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Texas is a huge state that is perfect for road trips and vacations with the kids. There are lots of family activities to do in the big cities and small towns throughout the state, as well as state and national parks to get outside and active together. With mild weather during much of the year and affordable prices for food and entertainment, there’s no bad time to plan a trip with family in Texas.
Here are some ideas about kid-friendly weekend getaways in Texas to inspire you.
Padre Island National Seashore
Who says you need to drive all the way to the east coast or west coast for a beach vacation? One of the best beaches in Texas, Padre Island National Seashore is a beautiful place to visit with your family and the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. When you visit, you can drive on the beach, camp in the campgrounds, go fishing, hike along the shore, and paddle in the waves. The South Padre Island Adventure Park has ziplining and horseback riding opportunities nearby.
If you are craving some small-town Texan charm with your family vacation, consider Grapevine, Texas as a destination. Grapevine is northwest of Dallas and has a vintage railroad where you can take the kids on a fun ride. There are museums in town, as well as a public art trail and Lake Grapevine for swimming and fishing. Check out the farmer’s market, find some great food along Main Street, and visit during the winter holiday season for themed and festive events. In Grapevine, you might look into staying at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center because it has year-round themed activities for kids and an onsite waterpark.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Lots of kids love dinosaurs, so what better way to feed their curiosity than a trip to a dinosaur-themed state park that’s also considered to be one of the most incredible attractions in Texas? There are dinosaur tracks in Dinosaur Valley State Park, although they can be a bit challenging to find in the riverbed area. Stop by the visitor center for a map and tips on where to find dinosaur tracks. For the best opportunities to see dinosaur tracks, join a ranger-led program. The park offers trails for hiking and biking, as well as camping, with some electric sites available.
The city of Waco is fun to visit on a family vacation and filled with lots of fun things to do. There’s a trail system here for hiking and biking and also a small zoo to visit. Other family activities to check out are the Cameron Park Playscape, Magnolia Market, and Mayborn Museum Complex. The Dr. Pepper Museum and Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum are top picks for families. Waco is a convenient weekend destination and big-city escape because it is between Dallas and Austin.
Austin is a versatile and quirky city that all types of travelers and travel groups fall in love with. For families, center your Austin vacation around Lady Bird Lake, which is perfect for walking, biking, and boating. There plenty of fun things to do with the kids in Austin, including lots of daytime and family-friendly live music performances.
Brazos Bend State Park
This state park makes an easy weekend getaway from Houston because it’s only about 45 miles from downtown. The park is nearly 5,000 acres in size and is an excellent place for both land and water recreation, particular kayaking. Brazos Bend State Park is one of the best places to kayak in Texas. There are trails to explore and also lakes to fish in. Campsites and cabins are available for overnight stays during a trip here. When you come to Brazos Bend State Park, definitely check out the George Observatory, which is part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science and open year-round on Saturday nights, weather permitting.
Galveston is one of the best vacation destinations on the Texas Coast with its year-round warm temperatures and a little something for everyone. You can spend your days at the beach and go to the Schlitterbahn Galveston Waterpark for some thrilling water rides. On Galveston Island, Moody Gardens is an entertainment complex with an aquarium, rainforest habitat, and rotating science-themed exhibits. The Port Bolivar Ferry is fun to ride, and The Strand is a popular place for festivals. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is an amusement park that is fun for all ages of kids, and the Galveston Railroad Museum is a great place to visit for any kids who love trains.
Big Bend National Park
Remote, beautiful, and impressive, Big Bend National Park is along the Rio Grande River and is home to many animal and plant species. Your kids can learn about the wildlife while getting some exercise and fresh air on the park’s hiking trails. You can also fill your days with scenic drives, relaxing days at a campsite, and refreshing dips in the hot springs. Big Bend National Park is a peaceful and isolated place in Far West Texas where you can really get away from your usual busy life and spend quality time with the people you love.
Full of fun things to do with the kids, families love visiting San Antonio for its beautiful riverwalk to explore, fascinating history to learn about, and delicious food to savor. Take the kids to SeaWorld San Antonio to learn about marine animals, and then head to Morgan’s Wonderland for an inclusive theme park experience. There’s a great zoo in San Antonio to see some animals, and LEGOLAND Discovery Center San Antonio is an exciting place for any kiddos that enjoy putting together those classic and colorful blocks.
Inks Lake State Park
Plan a trip to Inks Lake State Park, one of the best things to do with the kids in Texas Hill Country. This beautiful and relaxing park is ideal for kayaking, boating, and water skiing. You can rent paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes at the park and camp right by the lake. The park also has some hiking trails and opportunities for fishing. The park is a great weekend getaway from Austin because it’s just an hour northwest of the city.
For a city escape in Texas, plan to take your family to Houston to see the sights. The Space Center Houston has exhibits and displays for everyone to learn something from, and the Downtown Aquarium is an impressive place to see various species of fish and marine life up close. The Houston Zoo is a favorite family activity in Houston. Don’t miss the Children’s Museum of Houston, Express Children’s Theater, and Main Street Theater if you have little ones on your trip. Older kids may like the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and everyone will enjoy Discovery Green Park.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Palo Duro Canyon is one of Texas’s most beautiful state parks and an awesome place to experience nature with your kids. This is the second-largest canyon in the country and an area with over 30 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. It is filled with red rock formations and rugged landscapes that will inspire your sense of adventure and exploration. The park has campsites with electricity and water for your weekend, as well as primitive tent sites. Glamping opportunities are also available here if you don’t feel like truly roughing it. Check out the musical program that runs at the park’s amphitheater during the summer, or join a ranger program to learn more about the park.
An option for a kid-friendly getaway in Texas is the city of Amarillo, which is known for its graffitied and up-turned display of cars called Cadillac Ranch, one of America’s coolest roadside attractions. While visiting this town with kids, you can check out the Route 66 Historic District, Wonderland Amusement Park, and the Splash Amarillo waterpark. It’s fun to take your kids horseback riding during a trip to Amarillo, and the Amarillo Botanical Gardens is a nice place to go for a walk. Other options are the Texas Air & Space Museum and the Amarillo Zoo.
One of Texas’ top beach towns, Port Aransas is beloved by families as a weekend getaway destination and for its beach camping at Mustang Island State Park. There are themed cruises you can take on the water and opportunities for kayaking, parasailing, and dolphin-watching here. You can charter a boat for the day with your family and even visit a private island on a jetty boat. Port Aransas Community Park is an excellent place to see local birds or go for a run to get some exercise.
You can find lots of family-friendly things to do in Dallas, such as the Children’s Theater and Firefighter Museum. There’s Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor for some thrills and adventure, especially if you are traveling with teenagers. Head to Sandy Lane Park for boat rides and to play mini-golf as a family. Since Dallas is a huge city with lots of hotel and resort options, you can find accommodations that come with childcare and hotel kid’s clubs so that you can enjoy some adult time during your trip for a little well-deserved peace and relaxation.