Summer is quickly approaching which means you may be in the planning stage for a family vacation, and we have researched the 26 best Texas beaches for families. As a native Texan, I have to say if you are coming to Texas, you have made a great choice. I love Texas’ strong sense of community and its diverse terrain. You can do anything from lying on the beach to hiking in the mountains, plains, or prairies. My personal favorite is lying on the beach and Texas has plenty of them.
Texas Beaches for Families
Some Texas beaches are more suited for families than others and if you don’t like the one you drove to just drive a little further down the road. Texas’ beautiful diverse landscapes and wide-open spaces are breathtaking. Texas’ nature offerings, fauna, and flora are to be had statewide. The Texas Gulf Coast is no exception and with hundreds of miles of sand dunes, and beaches you will not be disappointed.
This list of Texas beaches will help you decide which Texas beach location suits your family the best. The list of beaches in Texas for families gives you an overall idea of what each location has to offer for your family. We have included things like the best Texas beaches for swimming, the best clear water beaches in Texas, and the best beaches in Texas for shelling to help you decide which best Texas beach vacations work for you and your family.
Family at Galveston Island, Texas Beach
Unlike many other states, most of the Texas coastline allows you to drive right up to the water making it a great place to bring your brood no matter what size. You can park your camper right next to the big, beautiful, blue sea. Technically speaking, the Texas Gulf Coast is not an ocean, it is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean. Texas has a total of seven barrier islands along the gulf coast.
With so many beaches and a 367-mile stretch of actual sandy beach, where do you start? We have researched our top picks of (26) Texas beach destinations for families and being a native Texan I can vouch for many of them. However, every family is different, and we have simply provided you with the information you need to begin your search for the perfect Texas family-oriented beaches. Trust me they are all winners in one fashion or another.
Some are great for families with older children, some are better for smaller children, some are recommended for active families, and some are better for families looking for relaxation, sun, and fun! Or maybe your brood wants all the above perks, no problem though because Texas beach destinations have something for everyone. Let our ultimate guide help you find the perfect Texas Gulf Coast vacation destination for your family. Texas beaches are much more laid back than almost any other beach area in the nation. You can go in the water with cut-offs and a t-shirt, no problem. Grab those beach towels and make a day of it!
Best Texas Beach Towns
The Texas gulf coast with its quaint seaside beach towns offers many amenities including restaurants, shopping, and festivals galore. The food doesn’t get any better than in Texas especially on the gulf coast with its plentiful assortment of seafood dishes. Oh, and don’t forget the barbecue which is literally everywhere. You would be hard-pressed to find a city without a local BBQ joint, in fact, that might even be impossible since Texans do love, love, love their BBQ. If you are lucky enough to visit during one of the many local festivals, you will be a party to a whole diverse selection of regional foods.
The number one best Texas beach town is Port Aransas, Texas. Located on Mustang Island, Port Aransas Beach is also our top pick for the best Texas Beach in general and our number one best Texas beach for families.
The gulf coast stretches from East Texas to the southern tip of Texas making it one of the best vacation destinations in the world. Each town and beach have its own local culture as well, and some are just better for families. Spring break is not the best time to visit for a family vacation but literally, any other time of the year is great, and each season has its perks. Perhaps you already live in Texas and want a change of scenery. No matter where you are from you will find the perfect beach for your family on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Birds, Fauna, and Other Texas Wildlife
Terns and Gull on Texas Beach
You are never very far from a Texas State Park with multitudes of wildlife and vegetation. Texas has 660 bird species, not including the millions of migrating birds such as ducks, geese, pelicans, and songbirds that find their winter home on the Texas coastal wetlands. We also have gators, sea turtles, fiddler crabs, sharks, dolphins, and a multitude of other wildlife species. Many state parks offer viewing locations and some even house wildlife sanctuaries.
In addition to the Texas State Parks, there are also National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges along the Texas Gulf Coast with an array of vegetation from the wetlands to the bays. Seagrasses grow in the protected bays and lagoons and are vital in protecting the coastal marine ecosystems. They provide habitat for the redfish, blue crab, shrimp, flounder, and speckled trout among others.
Fishing is a popular sport on the Texas gulf coast and can be had in most commercial areas of the coastline. Although fishing is prohibited in a few areas, most beaches in Texas still allow you to cast your line, as long as you have a Texas fishing license. There are many fishing events and tournaments throughout the year in various coastal areas along the Texas Coast. Deep-sea fishing on a charter boat is an extremely popular option. Fishing boats are available to rent in some areas as well. There are various cleaning stations on some of the beaches as well as a few local restaurants that will clean and cook your catch for you.
Staying Safe on Texas Beaches with Family
Some Texas beaches have regular lifeguards on duty for daytime swimming. However, many beaches do not, so always take all safety precautions seriously to keep your family from harm. Stay away from rocky areas and always swim with a partner. If you have small children never leave them unattended and stay in very shallow waters.
