Texas is famous for its live music, barbecue, Tex-Mex, cowboys, and other things. However, beaches aren’t the first thing that comes to mind whenever the conversation about Texas arises. They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and a visit to its sandy shores proves that also applies to its beaches.
The Texas beaches certainly don’t compare to those in Hawaii. Still, it’s more than 600 miles of shoreline provides a sunny, beautiful, and drive-worthy experience.
Although each beach in the world has its culture, what’s set those in Texas apart is the authenticity in taste for local life. A popular Texan pastime is fishing. Horseback rides along the sand are also a fun way to pass the time in Texan beach culture.
From kayaking to bird watching and calm beaches, here are 14 of the best beaches in Texas for families to visit.
- Port Aransas Beach
- Mustang Island State Park
- Rockport Beach
- Surfside Beach
- Stewart Beach- Galveston
- Malaquite Beach, North Padre Island
- East Beach Galveston
- Sea Rim State Park Beach
- Boca Chica Beach Brownsville
- North Beach Corpus Christi
- Crystal Beach/ Bolivar Peninsula
- South Padre Island
- Sea Rim State Park Port Arthur
- Matagorda Beach
Port Aransas Beach
Port Aransas is a small sleepy town on Mustang Island that is popular for its fishing and long sandy beaches. The beach was once known for being a pirate hotspot in the 18th century and now offers one of the best vacationing spots in Texas for families looking to unwind.
Port Aransas Beach has more than 60,000 people during summer and spring break. However, the population grows immensely when tourists arrive to fish, snorkel, watch birds, hike the dunes, bodysurf, and golf.
The beach is excellent for children as they can partake in the annual sandcastles competition called SandFest. SandFest is usually a big deal in Port Aransas and offers a friendly yet competitive event for children and adults to partake in. SandFest also includes live music, concessions, and overall activities that draw hundreds of crowds every year.
If you’re a bird enthusiast, the Whooping Crane Festival that takes place in February is a great way to watch the birds as a group. Convenience is the main point of this beach, and its laid-back restaurants offer a calm and relaxing view of the sandy shores.
The beach has well-maintained facilities, including outdoor showers and bathrooms. The best part about it is that you don’t need to leave your pup at home when visiting Port Aransas as it is a dog-friendly beach.
Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park runs just a few miles south of Port Aransas and east of Corpus Christi and Texas Parks and Wildlife manages the park. Anyone familiar with the Texas state parks reservations and entry process will have no problem getting into this beach.
The beach found its name from the wild horses that used to roam there and is perhaps the most beautiful vacation destination in Texas that also offers you a bang for your buck.
Mustang Island State Park is an elegant natural swath of land that offers 20 miles of hiking trails, surfing waves, green dunes, and five miles of beach. It’s also home to a healthy population of dolphins, turtles, and shorebirds.
The shallow water paddling trail found in Mustang Island State Park gives you an up-close and personal interaction with the park wildlife. Top of the noblest pursuits you can participate in Mustang Island Beach includes bird watching, paddle boarding, swimming, and kayaking.
If you’re looking for a laid-back and quiet beach, then Mustang Island State Park Beach is the best option for you. It offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Rockport Beach is the first Blue Wave Certified beach in Texas. The Blue Wave certification means that the town is committed to maintaining the cleanliness of the beach. This also means that as a family, you get to enjoy pristine sands on this mile-long stretch. The only downside to Rockport Beach is that it isn’t a pet-friendly beach as it’s a bird sanctuary.
That aside, it has a vast playground for your children to play, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. You can wish your day away fishing off the 800-foot pier or lazy around the palapas found on the crescent-shaped sand. However, the beach has designated areas for fishing as the activity is prohibited at the boat dock and the saltwater pool.
The Blue Wave certification also prohibits bonfires, so if you’re looking for a bonfire experience on the beach, then Rockport Beach won’t do it for you. If you’re also looking for a beach that allows driving, Rockport Beach isn’t the best option as the beach doesn’t allow cars.
Surfside Beach lives up to its name when it comes to surfing. Stronger waves occur on this beach during hurricane season, making it top of the best surfing beaches in Texas. Surfside Beach also has clean and clear waters, but unlike Rockport, its rules are more relaxed. That is, pets are allowed, and campfires are permitted.
You can undertake swimming, crabbing, strolling, and fishing in Surfside Beach. Guided horseback rides on the sand are also a fun way of taking in the sites. The beach also has more relaxed rules regarding pets. You can take your leashed pup on a stroll on the coastline and also make campfires to sit wound as a family.
You can also drive up the shoreline in specific locations for a small fee. The pedestrian beach has free parking between Welk St. and Thunder St. The beach also has signs everywhere regarding the water’s quality, so always make sure you check the signs before allowing your young ones or yourself to go swimming.
Stewart Beach- Galveston
If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach in Texas, then Stewart Beach is the perfect spot. The beach features sandy volleyball courts for family fun, concessions that sell delicious tears for your children, and a vast playground where kids can play. The showers and restrooms are also easily accessible,
Stewart Beach also has shallow waters and calm waves. The lifeguards are also always alert, thus making this beach a kid-friendly site. When swimming, you can always look out for passing dolphins. The beach also allows its visitors to rent out beach umbrellas and loungers for a small fee to beat out the scorching sun.
