Texas is the second-largest state in the United States in both size and population. There are approximately 29.53 million people living in the state as of 2021.
Many people associate the state with an arid landscape, however, there is less than 10% of desert cover.
With four different types of landforms in Texas, a number of activities and livelihoods can be accommodated.
From hills to mountains, and plains to plateaus, there is something for everyone in this diverse state.
One thing many people often forget is the fact that Texas(see also: Interesting Facts You Need To Know About Texas) has a broad coastline with stunning beaches and quaint coastal towns. If you’re planning a trip to Texas, you’ll regret not checking out the stunning coastline.
This article offers in-depth information and advice on the best beach towns to visit in the Lone Star State.
Sitting on the Texas Gulf Coast, Surfside is a city only an hour’s drive away from Houston.
It’s the perfect destination for those looking to get out of the city for a weekend or want to enjoy a fun family beach vacation.
The area is composed of miles of sandy beaches and clear blue water. This barrier island sits near the mouth of the Brazos River which made it a key trade route in the past.
Surfside beach is the perfect location to please everyone. From swimming, picnics, spotting wildlife, and fishing you’ll never run out of activities to do.
There are 36 different access points to get to the beach, including wheelchair-accessible spots too.
When you get tired of the beach (if possible) you can dive into the history of the area through a number of museums.
- Surfside Bird and Butterfly Trail
- First Battle of the Texas Revolution site
- Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
- Boat rides
- Dolphin watching
- Surfing and watersports
- Surfside Jetty County Park
Galveston Island is located in the southeast part of the Texas coastline and is considered to be one of the most charming beach (see also: The Complete Guide To The Best Beaches In Texas (17 Of The Prettiest And Cleanest Beaches))towns in the area.
Another barrier island, it’s rich in human history and full of stunning architecture.
Less than 27 miles long and 3 miles wide, Galveston Island has managed to fit a ton of attractions, restaurants, boutiques, and beaches in a compact area.
There is plenty to keep everyone occupied with art and culture, outdoor activities, and beautiful sandy beaches.
The beautiful beaches are perfect for a number of activities including catching some fantastic waves.
Other watersports, fishing, and bird watching are also great features of the beach town. Family-friendly vibes even extend to your furry pals as they are allowed on certain beaches.
No matter the time of year, you can expect a number of festivals and events in Galveston.
From shrimp festivals to Oktoberfest celebrations you couldn’t possibly get bored on your visit, but you may go home feeling rather tired!
- Historic Pleasure Pier
- Moody Gardens
- Galveston Island State Park
- Galveston Railroad Museum,
- Bishops Palace
- Schlitterbahn Waterpark
- Moody Mansion
- East Beach
- Stewart Beach
- Sunny Beach
- Pocket Park Number 2
- Jamaica Beach
South Padre Island
Located on the coastal tip of Texas, South Padre Island has stunning beaches and warm Gulf waters that attract people from far and wide.
Considered a tropical paradise, the island is formed from a long sand barrier. Did you know that it has the longest sandy beach in the U.S?
Known for its calm weather and mild winters, you can guarantee some year-round fun with friends and family!
If the sandy beaches and beautiful weather aren’t enough to attract you, then what about the history of the Karankawa Indian traditions and Spanish settlers?
Nature lovers will appreciate the number of beautiful parks, sea turtle conservation efforts, and bird-watching opportunities on the island.
Rent a paddleboard and go and see if you can spot some dolphins on the coastline or take a horseback ride on the beach like a true Texan.
This tropical oasis is the perfect place for a vacation thanks to its laid-back way of doing things and the stunning coastline that surrounds the island. You’re never more than a few meters away from the sea.
- South Padre Island Birding And Nature Center
- Laguna Madre Nature Trail
- Gravity Park
- Isla Blanca Park
- Sea Turtle, Inc.
Often described as a hidden gem in the Gulf of Mexico, Rockport is a charming fishing village that has been popular with Texans since the 1800s.
Although small, Rockport has city status and has a lot to offer its visitors.
Although not as large as some of the other coastal retreats, Rockport still has a wide variety of attractions.
As the city is on the main migratory path for many different species of birds, the beach provides safe nesting opportunities for many species of birds.
The trails and wildlife areas are popular with families and adults alike.
Rockports beach is a beautiful sandy beach that is clean, well-managed, and beloved by the locals.
Pavilions can be rented and enjoyed, picnic tables are covered and there is a small pier from which people can fish at their own leisure.
- Rockport Center for the Arts
- Fulton Mansion
- Texas Maritime Museum
- Winery on the Bay
- Tule Creek Hike And Bike Trail
- Goose Island State Park
For a slower pace of life, consider Port Aransas for your next vacation or weekend getaway. The town sits on Mustang Island which is a few miles away from Rockport.
As the town is located in the Gulf of Mexico, the warm waters and wide sandy beaches are the main attraction.
The town is known as the ‘fishing capital of Texas’, evidenced by the fishing tournaments hosted in the summer and the range of offshore excursions available for anglers.
If you prefer to be in the water, choose from a range of watersports and activities on the main beach.
Outdoor adventure lovers can make the most of the nature reserves and beautiful parks located in the town.
Alligators can be found in the wetlands and dolphins in the ocean if you’re lucky.
Keen birdwatchers will also be pleased with the exotic birds found in the area.