You should always be aware of any rip tides warnings. According to NOAA.GOV, a rip tide is a specific type of current associated with the swift movement of tidal water through inlets and the mouths of estuaries, embayments, and harbors. Rip currents are prevalent on the east, west, and gulf coasts of the US and the Texas Gulf Coast is no exception. You should be aware of the conditions in the area and what to look for. Moving at speeds of up to eight feet per second rip tides and currents can be very dangerous for both adults and children. You should check water conditions before heading to the beach and swim in areas with trained lifeguards whenever possible.
The usual precautions of wearing a good sturdy pair of beach/water shoes for each family member, using sunscreen regularly, never swimming alone, and staying hydrated are always important. Also be aware of jellyfish and man of war, which often blend into the sand and may look like foaming water that can sting you even when they are dead. A sturdy stick for poking at suspicious-looking objects or indentions in the sand before picking anything up can be a handy tool to have. Wearing a hat is a good idea to keep the sun at bay and your face protected. Many areas have a visitors center you can visit for more information about the various areas and precautions to heed before going onto the beach.
Like many other coastal areas the Texas coast does have alligators and sharks, although not a common siting, they do exist. Alligators are sometimes spotted on the beach or even in the water. They can survive in salt water for 5 hours to several days. Sharks rarely attack but they are part of the ocean and sea ecosystem. The Texas coast is one of the safest in this regard with only 17 shark bites reported here in the last 100 years. Be aware of the weather conditions and use the old adage ‘If you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes, to guide you, and remember that extended forecasts are your friend.
It goes without saying, to be always aware of yourself, as well as your family’s surroundings. The sand dunes are off-limits in many areas for a good reason. They can collapse with a very real danger of being buried under the sand. Sand dunes provide protection from erosion, and high waves help to reduce coastal flooding as well as being a natural habitat for many wildlife species. Wildlife including snakes can be spotted in the dunes although rarely a threat to humans as most are not poisonous. Always play it safe, and enjoy your day at the beach, by taking all the necessary precautions.
So what are the best Texas Beaches and what do they have to offer? We hope you find this guide to Texas beaches helpful in making a decision for the best Texas coast beaches to take your family for a great vacation spot that checks off all your boxes. Texas has some of the best family beaches in the nation. Most are easily accessible and offer an array of year-round activities such as boating, Kayaking, fishing, bird watching, surfing, and other water sports. Don’t forget those swimsuits, several per person are suggested. Many swimsuits offer UPF protection and having more than one swimsuit is recommended if you swim often.
Beach gear comes in many shapes and sizes depending on your family’s ages, interests, and activities. A large family size beach blanket, sun shelter or tent, headband headlights, first aid kit, as well as some waterproof items can make your beach stay safer and happier.
We love, love, love this inflatable beach couch and so will you.
Does Texas have good beaches? Are Texas beaches nice? Texas beaches have white sand, turquoise waters, and a host of other advantages. Visiting Texas coastal cities is less expensive than most of the nation. Beach areas on the Texas gulf coast are more open to foot traffic than most beaches in the US. Many Texas beaches allow you to drive right up to the water. Traffic is usually light in comparison to beaches in other parts of our nation. Also, the views are not obstructed by over-building and overcrowding as is common in many states.
26 Best Texas Beach Towns and Beaches for Families
Best Beaches in Texas
So what are the best beaches in Texas? Arguably most Texas beaches are great beaches for families. They have flat beaches, tons of wildlife, and calm waters. Most Texas beaches are pet friendly and have mild winter weather. The gulf coast offers warm waters, wonderful amenities, great views, and great scenery. Coastal Texas is a wonderful area and the very best beach in Texas is the one that is best suited to your family’s needs. We have researched and evaluated Coastal Texas for our 26 picks of the best Texas beaches for families that are safe, affordable, and fun.
Our best Texas family beaches are:
Boca Chica Beach (dead ends where the US ends, 23 miles east of) Brownsville on Brazos Island
Boca Chica Beach Texas has eight miles of sandy beach on Texas’ southern most Brazos Island. Boca Chica Beach is located 23 miles east of Brownsville and dead ends at the Gulf of Mexico proper where the US ends and Mexico begins. Boca Chica was once a Texas State Park and is now part of the 90,788-acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge managed by the US Federal Government.
Some say Boca Chica Beach has the clearest waters of any other Texas beach. Boca Chica Beach provides free beach camping with no amenities. For families looking to avoid the regular tourist traps, it makes a great day trip. You will need to bring all the necessities with you and check the weather report before deciding where to park. (I would only recommend it for a day trip as security is very limited.)
If you are driving to the beach from Brownsville you will travel twenty-three miles east on Texas Highway 4 until you reach the dead-end and finally find yourself at the beach. SpaceX is in the community of Boca Chica Village and makes a great perk to view on your way to the beach, however, it has no public tours or access.
