Houston, Texas is a big city with loads of charm, but when you want to escape the city’s bustle, the state boasts an array of beautiful destinations perfect for a weekend getaway. Whether you want to explore the nearby beaches, visit the rolling hills of the countryside or get off the beaten path, you’ll find a variety of choices within a short drive of the “Bayou City”. Check out our picks for the best weekend getaways from Houston.
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A perfect weekend getaway for the entire family, Galveston Island is located on a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Only 50 miles south of Houston, it’s great for a weekend of embracing the laid-back beach atmosphere, spotting dolphins in the water and enjoying the sunshine. If you can peel yourself away from the 32 miles of pristine coastline, head to Moody Gardens aquarium and the Schlitterbahn Waterpark for a day of adventure. Browse the area’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.
A three-hour drive will land you in San Antonio, a bustling city with an abundance of attractions. Visit the Alamo where Theodore Roosevelt recruited for the Spanish-American War, stroll through the famous River Walk area and choose from the array of restaurants and shops that line the river. Don’t forget to explore downtown, where you can marvel at the beautiful architecture of the Cathedral of San Fernando, one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. Sports enthusiasts will find plenty of action, as the city is home to the San Antonio Spurs and plays host to the largest annual Stock Show & Rodeo in the country.
The “Live Music Capital of the World”, Austin is around a 2.5-hour drive from Houston and is known for being home to more than 100 live music venues. Take a stroll along Rainey Street to find a variety of one-story bungalows that have been converted into unique eateries and bars that highlight the city’s unofficial motto “Keep Austin Weird”. Admire the city from the water in a kayak tour around Lady Bird Lake, then refuel with some of the city’s famous BBQ or stroll the city to spot famous murals peppered throughout the downtown area.
After a three-hour drive you can be in Dallas, which offers plenty of family-friendly activities with attractions like Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor. Spend time with animals at the Dallas Zoo, see a tunnel filled with sharks at the Dallas World Aquarium or explore the touch tanks exhibits at The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. Ride the swan-shaped boasts on Leonhardt Lagoon, then learn about the area’s history at the Dallas Heritage Village or catch a Dallas Cowboys football game or a live performance in the 68-acre Arts District.
Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country a 3.5-hour drive from Houston, Fredericksburg is a heavily German-influenced town. Full of beauty and charm, this city has a rich history and has long attracted visitors who are lured in by its vibrant cultural attractions, wildflower farm and peach-picking opportunities when in season. Meander down the historic downtown strip, indulge in wine tastings or browse artifacts at the National Museum of the Pacific War. Outdoor enthusiasts will find Fredericksburg convenient for exploring the vibrant landscapes at nearby Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where a short hike leads to rewarding views of a pink granite dome.
The hometown of President Lyndon Johnson, Johnson City is around a three-hour drive from Houston, known as the “Crossroads of the Texas Hill Country”. Visit the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park and the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm to take a look back in time and tour the “Texas White House”. Swim in the pristine waters of Pedernales Falls State Park and unwind with an adult beverage at the Pecan Street Brewing and Garrison Brothers Distillery. For a unique experience, visit the Exotic Resort Zoo to observe over 500 wild animals and 80 species spread across 137 acres of lakes, creeks and forest.
Take a 2.5-hour drive to New Braunfels. Named after Braunfels, Germany, it’s located on the three-mile Comal River and is home to the Bavarian-themed Schlitterbahn water park. Head to Landa Park to walk along the scenic walking trails dotted with giant oak trees, then explore Gruene Historic District small boutique shops and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city is also home to the famous Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest known commercial caverns home to a 60-foot natural limestone slab bridge, while unique animal experiences can be found at the Animal World Snake Farm Zoo.
Considered one of the most picturesque towns in Texas, Wimberley is a three-hour drive from Houston, located where the Cypress Creek and the Blanco River meet. The biggest appeal to the area is its array of natural attractions, including the Blue Hole Regional Park and Old Baldy Mountain. Cool off with a swim at Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well, then visit the city’s weekly markets to mingle with locals and pick up unique goods. The city has been a haven for creative types, where exploring its local galleries, shops and performing arts venues is highly recommended.
Located about 3.5 hours from Houston, 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 you 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 you’re sure to get an authentic Old West Texas vacation experience.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
If you’re looking for a getaway that’s not a Texas destination, consider Lake Charles in Louisiana just two hours away. The Lake Charles Symphony is based here, and there are an array of unique museums, including the USS Orleck Naval Museum and the Mardi Gras Museum, which boasts the largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes in the world. Hike the Creole Nature Trail to admire nature reserves and over 400 types of birds, or take a walking tour of the Charpentier Historic District. Take a break and dig into its famous Cajun and Creole cuisine in a local restaurant or test your luck at the Golden Nugget Casino.