The 6 Best Beaches in Texas

All along the Gulf of Mexico, take advantage of Texas-sized beaches for your next affordable beach vacation.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Although beaches along the East Coast and the West Coast may be more famous, they’re far from the only ones around. Savvy travelers know that Texas has more than 300 miles of coastline along the Gulf coast, most of which is open to the public. But with so many options, it can be difficult to figure out which is the best beach in Texas.

Let’s take a look at the best beaches in the Lone Star State, from the family-friendly to the surfer-friendly.

1. Best for veterans: Padre Island National Seashore

Sunrise on Padre Island from above. (Getty Images)

Starting with a category for veterans may seem odd, but with more than 18 million veterans in the United States, Padre Island is a compelling option. This 66-mile coastline offers camping and fishing, as well as spectacular wild beaches.

Those who wish to visit will need to pay for entry; private cars cost $25, while pedestrians are charged just $15. However, veterans, active-duty service members and Gold Star families are all entitled to free entry to U.S. national parks.

2. Best for space geeks: Boca Chica

View of the ocean from Boca Chica Beach. (Getty Images)

If you like a little rocket fuel with your sunshine, consider Boca Chica Beach. It’s undeniably the best Texas beach for launch spotting, as SpaceX’s Starbase location is just miles away.

You’ll enjoy warm weather, rolling waves and exciting rocket launches. This is due to the mission and construction of Starbase; its launch tower is the tallest in the world, and rapid expansion means the company hopes to one day make multiple launches per week.

3. Best for central access: Galveston beaches

Beachside view of the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier (Getty Images).

Whether you’re flying in or happen to be a Texas local, Galveston beaches are some of the easiest to access. This is due to Galveston’s central location and easy distance from Houston.

In fact, a drive from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) straight to Galveston’s beaches takes just over an hour and rings in at 71 miles.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find a variety of things to see and do among Galveston’s 32 miles of beaches. This includes a boardwalk, umbrella rentals and dog surfing competitions.

4. Best for surfers: Galveston Shipping Channel

Tankers parked at an oil refinery near Galveston, Texas. (Getty Images)

Our fourth recommendation for best beaches in Texas isn’t quite a beach. We know — that seems a little counterintuitive — but stick with us here. If you or someone you know is big into surfing, you may have already heard of the Galveston Shipping Channel.

Sure, you could head to a regular beach and paddle your way into the ocean, hoping for a swell, but why do that when high-speed man-made waves are just a boat ride away?

Companies such as Tanker Surf Charters will take you and your companions out on the ocean to experience the waves created by tankers crossing Galveston Bay.

A cool part of this experience is that these aren’t the quickly crashing waves you’ll find breaking by the beach. According to Tanker Surf Charters, it’s possible to surf for up to 10 minutes on a single wave. That's hard to find elsewhere.

5. Best for families: Surfside Beach

A-frame beach huts at Surfside. (Getty Images)

Surfside Beach is a coastal city in Texas located south of Galveston. The well-developed beaches at Surfside offer a variety of activities, including dolphin spotting, surfing, fishing, dining and shopping.

If you have little kids, the pedestrian beach can help give you peace of mind, while those looking for a campfire are allowed to toast their own s’mores as long as their flames aren’t too wild.

If you’re driving in and looking for a place to park, don’t worry. Street-legal vehicles are allowed on the beach with a permit. You can grab an annual permit for $30, which can be used as many times as you'd like, or a one-day permit for $15.

Finally, if your family loves horse riding, the offseason provides the perfect time to take your four-legged friends to the ocean. From September to May each year, those wanting to can bring their horses for a stroll during eligible periods.

6. Best for wildlife spotting: Sea Rim State Park

Boardwalk through marshland at Sea Rim State Park. (Getty Images)

At the border of Texas and Louisiana, Sea Rim State Park is about as remote as it gets when it comes to Texas beaches. While you’ll find a few miles of shoreline, you’ll also find 4,000 acres of marshland, which makes this one of the best places for spotting wildlife like American alligators, river otters and ghost shrimp.

Start your journey off right by meandering along the Gambusia Nature Trail Boardwalk, which takes you all throughout the marshes. Fishing, camping, horseback riding and paddling are also available, all of which offer excellent opportunities to check out nature’s bounty.

If you’re looking for the best beaches in Texas …

Beach life may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Texas, but its offerings impress.

Beyond barbecue, it has hundreds of miles of beaches available to visitors. This is true whether you’re traveling with a family, searching for a strong surf or simply wanting to rocket-spot your days away.

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