Fun fact: Elon Musk wants to incorporate a new city called Starbase, Texas in the area which is expected to include the existing Boca Chica Village, the SpaceX test and launch site. Source
Bryan Beach is in the city of Freeport
Bryan Beach Texas is part of the city of Freeport and has a scenic three-mile beach. Driving is permitted on the beach if you have a street-legal vehicle. Both RV and tent camping are allowed but you should be aware of the high tide line when picking a spot. This beach is quiet, and this stretch of the beach does have fireworks banned. If you want to get away from it all this is a great location for a family-friendly vacation, but be aware there are very few amenities.
You do not have to pay a fee to camp there as of this writing. This secluded beach offers camping, fishing, beach combing, and surfing among other water sports. This is an excellent spot for shore fishing and cookouts on the beach. The locals are quite friendly, and their logo is ‘Where Fun Happens’. Bryan Beach is an all-natural beach that is routinely maintained. The city of Freeport hosts several yearly fishing tournaments for both children and adults.
Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula
Crystal Beach Texas is located on the Bolivar Peninsula. The Bolivar Peninsula borders Galveston Bay and is accessible only by ferry making it a somewhat secluded area in comparison to the Galveston Beaches. The Galveston-Bolivar Ferry ride takes about 18 – 20 minutes. Crystal Beach itself is an unincorporated city of just under 2,000 regular inhabitants. In season, however, it can be as many as 4,000. Vehicles are allowed on the beach.
Depending on your budget there are temporary rentals on the waterfront as well as camping right on the beach. The beach camping is free, but you do have to get a parking permit. There are also several RV campgrounds on Bolivar Peninsula. The Shore at Crystal Beach offers public beach access with a beach walkover, pavilion, restrooms, showers, and parking areas.
This is generally one of the cleaner beaches you will find making it a great location for your family getaway. Dogs are allowed on the beach as long as they are on a leash. Golf carts are available to rent and are allowed on the beach between sunrise and sunset if they are operated by a licensed driver.
East Beach Galveston Texas on Galveston Island
East Beach Texas is located at the far eastern tip of Galveston Island. East Beach is loaded with amenities including restrooms, showers, chair rentals, and umbrella rentals. Be aware alcohol is permitted on East Beach, unlike most Galveston beaches. There is also a charge for admission to this beach. The amenities more than make up for the admission fee with playgrounds for the kids, lifeguards, picnic tables, changing rooms, restaurants, and showers; and it is pet friendly.
This is a party destination beach so plan accordingly by avoiding spring break and some of the more ‘adult holidays’ but otherwise it can make a cool vacation destination for your family. The off-season would be my personal preference as well as saving a little cash. If visiting in the off-season be sure to check on working hours for this beach. Kids will love to hunt for shells and be able to view the sea animals. There are five other beaches within a 10-mile drive as well.
Follet’s Island Beach is on Follet’s Island (in the Brazosport Area)
Follet’s Island Beach Texas is located on Follet’s Island near Surfside, Texas. It has 13 miles of public access beach for fishing, swimming, and camping; and is free when using the public access entrance. This is a totally free public beach (as of this writing) with no fees for camping, parking, or driving making it a great pick for families on a budget. In-season, portable toilets are available at beach access points 1 & 2.
A big plus here is horseback riding on the beach and pets on a leash are allowed. On the tip of Follet’s Island is San Luis Pass County Park, which includes a full-service RV park on the waterfront. The fishing pier is another perk to this location with areas to clean your catch. There are no lifeguards, so swimming is at your own risk. Follet’s Beach starts at the end of Surfside Beach and ends at Treasure Island.
Galveston Island State Park is on (the western part of) Galveston Island
Galveston Island State Park is a Texas State Park. It is located on the western part of Galveston Island. It is patrolled by state rangers and it is one of our safest family beach destinations. Day use is available by paying a fee of $5 per person for 13-year old’s or older (as of this writing). Please call or visit online for up-to-date information. This State Park is located in the city of Galveston and is just over 2,000 acres stretching from beach to bay. Just recently upgraded this is anticipated to be the 2022 Gulf Coast destination of the year. Camping at Galveston Island State Park is available along with fishing, hiking, birding, swimming (no lifeguards), kayaking, and much more.
With recent upgrades currently scheduled to be completed in early 2022, the expected amenities will make this one of the best locations for families. This historic State Park offers easy walking and kayaking opportunities. This state park rates as one of our top family-friendly picks. Another perk to Galveston Island is the Schlitterbahn waterpark for additional family fun. The water park is more to the bay side of the island at 2109 Gene Lucas Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554. Just minutes from anywhere on the island you can’t go wrong with this combo.
