Planning a beach trip soon? You’re in luck, because you can dig your toes in the sand and catch a wave only a couple of hours away—even less if you’re in Houston! Slip into your swimsuit and pack your beach bag, because we’re sharing our favorite places to eat, sleep, and play on the Texas coast.
Where to Stay
Isla Grand Beach Resort, South Padre Island
A luxury resort along the Texas Gulf Coast, Isla Grand Beach Resort on South Padre Island offers families an opulent retreat. Located right on the beach surrounded by 10 acres of tropical foliage, the resort offers options like beachfront cabanas and high-rise condos with amenities including sparkling pools, tennis courts, a night club, restaurants, and more.
Moody Gardens Resort, Galveston
Moody Gardens offers more than just a place to stay in Galveston! Educating guests and visitors about the animal kingdom, its signature pyramids dedicated to the ocean, the rainforest, music, science, and mathematics are filled with wild animals. This place is perfect for the kids, with educational programs about rehabilitation, conservation, and research while also providing a relaxing spa and sprawling golf course for adults!
Emerald Beach Hotel, Corpus Christi
The only waterfront hotel in downtown Corpus Christi and one of the most historic hotels in town, Emerald Beach Hotel delivers a travel experience unlike any other on the Texas Gulf Coast. With an indoor pool and breezy sundeck overlooking Corpus Christi Bay, you’re within walking distance of all the shopping, dining, and nightlife!
Where to Eat
The Spot, Galveston
The Spot is the ultimate beachfront dining destination! It’s literally a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico, off of the iconic Seawall Boulevard in Galveston. This is the hottest restaurant, arcade, and tiki bar to keep cool and chill out at this spring and summer. Order a burger and relax with a beer or colorful cocktail on the large open-air deck.
Rudy & Paco, Galveston
Fresh seafood comes just blocks away from the dock at Rudy & Paco. Experience exquisite dining at one of the “Top 100 Restaurants” in 2017 and “Most Romantic Restaurants in America” in 2018 rated by OpenTable. The father-and-daughter duo who run the restaurant are inspired by their Central American heritage in dishes like the plantain-encrusted Pargo Simpatico, a pan-sautéed snapper topped with jumbo lump crab. The hospitality here sets this place apart from the rest and keeps tourists and locals coming back.
Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant, Galveston
Get a slice of Sicily at the Texas coast at Mario’s. The Italian family running the shop has been throwing the dough here for more than half a century. However, you’ll find more than piping-hot pies. They also serve fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood, like the cioppino bursting with mussels, shrimp, clams, and a mountain of crab claws.
Bakkhus Taverna, Kemah
Tucked inside the tiny seaside town of Kemah, Bakkhus Taverna dishes up authentic Greek bites like tender gyro meat, succulent souvlaki, and one showstopping, flaming saganaki that will have you shouting “Opa!”
Vargas Cut & Catch, Galveston
At Vargas Cut & Catch, people come from all over to try the GIANT prime steaks, fresh-caught seafood, and epic desserts. Trust us: You’ll want to save room for the showstopping “Paco Dome,” a slice of chocolate coffee cake topped with cinnamon ice cream and encased in a dome of chocolate. The whole thing transforms right before your eyes as hot chocolate sauce is drizzled over the top.
Tookies Seafood, Seabrook
Tookies is a bright and airy restaurant with an open kitchen for guests to look in on the action. Peek in on the cooks grilling oysters—each one is served “Pelican-style” and topped with cheese, bacon, and jalapeño. In addition to some of the best fried seafood in the state, you can also order a lighter favorite, like blackened seared tuna topped with shrimp, mango relish, and a sweet soy glaze.
Water Street Market, Corpus Christi
Surf’s up at Water Street Market, where fresh-from-the-bay Cajun-inspired seafood is on the menu. A surfer-turned-restaurateur brings beach food to this coastal enclave that sports three unique concepts: an oyster bar and full restaurant, a sushi spot, and an outdoor venue with live music and fantastic burgers. Then, hang ten at Texas’s only surf museum just next door!
Shell’s Pasta & Seafood, Port Aransas
Shell’s Pasta & Seafood is a modest restaurant that veers from your typical beach fare. The food here draws on European and Asian flavors that are cleverly merged into creative pastas and local seafood dishes. It’s a famous spot for delicious food on the island.
Venetian Hot Plate, Port Aransas
At Venetian Hot Plate, the sizzling Italian food is as bold as the owner, Linda Halioua. Hear her courageous tale of recovery after life threw her more than just a hurricane. Plus, don’t miss their very popular Misto Mare dish, a mix of fresh seafood of sauteed shrimp, diver scallops, blue lip mussels, and clams in a mix of garlic and white wine sauce.
La Playa Mexican Grille, Port Aransas
La Playa is a longtime Port A favorite for Tex-Mex. Grilled shrimp here is a must-do. We love the enchiladas, especially the buttery crab ones. And check out the “Miracle Wall” of tequila, with over 70 different bottles.
Where to Play
Of course visiting the beach is on your to-do list at the Texas coast! Check out the Corpus Christi beaches, Galveston beaches, and Port Aransas beaches here.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Galveston
If you’re tired of getting sand stuck everywhere and fighting the ocean currents but still looking to cool off, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark is for you! With fast and thrilling water slides, lounging lazy rivers, swim-up bar, and more, it has something for the whole family minus all the seagulls!
Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi
Discover the underwater world of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea at the Texas State Aquarium. The aquarium is dedicated to education and conservation, offering presentations featuring dolphins, birds, and otters and rescuing and treating hundreds of sick or injured animals and releasing them back into their natural habitats. Experience dive shows, animal feedings, hands-on interactions with sharks and stingrays, and a splash park.
Pleasure Pier, Galveston
Enjoy some exhilarating waterfront fun over the Gulf Coast at Galveston’s Pleasure Pier! With 16 rides for all ages, prizes to be won at the midway games, and scrumptious food, it’s an exciting break from the beach.
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