Malaquite Beach, North Padre Island
North Padre Island spans 113 miles long and is the longest undeveloped barrier island on Earth. The island boasts some of the state’s most elegant beaches, some of which allow drives for only $10. One of the beaches on this island is the gorgeous Malaquite Beach which frequently tops many US Beach Lists.
Malaquite Beach is quiet and family-friendly. It is also home to the endangered Kemp Ridley sea turtles. The beach is open to the public viewing of the turtle hatchlings every year from mid-June through August.
East Beach Galveston
East Beach is the largest prettiest beach in Galveston. It’s also the most popular and many concerts, festivals and events are held here throughout summer. Several activities take place in East Beach, including a sandcastle building competition.
East Beach also sets itself apart from other beaches by allowing alcohol, given it’s not in a glass container. The beach is perfect for long walks, bird watching, and fishing during the quiet season. The area has well-trained lifeguards who patrol the place constantly, thus making sure the young ones are safe when swimming.
Several concessions sell yummy snacks and drinks that your family is sure to love. Although East Beach is well developed today, it came to be accidentally when Galveston’s Harbor was under construction in the 19th century. The beach came about as a result of shifting and accumulating sands through an effort of deepening the harbor.
Sea Rim State Park Beach
Sea Rim State Park runs near a salt marsh and has five miles of naturally occurring beach where families can camp and lounge on the waterfront. A visit to Sea Rim State Park Beach allows you and your family to enjoy various activities, including sitting by the boat ramp to fish, go horseback riding on the coastline, and kayak or canoe in the waters.
Alternatively, if you prefer a laid-back activity, you can spend your day lying on the shoreline sunbathing and relaxing as the sounds of nature and the waves engulf you. You can also walk on the coastline with your family as you search for shells and watch rare birds.
Boca Chica Beach Brownsville
If you’re from Brownsville, Boca Chica is the closest beach to you, and you’re already familiar with it. It is a narrow 8-mile coastline that features some of the most scenic ocean fronts you’ll ever see. It’s also a great way to get to Mexico without actually getting to Mexico. The only thing standing between Boca Chica and Mexico is the Rio Grande Valley.
Boca Chica is part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and is under the protection of the Texas state. It’s a quiet, rustic beach and is relatively untouched, meaning there are no nearby facilities. An expert tip when visiting Boca Chica is to carry plenty of food, water, and essentials for the beach that you may need, given the lack of facilities nearby.
Although this makes it a tad bit inconvenient, the lack of development in the area is what makes the beach special. It is tranquil, calm, and related, making it a perfect spot for noble pleasures such as fishing, birding, swimming, and snorkeling. It also offers an ideal location for those who just want to soak up in the sun while reading through their favorite beach magazines.
Boca Chica also offers a lovely glimpse of wildlife during summer and spring. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, then you can catch a glimpse of the Kemp Ridley sea turtles on the shores.
North Beach Corpus Christi
North Beach Corpus Christi proves that you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy a day at the beach. This beach places you at the center of everything happening, and you get to enjoy tons of facilities and activities without leaving the city limits. It’s also home to the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington, two of the region’s most popular attractions.
North Beach also has a concert boardwalk for those who would like to stay away from the sand. The passage is great for bikers, strollers, fishing jetties, and just a walk. Several restaurants and hotels within walking distance from the beach make this a prime vacationing spot.
Crystal Beach/ Bolivar Peninsula
If you’re looking for a beach that allows driving on the sand, then Crystal Beach is for you. This tranquil beach offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and golden sands that reflect elegantly in the evening sun. It’s also a popular spot among birdwatchers as there are several bird species that frequent the area.
Crystal Beach is secluded but still serves up an authentic party atmosphere. You can camp out overnight, set up your bonfires and grills, and revel with your family throughout summer. It’s slow and a great place to fish and hunt shells.
Once the sun sets, the bars, restaurants, and hotels in the area serve to keep the energy at a constant high. You can also head to the south of the peninsula and have a photoshoot outside the Point Bolivar Lighthouse. The lighthouse isn’t open to the public but still provides a great backdrop for Instagram photos.
South Padre Island
Padre Island is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier islands on the planet. It stretches out to about 70 miles and has several dunes, prairies, and access points. One of the coastlines on Padre Island in South Padre Island Beach. The beach is famous for its family-friendly activities.
If you’re looking for an excellent spot for fishing, with an excellent selection of shops and restaurants to choose from, then south padre island beach is the ideal spot for you. The beach is home to the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center and Sea Turtle Inc.
The organization provides an outstanding educational experience with its work with the Kemp Ridley endangered sea turtles. The beach has a five-story watchtower that is open to the public and allows you to catch a glimpse of the flocks of birds that live on the undeveloped barrier island.
