An exciting mix of cowboys and big, bold cities, Texas is home to a range of family-friendly attractions and places that cater to a variety of travelers. With outdoor adventures in over 90 state parks, Wild West action at guest ranches and various animal parks, amusement centers and kid-friendly museums, visitors will find ample opportunities to explore the diverse history and heritage of the Lone Star State. Whether you and your family are history buffs, outdoor adventurers or amusement park thrill-seekers, read on to discover the best vacations to take with kids in Texas.
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The top visited city in Texas, Dallas offers a plethora of family-friendly activities that the entire family can get excited about. With attractions like Six Flags, Hurrican Harbor and an array of sports venues, families will certainly not go bored here. Spend time with animals at the Dallas Zoo, a tunnel filled with sharks at the Dallas World Aquarium or explore the touch tanks exhibits at The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. Fair Park is also home to the Museum of the American Railroad, or kids can ride the swan-shaped boats on Leonhardt Lagoon. Learn about the area’s history at the Dallas Heritage Village, catch a thrilling game of the Dallas Cowboys or catch a live performance in the 68-acre Arts District.
Located about 30 minutes from Dallas, Forth Worth is an exciting vacation destination the entire family can enjoy. Explore unique dinosaur exhibits at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, get up close and personal and observe a range of orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas at the Fort Worth Zoo, or visit any of the other exciting attractions nearby such as the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. The Forth Worth Stockyards National Historic District is one of the area’s most famous attractions, where families can enjoy cattle rides, rodeos and a wooden maze. The area is lined with an array of famous BBQ eateries and cowboys with ten-gallon hats and boots with spurs, where families are sure to get an authentic Old West Texas vacation experience.
The capital of Texas, Austin caters to families with kids with its array of attractions. Home to the University of Texas, it is an increasingly popular city with attractions such as the Austin Nature and Science Center, the Austin Children’s Museum and the Austin Zoo. Those who want to venture outside and explore the area’s beautiful scenery can kayak, bike and hike near Zilker Park, while swimming is available at the 3-acre Barton Springs Pool. Take a stroll along the famous 6th Street to find the area buzzing with activities from shops and restaurants, while history buffs can explore the State Capitol with self-guided tours. Those who enjoy fresh produce can pick their own fruit at the Boggy Creek Farm or visit the giant downtown Farmer’s Market in the city center.
Mixing a vibrant combination of old and new, San Antonio offers visitors a skyline of towering skyscrapers nestled next to historic Spanish landmarks. The biggest family attraction in this area is the Texas-sized theme parks, including the Six Flags Fiesta Texas where visitors will find the largest wave pool in Texas, in addition to SeaWorld San Antonio that is considered one of the greatest marine theme parks in the world. Visit the San Antonio Children’s Museum for interactive exhibits or head to the San Antonio River to visit the famous San Antonio River Walk for a glimpse into the city’s 300-year-old heritage. Here both kids and adults alike will be delighted with the colorful scenery, mariachi bands strumming their guitars and lively atmosphere, or step back in time at one of the many historic landmarks found on the Mission Trail dispersed throughout the city.
A buzzing cosmopolitan city, Houston is a sprawling city that offers an extensive range of family-friendly activities. A hotspot for cultural arts, sports, entertainment, shopping and dining, visitors are spoiled for choice in how they spend their days. Families can explore the city’s renowned Space Center, visit the variety of museums found in the famous Museum District, or cool off from the summer heat at one of the many water parks and Gulf beaches nearby. The shopping districts in Houston are world-famous, and the city is home to numerous family-friendly attractions, such as the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum of Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and for those who like to get outdoors, the Buffalo Bayou.
South Padre Island
Often conjuring up images as a lively spring break destination, South Padre Island is also a great family vacation spot throughout the year. Avoid the crowds in March to find quiet beaches perfect for families with kids. Savor the area’s beautiful beaches in the summer when the waters are calm and indulge in the variety of kid-friendly entertainment. Located on the south end of the longest barrier island in the world, South Padre also boasts calm waters in Laguna Madre Bay, where parents will be at ease with its shallow slopes that make a day of swimming and water sports easy. Kick your vacation up a notch with surfing or windsurfing adventures, or try your hand at spotting diverse wildlife such as dolphins and turtles along the coast. Step back in time at the historic 19th-century lighthouse.
The Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine is a small town located just outside of Dallas. Dripping with small town charm, visitors will find 1,400 themed events in the winter, where the famous North Pole Express arrives at the Historic Grapevine Railroad and the Lone Star Christmas at Gaylord Texan Resort comes alive with 2 million lights, elaborate hand-carved ice displays and thrilling snow tubing trails. A charming destination to visit throughout the year, the city’s Historic Main Street is the centerpiece of the town lined with boutique stores, cafes and wine tasting rooms. Families will find an array of attractions to take the kids to, such as the Sea Life Aquarium, LEGOLAND Adventure Center and the Glockenspiel Clock Tower with animatronic characters. Just minutes from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Grapevine is an easy destination to reach.
A fantastic destination for nature-loving families, Caddo Lake offers a variety of affordable escapes. Offering a rustic vacation, this East Texas destination is only an hour north of Shreveport and three hours east of Dallas. The second largest freshwater lake in the south and the only natural lake in all of Texas, Caddo is also home to the world’s largest cypress forest that line’s the scenic lake. A picturesque area filled with Spanish moss draping over its towering trees, families will love paddling the lake’s waterways and spotting diverse wildlife such as alligators on one of the area’s boat tours. Dine on fresh catfish dinners and soak in your surroundings or try your luck at catching your own fish from the pier. Visitors will find a plethora of lovely accommodation choices to base themselves in, near the historic Jefferson just 30 minutes away.
Situated in the city limits of Galveston, Galveston Island is located on a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Only 50 miles south of Houston, it is a small area no more than three miles wide at its largest point. A perfect destination for families looking to unwind, visitors come to Galveston Island for the laid-back atmosphere and to soak in the picturesque beach surroundings. Boasting 32 miles of pristine coastline, beach activities reign supreme in the area where it’s possible to spot dolphins, while the local aquarium is perfect for a day of adventure. Browse the city’s 19th-century historic district to find an array of museums, galleries and theaters, or visit The Strand, an area known for its abundance of impressive waterfront restaurants.
Located just 20 minutes from the bustling cities of Fort Worth and Dallas, Arlington is an ideal destination for those looking for exciting thrills on their vacation, as it is home to the Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor theme parks. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine at River Legacy Park, where visitors will find a 1,031-acre forest park filled with diverse wildlife and features a variety of family-friendly activities such as a River Legacy Living Science Center with an aquarium, nature trails and a children’s playground with a life-size skeleton of T-Rex. Visit the Planetarium at the University of Texas, catch a live show at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts or get your dose of cultural appreciation at the Arlington Museum of Art with educational programs for children.