Whether you live in Houston or just visit the city of Bayou, there are many possibilities if you want to escape the crowds. From natural parks, lakes and rivers to urban sprawl and picturesque cities, you can travel in any direction and find great places to visit.
Close to other major Texas cities and some of the best natural attractions in the United States, Houston is an ideal starting point for a road trip.
With day trips to the beaches of the Gulf, breathtaking rides in the desert of Texas and great city trips, we offer the top 20 tours of Houston.
Daytime road travel from Houston
1. NASA Center
Distance from Houston: 27 miles (30 minutes)
When to visit: Any time of the year.
The Houston Space Center is a museum at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
NASA’s Space Center is open every day of the year, except Christmas, and remains a center for American space research programs. Astronauts live and train here, and you can take a tour to explore behind the scenes.
Exhibitions include a touchable piece of moonstone and a huge space shuttle mounted on a modified Boeing 747 in Independence Square.
Located a few kilometres from Houston, the museum is highly interactive and tells the story of the American space program. Part of the museum is dedicated to the current development and future prospects of the space programme – it’s definitely worth a visit!
2. College Station, Texas
Distance from Houston: 96 miles (1 hour 30 minutes)
When to visit: All year round, quieter overtime…
College Station is a university town in Brazos County, northwest of Houston. College Station, known for its many attractions around the university, is an easy starting point for a day trip from Houston and is about halfway to Waco.
The main attraction at College Station is the Presidential Library and the George Bush Museum. It is the George W. Bush Museum of History, the 41st largest museum in the world. President of the United States.
Unlike some other presidential museums, this museum covers a broader period than George W. Bush’s reign of 1941. There are historical exhibitions about the Second World War, exhibitions about the Cold War and a piece of the Berlin Wall.
There are very good replicas of the situation room and the oval office, where you can have your picture taken at a table.
Don’t miss the beautiful parks around the College Station and the opportunity to visit the local vineyard (Messina Hof) and the breweries in the area. The American GI museum is an interesting insight into the lives of serving soldiers.
3. Galveston, Texas and Kemaha Promenade
Distance from Houston: 51 miles (1 hour)
When to visit: It is good to take the wind in the summer months and dive into the sea.
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Galveston Island is Houstonian’s favorite spot on the Gulf Coast. It’s only an hour’s drive from Galveston to the Galveston Dam itself.
Everything here is aimed at entertainment and relaxation. The entertainment pier is the most famous of the attractions – there are several classic attractions, shops and snacks on the pier.
The Moody Gardens theme park has an aquarium and a rainforest garden, while the Schlitterbahn water park is nearby. They may not be the biggest or best amusement parks out there, but they are worth a visit if you want to make your trip a weekend.
About halfway Galveston, on the Golf Freeway, is the Kem Boardwalk. This classic amusement park is located along the coast of Trinity Bay, with great attractions and a great atmosphere.
4. Texas City, Texas
Distance from Houston: 42 miles (50 minutes)
When to visit: Good all year round, perfect sunsets in autumn.
Texas City is a city surrounded by water just a short drive from downtown Houston on the I-45. Texas City is located at the western end of Galveston Bay and just north of Galveston Island and is ideal if you want to be off the beaten track somewhere.
With far fewer tourists than Galveston, Texas has the longest man-made pier in the world, with a 5-mile breakwater stretching into the bay.
The dam is ideal for a long walk, for fishing or for a picnic. If you stay here to watch the sunrise over the water, the dam can make your day perfect.
An interesting stop – the Texas City Museum – is full of local history, Westfield exhibits and an amazing collection of model trains.
5. Brennham, Texas
Distance from Houston: 76 miles (1 hour 20 minutes)
When to visit: Get up in early spring to see huge fields full of blue capsules.
Ask a Texas specialist about the ideal rural destination in Texas, and he’ll probably mention Brennham. Brennam is halfway between Houston and Austin and is relatively small.
There are two things Brennam is best known for: Ice cream and blue ribbons.
Blue Bell Creameries was founded in 1907 and has become the most popular ice cream brand in the United States. You can visit the butter factory to get a tour of the historic ice factory and even taste some of its products.
In the spring, Washington County, where Brennam is full of blue beams. Drive along several country roads to see the field behind you in a nice cool blue color.
The city itself will fill you with nostalgia – the chic boutiques and old buildings are perfect for an afternoon stroll, and there are some great restaurants if you stay for dinner.
