Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
Here’s the thing, living in Houston and being immersed in our everyday routine, I forget we can have our toes in the sand in an hour if we just decide to go! On top of that, Texas beaches get a bad wrap. Sure, the water is far from any shade of blue, but unlike the Pacific or Atlantic, our Gulf waters are warm. Plus, speaking with pride about our brownish hued shores gives us a chance to talk to kids about the mighty Mississippi silt deposits and environmental efforts working towards cleaner oceans. Now that all three of our children are confirmed beach bums, we are making it a point this summer to branch out and day trip to beaches other than Galveston.
The beach you can drive on: Surfside Beach
Located just south of Galveston near Freeport, TX is Surfside Beach. There are two sides to Surfside Beach, the “pedestrian beach” and the vehicular side. That’s right, you can drive directly onto the beach at Surfside, which is one of the reasons we love it. That means no lugging all your beach gear from a far off parking lot. It’s known for having waters and sand a bit clearer and cleaner than Galveston, plus you can swing by Surfin’ Rita Daiquiris To-Go for sno-cones and more grown-up beverages to enjoy on the beach.
Cost: You will need to buy a $12 beach pass if you want to drive onto the beach, but it is good for a full year! The pedestrian side is free.
The hidden gem: Quintana Beach
Quintana Beach is 52-acres of Texas coastline that is open year round. It is situated a little further south than Surfside and is a pedestrian-only beach. While most people come for day trips, they do have RV campsites, self-contained cabins, restrooms with showers, a playground, picnic tables and grills, making it easy to fill up a whole weekend.
Cost: $5 to park during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The kayaking beach: Matagorda Beach
If you are looking to change up your beach routine, try out Matagorda Beach just south of Lake Jackson. Matagorda Adventure Company offers kayak and paddle board rentals as well as beach yoga! If you’re adventurous, this is great because the West Beach is only accessible by boat and promises excellent beachcombing when you get there. You could also opt to go horseback ridinginstead. Of course, if you just want to swim in the surf, that is fine too with 58 miles of coastline, there are plenty of options.
Cost: You will need a $10 beach parking permit to drive onto the beach itself. The sand is soft, so they suggest 4×4 wheel drive. If you don’t want to drive onto the beach, park at Jetty Park at the end of FM 2031.
The beach with a ferry ride: Crystal Beach
Crystal Beach is located on the Bolivar Peninsula. The extra fun part of getting to this beach is you get to ride the Galveston-Bolivar Ferry. The Ferry itself is free, however, during busy times, travel time can be an hour. There is an up-to-date wait time website if you want to get an idea of how long the line is before you head out. You pick up the Ferry on Galveston Island (1000 Ferry Rd) to take it over to the Bolivar Peninsula. From there, follow 87N to Crystal Beach Road.
Cost: The ferry may be free, but expect to pay $10 for a beach parking pass.
Where the beach meets the marsh: Sea Rim State Park
Sea Rim State Park is located 20 miles south of Port Arthur, TX. It is a combination of a small 5-mile beach and wetlands. Here you will find beach as well as a boardwalk through the wetlands and even some alligators (don’t worry, they pretty much stick to the marshes.) There are designated areas where you can drive your car onto the beach, too. If you are looking for a longer stay, there are 15 campsites and a cabin, but they do tend to fill up, so book in advance. Also, where there are wetlands, there will be mosquitoes, so pack the bug spray with the sunscreen.
Cost: $3 per adult for a day pass, children under 12 are free.
The easy beach: Sylvan Beach Park
I Google mapped it—this beach is less than 45 minutes from our house. No more excuses y’all! Sylvan Beach Park is in La Porte, Texas and is known for gentle waves and its small sandbanks. Not to mention the state’s longest fishing pier! This is a great spot if you have younger kids who aren’t quite ready for rougher surf. Sylvan is tucked away near a park, complete with a playground and picnic tables. Parking is limited, so try to arrive early to get a good spot.
Cost: Parking is free, but they charge $4 if you want to go out on the pier.
Main image: Fotolia/Renato Oliveira
Originally Posted on Mommy Nearest