Let’s face it — there isn’t much not to love about the Houston area. With Houston being the fourth most populated city in the United States — boasting more than 2.3 million people — it’s obvious that millions of people are intimately familiar with the things that make Houston such a cool place to live and work.
Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it when it comes to Houston’s cool factor. GQ Magazine dubbed Houston the “New Capital of Southern Cool” just last year and Thrillist included Houston in its shortlist of the nation’s most impressive cities just two years ago. WalletHub also named Houston as one of America’s most fun cities in 2018.
If Houston’s long-standing reputation for fun doesn’t already have you dying to visit the Bayou City this summer, this list of awesome Houston beaches surely will. While the Houston area is home to more than 1,100 square miles of water, the city doesn’t call any oceanfront real estate its own. With many popular beaches located within an hour’s drive of the city, though, not having any oceanfront property within its borders is hardly a knock against the metropolis. Instead, it’s simply a reason to get behind the wheel of your car and go for a pleasant drive to enjoy a day working on your tan and enjoying the waves!
About Houston Area Beaches
Given its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Houston is within a short drive of a wide variety of beaches. Some of the area’s beaches cater to the city’s millions of annual visitors, while others are comparatively quiet and restful. With that in mind, it’s only natural that some of the area’s beaches have a variety of nearby amenities, and others are simply expanses of sand waiting for you to throw down a towel and relax.
Thanks to the moderate temperatures Houston experiences almost year-round, one thing is for sure — whether you want an action-packed day at the beach, a relaxing day under the sun or something in between, a beach that offers everything you’re looking forward to is just a short drive away from your Houston location.
Here are 10 options to help you get started planning your day at the beach:
1. East Beach
East Beach is one of the best beaches in Texas near Houston. It’s situated on the eastern end of Galveston and is one of the area’s most active beach locations.
As the biggest beach in the state of Texas, East Beach is a hub of high-energy activity from March through October every year. Boasting glistening white sand, a pavilion, a boardwalk and an entertainment stage, East Beach should be your destination whenever you want to catch some live music with your family or friends during the summer months.
If you’re into sandcastles, pencil in a visit to East Beach this summer — and next summer as well as the ones that follow. That’s because East Beach is the site of the yearly American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition. Thousands attend this annual event, and for good reason. Competitors from many locations create incredible sandcastles that you can only wish were move-in ready during this competition. And you can watch all the action while you interact with other entranced onlookers.
East Beach isn’t just human- and sandcastle-friendly, either. The park is also pet-friendly. As long as your pet is on a leash and you clean up after your four-legged family member, you can bring your pet along for some sandy fun. You can even camp with your pet at East Beach from 12 a.m. until 5 a.m. daily.
Unlike a lot of Texas Gulf Coast beaches, East Beach is alcohol-friendly as well. If you’re going to bring your own adult beverages rather than buy from local vendors, you need to pack your cooler wisely. Glass is not allowed at East Beach, so leave the long necks at home and go with cans instead.
2. Galveston Island State Park
Anyone researching nice beaches near Houston is sure to come across Galveston Island State Park. A stark contrast to East Beach, Galveston Island State Park is a quiet oasis where you can experience the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Bay or both. Occupying more than 2,000 acres, the park has different kinds of terrain, including estuaries, wetlands and beaches.
If you have kids or you’re hosting visitors from out of town on a budget, Galveston Island State Park should be your destination. Kayaking, bird watching, nature field trips, fishing, swimming, hiking, surfing and biking are just some of the things you can do at Galveston Island State Park.
Located on the west end of Galveston Island, Galveston Island State Park is home to a myriad of wildlife, including migrating birds in the spring and fall. Raccoons and marsh rabbits are merely examples of the park’s more permanent residents. If you enjoy the outdoors and its variety of inhabitants, you should make plans to visit this park and its beaches.
Galveston Island State Park is also ideal if you want to spend a few days. Public campgrounds and cabins are available on both the Gulf and bay sides of the park, making Galveston Island State Park an affordable getaway that’s just an hour away from the Bayou City.
3. Stewart Beach
Stewart Beach is truly family-oriented and ready to host kids of all ages. Whether it’s with your family or friends, you guys will love spending time on this beach’s white sand. If it gets too hot on the shore, you can refresh yourself in the cool waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
As if a gorgeous strand of shoreline and ocean water weren’t enough, Stewart Beach has plenty of other elements to keep you entertained. Beach volleyball courts, concessions, a pavilion, a gift shop and a children’s playground are just a few of the amenities that are available in the immediate vicinity.