6. Visit to Huntsville, Texas and Blue Lagoon
Distance from Houston: 79 miles (1 hour 25 minutes)
When to visit: From spring to autumn for swimming
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Huntsville is best known as the place where General Sam Houston, considered Texas’ most famous general, spent most of his life.
Just opposite the house where he lived is the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, dedicated to the life of General Sam. The steamboat house where he died is one of the attractions.
8 km south of the museum you will find a large statue of General Sam Houston next to the Huntsville Visitor Center. It’s easy to find, because it’s 70 feet above everything else!
The Blue Lagoon is the name of two water basins formed in an old limestone quarry about 8 km north of Huntsville.
Here the water has a perfect blue tint and is crystal clear, which makes it very popular with visitors. Swimmers come to the Blue Lagoon from spring to autumn, and the water is very popular with divers because of the visibility and depth of the pools.
Don’t let them take you out for 20 bucks for the entrance fee. You have to see the Blue Lagoon yourself, even if you only go there once!
7. Brazos Bend State Park
Distance from Houston: 46 miles (1 hour)
When to visit: Great all year round, visits during the week to avoid the weekend hits.
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Brazos Bend is a small national park situated on the western bank of the river Brazos, with Lake Ypres in the middle.
Several lakes are connected by paths that are perfect for a day trip, and there are places for campers, anglers and other outdoor activities.
You can park on the left hand side as soon as you enter the park, or you can continue and find a parking place near the Iepenmeer. From any location you can reach most of the park in a few hours on foot.
When you make your way, you see many different kinds of birds, but beware of alligators. You’ll see her. And you can see some of them.
Alligators like to rest on lawns near lakes and along certain paths. Don’t get too close, because they can be pretty fast, but it’s worthwhile to see the huge creatures from afar.
8. Sam Houston National Forest
Distance from Houston: 60 miles (1 hour 10 minutes)
When to visit: Ideal for year-round use
Sam Houston National Forest is a large protected area located one hour north of Houston on the I-45.
The two most popular activities in the national forest are hiking and camping. If you like a good walk, this is the ideal place. Throughout the park you will find paths, trails and walks to explore.
The 128 mile long Lone Star Hiking Trail has become a national hiking trail. It winds from the west side of the forest along Lake Conro to the picturesque Winter Bayou region near Cleveland, Texas.
The forest is quiet and beautiful, and you can enjoy everything from fishing and boating on the Livingstone Lake to watching white-tailed deer living in the forest.
With Huntsville and Blue Lagoon a few miles to the north (see #6 above), you can combine them for a weekend if you want to leave Houston for a longer period of time.
Weekend away from Houston
9. Austin, Texas
Distance from Houston: 165 miles (2 hours 45 minutes)
When to visit: The months of September and October are most suitable for the weather and avoid the hustle and bustle of tourists.
The capital of Texas is a wonderful place to spend a weekend from Houston. It takes less than 3 hours to reach Austin via I-10 to Columbus on Route 71 until the end of your journey.
Austin distinguishes itself from other major cities in Texas because a large number of students from the University of Texas bring a young freshness to the city.
A liberal city is often called the best place to live in the United States and the most promising city according to Forbes magazine. Some of the world’s largest technology companies have established companies like Dell and Whole Foods in Austin, making this place their home. Austin is the fastest growing city in the United States, and there are good reasons for that!
Austin is known for its unique mix of big-city life and relaxed outdoor atmosphere wherever you look. The Colorado River runs through downtown Austin, with parks along its banks. Barton Springs – Popular spot in Zilker Park – large outdoor pool filled with water from local wells.
Don’t miss the live music and food scenes in Austin, considered by some to be the best in the country. There are countless bars where you can listen to young artists making their breakthrough, and the range of excellent restaurants is rapidly expanding.
10. San Antonio, Texas
Distance from Houston: 3 hours (197 miles)
When to visit: All year round!
There are many good reasons to make a trip from Houston to San Antonio. If you like history, the Alamo and the San Jose mission are among the most famous historical places in the country.
The Riverwalk is one of the most picturesque streets in Texas, with a relaxed atmosphere and dozens of places to sit and relax, drink and eat by the water’s edge.
Houston has its own Mexican scene, but don’t forget to try one of the typical Mexican breakfasts when you’re in San Antonio!
The road from Houston to San Antonio is very easy. Just follow the I-10 for the three-hour trip. Be careful when leaving Houston – there’s a 26-lane I-10 segment, making it the widest road in the world, and of course it was a bit confusing when we drove there!
