Photo by Sean Oulashin on Unsplash

Looking for the best beaches within driving distance of Houston to lay out a beach chair, sun yourself, and just relax for a little bit? You may want a classic white-sand beach experience, small crowds, or a chance to go on a nature hike after you’ve caught a few waves.  Take a look at our list of the best Houston beaches to find the one that fits you and your interests.

Best Beaches Near Houston

1. Galveston Island State Park

Houston beaches

courtesy galveston.com

A beach and a state park rolled into one, Galveston Island State Park is a great place to go to for a day or a weekend trip. You can enjoy the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay to the fullest, and go surfing, kayaking, or fishing. Nature trails offer excellent opportunities to see local wildlife, especially waterfowl and alligators. You can also enjoy the campgrounds.
Where: 14901 FM3005, Galveston, TX 77554
How Much: $5

2. Stewart Beach

Houston beaches

courtesy galveston.com

Also in the Galveston area is Stewart Beach, which is known for being a great spot for family-friendly fun. With volleyball courts, pavilions, and a playground, there’s plenty to keep kids entertained. There are also concession stands, umbrella rentals, and beach wheelchair rentals to make the beach comfortable and accessible. The beach often hosts events for families to enjoy, as well. No alcohol is allowed on this beach.
Where: 201 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550
How Much: Parking is $12 on Monday-Thursday, $15 on Friday-Sunday

3. East Beach

courtesy galveston.com

East Beach is another Galveston favorite and the one best suited for the party crowd. The beach has a boardwalk, an entertainment stage for live concerts and festivals, pavilions, and concession stands. Add plenty of volleyball courts and an annual sand-castle building competition and you’ve got a pretty great beach experience in the making. Alcohol is allowed on this beach, unlike on many of Galveston’s beaches.
Where: 1923 Boddeker Rd, Galveston, TX 77550
How Much: Parking is $12 on Monday-Thursday, $15 on Friday-Sunday

4. Surfside Beach

courtesy www.surfsidetx.org

For a more laid back day of fun in the sun, hit up Surfside Beach. It’s a small, largely undeveloped beach about an hour outside of Houston that got its name for the waves that make it a great spot for casual surfers. There are also nearby bays and marshes to explore if you’d like to take in some local nature, go on a hike, or go fishing. Weekends might get a little more crowded, but on the whole, you should be able to stretch out on the sand, go swimming, and just take the time to relax. Note: there’s a drive-on beach where you’re allowed to drive your car along the beach, and a pedestrian beach where you’re not. Take note of which one you’re on.
Where: Surfside Beach, TX 77541
How Much: Free
 

5. Bolivar Peninsula

courtesy Bolivar Peninsula, Texas

About 2 hours outside of Houston (and a ferry ride across from Galveston) is Bolivar Peninsula, a gorgeous beach where you can sign up for deep-sea fishing and have a real shot at seeing a dolphin in the wild. This beach is a bit secluded and undeveloped–we’re talking no showers, no concession stands, no volleyball. But that also means no crowds. If you’re interested in a natural, quiet beach experience with pretty views and almost no one else around, Bolivar Peninsula is the place for you.
Where: Bolivar Peninsula, TX, USA
How Much: $15 annual beach parking permit

 

6. Sylvan Beach

courtesy Sylvan Beach Park

Sylvan Beach is beach with finer sand and less seaweed than most of the beaches Houstonians are familiar with. Small waves, a playground, and a fishing pier make Sylvan a great place for a relaxing family day trip. The beach also comes with showers and a pavilion for added comfort. Take a picnic lunch for the full experience.
Where: 636 N Bayshore Dr, La Porte, TX 77571
How Much: Free (fishing is $5)

 

7. El Jardin Beach

Houston beaches

courtesy pasadenatxgov

El Jardin Beach is a small but clean and comfortable beach that faces the bay. There are no concessions, so be sure to bring a snack. It’s quiet and very rarely crowded, and makes for an idyllic spot to sit and watch the ships in the port go by. Note: parking is limited, so try to get there early if you want a spot nearby.
Where: 500 El Jardin Dr, Seabrook, TX 77586
How Much: Free

8. Matagorda Beach

Houston beaches

courtesy matagordabeach.org

Matagorda Beach is a bit out of the way–2 hours outside of Houston–but 20 miles of open public beach might be worth it. You can also wander the trails and go bird-spotting, go camping, or even explore more of the beach that’s open exclusively to watercraft like kayaks and boats. 
Where: Matagorda Beach, 6420 FM2031, Matagorda, TX 77457
How Much: Free

9. Sea Rim State Park

Houston beaches

courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife

While a bit of a trip at 2 and a half hours outside of Houston, Sea Rim State Park is a combination of everything great about beaches and marshes. Visitors can go kayaking, hike nature trails, go bird-watching, and camp on the beach (during certain months). An especially fun activity is horseback riding–taking a ride through the marsh trails or along the sandy shore is one of the best ways to get a great view of the park. A nearby wildlife sanctuary makes this the ideal stop for nature lovers.
Where: 19335 S. Gulfway Drive, Sabine Pass, TX 77655 
How Much: $3 for adults, free for children 12 and under

10. Quintana Beach

courtesy Quintana Beach County Park

Quintana Beach is a great public beach for fishers, surfers, and swimmers. There’s a long jetty and a lighted wooden fishing pier as well as overnight camping facilities to make your stay comfortable. There are event spaces and plenty of activities, including volleyball, nature hikes, bird-watching, and beachcombing. To add an extra layer of interest, Quintana Beach is a historical site–it was the location of Fort Bates in 1862 and the remains of the Freeport Harbor Defense during WWII. There are two historical houses still located in the park.
Where: 330 5th Street, Quintana, TX 77541
How Much: $5 parking fee

 

There are a lot of great options in Galveston alone. Here is a detailed round up of the best beaches in Galveston.

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