KATY MAGAZINE l AUGUST 2019
By Jennifer Miko
If your ideal outdoor family getaway criteria includes salty air, waves and seashells, head toward the Gulf of Mexico - close enough to enjoy, but far enough away to be an escape. Book a house, condo, hotel or reserve a spot at one of the area campgrounds. Here are some of the favorite beach destinations preferred by Katy families.
1. SURFSIDE BEACH
85 miles (1 1/2 hours from Katy)
Katy families love the close proximity of Surfside Beach, a cozy shore town just two hours away. With four miles of beautiful coastline, this coastal getaway is ideal for all age groups. Relax on the shore, or head into the water to surf or kayak.
Many visitors choose Surfside Beach for fishing opportunities, from the shore or jetty. For more adventure, charter a deep-sea fishing boat, or try your luck at the Crabbing Pier located across from Stahlman Park. Bird watching enthusiasts can look for more than 200 species, including roseate spoonbills and sandhill cranes.
Surfside Beach features lots of shops and a variety of restaurants, showcasing live local music at night. Visitors can also choose from hotels and rental houses to beach-side RV parks to enjoy their close-to-home vacation.
354 miles (about 6 hours from Katy)
The farthest of all the beach getaways listed here, South Padre Island is worth the drive if you can spend at least a few days. Padre Island has 70 miles of dunes and prairies and is home to 380 bird species, and endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. At the harbor front Texas State Aquarium, guests can see the shark exhibit, check out the touch pools, and aquatic nursery. The water is blue and the beaches are beautiful.
A true beachgoer's paradise, South Padre Island has plenty of activities for families including pirate ship excursions, fishing charters, jet ski rentals, and dolphin spotting to name a few.
3. GALVESTON ISLAND
80 miles (1 1/2 hours from Katy)
Photo courtesy of TourTexas.com
Galveston seamlessly blends a shore destination with historic charm. Located just a short drive from Katy, families or couples can tour buildings (some haunted) built in the 1800s, dine in trendy restaurants or browse eclectic shops. Of course, you can’t visit Galveston without enjoying the 32 miles of soft sands and inviting surf.
Galveston island welcomes visitors to spend the day at Pleasure Pier to enjoy the rides and games of chance for every skill and adventure level. To cool off in the Gulf, head to Stewart Beach. This popular spot for families, has lifeguards, concessions, umbrella rentals and amenities like restrooms and showers.
Visitors can spend the day exploring Galveston’s famous Strand district. The streets are lined with Victorian buildings hosting unique shops, galleries and restaurants. For more adventure, grab bikes and download a map to discover the Galveston Tree Sculptures carved from trees that were destroyed by Hurricane Ike.
4. CRYSTAL BEACH/BOLIVAR PENINSULA
110 miles (2 hours from Katy)
Photo courtesy of TourTexas.com
Bolivar Peninsula has emerged from the devastation of Hurricane Ike to feature miles of clean beaches and beautiful, colorful homes on raised on stilts. The quiet shore town can be reached via highway from Winnie, or via ferry from Galveston. Bonus dolphin sightings from the ferry!
Visitors to Crystal Beach can stay in an RV park or rent a house with all of the comforts of home. New stores and restaurants have opened in the past couple of years providing vacationers with more options. The kids will love the miniature golf and water slides, or spending hours playing on the beach.
For great fishing, cast your line at Crystal Beach's Rollover Pass. The two-hundred-foot-wide channel constructed in 1956, joins the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay. The channel allows fish to swim from the Gulf to the Bay and vice-versa with the changing tides, providing an awesome fishing experience.
5. CORPUS CHRISTI
200 miles (3 1/2 hours from Katy)
Photo courtesy of Omni Hotels
Corpus Christi promises a vacation to please everyone. Nestled in its namesake bay, Corpus Christi is protected by the natural barriers created by Padre and Mustang islands. This well-developed southern Texas shore town offers beach front hotels with wonderful amenities, as well as private homes to rent.
On the water, visitors can enjoy water or wind sports at the beaches, or go boating, fishing or biking. Inland, there's no shortage of great restaurants and shops and enough rainy day activities if bad weather rolls in to town.
To escape the Texas heat, take the family to the USS Lexington WWII aircraft carrier that houses a naval aviation museum, or explore the Corpus Christi Museum of Science & History. The Art Museum of South Texas also has wonderful permanent and featured exhibitions and special programs.
6. PORT ARANSAS
210 miles (3 hours 45 minutes from Katy)
Visitors to Port Aransas consider its beaches among the finest in the Lone Star State. With miles of coastline, Port A welcomes beachgoers to spend the day looking for shells, riding boogie boards, or relaxing with a good book. The town’s great shops, from antiques to souvenirs, and restaurants provide so much more to do there.
Mustang Island State Park in Port Aransas boasts five miles of pet-friendly shoreline and campsites - either drive right on the sand, or reserve campsites protected by the dunes that include water and electricity. Grills and picnic tables are also available. Spend the day counting the 400 different species of birds or take a quiet paddling-trail excursion to discover all the wildlife teeming along the shores.
For a quiet retreat, ferry over to San Jose Island where the 21 miles of unspoiled coastline aren’t very busy. You can expect to find great seashells, so bring a bag or bucket for your treasures! Pack food and drinks too, because there aren’t any stores on San Jose Island.