15 Best Day Trips from Houston

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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When you hear the word ‘Houston’ to you instantly think ‘we have a problem’? Far from a problematic place to visit, Houston is an easily accessible and welcoming Texan city.

Home to the pioneering NASA Space Centre as well as the Houston Grand Opera and the much loved theatre district, Houston has a lot to explore.

Away from this buzzing and vibrant city lies a host of things to do, from breweries to museums, from shopping centres to National Forests, Houston is a great base for the avid day tripper.

Let’s take a look at a selection of the 15 best day trips from Houston.

1. Galveston Island

Galveston IslandSource: Eric V Overton / shutterstock
Galveston Island

Easily the most famous coastal holiday destination in Texas is Galveston Island.

Lying just 50-miles from downtown Houston, Galveston Island has a rich and varied history and despite its age has lost none of it’s abundant charm.

With 32-miles of beach to explore, plenty of historical gems lying in wait and dozens of antique stops a trip to Galveston Island transports you to the Victorian era where life was simpler and much slower paced.

From Galveston Island it is possible to head out on a boat into the Gulf of Mexico to cruise for dolphins.

2. Tanger Outlets

Tanger OutletSource: www.tangeroutlet.com
Tanger Outlet

Tanger Outlets is one of the leading shopping centres in Texas.

Offering massive discounts on high-end, luxury brands, if you want a new wardrobe Tanger is the place to head.

With incredible savings to be had, a wonderful selection of restaurants to explore and a relaxing atmosphere too, Tanger Outlets is a great day out from Houston.

Make the most of the day and saunter from shop to shop taking in the unbelievable value and taking time to ponder on what to purchase.

With shops catering to men, women and children, the whole family can enjoy Tanger Outlets.

3. NASA Space Centre

NASA Space Centre, HoustonSource: Tricia Daniel / shutterstock
NASA Space Centre, Houston

The NASA Space Centre is one of the most exciting places to visit in all of the United States of America.

In the Starship Gallery Artefact Museum you can actually touch a moon rock.

If you’re daring enough you can experience what it is like to be an astronaut and take a ride in the lunar orbiter simulator.

The exhibits have been created by NASA in conjunction with Disney and it shows.

This level of interactive learning is not found anywhere else making the NASA Space Centre a fascinating and enlightening day trip from Houston for everyone, not just the wannabe astronauts.

4. Blessington Farms

Blessington FarmsSource: facebook.com
Blessington Farms

Whatever the weather and whatever the season Blessington Farms is a great day trip from Houston.

A rare opportunity to pick your own fruit and vegetables, to learn about farming and to connect to the land itself, Blessington Farms are a real hidden gem.

In the fall you can pick your own pumpkins and there is an overwhelming selection to choose from.

In the summer you can pick punnet after punnet of strawberries to take home too.

Perfect for young families or if you’re travelling with children, Blessington Farms offers good old fashioned family fun.

5. Southern Star Brewery

Souther Star BrewingSource: facebook.com
Souther Star Brewing

Pioneering craft beer in Texas since 2007 the Southern Star Brewery are one of the best loved brewers in the state.

Due to rapid increase in demand for small scale craft beers, in 2016 Southern Star Brewery moved into a much bigger venue with a 13-acre back yard and custom built tap room.

A visit to Southern Star Brewery offers you the opportunity to learn about the brewing process and how the Southern Star Beers get their distinct flavour.

Tours of the brewery are offered from Thursdays to Sundays at 2pm and 4pm.

6. Railean Rum Distillery

Railean Rum DistillerySource: facebook.com
Railean Rum Distillery

Texas is famed for its moonshine production during prohibition, although those years are firmly behind us Texans still have a fascination with home brews.

None so true of Railean Rum Distillery.

Located in San Leon which is described as being a ‘small drinking community with a large fishing problem’ Railean makes rum for wannabe pirates, they jest.

Producing a wide range of Rum, Vodka, Whiskey and Agave Spirits too it’s easy to get a little tipsy while tasting at Railean Distillery.

Throughout the tour you’ll learn about the distilling, ageing and bottling process.

7. Sam Houston National Forest

Sam Houston National ForestSource: Adrian Delgado2012 / Flickr
Sam Houston National Forest

As one of four national forests in Texas the Sam Houston National Forest is the most popular and located just 50 miles from Houston city centre.

Hiking is the most common pastime in Sam Houston National Forest as well as mountain biking.

The Lone Star Hiking Trail is accessible year round and is never over crowded.

Along the trail you pass through creeks, rivers and streams and wind through several different kinds of vegetation and ecosystems each vital to the life of the forest in their own individual way.

8. Austin

Austin, TexasSource: f11photo / shutterstock

As the state capital of Texas Austin is well connected to the state’s fellow major cities.

An easy 2 hour drive from Houston, Austin has a lot on offer.