Isla Blanca County Park/Beach Park is on (the Southern edge of) South Padre Island
Isla Blanca County Park/Beach Park, Isla Blanca Texas is on the Southern edge of South Padre Island. This beach gives you a tropical vibe with its clean sand and blue water. The nearby waterpark is called Beach Park and offers a variety of fun activities. This area offers a lot of amenities with restaurants, tiki hut-style cabanas, along with the rides and water lounges at Beach Park you and your family will have plenty to keep you busy.
Walk the nearby Laguna Madre Nature trail (free access) with its wetlands and abundance of birds. Also in the area is the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center (which requires a small fee) just a short 12 minutes by car and is a great activity for adults and kids alike. They even have a coastal nature camp for kids, twice a year in the summer.
With 600 RV, full access spaces, and a full-service marina it can be a bit more affordable. There are nearby hotels and resorts if that is more your style, such as the Isla Grand Beach Resort, a casual beachfront resort with 2 pools. Depending on your vacation budget this area offers you plenty of options, with both bay fishing and offshore fishing trips, and water sports including snorkeling and parasailing. This is one of our bonus picks for family fun as there is a waterpark here as well. *See details in the bonus section.
North Packery Beach/JP Luby on Mustang Island
North Packery Beach (referred to by the locals as JP Luby) is located on Mustang Island Texas. The island is pristine but can get crowded at times of the year. Golf cart rentals are readily available as well as seasonal short-term housing. The local scene is great with lots of Mom-and-Pop shops and bistros. You can camp on the beach including driving in with your camper or RV. Some areas have pavilions, grills, picnic tables, and bathrooms available. At the park entrance, you will find parking and with a parking permit, you can drive right up to the beach. Mustang Island itself is one of my personal favorites and is accessible by both car and ferry.
Having lived on Mustang Island as a child and spending my last family vacation with my own family here in 2021, I can tell you it still has that wonderful local vibe it has always had. Do not miss the truly awesome sunrise here on the island as it is spectacular (depending on weather conditions of course) and one of the reasons many people return here year after year.
Mustang Island is a narrow 18-mile barrier island but loaded with so much to do you would never know it was so small. When coming from Corpus Christi it takes approximately 35 to 40 minutes to drive to the beaches at Mustang Island. The island is absolutely one of the most charming on the Texas Gulf Coast and is also home to Mustang Island State Park as well as other beaches.
Lighthouse Beach is located at Port Lavaca Texas
Lighthouse Beach Texas located at Port Lavaca is a nice clean beach with RV facilities. Take a walk on the boardwalk, or fish off one of the lighted piers, no matter what you choose it is sure to be fun. Port Lavaca is known for its world-class saltwater fishing and having lived there as a child at my family’s commercial bait house I can attest to the large plentiful fish population. We all have a big fish ‘the one that got away’ story and that is where my love for bay fishing came from; fishing off the jetties in Port Lavaca and almost being pulled off the rocks into the bay by a big redfish.
You can fish from almost anywhere and the rock jetties make for great fishing. This area also has washers and dryers available for campers. Lighthouse Beach is home to the Lighthouse Beach RV Park with full hookups. Playgrounds, splash pads, and bird sanctuary combined with a pristine beach located at the edge of Port Lavaca, this location makes the perfect family vacation spot.
Malaquite Beach is on (North) Padre Island
Malaquite Beach Texas is located on North Padre Island at the Padre Island National Seashore on the Gulf side of Padre is a short 20-minute drive from the local hangouts. It is approximately 40 minutes from Corpus Christi. You cannot drive onto Malaquite Beach as barriers are in place, however, the beach is pristine with close convenient parking. The visitors center located here offers some necessities, but you should come with your own cooler, ice, food, and firewood.
There are covered picnic areas and sea turtle releases every morning at the beach visitor center. The nearby overnight camping is available by registration. The Grasslands Nature Trail and Bird Island Basin are nearby as well as North Beach which is accessible and drivable. Malaquite Beach campground provides a shelter, BBQ pits, and diagonal gravel RV parking in some locations. There are also spaces for primitive campers. It is within walking distance of the beach. This is a family-friendly beach location with lots to see and do.
This beach is a favorite for beachcombers and for the best luck walk during high tide or early mornings. There are also flushable toilets and warm water shower rooms open to the public near the campground. The campground and RV drive-throughs do not provide electrical or water hookups. This area is rarely crowded but we recommend verifying the availability of campgrounds before making the trip. See more about beachcombing below at Padre Island National Seashore.
Matagorda Beach is (located at Matagorda Bay) on Matagorda Peninsula
Matagorda Beach Texas is located on Matagorda Peninsula. This is a great area for swimming, but you should be aware of rip tides in the area, and for additional safety stay in shallow waters. This is a very laid-back hometown community, and the locals are always happy to help with any questions you may have. This is one of the least crowded locations on the Texas Gulf Coast with both ocean and river fishing galore.
One of the local attractions includes Matagorda Bay Nature Park a 1,600-acre park and wildlife reserve which includes RV facilities just a short distance from Matagorda Beach proper. Some areas of the beach are open to traffic with a small annual vehicle permit fee, and some are not. You can camp on the beach free for up to 72 hours as of this writing.