While Stewart Beach sees its highest volume of traffic between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the beach is open year-round. No matter when you visit, you should expect to pay a modest fee to access the beach. If you’re going to be a frequent visitor, consider buying a seasonal parking pass at the earliest point possible.
4. Sylvan Beach Park
Located in Harris County, Sylvan Beach Park is 32 acres of sheer bliss. Unlike some other Texas Gulf Coast beaches, this park has fine, white sand that isn’t “littered” with seaweed. Swimming at Sylvan Beach Park is often more enjoyable for younger visitors because the water is calmer, and the waves are smaller than they are at many other area beaches.
In addition to working on your tan and swimming, there are plenty of other things to do at Sylvan Beach Park. You can spend time in the park’s air-conditioned pavilion, for example. You can fish from the park’s pier for a modest fee as well. Your kids can romp around in the playground and then join you for lunch at one of the park’s well-maintained picnic tables. If you enjoy boating, you can launch your craft from the park’s convenient boat ramp.
If you’re looking for something cool to do during the spring, make it a point to head over to Sylvan Beach Park. Every springtime, the park hosts the Annual Sylvan Beach Festival Crawfish Jam. Tasty food, great company and even better scenery — it doesn’t get any better than this fun-filled, beachfront event.
5. Surfside Beach
If you truly want to get away from it all and don’t need all the amenities that are affiliated with many other area beaches, head to Surfside Beach to find the ultimate hideaway on the Gulf Coast. It is wider and deeper than many other beaches in the area, and like Sylvan Beach Park, Surfside Beach is ideal for people who are new to surfing because its waves aren’t usually as intimidating as they can be at other locations.
Located in Brazoria County, Surfside Beach is situated near several marshes, rivers and bays. The variety of landscapes in the area makes the location a great spot to experience the outdoors and observe wildlife in an array of settings.
While Surfside Beach can be a little crowded between Memorial Day and Labor Day, its surrounding town of just over 500 residents is welcoming and fun to explore. Don’t just plan to spend the day at Surfside Beach. For a modest fee, you can drive your vehicle on the beach, enjoy a bonfire and camp for several days, making Surfside Beach an affordable retreat for Houston residents.
6. Bolivar Peninsula
If you want to experience tranquility at its finest, visit Bolivar Peninsula — a gorgeous 27 mile stretch of beach. Nestled along Highway 87 and located close to the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Bolivar Peninsula is about two hours outside of Houston.
If you have tender feet, you might want to pack sandals or boat shoes when you visit. The beach has coarse sand that’s lined with shells and piles of seaweed.
Parking at Bolivar Peninsula is never a problem. You can simply pull off Highway 87 and park on the beach, and you can access all 27 miles by vehicle. Other than your car, the beach and the water, there won’t be much else within view. Even during peak season, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of other beachgoers at Bolivar Peninsula.
While this location is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the beach and sun, it isn’t for everyone. In addition to being located farther from Houston than other beaches, Bolivar Peninsula offers none of the amenities that are readily available at other area beaches. The beach doesn’t even have seasonal lifeguards or restrooms. Although that’s the case, the isolation and serenity you’ll enjoy at Bolivar Peninsula make it a desirable location for people who want to escape the hustle and bustle that often accompanies city life.
7. Bryan Beach
Situated in the southern part of Brazoria County just a few miles south of Freeport, Bryan Beach rests off Farm Road. It was likely named after James Perry Bryan, a prominent landowner in the area from the 1880s.
On Saturdays, the beach is usually crowded with party-loving singles and active families. On Sundays, Bryan Beach offers visitors the chance to enjoy clear, blue water and inviting white sand in a peaceful, calm setting that has great views and a pleasant, steady breeze.
If you get tired of the beach, you can take a stroll over to the Bryan Beach State Recreation Area. This 878-acre park is home to a variety of native grasses and shrubs. You can also observe wildlife at this undeveloped park, such as gophers, rabbits and opossums. Migratory birds like waterfowl also frequent the Bryan Beach State Recreation Area.
8. Matagorda Bay Nature Park
You’ll find the Matagorda Bay Nature Park along the Matagorda Bay peninsula, near the mouth of the roaring Colorado River. Boasting about two miles of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico, this park occupies more than 1,330 acres.
Matagorda Bay Nature Park features white sand and a steady stream of waves that will beckon you to dive into the crisp, clear water. While the nature preserve is renowned for offering a comparatively private beach experience, there’s still plenty to do at this location.
Visitors who have kids will want to head straight to the nature center so their children can see what it’s like to hold a crab. Nature lovers will want to grab their cameras to snap pictures of the preserve’s beautiful birds, and adventurers may want to try their hand at wetland paddling.
