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5 Ways to Getaway for the Weekend from Houston—and a Bonus

by Susannah Wollman
People who live in Houston love their city, but sometimes it’s just kind of nice to get away from the things you commonly do on the weekend and experience something new. We have five great destinations that are close enough to drive to and friendly enough for everyone.

1) Go camping at Brazos Bend State Park

A mere 45 minutes from downtown Houston, visit this great park that bills itself as Nature Lover’s Paradise. Anyone who loves nature will enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, geocaching, riding your horse, and staying in one of our many camping spots. You can go on self-guided tours to see the many wild residents (including alligators, so learn the rules when you go). In the spring and fall, hundreds of migratory birds stop here on their way north and south.

Set up camp at one of the many options (and bring your horse along if you want to ride the 13+ miles of trails). Leased pets are welcome and kids love it here!

The amazing George Observatory is open again after nearly two years of getting an extreme makeover. Go beyond observing wildlife in South Texas and explore the galaxy!

This popular park often reaches capacity, so you’ll want to make reservations for camping. If the park reaches capacity and you don’t have a reservation, you’ll be turned away. To guarantee entrance reserve passes online, or by calling the customer service center, before you visit. Also, be sure and check our COVID-19 safety page.

2) Another great place to camp at Sea Rim State Park

Way down in the southeast corner of Texas, less than a two-hour drive, lies a fascinating place called Sea Rim State Park. A unique and remote area (not at all like Galveston) with 5.2 miles of Gulf shoreline and 4,000 acres of marshlands. Family friendly camping grounds are great places to pitch your tent and enjoy the warm spring nights. One favorite activity in the park is strolling along the Gambusia Nature Trail Boardwalk that wanders through the marsh.

Up for a swim? That’s definitely something you’ll want to do as well as paddling a canoe or kayak (bring your own or rent one there). Smaller kids might enjoy beach combing for shells and other gifts of the ocean.

Like Brazos Bend, you can bring your horse and camp on the beach, but there are not any facilities. You’ll need to bring a tent and tether your horse to it or a horse trailer between riding the three miles of trails.

While in the area, visit the Sabine Pass State Historic Site, location of a famous Civil War battlefield.

3) Round Top, a really BIG little town

With a population of less than 100 people, you might think this tiny treasure can’t be much. But you’d be absolutely wrong! If you like antiques, Round Top is the place to be. The Round Top Antique Show happens in the spring and again in the fall and is two weeks of fun and fine antiques.

Round Top calls its exploration opportunities “big time small.” Makes perfect sense when you consider all there is to do there. Full of history and shops that cater to those who like to “time travel,” the three Squares (Henkel Square, Rummel Square and Town Square) offer lots of places to shop, learn, and relax. If you’re a music lover, be sure and visit the Round Top Festival Institute, where you can take in the 210-acre campus of Festival Hill and catch a performing arts performance all through the spring and summer.

In April you can attend the annual festival at the Texas Cotton Gin Museum, 9 acres with 4 historical buildings including a 1933 Cobblers Shop, the Burton Auto Garage, the Cotton Warehouse and the 1914 Farmers Cotton Gin—the oldest operating cotton gin in America.

This little town hosts a whopping number of historical and performing arts events that will intrigue you and get you ready to shop their amazing array of stores unlike any you see elsewhere. Teeming with unusual places to stay, this is a weekend getaway you’ll want to make again and again.

4) Visit Beaumont for a fun weekend of many attractions

While staying in Beaumont, be sure to see the Spindletop – Gladys City Boomtown Museum. Christmas in 1900 might have been meager for the residents of Beaumont, but in January, 1901, everything changed. The gusher at Spindletop marked the birth of the modern oil industry.

The kids will enjoy The Fire Museum of Texas, housed in the historic 1927 Central Fire Station. It may be one of the most comprehensive fire museums in the nation, with interactive exhibits for the entire family. Explore equipment, trucks and fire fighting methods dating all the way back to the mid-1800s. Kids can even practice escaping from a house fire. You might want to leave the dog in the car, though, because the huge fire hydrant out front might just cause him to faint!

Reserve your Saturday for visiting the Beaumont Children’s Museum, where the kids will have the opportunity to experience ten different spaces designed to challenge and engage them in discovering how kids interact with the environment and their own bodies and imaginations.

5) Tour East Texas Wineries

If you enjoy wine, check out Piney Woods Wines Trail, where you can enjoy your self-guided travels through this beautiful area of East Texas. From country stars to down home bars and from rustic farms to elegant charm, you can visit them all without ever leaving the trail. You may not get to all nineteen wineries, but it will for sure set you up for more weekend getaways!

And our promised Bonus:

In case your weekend getaway needs to be more of a staycation, we have some highly unusual things for you to see without ever leaving Houston. Here are a sample of Houston’s coolest and most unusual things to do!

  1. Make a Big Bubble! On the Preston Street Bridge there is a big red button. No sign will point it out and nothing tells you what it is. But if you push it, you’ll prompt a huge bubble to burst through the calm bayou. Thing is, though, it’s best done with a friend, because the button is at the beginning of the bridge, but the best place to see it is in the middle. Take turns pushing the button and standing in the middle to see it happen. This will keep the kids busy running back and forth for quite awhile!
  2. Don’t be surprised when you see a random assortment of Steel Sculptures just outside the Loop off 288 South. Texas Pipe & Supply has an unusual exhibit of art sitting on the edge of its property along 288’s feeder road near Gelfort Street. No sign directing you to the unusual exhibit, but you can’t miss the tiant, metal sculptures mostly designed and crafted by local artists Ron Lee and Mark Rankin.
  3. Houstonian John Milkovisch in the city’s Rice Military neighborhood put some rather unique touches on his home with the help of his favorite beverage. The Beer Can House is located at 222 Malone Street, and while you can (pun intended) just gawk from the street, the 50,000 flattened cans are best seen in one of the guided tours that explain not only the unusual art of the creator, but the practical uses as well.
  4. Get in your batmobile and take a drive to see Houston’s bats! The Waugh Drive Bat Colony is just under the Waugh Drive bridge between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. Hundreds of tiny bats make their home in the crevices. At sundown, stand on the observation deck and watch them take to the sky.
  5. Just be lazy. The Texas-Shaped lazy river at the Marriott Marquis downtown has a most-unusual rooftop lazy river, more than 100 feet in the air and an impressive 510-foot long float. The best part of Texas is, after all, Texas.