Did you know that Houston is the only large city in America that has recorded more than 100 days a year of temperatures over 100 degrees? This past June, temperatures at both Hobby and Bush airports hit temperatures above 100 degrees for the first time in recorded history. Even native Houstonians are having to find creative ways to enjoy the hottest months of the year outside of our current norms and traditions.
As a child of the 80s and 90s, I can remember spending long summer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but the current weather requires access to water to help get a reprieve from the scorching heat. The phrase, “This is not the same sun we got dropped off at Astroworld in” has never been more accurate, as Houstonians try to find ways to enjoy their summer without succumbing to the brutal temperatures.
And as temperatures and gas prices continue to rise across the country, it is a great time to explore cooling down at some of the beaches in the Houston area.
When it comes to visiting beaches in the Houston area, the most popular and historic beaches are the ones that make up Galveston Beaches. Since Galveston is a straight shot down I-45, the commute is easy and accessible in about an hour’s drive from the middle of Houston.
East Beach is the most popular of Galveston’s beaches and has amenities like the boardwalk and entertainment areas that are perfect for Houstonians of all ages. As the name implies, East Beach is at the far eastern tip of Galveston Island, and unlike many of the beaches located on the Galveston strip, alcoholic beverages are permissible. Like many Houstonians, I grew up with family road trips to Galveston, and the Galveston seawall is filled with many seafood serving restaurants like Gaidos, a fan favorite since 1911.
There are several beaches to choose from on the 32 miles of coastline that makeup Galveston Island beaches, and outside of parking fees, trips to Galveston are an easy commute from Houston that is friendly for all budgets and types of travelers. Whether you prefer catching your favorite band at one of the entertainment venues, fishing and/or shopping for the freshest catch, or just catching some rays and waves with your family members or friends, Galveston has a beach for you.
Another popular Galveston Beach that is constantly ranked at the top of the list for families is Stewart Beach. Stewart Beach is home to activities like beach volleyball, cornhole, and giant Jenga, and for a nominal parking fee, families can spend the day enjoying the available concessions.
In the same way that most Houstonians are familiar with the beaches of Galveston, another popular local favorite is Surfside Beach. Surfside is known for its waves and as a popular family getaway that is located about an hour south of Houston. While only four miles long, Surfside is a beach known for its family atmosphere and is perfect for lounging and/or swimming.
There are a handful of restaurants to enjoy in the area, and kids love the Splash Pad Park which features a 2,000 square-foot splash pad for chilling out to beat the Texas sun. The only recommendation is that you get there early, because it can get crowded fast, especially with current Texas summer temperatures. However, you can also rent one of the many beach houses, stay overnight in a hotel, or if you have an RV come ready to park it and have a good time.
For those that like to fish and/or catch blue shell crabs, you can drive a little further to McFaddin Beach in Winnie, TX. McFaddin Beach is about two hours away from Houston and is located outside of Port Arthur as part of McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. Although you have to be mindful of the alligators that share the waters, the crabs and fish are plentiful at this free public access beach, and you can come back home with a large haul for your next seafood feast.
Last but not least, a new favorite gem is Lago Mar. This man-made tropical paradise boasts the largest crystal clear lagoon in Texas and for a fee, you can enjoy some fun in the sun with your loved ones. Lago Mar is located about half an hour from Houston and opened in 2021 as part of a residential neighborhood. While neighborhood residents get perks like free entry, visitors can purchase tickets to enjoy the amenities at Lago Mar. Whether you are looking to swim in the crystal blue waters, enjoy non-motorized sports like paddleboarding, dance to a featured band, or sip adult beverages at Paradise Shore Beach, the adult-only side of Lago Mar, there is something for everyone.
Unlike most Houston area beaches, Lago Mar is not open year round and can only be enjoyed for a few months out of the year. Be sure to check their website for special events and/or tickets prior to your visit to verify availability as they do offer day pass bundles and summer passes.
Houston area beaches are a great way to enjoy these sweltering summer months and can be a fantastic getaway for family and friends alike.