If you are looking for a quiet restful vacation and enjoy fishing or just lying on the beach this might be the perfect vacation location for you and your family. Matagorda Beach is a short drive 6.7-mile drive from the community of Matagorda, Texas. Although quite small the town of Matagorda has various temporary seasonal rentals and cabins scattered throughout the town as well as restaurants and other eateries.
Side note: Nearby Matagorda Island (not to be confused with Matagorda Beach on Matagorda Peninsula), is accessible only by boat and is the location of the Matagorda Island State Park. The park consisting of 7,325 acres is located on the upper part of the island and additional acreage (for a total of 24,893 acres of state land and 19,000 acres of federal land) is devoted to wildlife management. The lower part of the island consisting of 11,500 acres is privately owned.
The only access to Matagorda Island is by charter boat or private boat and because of access issues to the island, it has not been included as a part of our best 26 best beaches for family. However, it could make an interesting day trip for a family with older teenage children or young adults. There is no state ferry service to the island. [Source] Although a beautiful island, this is not an area for the faint of heart. This location is more of a magical adventure if you can handle roughing it, and not recommended for young children. Read more about Matagorda Island and private shuttles here. See more about this area, map, and TPWD.
McGee Beach is in (downtown) Corpus Christ
McGee Beach/Corpus Christi Texas is in the downtown area of Corpus Christi and stretches along the seawall. There is free parking however you cannot drive onto the beach. It is a great beach to walk and has a dog park, basketball courts, and a park for the kids to enjoy or have a picnic in. Nearby amenities are plentiful as Corpus is a community of over 300,00 inhabitants year-round and in season this number rises significantly.
Corpus is not technically on the coast but rather it is on Corpus Christi Bay, however, the beach is pristine and well kept. There are no lifeguards, but it is a nice family-oriented beach. A great day trip is the Texas State Aquarium just a short distance away at North Beach. North Padre is also just a short drive away for another day trip. Convenience is the name of the game for this beach as easy access right in the city.
See more 26 Best Texas Beaches for Families…
More 26 Best Texas Beaches for Families…
Mustang Island State Park Beach (near Aransas Pass) is on Mustang Island
Mustang Island State Park Beach Texas near Aransas Pass via Corpus Christi, is again another favorite of mine and the sand is pristine as well as blue waters most of the time. The sunrise and sunsets are absolutely to die for when the weather is good. I fell in love with this area as a child and it is still my favorite Texas Gulf Coast destination. It is a perfect fit for a family vacation and a great place to live.
The beach is accessible by car in most areas and barriers are in place for those areas that are not accessible. Mustang Island is named for the wild horses that once roamed free here. Mustang Island State Park has camping and day use requiring a small permit fee. The town of Port Aransas is on the north end of the island with loads of seasonal temporary housing, and golf carts for driving both in town and on the beach. Golf carts cannot be used on highways and must have a licensed driver to operate on the city streets and beach area.
North Beach is (part of Corpus Christi Bay) in Corpus Christi
North Beach Texas is part of Corpus Christi Bay on the mainland. It is located just north of Corpus Christi’s downtown area. This is a great place for swimming and surfing. No vehicles are allowed on the beach, however, restrooms and showers are available. Nearby are the USS Lexington Museum and the Texas State Aquarium which kids will love.
There is an abundance of lodging options in the city of Corpus and amenities galore. North Beach Corpus Christi hotels, seasonal temporary housing, and RV parks are plentiful. With many nearby attractions and North Padre Island within driving distance, this makes a great family vacation destination. This area boasts an established beach community on the Bay with nature all around and kids will love the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center.
Padre Island National Seashore is on (North Padre Island Park) Padre Island
Padre Island National Seashore is located in North Padre Island Park Texas and is the best location for beachcombing according to the locals. Park Road 22 leads to a dead end at the national park. There you will see the entrance and will drive up to the window to pay your fee. Generally, they provide you with additional information and handouts including a map with vehicle driving status for each beach. There is a small entrance fee per vehicle, annual passes are also available.
Padre Island is the longest stretch of an undeveloped barrier island in the world. The beach at Padre Island National Seashore is clean, and a wildlife, and nature lovers’ paradise. Pets are welcome but must always be kept on a leash. Pets are not allowed in any of the buildings. Horses are allowed in some areas on the gulf side of the park but make sure that you “know before you go” by calling ahead for details, rules, and regulations. The Padre Island National Seashore has 70 miles of undeveloped beaches and natural habitat.
Shells can be collected if they do not contain living animals. Some areas recommend 4-wheel drive vehicles and driving on the beach is at your own risk. Make sure you have plenty of gasoline as there will be no gas stations. In some of the more remote areas such as the dunes, vehicles are not allowed. You and your family may see a variety of wildlife including birds, amphibians, butterflies, moths, fish, crustaceans, corals, sponges, reptiles, and mammals among others.
