Life + Arts Travel

Best beaches near Houston

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

For those who find the sweltering temperatures and  humidity of the Houston summer unbearable, there is an escape. Though it may not have the picturesque coastlines and crystal-clear water of Hawaii or Florida, Texas is home to several beaches that offer a refreshing reprieve from the oppressive summer heat.

Galveston Island  

Situated roughly an hour south of Houston, Galveston Island is the go-to beach for many Texas natives and tourists alike. With over 32 miles of beach to explore, the island offers a little something for everyone.

Along the seawall, visitors can sample local cuisine from any of the numerous restaurants and bars that line the popular Galveston landmark. Iconic venues like The Spot can be found here, offering a unique, albeit pricey dining experience to hungry beach-goers.

Also situated on the seawall is arguably Galveston’s largest attraction. Opened in 2012, the Pleasure Pier serves at the island’s one stop shop for family entertainment. With 16 rides ranging in caliber from stomach-churning roller coasters to bumper carts, Pleasure Pier is fun for the whole family.

Though Galveston’s popularity is a product of its quality, the island is not without its down sides. Most notably, Galveston can become extremely crowded around peak times. For those visiting the public beaches, this can make it difficult to find parking or to even find a spot to setup on the beach. It’s advisable that those wishing to go during peak times rent a beach house in advance to avoid such complications.

Bolivar Peninsula

If you’re seeking a break from the crowds of Galveston Island, the quiet beaches of Bolivar Peninsula may be the right place for you. While nowhere near as popular as Galveston, Bolivar is just a ferry ride away from the island and offers a rustic getaway for those overwhelmed by Galveston’s rowdy nature.

The peninsula’s unfortunate history of hurricane abuse has left many stretches of beach completely devoid of houses, allowing for much of the local fauna and flora to flourish in their place. At night, small crabs scuttle about in the surf, and during the day pelicans and herons patrol the skies in search of their next meal.

While efforts have been made in recent years to again modernize the peninsula, adding music venues and shops in an attempt to mirror the glamor of Galveston, Bolivar remains a quiet contrast to the island’s lively nature.


Should you choose to follow the Texas coast further south west past Galveston, you’ll soon run into Surfside, Texas. Surfside inhabits the modest middle ground between the seclusion of Bolivar and extravagance of Galveston.

Surfside can be, in many ways, thought of as Galveston’s “little brother.” While it does offer a significant amount of local eateries and activities, Surfside in no way matches the glitz and glamor of Galveston’s sea wall experience. However, for what it lacks in entertainment, it more than makes up for in charm.

The beaches here are remarkable as they manage to maintain a very laid back, almost lazy feel not found in the majority of beach communities. Where in Galveston, you might wait an hour or more to get an overpriced margarita, in Surfside you can find locals selling cheap Jell-O shots from various drive through windows and food trucks.

Really, what Surfside offers is a calmer twist on the traditional beach experience. While Bolivar is more suited for outdoorsman, and Galveston is more suited for those seeking excitement, Surfside exists for those who wish to simply kick back and relax for a nice day of sand and surf.

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