Tent and RV camping are allowed at Matagorda Bay Nature Park year-round. If you don’t have a camper, you can rent one of the two Airstream campers on site. There is no fee to visit the park, either, making it an affordable vacation destination for groups of all sizes.
If you’re looking for a great place to host a function, Matagorda Bay Nature Park should be at the top of your list. The preserve is home to a rental facility that can accommodate up to 100 guests with ease.
9. Quintana Beach County Park
Situated on the upper Gulf Coast near Follet’s Island Beach, Quintana Beach is a 52-acre county park located on the beach. The beach is open year-round, with parking fees collected from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Quintana Beach is known for being a natural beach that’s kept in good shape by the water’s tides and the area’s weather patterns. As you walk along the beach’s clean sand, you’ll probably come across some driftwood and plenty of eye-catching shells.
You’ll enjoy a lot of amenities and overnight facilities at Quintana Park as well. Full-service campsites for recreational vehicles, cabins, paved trails, a lighted fishing pier, jetty access, a covered pavilion, a playground and a volleyball court are some of the amenities you’ll have access to.
Hiking, fishing, collecting shells, watching birds and other wildlife, swimming, surfing, catching some rays, searching for treasure, grilling and camping are all popular activities at Quintana Beach County Park. While you can spend the night in an RV or a cabin, tent camping is not permitted at Quintana Beach. You won’t have to go too far to find a place to pitch your tent, however. That’s because Bryan Beach and Follet’s Island Beach are close by, and both of those beaches allow tent camping for up to two weeks for free.
If you love history, you’ll enjoy the attractions at Quintana Beach County Park. Two historic homes, the remnants of the Freeport Harbor Defense and the old site of Fort Bates are the notable attractions that never fail to catch the attention of history buffs who visit this active county park.
Party planners or partiers who are looking for an oft-overlooked place to hold an event should visit Quintana Beach County Park. The park has a Discovery Event Center that can accommodate 80 guests. The center even has a full kitchen, which makes catering large and small events a breeze.
10. Jamaica Beach City Park
Whether you’re looking for a spot to spend the day at the beach with friends or family members or a cool location for a function, you might want to make Jamaica Beach City Park your destination. Located at the Corner of Bob Smith Drive and Jolly Roger Road about an hour outside of Houston, this park has plenty of amenities and special events for kids of all ages.
In addition to playing in the salt water lapping the beach’s edge and building sand castles, young children will enjoy spending time in the playground and swinging on its swings. If you have older kids or if you enjoy a game of basketball, don’t forget to pack a basketball so you can shoot some hoops on the park’s basketball court.
You should pack a basket with some lunch or an early dinner along with some snacks and refreshing beverages as well. When you’re ready to eat, you can head over to the well-maintained picnic area. No matter what time of year you want to host a function, Jamaica Beach City Park is an ideal host site. That’s because the park is home to a weather-resistant pavilion that has kitchen facilities in addition to a picnic area. People can apply for permits to use the pavilion year-round.
If you get tired of the waves, you can take a dip in the Jamaica Beach Swimming Pool, which is located next to the city park. The swimming pool is open to the public, and you can buy either daily or seasonal passes depending on how often you plan to visit. Day passes are just $5.00 per person while seasonal passes are only $60 per individual. The pool is usually open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but it may open earlier and close later in the year in some instances.
Fun in the sun, sand and salt water, a nearby pool, a playground, a picnic area, a pavilion and a basketball court — Jamaica Beach City Park has something for everyone.
Live Near Your Favorite Houston Beach With Smart City Locating
If you’re ready to experience all the nice beaches near Houston regularly, we encourage you to get in touch with Smart City Locating — since you’ll first have to find a place to live in Houston. And we can help you find an apartment you’ll love in or around the Bayou City.
At Smart City Locating, we’re all about working hard, having fun and serving our clients. We go above and beyond for the people who trust us to find them an apartment. We hyper-personalize our lists of potential apartments so that we don’t waste your time or our own with apartments that don’t suit your unique needs, wants and preferences.
You won’t have to pay us a dime or even a penny to help you find an apartment in the Houston area. We get paid by the properties where our clients rent apartments, not by our clients. That’s one of the many reasons why so many of our clients become friends who contact us over and over again throughout the years.
If you’re ready to become a Houstonian or you simply need a new place to live in the city, we’re standing by to help you find an apartment. Give us a call or send a text to 512-815-2317 or fill out our apartment search form to get started now.