The warm Gulf waters can make even the heaviest of lead feet settle softly into the golden sand along the Texas coast. But the inviting waves aren’t the only welcome that awaits you on a Texas coastal road trip. Space and starlit skies, history and timeless adventure, nature and a natural curiosity—it’s all waiting for you as you cruise down the highways of the sunny Texas coast from Houston to Corpus Christi.
Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the United States, so it’s the perfect place for inspiring cultural activities to kick off this road trip. The Museum District itself features 19 museums ranging from natural history to cultural appreciation to contemporary art, and they’re all just a quick 10-minute drive southwest of downtown.
Directly east of downtown Houston on the shores of the Houston Ship Channel resides the San Jacinto Monument. The monument commemorates the key battle of the Texas Revolution—the Battle of San Jacinto. It rises more than 567 feet high, eclipsing the Washington Monument by more than 12 feet and proving the adage that everything is bigger in Texas.
Houston is also home to Space Center Houston, which brings our country’s history of out-of-this-world space exploration to the wide eyes and fingertips of both adults and children. Take Interstate 45 southeast, and you'll find Space Center Houston about halfway toward Galveston.
Houston is filled with countless activities worthy of any road trip, and you could spend days exploring all the city has to offer. But the beach is calling, so next make your way south about an hour to Galveston.
Galveston is a mix of history and entertainment, beginning with the historic Strand District. Home to one of the country’s largest concentrations of Victorian buildings, the Strand is Galveston’s entertainment hub lined with restaurants and shops. Nearby, the Bishop’s Palace is one of the few buildings in Galveston to survive the devastating 1900 hurricane. Before leaving Galveston, families will love to stop at Galveston’s Pleasure Pier. It features carnival rides and games, an arcade, shops and more.
As you curve southwest along the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find plenty of beach stops perfect for swimming, bird-watching or fishing. We recommend Matagorda Bay about halfway between Galveston and Corpus Christi, as well as Rockport just outside of Port Aransas. The sandy shores are definite kid pleasers, providing the perfect backdrop for seashell hunting, frisbee throwing and sandcastle making. Find the spot your family will want to return to year after year.
When you reach Port Aransas, you’ll be welcomed by beautiful Gulf beaches and rich fishing on either side of Mustang Island. The Port Aransas Nature Preserve at the northern end of the island offers a gentle hike through the coastal prairie habitat to stretch your legs. And if it’s dolphins you’re excited to see, hop aboard the Scarlet Lady Dolphin Watching Adventure Tour just a few minutes away.
End your coastal road trip in Corpus Christi and connect with nature and history by visiting the Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington. The aquarium features 18 exhibits (plus a touch pool and playground) that focus on the conservation of species native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The USS Lexington is a historic World War II aircraft carrier that served until 1991. Today, it lives on as a naval museum dedicated to those who served and died in defense of freedom.
No matter where your Texas coastal road trip takes you, you’ll discover incredible beaches, adventure, history, entertainment and more. So hit the road, and remember to drive friendly, the Texas way.