Regardless of your hobbies and interests, everyone can enjoy the slower pace of life by watching the boats float in and out of the port at one of the many waterside cafes.
- Mustang Island State Park
- Port Aransas Museum
- Chapel on the Dunes
- Leonaelle Turnbull Center
- Roberts Point Park
- Amos Rehabilitation Keep
Crystal Beach & Bolivar Peninsula
Located on the Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach is considered an unincorporated city.
This small area is a part of Galveston County, with the island only a short ferry ride away. One side of the beach faces the Gulf of Mexico and the other encompasses East Bay.
The long, thin peninsula features miles of lovely sandy beaches and a history of pirates!
Today it is a popular tourist destination, especially for those fond of camping. Unlike many other beach destinations, camping and fires are permitted on the beaches there.
As you’d expect from the area, there are many opportunities to go birdwatching.
The biodiverse area is home to grasslands, estuaries, and bayous which allow wildlife to flourish.
There are wildlife refuges and hiking trails that allow you to see magnificent birds in person.
- Bolivar Peninsula Tourism and Visitors Center
- Fun Spot Waterslide
- The Gulf Range
- Point Bolivar Lighthouse
- Fort Travis
- Visit Goat Island
Corpus Christi is slightly more inland than the other beachside towns we’ve included here.
Surrounded by Corpus Christi Bay towards the mainland and extending down to the Gulf of Mexico, its beaches are sheltered by Padre and Mustang Islands.
This large city has so much to offer, in the city center there are a range of dining options, stores, museums, and other cultural attractions.
To the south of the city you can make your way down to a more chilled out vibe from city living.
Padre and Mustang Island can be accessed by bridges and boats which opens you up to truly experience beach life.
Here you can camp or park your RV and set up home looking out to the Gulf. make the most of the watersport activities and fishing opportunities here!
The state parks are home to a number of wildlife such as coyotes, deer, kangaroo rats, and ghost crabs.
There is even the opportunity to watch newly hatched sea turtles begin their lives and make their way out into the open waters.
- Texas State Aquarium
- South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center
- Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History
- Selena Museum
- USS Lexington
- Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve
- North Beach
- McGee Beach
- Whitecap Beach
- J.P. Luby Surf Park
- Padre Island National Seashore
- Mustang Island State Park
Port Arthur was founded by Arthur E. Stilwell, a railroad promoter from Kansas.
This made the town a center for trade and tourism with easy access by boat or railway, bringing with it an influence from many different cultures.
If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, Port Arthur is the place to be! With many state parks, a few beaches, and wildlife refuges there is an activity for all keen outdoorsmen.
Port Arthur is in the pathway of two migratory paths for birds, which makes it a haven for many species that you might not usually see.
Fishermen rejoice in the offerings the waters of Port Arthur provide, with fresh and saltwater lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, marshes, and rivers.
The odd alligator is a common sight too, so be careful!
Head inland if you’re looking for some more cosmopolitan entertainment with a number of bars, grills, stores, and activities suited for every day and ability.
In true Texas style, pick up a pair of cowboy boots as well as root around in a number of the bric-a-brac stores.
- Museum of the Gulf Coast
- Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge
- White Haven
- Walter Umphrey State Park
- Faith Trail
- McFaddin Beach
- Pell’s Landing
Matagorda is located just before the mouth of the Colorado River.
Either side of the river channel lies East Matagorda Bay and Matagorda Bay, encompassed by barrier islands.
This location is ideal for a weekend getaway rather than an extended vacation.
Primarily a tourist spot, the population is small and there is a peaceful and sleepy vibe to this hidden gem. From the main town you can travel via one long road along the Colorado River to the beach and nature park.
Perfect for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities, the 23 miles of beach is a hit with many.
There are many trails to follow along the dunes and grasses towards the land, but you’ll need to watch out for rattlesnakes!
Camping is also allowed on the Matagorda beach, which draws many nature enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for the ultimate relaxing vacation with fewer people and stunning views then Matagorda is the place for you.
- Matagorda Bay Welcome Center
- Matagorda Bay Nature Park
- Fishing spots
Boca Chica is a small village that can be found in the south of Texas, right on the border of Mexico. To the south of the beach, you will find the Rio Grande River and wildlife parks.
You may have heard of this location as it’s near the SpaceX Launch Facility, but don’t worry you can still enjoy the beautiful beaches and avoid space shuttles if you wish.
This hidden gem is ideal for a day trip as there are few amenities and camping is prohibited.
Despite the lack of amenities, there are 8 miles of sandy beaches that stretch along the coastline of the state park with which you can enjoy kayaking, swimming, and fishing.
The Boca Chica Wildlife Refuge is a small island and great place to spot wildlife as it is a prime sea turtle nesting spot.
Collecting shells, beautiful sand, and easy driving access make it a great place to visit for the day. It’s possible to camp here but the facilities are extremely limited.
- Boca Chica Wildlife Refuge
- Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area
- Brazos Island State Park
The Best Beaches In Texas
- Mustang Beach
- North Beach
- Surfside Beach
- Padre Island
- Boca Chica
- South Padre Island
- Rockport Beach
- Matagorda Bay Nature Park
- Lighthouse Beach
- San José Island
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a family vacation, there is something for everyone along the coastlines of Texas.
The tropical Gulf waters and mild weather will keep you warm and happy and the abundance of activities will keep you entertained!
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