Summertime is almost on us, which means summer vacation is right around the corner.
Texas beaches are among the most popular destinations for family vacations. Yet, while spending hours jumping waves, soaking up the sun from a beach chair and swimming in the ocean are the main attractions, the Gulf Coast offers more than just great beaches. From rollercoasters to baseball, here’s a fun overview of the top inexpensive family-friendly attractions to add to your vacation itinerary. Stay tuned for our in-depth visits later this summer!
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
For some good old-fashioned fun, take your family on a stroll along Galveston’s historic Pleasure Pier. The nostalgically-themed oceanside amusement park provides hours of entertainment. Try your hand along the Midway with games like Ring Toss, Lucky Duck and Balloon Pop. Ride the 100-foot tall Galaxy Wheel while colorful LED lights create a spectacular display. For thrill-seekers, the Pirate’s Plunge log ride that drops 40 feet and the 52-miles-per-hour Iron Shark Roller Coaster are not to be missed. Bumper cars, the teacup ride and a carousel are available for younger children.
Moody Gardens: Galveston
From penguins to sharks to free-roaming monkeys, Moody Gardens has it all. Enjoy an authentic rainforest free-roaming monkeys, macaws and other endangered animals, touch the underbelly of a stingray or take an hour-long cruise aboard a replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat. Your kids will be having so much fun they will not realize all the learning going on.
Artist Boat Kayak Excursion: Galveston
Did you know there are more shades of green than any other color? That is one of the fun facts families learn during an outing with Artist Boat, a nonprofit that combines outdoor adventure, art and science to promote environmental awareness and preservation. A three-hour kayak adventure through the Coastal Heritage Preserve includes not only a lesson on coastal prairies, but also a stop for watercolor lesson and painting time.
Sandcastle Building Lesson: Galveston and South Padre Island
Want to improve your sandcastle building game? If so, take some lessons from the professionals. Galveston is hosting free sandcastle building lessons every Saturday morning from June 2 to August 18 near the Steward Beach Pavillion. Or head over to South Padre Island where the artists at Sandcastle Lessons teach paying groups how to create works of art in the sand. After a fun, two-hour lesson you and your family will be sculpting sandcastle masterpieces sure to be the talk of the beach.
Fireworks: Galveston, Corpus Christi, South Padre Island
Fireworks are not just for Fourth of July. Every Sunday starting June 3 the Galveston Island Park Board will provide a magnificent firework display off the Seawall for visitors. Fireworks will light up the sky in Corpus Christi after every Friday Hooks Baseball game—regardless of the score. Watch the colorful fireworks reflect off the ocean in South Padre Island every Friday and Saturday at 9:15 p.m.
Corpus Christi Hooks Baseball Game
Take a break from the beach and partake in America’s favorite summer pastime – baseball. The Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros-affiliated minor league team. take center stage all summer long at the Whataburger Field. Head to the ballpark, root for the home team, eat some Cracker Jacks and enjoy a pleasant evening by the ocean without being on the ocean.
Surf the Day Away: Port Aransas and Mustang Island
Texas might not have Hawaii’s famous waves, but there’s still good surfing to be had. Horace Caldwell Pier is the most popular surf spot in Port Aransas because of its easy access and consistent waves. For those who want more powerful waves, head to Fish Pass Jetties on Mustang Island. Surf shops where they’re happy to rent you and your little ones a board for the day dot the coast. If you are new to surfing or need a little refresher, the instructors at Texas Surf Camps will have you hanging ten in no time.
Cover photo courtesy Texas Surf Camps