11. Dallas and Fort Worth
Distance from Houston: 270 miles (4 hours)
When to visit: If you find the time…
Dallas has a lot to offer, and like other places in the metropolitan area you have more than enough for the weekend and enough if you stay the whole week!
Dallas is full of culture, history and great food, from the many art museums to the McKinney Avenue streetcar ride.
If you have enough time, you should definitely visit Fort Worth and Grapevine. The Fort Worth Stockjards National Historic District is the perfect embodiment of all of Texas. The classic town of Grapavina is ideal if you love wine or simply want to discover the romance of 19th century architecture. century.
Don’t miss some uptown spots during your stay in Dallas – Deep Ellum is perfect for live music and restaurants or for coffee in the Bishop Arts District.
Check out our huge list of the best things to do in Dallas for more options!
12. Marshal, Texas
Distance from Houston: 220 miles (3 hours 30 minutes)
When to visit: Try the Wunderland festival on Christmas Eve.
Marshall was one of the most important trading cities in Texas for two centuries. On the trade route between Dallas and Jackson, which became the I-20, the city grew into a big city and is sometimes called the Gateway to Texas.
From the 1870s began a real era of railroading and in 1871 the Texas and Pacific Railway Company was founded to build a rail link between Marshall and San Diego.
Although the city is less large today, the Texas and Pacific Railway Museum tells the story of its development and the culture that has developed with trade.
The drive to Marshall takes just over 4 hours, but the roads are excellent and you can enjoy the beautiful views along the way. If you want to make it a long weekend, add Lake Caddo (below) to your itinerary – it’s only 30 km away!
13. Caddo lake
Distance from Houston: 250 miles (4 hours 20 minutes)
When to visit: The months of November and April offer excellent weather and a lot of crowds.
Lake Caddo, on the border of Texas and Louisiana, is perhaps one of the most beautiful swamps in the world. The still water is covered with water lilies with majestic cypresses growing directly in the lake.
On the Texan side of the border, the lake is divided into a series of small lakes, the gates of which lead to the Caddo Lake State Park. Adult access is $4, and there are many opportunities for outdoor activities, from hiking and camping in lush forests to boating, canoeing and fishing.
You can also reach the lake on foot by going to Louisiana and passing through Shreveport on the east side of the lake. The road runs along the historic drawbridge of Lake Caddia and on the north side of the lake there are many secluded houses.
If you like a bit of civilization, the historic town of Marshall (see above) is only 20 miles from Texas and definitely worth a visit.
14. Texas Hill Country
Distance from Houston: 240 miles (4 hours)
When to visit: The months of March and April are ideal for the weather and flowering fields.
Texas Hill Country is known for two things: its wine and its cowboyle life. The area stretches north and northwest from San Antonio d’Austin on the eastern edge to the junction in the west.
Scattered vineyards are a hidden secret of Texas. Outsiders may mock the idea, but California, Oregon and Washington are the undisputed champions of the United States.
But Texas has a deep wine culture initiated by emigrants from Central Europe who settled here about 200 years ago.
The rocky soil and warm climate are similar to those of southern Europe and produce full-bodied and robust wines, for which grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon are particularly suitable.
Make a stop in Fredericksburg and Bander to discover authentic cowboyle life, and if you arrive at the right time, a barbecue or rodeo!
15. Mustang Island State Park
Distance from Houston: 235 miles (4 hours)
When to visit: Great in autumn and winter, but can really be done all year round.
Mustang Island is an 18-mile strip of land off the coast of Texas, along the coastline from Aranças to Corpus Christi.
Unlike all other islands south of Galveston, you can drive around the island and across the Mustang Island State Park.
For $5 you have access to miles of perfect white sandy beaches where you can relax, surf, hike. …on the water. Instead of hiking trails, this park offers a 20 mile rowing course to explore.
You can stay at one of more than 100 campsites in the region. Half of them have water and electricity, others offer a real immersion in nature, where you can sleep with the stars above you.
If you want to spend more time enjoying nature, you can add an excursion to Padre Island and South Padre via Port Isabel (see no. 17 below). The Mustang Island State Park is a perfect halfway stop.
Weekly and longer trips from Houston
16. Big Bend National Park
Distance from Houston: .565 miles (9 hours)
When to visit: From March to April and October. It’s warm during the summer months.
