Traveling is one of the best ways to make memories with kids. Everyone is more relaxed while shirking schedules and responsibilities. We explore and adventure together outside of our daily routines and walls. Some of my favorite memories come from vacations as a kid! None of which were extravagant or expensive. Actually, my favorite, most memorable vacations were those simple (I’m sure my mom would disagree) trips driving as a family to a campsite and hunkering down for a few days with my siblings, roaming, exploring, and soaking up the summer sun. I can still smell the campfire, sunscreen, and Off; taste the gallons of kool-aid and pounds of hot dogs we consumed; and remember the feeling of camaraderie from adventuring alongside my siblings. Vacations are the best!
As an adult, I want to give my kids those same exciting memories to draw on as an adult. But as a mom, I have come to realize and appreciate just how difficult and expensive traveling with kids can be. So, in my quest to adventure more, make more memories, but not break the bank, I have come up with a few of the best Texas vacations with kids. Load up the family wagon and head out for a long weekend to one of these locations for a memorable, relaxing time.
If it’s salt water, sand, and sun you want, forego the plane ride and head south to the Texas coast. We have beautiful beaches in our own backyard!
Spanning from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas, this is Texas beaching at its finest. Visit the many fabulous, fresh-catch restaurants, take a guided fishing tour or flounder gigging outing, relax on the beach, visit the Texas State Aquarium, and enjoy local flare at one of the many boutiques and island shops. Plan your trip in late Spring for the Texas Sandfest where you’ll see the most extravagant and impressive sand sculptures you can imagine. Need a place to stay? Check out the variety of rentals Gulf-side in Port Aransas at Cinnamon Shores. Want to impress the littles? Take the ferry from Aransas Pass onto the island, watch Dolphins jump in the channel, and see massive boats pulled through the channel by tug boats. It’s the little things they’ll never forget!
I grew up on the beaches of Galveston and loved every minute of our trips! Only a short drive from Houston, Galveston is all beaches, restaurants, board walks, and fun! Stay at the Palm Beach Inside Moody Gardens for a family-centric experience. There’s a waterpark, splash pad, and comfortable accommodations. Not to mention, it’s surrounded by the gorgeous, botanic Moody Gardens! Enjoy the Aquarium, Rain Forest experience, museum, or take a day cruise on the paddlewheel boat. Not interested in playing tourist? Perch on one of many Galveston beaches for a day of fishing, sunning, and sand castle building.
If you’re looking for a true escape, toss the electronics aside and head to one of these gorgeous campsite destinations. Unplug from the world while you float the rivers, explore the woods, and rough-it with your favorite tribe.
Frio River + Garner State Park
Looking for a true escape into Texas paradise? Visit this well-kept Southwest Texas secret tucked away in Concan, Texas. Rent a cabin in Garner State Park, float the clear, spring-fed waters of the Frio River, and twirl around the dance floor every night during the summer at Garner State Park’s community dances. Enjoy horseback riding, golfing, hiking, and fishing. If you’re bored, you’re doing it wrong!
West of Dallas, tucked away in the midst of small towns is a little gem known as Possum Kingdom Lake. It’s blue, gorgeous, and oh-so-fun to visit. Rent a cabin, bring your camper, or rough-it on a primitive campsite. Fish, rent a boat or paddleboard, and take it easy enjoying the beautiful scenery and quiet nature of Possum Kingdom State Park.
Palo Duro Canyon – Big Bend National Park
Many Texans will go their whole lives without exploring the Texas Panhandle. Don’t be one of them! Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, and known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” It offers horseback riding, bike rentals, and guided tours through the canyon. Camp or glamp – whatever your style – in Big Bend National Park.
Inks Lake State Park
Is there anything more beautiful than rolling, hill country surrounding pristine water? That is Inks Lake. Located in the Central Texas Hill Country, Inks lake is a camper’s paradise. Boat, fish, and geocache your way through the state park. Feeling adventurous? Visit Devil’s Waterhole for a little cliff-diving. Centrally located for the entire state, this is not one to be missed!
Big Thicket National Preserve
If you’re a wilderness loving, adventure-seeking, primitive-camping family, then Big Thicket National Preserve is for you! Located in Southeast Texas, this 112,500 acre preserve is primitive and secluded. It’s not easily accessible, so this is a trip for families with older kids. Otherwise, you’ll be schlepping all your gear and baby, too. Guests are encouraged to use alternative modes of transportation (bike, hike, horseback, canoe) to make camp in order to preserve the grounds. This is not for the glampers among us. But if roughing it is your thing, there’s nowhere better!
Camping not your thing? If you prefer one-stop-destinations with fun and adventure of the whole family with the convenience to go from entertainment to sleeping quarters within a short walk, a Texas resort is for you! Check out one of the many below, scattered across our great state.
Great Wolf Lodge
Located in Grapevine, Texas and neighbors of the Gaylord Texan Resort (great for romantic getaways!), this is a kid’s dream adventure park! Fun for kids of all ages, Great Wolf Lodge has comfortable suite accommodations, onsite dining, waterpark, and activities designed just for your little ones. From PJ Parties to Story Time, Ropes Course to 4D Theater, this place has it all. Play all day, wear the little ones out, and sleep tight in your suite. Need to relax? Enjoy the spa alongside your munchkin. Kids welcome!
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines
Want to stay close to home? This relaxing, hill-country escape is close and convenient, but feels secluded and far away from our daily lives. Located on the Colorado River in Lost Pines, Texas, this resort has it all. With guest accommodations to fit any family, onsite dining, horseback riding, a waterpark, archery, and a spa, this is one vacation everyone will enjoy and remember. Nestled in the lost pines of Texas, you’ll forget you’re only 25 miles from home!
JW Marriott San Antonio
There’s so much to see and do in San Antonio, you’ll want to plan a week to do it all. Located 20 miles outside of downtown, this resort will allow you the choice to stay onsite or travel a short distance to all the fun, tourist locations. Venture to the Alamo for a history lesson, spend a day at Sea World, and eat your way through the River Walk. Looking to stay onsite? You won’t be bored with gourmet dining, family waterpark, golf, and spa accommodations. The whole family will remember this vacation!
Just between San Antonio and the Capitol, in a little German town called New Braunfels lies a river-fed waterpark for the whole family! With tube slides, body surfing, a lazy river, kiddie park, and cabanas for lounging, no one will be bored at this waterpark. Stay at one of the onsite resorts for convenience! This is a great weekend getaway.
Located in the Texas Hill Country on Lake LBJ, this resort is also close-to-home, but feels miles away. Stay in the resort for convenience and built-in relaxation. Escape to the spa, play a round of golf, rent jet skis, motorboats, or sailboats for a day on the lake, or teach your munchkins to play tennis on one of the many fantastic courts. If you’re a family of relaxed sporting enthusiasts, check out this place.
Venture south to the Texas coast for a fun-filled family trip. If the beach isn’t your cup of tea, but you want to experience the Texas coast, Kemah is the place for you. On Galveston Bay, Kemah has the salty air and local flavor of the coast without the sandy mess. Stay on the Kemah Boardwalk, visit the amusement park, eat a variety of seafood along the shore, shop the boardwalk boutiques, and stay for the Firework shows over the bay every Friday in June. Venture off the boardwalk for an educational outing at the NASA Johnson Space Center, take a walk through history at the Battleship of Texas, or venture through the Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena. There’s so much to do, no one will be bored!