The vegetation includes many species of plants including wildflowers. Popular activities can include fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, and canoeing. Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and other sun protection as needed. In the Laguna Madre area you are allowed to hunt for waterfowl but as always know before you go. Be sure to check Padre Island National Seashore weather before arriving.
There is so much to know and see here, your family may have to pick and choose what to do, depending on how long you plan to be in the area. Make sure you are well-stocked for the duration of your stay. There are no restaurants, gas stations, or stores. Check with the park for all regulations, hours of operation, etc many of which are available from the Malaquite Beach Visitor Center on your way into the park.
Padre Island Seawall Beach/North Padre Island Beach is on (North end of) Padre Island
Pelicans strolling around the sandbar of Padre Island
Padre Island Seawall Beach Texas/North Padre Island Beach are the same beaches at the very north end of Padre Island (not South Padre Island which is a different island). You cannot drive from (North) Padre Island to South Padre Island directly. The closest North Padre Island Beach hotels and seasonal lodging will be located in Port Aransas or Corpus Christi.
The park is usually open 24 hours 365 days a year but again know before you go. There are limited amenities on this portion of the beach. Driving on this beach is allowed and a park entrance fee is also required. North beach runs along the northernmost section of the National Seashore along the Gulf of Mexico.
Bring your own resources, a full tank of gas, and supplies you will need as determined ahead of time. A 14-day camping limit is in place as of this writing. This area as well as other beaches on Padre Island may be better suited for families with older children who will appreciate exploring, hiking, as well as other activities. Please use all recommended safety precautions and recommended gear while enjoying the activities this area has to offer.
Port Aransas Beach is in the town of Port Aransas on Mustang Island ★ Favorite
This quiet laid back island town is our favorite pick out of the 26 Best Texas Beaches for Families. Port Aransas Beach Texas is in the town of Port Aransas or Port A as the locals call it, and is on the north end of Mustang Island. Port A has loads of seasonal temporary housing, and golf carts for driving both in town and on the beach. Golf carts cannot be used on highways and must have a licensed driver to operate on the city streets and beach area. Port Aransas beach allows for the driving of street-legal vehicles on the beach in most areas. Check online for golf cart specials, rules, and regulations.
Visit the Port Aransas Nature Preserve, Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, and the privately owned San Jose Island (accessible by ferry). Aransas Pass on the mainland side of Aransas Bay also makes a great day trip to visit Conn Brown Harbor, the Aransas Pass Wetlands, and the largest hummingbird garden in Texas, the Newbury Park Hummingbird Garden.
This is a great central Gulf Coast location for driving to North Padre, Corpus Christi, and other nearby cities and beaches. The island is quiet, and the local scene is full of mom-and-pop restaurants, bistros, and coffee shops. Campgrounds are available in the area, as well as seasonal rentals, and you will want a reservation during the summer season. This is also a great off-season beach as it can get busy during the summer. This is an excellent area for families including those with smaller children, however, take all recommended safety precautions and never leave children unattended.
Port Aransas is where I stayed on my last family vacation and with three generations getting together we needed a larger, temporary, seasonal home. The price was reasonable and we booked in through the VRBO app. Just minutes from the beach, it was nicely appointed, in fact, my 5-year-old granddaughter referred to it as a mansion which gave us all a chuckle. We rented both the upper-level house and the lower, giving us two living areas, both with kitchens. It had an outdoor shower, a heated pool, with adequate parking for our vehicles and golf carts.
Quintana Beach County Park in Quintana (a community in the Brazosport Area)
Quintana Beach County Park Texas is a great place for a family vacation with free vehicle access and parking. Located in Quintana this area is known as Brazosport, a coastal community of 5 cities which includes Clute, Freeport, Lake Jackson, Quintana, and Surfside Beach, Texas.
Quintana Beach County Park is a 51-acre beachfront park with some amenities, a laundry area, and overnight camping. The park has pull-through RV spots, restrooms, showers, and electricity however there are no restaurants. It is one of the quieter beaches in the area making it ideal for families who want to get away from hustle and bustle of the city.
The beach is sandy and there are 2 children’s playgrounds. The park is regularly patrolled making it one of the safer beach destinations. This area does have some cons such as the nearby oil refineries, barges, and large ships but all in all it is one of our favorite picks for a family especially those with smaller children.
Rockport Beach is in Rockport
Rockport Beach is in Rockport, Texas, and is open year-round. It offers day use for fishing, boating, and picnicking. Swimming is allowed at designated hours when lifeguards are on duty. Much of Rockport is built right up to the water. Additional sights and activities in the area make this a great location for kids. You are within a few minutes of Goose Island State Park, Fulton Mansion State Historic Site, and the Texas Maritime Museum among others.
