Spring Into Summer in the Lone Star State
The start of the summer travel season is right around the corner, and Texas invites travelers to take a Texas-sized adventure in the Lone Star State. When it comes to family travel, Texas is full of possibilities, boasting more than 600 miles of coastline, scenic mountain ranges, numerous national parks, historic sites and a variety of attractions. Pack your bags and embark on a Texas adventure.
SUNNY BEACHES, FRESHWATER LAKES AND LAZY RIVERS
Sink your toes in the sand with a Gulf Coast adventure beginning with Corpus Christi, one of the world’s top kite-boarding destinations. Galveston, a unique 32-mile beach town, offers soft sandy beaches; one of the largest, most historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings; and is home to more than 500 species of birds, making it a top birding destination. Another must-see Texas beach is Padre Island National Seashore, a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and a haven for 380 bird species. galveston.com
Nothing is more enjoyable on a summer day in Texas than diving into one of the many bodies of water the state has to offer. Enjoy a lazy day, floating in an inner tube in the cool waters of one of the 15 major natural rivers such as the Comal, Guadalupe, Frio and San Marcos. Some, being spring fed, remain crystal-clear, refreshing and inviting all year long. In addition to the many rivers, other swimming holes are a main attraction to many locals and visitors alike including Barton Springs in Austin, Krause Springs in Spicewood and San Solomon Spring in Balmorhea State Park located in the Big Bend region. Natural cold springs fill these man-made pools, offering invigorating and refreshing swimming opportunities on summer days. visitbigbend.com
Family-friendly, full-service resorts are offered state-wide. Well-known favorites include the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, Hyatt Lost Pines, Great Wolf Lodge and La Torretta Lake and Spa on Lake Conroe where beautiful pools connect to slow-moving rivers. Parents and kids indulge in fun by lounging on floats and splashing around in the cool waters. For full-day adventures, visit one of the many exclusive waterparks including Schlitterbahn® Waterpark Resorts in New Braunfels, Galveston, and South Padre Island. At the park in New Braunfels, families can experience the world’s longest waterpark ride known as “The Falls.” At 3,600 feet, the ride is filled with raging rapids, careening waterfalls and giant waves.
The warm waters of the Gulf Coast, from Galveston Island to Corpus Christi and South Padre Island, invite families to enjoy scuba diving, parasailing, boating, deep-sea fishing, and dolphin or bird watching in addition to onshore activities like sand castle building and sunbathing. Bask in the sun and enjoy everything the more than 600 miles of coastline has to offer.
WESTERN AND OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
Prefer mountains or canyons to waves? West Texas is the place to be. Visitors marvel at the beauty of Big Bend National Park, Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, or Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon. In addition to scenic mountain ranges, West Texas is home to many outdoor activities, including horseback riding, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. For a different type of terrain, head to Big Thicket National Preserve in East Texas. A convergence of ecosystems, Big Thicket protects the incredible diversity of life found in multiple habitats. Hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous.
Families traveling with little cowboys and cowgirls will find saddles just their size across the state. Texas’ many guest ranches offer diverse attractions, including horseback riding, hiking, swimming and western entertainment. From visiting dude ranches across Texas to touring historic working ranches, such as the King Ranch near Corpus Christi or the George Ranch in Houston, families can experience a true taste of the Old West. For adventure-seeking families, cattle drives are a great way to truly embrace the western lifestyle. Saddle up and ride out with trained professionals to round up herds of cattle across vast open ranges, all while learning about the origins and history of the Texas cowboy. Every spring and fall, the Longhorn Cattle Drive is offered in Big Bend Ranch State Park, one of the state’s most scenic areas. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks
TICKET TO FUN
Texas’ world-class theme parks, zoos and aquariums present families with thrilling rides and exotic wildlife. Texas is home to three Six Flags® theme parks: Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. They feature monster roller coasters, stunt shows, musical productions and land and water rides to entertain excitement-seekers of all ages. Texas is also home to SeaWorld® San Antonio, which features the iconic killer whale Shamu, as well as dolphins, sharks, seals and sea lions. From the Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston Zoos, to wildlife centers such as Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in New Braunfels, from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose to natural parks such as Cameron Park in Waco, visitors can get an up-close look at their favorite animals from around the globe.