Famed for its quirky and exotic music scene there are countless live music venues to explore in Austin.

With a rich musical history Austin provided a jump start for some of the world’s most famous blues, rock and country artists.

If you fancy taking a slower pace in Austin then perhaps rent a boat and paddle around Lady Bird Lake in Zilker Park or take a dip in the Barton Spring Pool.

9. San Antonio

San Antonio, TexasSource: f11photo / shutterstock
San Antonio

With a strong colonial history San Antonio is one of Texas’ most developing cities.

Home to The Alamo, the 18th-Century Spanish mission building has been preserved for all to enjoy and learn about in the form of a museum.

The Alamo stands as a marker for the bloody battle of 1836 where Texas fought for independence from Mexico.

Aside from the historical elements of San Antonio there is a lot of modern culture to explore and nature to enjoy too.

The San Antonio Riverwalk and the Natural Bridge Caverns, not to mention Six Flags Fiesta Texas, there is something for everyone down in San Antonio.

10. Dallas

Dallas, TexasSource: f11photo / shutterstock

As the most populated city in Texas Dallas is a vibrant and bustling city home to 1.3 million people.

Modern and happening Dallas has a wealth of historical and cultures spots to explore.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza shares a thorough exhibit of the presidency of late John F. Kennedy and insights into his untimely assassination.

The Dallas Museum of Art displays artistic creations from yesteryear and the modern day and is open late into the evenings.

With displays dating back 5,000 years the Dallas Museum of Art has one of the most impressive collections in the south.

11. USS Lexington

USS LexingtonSource: GregD / shutterstock
USS Lexington

Affectionately names ‘Lady Lex’ the USS Lexington CV-2 played a significant role in the US Navy from 1925 to 1942 when it sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

The USS Lexington combines a tour of real US Navy ships and informative exhibitions about the impact the US Navy had on modern warfare.

The tour of the USS Lexington itself spans over 11 ship decks.

During your visit you can experience a flight simulator and try and land on this epic aircraft carrier, or fly out a virtual battle station.

12. Mustang Island

Mustang IslandSource: E. Dan Klepper / shutterstock
Mustang Island

For lovers of the coastal breeze a visit to Mustang Island makes for a memorable and invigorating day trip from Houston.

Spanning across five miles of the Gulf of Mexico coast Mustang Island is home to over 400 different species of bird as well as the endangered Atlantic green sea turtles.

An active nesting site for sea turtles park officials urge visitors to be as conscientious as possible when it comes to exploring the beaches.

Naturally bird watching is a popular way to spend a day on Mustang Island, as well as coastal hikes and even a swim in the sea.

13. Stark Museum of Art

Stark Museum Of ArtSource: wikipedia.org
Stark Museum Of Art

For lovers of art and anthropology the Stark Museum of Art is a must-visit when in Houston.

Home to one of the world’s largest collections of Western American art there is a lifetime of knowledge stored within the grand museum walls.

The pieces focus on dramatic landscapes, lifelike depictions of people and the rich and varied wildlife found in the wild west.

In addition to Western American art Stark too houses a vast collection of indigenous American Indian artwork, manuscripts, costumes and books.

Entry to the Stark Museum of Art is free of charge for all.

14. New Orleans

New Orleans, LouisianaSource: f11photo / shutterstock
New Orleans

Up on the Mississippi River in Louisiana is the iconic city of New Orleans.

Known also as ‘Big Easy’ New Orleans is the musical capital of the USA. Known the world over for it’s blues and country scene there is a buzz and vibrancy to New Orleans that is good for the soul.

Everywhere you turn you’ll be greeted by famous live music venues, bars and more.

A true melting pot of cultures, New Orleans is home to a big French community as well as thriving African communities too.

This is a welcoming, open minded and fun city that should be experienced at least once in every lifetime.

15. Sabine National Forest

Sabine National ForestSource: US Forest Service - Southern Region / Flickr
Sabine National Forest

Tucked away on the East Texas-Louisiana border lies the Sabine National Forest.

Mostly a forest of pine, Sabine has a number of easy going and picturesque hiking trails that can be enjoyed on a day trip from Houston.

An afternoon boating on the Toledo Bend Reservoir is relaxing and enchanting.

Should you arrive at Sabine National Forest and not want to leave it is possible to camp in the park for a small fee.

During a day trip to Sabine National Forest you can head to Red Hills Lake and enjoy a picnic at the Boles Field shelters before heading back to Houston for dinner.

15 Best Day Trips from Houston:

  • Galveston Island
  • Tanger Outlets
  • NASA Space Centre
  • Blessington Farms
  • Southern Star Brewery
  • Railean Rum Distillery
  • Sam Houston National Forest
  • Austin
  • San Antonio
  • Dallas
  • USS Lexington
  • Mustang Island
  • Stark Museum of Art
  • New Orleans
  • Sabine National Forest