Parking fees are required for the park area which has many amenities including playgrounds and pavilions available to rent for your special events as well. BBQ pits and covered eating areas are plentiful as well as 2 volleyball courts, a fishing pier, and even a saltwater pool area. There are bird watching areas and fish cleaning stations. Check out this live stream from the beach in Rockport. This is also considered one of the cleanest beaches in Texas.
The area provides seasonal temporary housing as well as other lodgings, so your options are plentiful and amenities are everywhere. The town of Rockport is quite charming with an active local scene, boutiques, mom and pop bistros, as well as the neighboring town of Fulton. This small community reminds me of some of the smaller beach towns in California with their local sites and hangouts. This area is great just about any time of the year.
Sea Isle Beach is located (at the far western end) on Galveston Island
Sea Isle Beach Texas is located on the far western end of Galveston Island in the small community of Sea Isle. Sea Isle is a family-friendly community, with public access to 1.6 miles of beach. Some areas are privately owned, and vehicles are not allowed on the beach. Swimming is allowed but no lifeguards, so you swim at your own risk. Pets are welcome if they are on a leash.
There are many lodging options with seasonal rentals, hotels, and cabins with the beach within walking distance from just about anywhere in the town. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the beach; however, drinking is allowed at licensed concession areas. There is no overnight camping or parking allowed in this area except at the Galveston Island State Park which is nearer to Galveston proper.
Galveston Island itself is a very popular vacation destination and if you are going with the family Sea Isle is a good option if you avoid the more crowded times of the year. This resort community offers many single-family seasonal rentals but keep in mind they should be booked in advance.
Sea Rim State Park Beach is 10 miles west of Sabine Park
Sea Rim State Park Beach Texas is a 4,141-acre Texas State Park. The park is 10 miles west of Sabine Park. Sabine Park is 30 miles southeast of Beaumont in Jefferson County, Texas. Although once an independent city it is now a part of the city of Port Arthur due to growth in the area over the years.
Some areas of the beach allow you to drive on it and some do not. The park allows swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, beachcombing, and more. You can walk the Gambusia Nature Trail Boardwalk marsh (repairs could be ongoing, expect closures) most of the year round. This gorgeous, secluded, quiet beach makes a wonderful family vacation spot.
There are very few amenities that do not require you to drive into the nearby city so come prepared with the necessities. However, there are campsites and RV spots available most of the year. There are mosquitos and gators in this area as the swamp and marshes are a part of the Park so be advised to bring adequate bug repellant and keep a watchful eye out for Big Al.
The beach is pristine and horseback riding is allowed in a 3-mile stretch of the beach. The primitive camping area and the boardwalk trail are sometimes closed due to weather conditions and tides. There is a small entrance fee into the park or you can purchase a yearly pass to all the Texas State Parks for $70 at the time of this writing.
South Packery Channel Beach/South Packery Jetty Beach is on (the southeast corner of) Corpus Christi Bay
South Packery Channel Beach Texas/South Packery Jetty Beach is in the southeast corner of Corpus Christi Bay. It is approximately 23 minutes from downtown Corpus Christi if accessed by John F Kennedy Memorial Causeway. It is the North Padre/Mustang Island boundary. Depending on where you are coming from, I would recommend getting directions to the park and beach areas as they can be a bit tricky to get to.
Beachcombing, walking and watching the sunset are all recommended as well as fishing. The park is bordered by two jetties which make a great fishing spot but beware as they can get slippery from the algae. Parking at the Jetty does require a parking fee. There are lodging and seasonal rentals in the general area, but most require a drive. This is a quiet, kid-friendly area with wildlife and nature all around. It rarely gets below 60 degrees, and this family-friendly beach is less crowded making it great for kids.
South Padre Island Beach is on (the most southern Texas gulf coast Island) South Padre
South Padre Island Beach Texas is located on the most southern Texas gulf coast Island by the same name. The beaches are a white sandy paradise with clear emerald waters. There are numerous beaches on South Padre with the most southern being Isla Blanca Beach. The island is approximately 34 miles long and its widest point is ½ mile in distance. It is more isolated than (North) Padre Island. You cannot drive directly from (North) Padre island to South Padre Island.
The waters are clean, warmer, and calmer than in other areas. Watersports of all kinds are very popular along with the usual beach activities and some areas allow horseback riding on the beach. Golf carts and bicycles are available to rent or you can ride the free Island Metro.
A favorite attraction is South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary located at the north end of the island. The center has over 3,000 feet of boardwalk and a 5-story tower for viewing the lower Laguna Madre which is a shallow hypersaline lagoon stretching about 130 miles in length.
Resorts and other seasonal rentals are plentiful, some with ocean view vistas. This is an area to avoid during Spring Break and other more ‘adult’ holidays. However, most populated areas on South Padre are safe for families with lots of kid-friendly activities.
