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Alex Mellon / © Culture Trip
Alex Mellon / © Culture Trip
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The 11 Best Vacation Spots in Texas for Families

Picture of Sarah Karney
Updated: 14 November 2018
Planning a trip for the whole family? These 11 Texas vacation spots offer fun for all ages, wherever you go in the Lone Star State.

South Padre Island

Take a relaxing beach trip to South Padre Island. There are tons of hotels and large condos for families of all sizes to stay in, many within walking distance to the white-sandy beaches. The ocean brings with it a range of activities, including jet skiing, fishing, surfing and dolphin watching. For a more high-energy activity, check out the Schlitterbahn, a huge water and amusement park with slides, rides, on-site lodging and eateries.

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A view above the bird blinds at South Padre Island, Texas | © Hundley Photography / Shutterstock

Dallas

The question isn’t ‘what is there to do in Dallas?’ It’s ‘what isn’t there to do?’ This enormous city has it all, from theme parks to great shopping to every type of restaurant anyone could ever dream of. Six Flags Over Texas is a fun day trip with roller coasters, fair treats and arcade games for all ages. Cross the road to catch a Texas Rangers baseball game or the Dallas Cowboys in the fall. For a relaxing day, take a picnic to the expansive Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which has more than 66 acres to explore and a kid-sized pioneer village.

Downtown Dallas, TX from the air
Downtown Dallas from the air | © Bill Crump / Alamy Stock Photo

San Antonio, Texas

Take a leisurely trip downstream on one of the boats on the San Antonio Riverwalk, then stop by one of the bordering restaurants for an authentic Tex-Mex meal. Catch a Spurs basketball game at the AT&T Center, or visit the DoSeum, an interactive kid’s museum. The Alamo is a great place to explore and learn about Texas history. San Antonio also has quite a few unique attractions: families can go on a 400-acre safari at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch as well as dine and get 360-degree views of the city from 750 feet up at the Tower of the Americas.

Part of the San Antonio riverwalk with buildings and restaurants lining the river
Part of the San Antonio riverwalk with buildings and restaurants lining the river | © RZUS_Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Houston

Houston boasts some of Texas’s best family-friendly attractions. Stop by the Space Center to meet an astronaut, see real space gear, and visit Mission Control. The Downtown Aquarium doubles as an amusement park and also features a restaurant surrounded by a 150,000-gallon aquarium. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is also great for kids, and its butterfly center in a simulated rainforest is a must-see for all ages.

Houston, Texas, USA downtown city skyline from Buffalo Bayou Park
Houston’s skyline seen from Buffalo Bayou Park | © Faina Gurevich / Alamy Stock Photo

Marfa, Texas

Leave behind the bustling city life and take a vacation in Marfa. An adventure in Big Bend National Park alone could occupy you for weeks, with horseback riding, bird watching, hiking, rafting and camping. At night, keep an eye out for the Marfa lights, mysterious orbs that occasionally light up the night sky. Scientists are yet to provide conclusive answers on this strange phenomenon. If your family finds camping is a bit too primitive and prefers a hotel, stay at the luxurious and historic Hotel Paisano.

Downtown Marfa, West Texas.
Downtown Marfa, West Texas | © Luc Novovitch / Alamy Stock Photo

Fort Worth

Fort Worth, Texas cattle drive
Fort Worth, Texas, cattle drive | © Patrick Urban / Alamy Stock Photo

Though it is located close to Dallas, Fort Worth is a town all of its own and one of the most family-friendly Texas vacation spots. The Fort Worth Stockyards features a taste of old Texas with two daily cattle walks led by real cowboys, along with shops, rodeos and restaurants. The Fort Worth Zoo is one of the best in the state, hosting close to 7,000 exotic animals. The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is also worth a visit for all ages, with an IMAX dome, planetarium, and a variety of exhibits inside.

Fort Worth Skyline and buildings at dusk, Downtown Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Fort Worth skyline and buildings at dusk | © Keith Kapple / Alamy Stock Photo

Grapevine, Texas

Grapevine is not, as some may think, just an extension of Dallas and Fort Worth, and it has its own unique attractions, like LEGOLAND Discovery Center, which features rides and playscapes. The Parr Park Sprayground is a 31-acre park with plenty of dry and water-based playgrounds and picnic areas. Hop aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad for a one-of-a-kind adventure in a 1920s train that travels from Grapevine to Fort Worth.

Railway Station, Grapevine, Texas, USA
Railway Station, Grapevine, Texas | © CameronPhotography / Alamy Stock Photo

Galveston

Looking over Galveston Texas from above
Looking over Galveston, Texas, from above | © Eric Overton / Alamy Stock Photo

Just off the Gulf Coast near Houston is Galveston. Have a retro day at the Galveston Island Pleasure Pier with rides, games and a variety of restaurants to choose from. Learn about the history of railway transportation at the Galveston Railroad Museum, which hosts different events and exhibitions throughout the year. View some sea life at the Rainforest Pyramid, a glass pyramid with a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium, or in the wild at East Beach.

Galveston Island, Texas.
Galveston Island, Texas | © kanokwalee / Alamy Stock Photo

Austin

Looking down Lady Bird Lake to the west, you have a great view of the Austin Skyline and Congress Bridge.
Looking down Lady Bird Lake to the west, with the view of the Austin Skyline and Congress Bridge on the horizon | © Rob Greebon / Alamy Stock Photo

Austin is great for introducing the little ones to live music, but there’s so much more to do here. If the weather is nice, which it is for most of the year, swim at Deep Eddy Pool, Barton Springs Pool, or find a personal oasis along the Greenbelt. A kid’s train runs around Zilker Park, and food trucks throughout the city please every palate. There’s always something fun going on in Austin, whether it’s Eeyore’s Birthday Party, the annual Kite Festival, or the family-friendly Austin City Limits Festival.

People swim in the outdoor swimming pool at Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas, on a hot sunny summer day.
People swim in the outdoor swimming pool at Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas | © Adam Gasson / Alamy Stock Photo

Amarillo

For a true Texas vacation, visit the historic Route 66 on the way to Amarillo in North Texas. Cadillac Ranch, an art installation that welcomes graffiti from visitors, is one of North Texas’s strangest and most iconic sites. Visit Bill’s Backyard Classics to see old cars, including collectable hot rods. Then take a journey to the Palo Duro Canyon, also known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas,’ with huge cliffs and 60-foot ravines you can explore on foot or by horseback, bike or car.

World famous Cadillacs stand guard just west of Amarillo, Texas. This roadside attraction is a recognized pop art treasure.
World-famous Cadillacs stand guard just west of Amarillo, Texas. This roadside attraction is a recognized Pop art treasure | © W. Michael Wiggins / Alamy Stock Photo

Texas Hill Country

Part road trip, part journey back through time, the Texas Hill Country is a beautiful oasis of greenery and rolling hills in Central Texas. There are multiple wineries for the adults throughout, but Fredericksburg is a great pit stop for the whole family, with homey B&Bs, racing and live music. Swimming, fishing and boating are also plentiful in the area at places such as Lake Whitney and Aquilla Lake.

Twin White Horses grazing in a field filled with lavender and purple flowers during springtime in the Texas Hill Country.
Twin white horses grazing in a field filled with lavender and purple flowers during springtime in the Texas Hill Country | © Michael Smith / Alamy Stock Photo