The beach also houses numerous wonderful parks for playtime. The Island Adventure Park offers horseback riding and petting barns for your kids to pet the little and big animal lovers. The park also offers zip lining for the adventurous soul. The Island Fun Park has activities like go-karting and mini-golf for sports lovers.
An expert tip is to avoid visiting South Padre Island Beach during March. This is because, at this time, the college spring break crowds flock to the place and don’t offer a conducive environment for family-fueled activities. If you’re aiming for a family-friendly beach vacation in Texas during spring break, then you might want to look somewhere else.
Sea Rim State Park Port Arthur
Sea Rim State Park Port Arthur has its place in the southeast of Texas. It’s a remote and unique coastal beach with 5.2 miles of gold shoreline and more than 4000 acres of dunes and marshland. The beach finds its name from being the point where the sea and the marsh meet.
There are several activities you can do at the Sea Rim State Park Port Arthur. You can go birding, camping on the beach, kayak or canoe, swim, and hunt during the hunting season.
If you prefer a laid-back activity, walking and stalling offer a chilled and relaxed way of taking in the wonders of nature at this beach. You can also go horseback riding on the 3 miles of gulf coastal beachfront. The best part about this beach is that the entrance fee is $3 for adults and children under 12 to get in free, which means that your tribe of younglings can enjoy the beach at no extra cost.
This beach also allows its visitors to drive on the shoreline for those who would rather not walk. The beach also has the Gambusia Nature Trail that has a boardwalk. The boardwalk feature extends out to the water, thus giving visitors an elevated view of the feathered friends.
Matagorda Beach offers a picturesque experience for any family looking to make long-lasting memories. The beach is not flocked by enormous crowds, thus giving its visitors a peaceful rest from the family hustle and bustle of urban life. Its tranquility and calm allow families to focus on themselves.
Much of Matagorda Beach is accessible by foot, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can brave through the untouched surroundings. Just remember to pack plenty of food, supplies, and sunscreen but be prepared for one of the state’s most fulfilling and serene beach experiences.
When you’re not setting up your camping site on the sand on the beach’s shoreline, you can go horseback riding along the coastal line or kayak in the water. The Matagorda Island Lighthouse is a popular tourist destination for those looking for more to view on the beach. Built in 1852, the lighthouse is, however, not accessible to the public but offers an excellent backdrop for breathtaking photos.
You can also rent out the elegant RedFish Hall for any events or parties such as weddings, birthdays, or other celebrations. The small shops on the beach can provide you with the necessary amenities to help you enjoy your stay more.
You can also rent kayaks from the rental kayak shops. The beach also offers shaded group picnic areas with umbrella shades, grills, and picnic tables for visitors to enjoy their picnics.
IB Magee Beach
Magee Beach is found in Port Aransas and spreads across 157 acres along the shipping channel. The beach falls under the Nueces County Park and is usually open to the public all year round. Magee Beach contains 75 organized campsites and allows simple camping.
The 1240 foot long Horace Caldwell Pier forms one of the major attractions on the beach. The pier extends into the Gulf of Mexico and is a great fishing spot. The beach also has shops for renting and buying bait and tackles.
There are several picnic sites with tables and cabins for shades all over the beach. The beach is perfect for long strolls, snorkeling, playing volleyball, swimming, or just laying the day way hanging around and soaking in the sun.
However, this beach doesn’t allow cars, so if you’re looking for a beach that can let you drive into the beach, you’re better off looking for another shore. However, McGee Beach has restroom facilities and free street parking nearby.
The Best Pet-Friendly Beaches in Texas
With a few exceptions, many beaches in Texas allow pets such as dogs and welcome all pups of all sizes to enjoy the day and frolic in the sand and water. However, the general rule with most beaches is that dogs should always remain on leashes. That said, here is a recap of the best beaches that will let your dog join in on the family fun:
- Matagorda Island
- Port Aransas Beach
- Surfside Beach
- South Padre Beach
- Galveston Island (East Beach and Stewart Beach)
- Padre Island
The Best Beaches to Visit in Texas during Winter
Like most destinations in America, the south is usually warmer. Even though Texas generally experiences mild cold weather, its southern beaches have higher temperatures year-round. Some of the best beaches to vacation in during the winter season include South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach.
Both beaches rarely have temperatures lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit
And If cold weather doesn’t bother you, then Padre Island is an excellent option for vacationing in Texas. This beach is better to visit during the winter and fall seasons. If you choose to do so, you’ll see thousands of migrating birds such as ospreys and sandhill cranes usually flock to this beach during the fall and winter seasons.
The Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Texas
- Galveston Island (East Beach and Stewart Beach)
- North Beach
- Port Aransas
- Rockport Beach
- Mustang Island State Park
- South Padre Island
I’d argue each one of the beaches in Texas is well-suited and equipped for families due to its flat shores, wildlife abundance, and Gulf waves. However, some are more prepared to cater to the needs of families than others.
Regardless, each of the 14 mentioned beaches promises to provide you and your family fun while bonding in the water and sand. With that said, the next time you find yourself in Texas, pack up your tribe and take a drive down to any of the beaches mentioned and discover for yourself Texas’s best-kept secret.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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