Another popular attraction is the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse near South Padre Island on the Laguna mainland in the city of Port Isabel (about 11 miles away on Padre Blvd/State Park Rd 100 and TX-100 W) which is accessible by car. The lighthouse was built in 1852 and is open to the public weather permitting. Admission and tour fees are required. Check ahead for hours and ticket availability.
The food options on South Padre Island are truly fabulous and what could be better than dining from a promenade deck or oceanside garden café. Some eateries will even clean and cook your catch! You can drive on the beach in some areas, however, it is not the recommended way to get around the island. For families, I would suggest sticking with the northern to central parts of the island as the southernmost beaches tend to leave you feeling isolated and security may be scarce.
Stewart Beach is in the city of Galveston
Stewart Beach Texas is in the city of Galveston where historic Broadway Avenue and the Seawall meet. A parking fee is required, and the beach is for day use only (check ahead for hours). Stewart beach has bathrooms, showers, beach volleyball courts, and playgrounds for the kids making it a great day trip for families. Umbrellas and chairs are available to rent most of the time.
Dogs are welcome on the beach but must always be kept on a leash. There are concession stands and lifeguards. Stewart Beach has been a family vacation favorite destination for many years but you should be aware that certain holidays may bring in large crowds and do avoid it during spring break. Beach wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first, serve basis. There is a covered pavilion and gift shop as well as other amenities.
Surfside beach (sits next to Surfside Jetty County Park) in Surfside, Texas
Surfside beach Texas sits next to Surfside Jetty County Park in the small community of Surfside, Texas. There is a small entrance fee for automobiles, or you can park and walk in for free. There are plenty of amenities close by and the beach has clean sand and water, although it can get dirty from large crowds during certain times of the year.
It is a great family vacation spot during off-peak periods but otherwise, you may find it overcrowded especially during peak season and spring break. Porta-potties are scattered throughout the beach line. This beach depends on volunteers from the village to keep trash picked up. It is a great small-town experience for families, but again check before you go and try to visit during the off-season or early in the season.
Whitecap Beach is in Corpus Christi
Whitecap Beach Texas is another Corpus Christi Beach with great amenities. It is located on Whitecap Blvd in the city of Corpus Christi. The white sands are beautiful but you should be aware that jellyfish wash up occasionally as well as glass on the beach. Crabs are also plentiful at certain times of the day and make a fun family activity (they can pinch though). Just make sure you and your brood all have sturdy beach shoes. (This really applies to all beaches, be safe, not sorry, that’s my motto).
You can drive your car onto the sand, but the beach is also accessible by walking, with free parking in some areas. Restrooms and showers are provided for your convenience. This is a very scenic beach with lots of space to move around in. It is very family-friendly in general, but as always not the best during spring break and some of the more ‘adult’ holidays.
In Conclusion, 26 Best Texas Beaches for Families
There are many nice beaches in Texas and during the summer Texas beaches offer some of the warmest sea waters in the US. The waters are clear and beautiful most of the year.
The Texas gulf coast does get its share of hurricanes and other weather events. Some areas may be closed or limited access after a large storm.
However, you cannot beat Texas for having warm gulf coast waters, with plenty of waterfronts, and sandy beaches for fun in the sun with the family.
Thank you for perusing the 26 Best Texas Beaches for Families | Ultimate Guide.
Bonus: Amusement Parks and Waterparks on the Texas Gulf Coast
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier in Galveston, TX, USA
Galveston Island boasts that Pleasure Pier is one of the few spots in the world that has this many rides over the water!
2501 Seawall Blvd. Galveston Island, TX 77550 Local: 409.766.4950 Toll Free: 855.789.7437
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston
Another great fun in the sunspot for your family is Schlitterbahn Waterpark near Houston on beautiful Galveston Island.
2109 Gene Lucas Blvd. Galveston, TX
Beach Park, Isla Blanca
Beach Park at Isla Blanca is a waterpark located on the beaches of South Padre Island, offering outdoor and indoor water attractions, meeting areas, banquet areas, and boasts hosting special events for over 10,000 people.
State Park Rd 100 South Padre Island, TX 78597 956.772.7873 See links above for more details.
Check out this waterproof phone pouch here,
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South Padre Island has the bluest water and has our vote for the prettiest beaches in Texas. There are many beaches on South Padre Island and they are all beautiful with clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, calm warm water, and a multitude of beautiful wildlife, fauna, and vegetation.
Port Aransas is considered the number one family beach vacation location on the Texas Gulf Coast. This quiet laid back island town is our favorite pick out of the 26 Best Texas Beaches for Families. The local scene is full of mom-and-pop restaurants, bistros, and coffee shops. Campgrounds are available in the area, as well as seasonal rentals.
Researched, written, and edited to include analysis of expert and user recommendations from a wide variety of websites.
Including but not limited to:
Texas Parks and Wildlife
National Park Service
Take Care of Texas
Texas Almanac – Natural Resources
USA GOV – Texas
Texas Historical Commission – State Historic Sites
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