Bend State Park

This beautiful Texas State Park is only 51 minutes in Needleville, TX, on SH 288 S.

Admission: $7 per person 13 and older. Gate Hours: 8 am-10 pm daily. No swimming or boating due to alligators in the water!

Village Creek State Park

This heavily forested state park is in the Piney Woods of eastern Texas of Lumberton. It is named for Village Creek, a clean, sand-bottomed, free-flowing tributary of the Neches River. It’s a 1-1/2 hour’s drive from Houston and 10 miles north of Beaumont on the edge of the Big Thicket.

Admission: $4. Children under 12 are free.

Galveston Island State Park

An hour’s drive to the park, you can play in the water, fish, and collect sea shells.

Admission: $5. Children under 12 are free.

• College Station

College Station is more than a college town; it’s a great destination to learn about history. I was amazed at all the outdoor parks, the lovely George W. Bush Presidential Center, and the fact that he & Mrs. G. W. Bush are buried behind it. My favorite outdoor park is the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial, where life-like statues tell the story of 9/11. You’ll want to take enough time to take a self-guided tour to read about 9/11 –it practically brought me to tears.

If you’re musically inclined, head to the metro area (Century Square) for a weekend of live music.

How To Get There: 

In Central Texas via FM 1774 N for 100 miles or so. People from Houston come here for Santa Wonderland in December, and many parents travel to visit Texas A&M.

• Brenham, Texas

If you are a fan of ice cream or better yet – Texas Blue Bell ice cream, you may want to take a road trip to Brenham. Brenham is home to Blue Bell Creameries. Look down on the creamery from the observation deck, read about the history of Blue Bell in the visitor center, shop at the country store, meander around the premises, and get a photo of the old-timey Blue Bell truck. And the best part is one dip of ice cream is only $1. While you’re there, look for the historic homes and peruse the historic town for antiques and stuff!

Pro Tip: The ice cream parlor and everything else are only open during the week, not on Sat & Sun.

How To Get There:

About 1.5 hours via US-290 W, you’ll be in Brenham.

• Johnson Space Center Houston

One of the best trip ideas near Houston and one of the best places to learn about what’s new in space is the Space Center Houston. Get involved in the virtual reality of space, and be sure to check out upcoming events.

Who would have thought live music would be at the center? But it is, and Rick Springfield and David Cook (winner of American Idol) will be there in March, plus a festival.

Tickets: Includes Mission Control Tour $40+

How To Get There:

From downtown Houston to the space center – take I-45 S for about 45 minutes.

• Kemah Boardwalk

Kemah is a city on Galveston Bay. Kemah Boardwalk is open year-round with entertainment, an amusement park with fun and exciting rides, seaside shows, waterfront dining, shopping, and more for the whole family.

How To Get There:

About 45 minutes on TX-225 E & N Hwy 146 S towards Galveston.

• Gulf Of Mexico (Galveston)

Besides the Gulf Coast Stewart Beach, Moody Gardens is a popular attraction, as is the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. You can’t go wrong with a day trip here with all the wonderful outdoor activities. If you’re a history enthusiast, historic Galveston has historic buildings downtown that are gorgeous and worth visiting. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, you’ll want to know where to eat in Galveston.

How To Get There:

On I-45 S, for about an hour from downtown Houston, depending on traffic, you’ll be putting your feet in the sand and water!

FYI – If you have all day and want to see the riverwalk, downtown Houston is about 2 1/2 hours from downtown San Antonio – and that’s probably with no traffic issues. Plan your journey with these day trip ideas near Houston today!


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