Beaches Within Driving Distance of Houston, Texas

Stewart Beach in Galveston is a popular family-friendly destination
Stewart Beach in Galveston is a popular family-friendly destination | © Tricia Daniel / Alamy Stock Photo
Texas has many famous cities – among them Dallas and Austin – but only Houston has beaches. Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico means it has all the sun and sand that a city dweller craves after a long week trekking down miles of pavement, and its beaches are some of the best in the US.

Galveston Beach

Natural Feature
The Pleasure Pier extends over the sea and has rides and attractions in Galveston, Texas, USA.. Image shot 2016. Exact date unknown.
© Tricia Daniel / Alamy Stock Photo

While Galveston Beach is not the closest to the city, it’s Houston’s most popular beach destination. It’s located on Galveston Island, which features 32mi (51km) of beautiful beaches and enough entertainment venues and activities to fill multiple holidays. The main beach features a long stretch of sandy shoreline and a promenade, but if that doesn’t take your fancy, you’re within walking distance of a beach for every type of holidaymaker. It only takes an hour from Houston by car to reach this island paradise of endless entertainment.

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El Jardin Beach

Natural Feature

One of the smaller beaches in the area without entertainment venues nearby, El Jardin is a little gem – a quiet oasis away from the noise and crowds of the larger and more popular beaches. It’s perfect for people who seek peace and quiet and want to lay on a beach towel and maybe dip their toes in the water. Take a 40-minute drive from central Houston to truly feel like you’ve escaped the bustling city.

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Sea Rim State Park

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Viewing walkway amid the marshland of Sea Rim State Park in far-southeast Texas
© Alpha Stock / Alamy Stock Photo

Situated on 5mi (8km) of shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea Rim State Park lets you paddle, kayak and have all sorts of fun in the tranquil waters. You can even camp on the beach at certain times of the year. It’s also home to thousands of acres of marshes, which you can explore along the Gambusia Nature Trail Boardwalk. However, the marshes’ waters are off-limits to the public due to the alligators hiding just under the surface. A two-hour drive from central Houston leads you to this coastal gem.

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Sylvan Beach Park

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Rather than nature reserves, boardwalks, hiking paths or any other extras you can find at beaches around Houston, Sylvan Beach Park offers white sand, no seaweed and calm waters. It’s perfect if you’re after simple pleasures. It’s also the closest beach to Houston, at only a 30-minute drive away, so your escape from the urban jungle is just around the corner.

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East Beach

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Escape to the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, visit beautiful East Beach on Galveston Island; feel the sand between your toes and revel in the lapping waves
© PictureThis / Alamy Stock Photo

Well known for its festivals and concerts, East Beach is one of the largest beaches in Texas. As it’s one of the few beaches that allows alcohol, it does have a reputation as a “party beach” and has a good number of amenities, including restrooms, restaurants and bars. It’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a more lively atmosphere and is an hour’s drive from central Houston.

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Stewart Beach

Natural Feature

Stewart Beach is a perfect choice for families, as alongside its broad, clean, sandy shores is a host of facilities, such as showers, restrooms and plenty of places to buy food and drinks. The calm waters and lifeguard patrols also ensure this is among the safer options for groups with younger members. This beach is also located on Galveston Island.

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These recommendations were updated on July 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.