Another place on our list, but still in the great state of Texas, is Big Bend National Park, on the western edge of Texas and directly on the border with Mexico.
Picturesque mountains and scattered forests offer some of the most scenic tourist destinations in the United States. In a large area covered by a park, civilization and amenities are hard to find, so bring provisions.
North of Big Bend are the cities of Marfa, Marathon, Alpine and Fort Davies, which are beautiful historical sites and can be used as a stopover or starting point to explore the park.
The road from Houston to Big Bend National Park crosses the Chihuahuan Desert and passes through the Glass Mountains. It can be very hot in the summer – bring plenty of water and be prepared for the times when everything looks red.
If you dare to go far enough into the park to enjoy the activities along the Rio Grande, remember that this river technically marks the border between Mexico and the states. It’s a good idea to bring your passport, because the border control might want to check it when you come back from the river. No, really.
17. Toad Island and port of Isabel
Distance from Houston: .445 miles (7 hours 30 minutes)
When to visit: From September to February. Avoid March, when spring break starts on South Padre Island.
If Mustang Island is not far enough away and you want to see more of the Persian Gulf Coast, you can drive to the southern tip of Texas to see more.
Padre Island and South Padre are long, thin stretches of land that lie directly on the mainland in the bay. Most of the territory is protected as the national sea coast of the Padre Island, the National Reserve of the Rio Grande and the Lagoon of Atasco.
Anyway, there’s a lot to see!
Port Isabelle is a breathtakingly beautiful seaside resort in Texas. There are an infinite number of water-related activities. In addition to water sports and a large water park on South Padre Island, you can visit the Sea Turtle Centre, swim with dolphins and watch the waves rolling in from the jetty.
There will literally be nothing to see on the long, long-distance drive from the United States to 77, so make sure you stock up on drinks and entertainment, especially after leaving Corpus Christi in your rear-view mirror.
18. New Orleans, Louisiana
Distance from Houston: 350 miles (5 hours 30 minutes)
When to visit: It’s amazing when you leave. The carnival takes place at the end of February, which is both amazing and incredibly expensive!
New Orleans needs a little introduction, and although you have to drive through the Louisiana Swamps to get there, it is always easy to get there, and on a good day you can get there in just over 3 hours.
The city is one of the most unique and authentic places where you can hear live music. There’s a wealth of jazz and blues sounds coming out of the doors along Bourbon Street and in the rest of the French Quarter.
The classic French colonial style really sets New Orleans apart, and we strolled through the streets for hours to see the beautiful houses.
The local cuisine is different from any other southern cuisine – try the alligator lice boy or my favorite – the rich dark okra soup.
19. Follow the Mississippi road to Memphis, Tennessee.
Distance from Houston: .940 miles (17 hours)
When to visit: A great moment throughout the year
If you want to embark on an extraordinary journey from Houston to discover the best food, culture and music the United States has to offer while immersing yourself in the country’s historical past, then a trip to the Mississippi might be the perfect choice for you.
After crossing Louisiana you drive north after an optional (well, absolutely necessary and mandatory) stop in New Orleans.
After taking the Baton Route, you can be on either side of the river, with stops at Natchedes and Greenville, and a detour to the historic town of Jackson, Mississippi.
Think of the amazing southern cuisine, various local blues bars, stunning views of the mighty river and breathtaking plantations – all of which can be visited along the way.
After Greenville, stay on the east side of the river and cross the Mississippi to Memphis.
Memphis has many museums and attractions dedicated to music and the Hall of Fame.
In our travel guide you’ll find a full list of the best activities in Memphis, bars to visit and places to see!
On the way back you can cross Arkansas to Lake Caddo and Marshall, Texas, to return to Houston.
20. Calsbad, New Mexico, and Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Distance from Houston: 645 miles (10 hours)
When to visit: If you want to see bats in caves in September and October, avoid the hot summer months, especially when walking.
The Carlsbad Caverns National Park has a number of pine caves worth the drive from Houston to anywhere in Texas.
Make sure you do your research and book in advance – reception is limited and you can be refused for at least a few weeks without having to make a reservation.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located overseas in Texas and a short drive away. You can easily explore both from a campsite and a hotel.
The best way to explore the mountains of Guadalupe is on foot, and the best routes take days rather than hours. Get the tent!
Sitting Bull Falls is located in Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, near Carlsbad. The waterfall is easy to reach on foot in 10 minutes, and because it comes from a spring, the water flows all year round.