In Austin, kids of all ages can look into the past at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, or visit the Austin Children’s Museum for plenty of creative activities. A trip to Houston means a chance to discover natural treasures like butterflies, gemstones and dinosaur bones at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The new Morian Hall of Paleontology is home to Megalodon, the largest shark to ever swim in the ocean. For an out of this world experience in Houston, check out the NASA/Johnson Space Center. Step into a living science lesson at the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
In addition to Texas’ great outdoors, a variety of adventures and activities can be found in the state’s diverse cities. In Texas’ Capital city, families will enjoy heading to the Thinkery, Austin’s innovative children’s museum where people connect with ideas by doing, creating and experiencing. Further south in San Antonio, visitors will enjoy not only the River Walk and the Alamo, but the Spanish Missions – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a safari experience right here in Texas. Adventure-seeking visitors can get their fix of thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which houses pulse-pounding roller coasters and gentler options for the kids.
In Texas’ largest city, Houston, visitors of all ages will delight in the Museum District, made up of 19 cultural institutions including, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For an out of this world experience, head to Space Center Houston, which features more than 400 space artifacts, attractions, permanent and traveling exhibits and theaters related to the history and future of space exploration. Up north in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, visitors will have no shortage of activities to enjoy. The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science will have kids of all ages exploring and making discoveries, while the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden allows visitors to soak in the beauty of the outdoors. There’s also plenty of fun to be had in nearby Arlington, at one of the biggest theme parks in the state, Six Flags Over Texas. Its claim to fame is The Texas Giant, while younger patrons will enjoy Bugs Bunny Boomtown. Across the street, more than 3 million gallons of water await at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.
From sandy beaches, to picturesque mountains, to urban centers, Texas offers a multitude of incredible leisure experiences for visitors of all ages, palates and interests.
MORE SPRINGTIME TEXAS
Big Spring delivers a mixture of yesterday, today, and tomorrow that welcomes the native and the newcomer alike. It is the location that brings you here, the unique beauty that gives you pause, and the kindness of the community that will make you stay. Try one of the amazing Tex-Mex restaurants, enjoy great family entertainment, discover a dynamic arts and culture scene, and so much more. Big Spring might just be the perfect place for your next Texas adventure.
Ever dream of kayaking in the reflection of the San Jacinto Monument or running across one of the largest stay-cable bridges in the world? Excursions to Baytown offer many exciting options from geocaching, to a night at the theater, or relaxing on the water! Baytown is situated in the gulf coast region of Texas among the scenic waterways that once witnessed the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution! Baytown is the perfect place to recharge and explore.
Feels Like Home in La Porte
La Porte, Texas is located just south of where the Houston Ship Channel meets Galveston Bay. Rich in history and built on community, they are a quiet escape from the reality of the big city. Friendly faces will know your name before you leave, and a unique visitor experience will leave you feeling like a local. From bay views to boutique shopping to history lessons that helped shape the nation, they have an abundance to offer.
Located in the untamed beauty of South Texas’ rugged brushland, the city of Kingsville has managed to retain its unique historical legacy while solidifying its place as a center of growth and industry. An array of local attractions draws guests who are seeking to immerse themselves in a bit of southern charm and a slower pace of life. There’s something for everyone to enjoy from historical sites, hunting, fishing, local arts scene, and some of the most delicious cuisine in the Lone Star state.
Home of The Great Texas Mosquito Festival is located just 45 minutes away from Houston. Their annual celebration ( July 25-27) has gained national recognition and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the country. Half-seriously referred to as “The Texas State Bird,” the Mosquito is an excuse for residents to join in on three days of fun and games. Port Freeport and the area beaches that line the Gulf of Mexico are within five minutes of Clute. In 2012, TripAdvisor rated the Great Texas Mosquito Festival “The Wackiest Summer Festival in the United States.”