written by Kimberly Davis Guerra
The sun on your face, the wind in your hair and the smell of the open road after a summer rain. Can you see it? Many a family traditionally would be hitting the open road as soon as the last school bell rang closing out the school year…but this summer is a little different. Plans have shifted or been completely cancelled due to this nasty COVID-19. So, what is a family to do?
Kids still need to get out of the house. Parents need a change of scenery, more than ever. However, after being cooped up for over two months, many families are just plain hesitant to get out there in the world again, especially with their kids. Rightfully so.
How can you make it a memorable and enjoyable summer and still stay safe?
Here are some ideas for overnight stays and day trip destinations. Whichever direction you go, we think you will really enjoy just getting away and feeling a little normal again!
Whether it’s in an RV, a cabin or a beach house rental, social distancing is the rage this summer. Here are some great opportunities to check out!
Just 45 minutes from Houston, Galveston offers a great getaway for Houstonians year-round. However, in the wake of the quarantine, families want to get going somewhere as soon as possible! Why not head out for a quick retreat straight down I-45 south?!
Sand & Sea Properties
Looking to getaway to the beach, but maybe you don’t have a lot of time or you need to be close to home? Look no further than Sun and Sea Properties. Their website offers a wide variety of homes in just about every price range and budget for rent. You can save yourself a lot of time and stress by visiting this site to see what inventory is available.
Stella Mare RV Resort
Located on 25 acres just across from the beach, this lush property features numerous on-site amenities while offering you the opportunity to have your home away from home in prime location to the water. Don’t have an RV, no problem, they have 2 large beach houses on site that sleep 12+. Bring the whole family down and still have plenty of room left over to stretch out!
South Padre Island
On the other end of the spectrum, you can head down to South Padre. A mere 5-6 hours away, you will definitely want to have a little more time to stay and enjoy the beach and all it has to offer!
The traditional South Padre Island fireworks shows on the beach are back! Clayton’s Beach Bar is sponsoring firework shows over the Gulf every Friday and Saturday night throughout the summer. Combined with the new, expanded opening of restaurants with 50% capacity in-house dining and bars allowed to be at 25% capacity, it’s a promising restart to the summer season on South Padre Island.
“There’s nothing like fireworks to deliver that sense of celebration for visitors,” said Ed Caum, executive director for South Padre Island convention and visitors bureau. “As more of our Island businesses open, we are the safe, beautiful destination for Texas families.”
With over 130 beach rentals offered, your vacation could be just a click away. Take the stress out of planning your getaway. SPI Rentals offers on-site check-in for all guests, 24/7 response to emergency maintenance issues and friendly professionals who will assist you in planning every detail. They offer concierge services including grocery shopping, attraction suggestions, catering services and maid services.
KOA South Padre
Looking for something a little bit more rustic? How about a cabin at the KOA? Starting at just over 4150 a night, these deluxe cabins sleep minimum of 4 and include full baths with tub and shower & a patio for sitting a spell.
In between, just about 3.5 hours down I-59, once you cross on the ferry, you will arrive in Port A. With around 18 miles of wide, sandy beaches, Port A is the quieter of the beaches we’ve highlighted so far. However, just because it’s quiet, doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do!
If you are looking for something straight out of a movie, this property is it. Whether you are In need of a small, cozy retreat or looking to house an army, this property has it in all sizes. Part of the master-planned Cinnamon Shore community, the rentals offer guests access to the three resort style pools, two fishing lakes, two boardwalks to the beach, and multiple dining options on property including Lisabella’s fine dining restaurant right across the lane! Whatever your budget, they have you covered.
Where the Colorado River meets the Gulf! Matagorda is located about 2 hours west of Houston and has approximately 58 miles of beach. 23 miles of the beach east of the Colorado River is open to vehicles. The remaining 35 miles of beach is west of the Colorado River and only accessible by boat, kayak, canoe or other watercraft. Check out the Emergency Info page before you go!
Matagorda Bay & Nature Park
The water’s calling. This 1,333-acre park and nature preserve is located at the mouth of the Colorado River on the Matagorda Bay peninsula. Visitors can enjoy miles of Gulf of Mexico beachfront, birdwatching in coastal marshes, horseback riding on the beach and wetland paddling. Tent camping and RV amenities are available for overnight stays. There also is a gift shop with snacks and souvenirs. If you are looking for a different beach experience, this might be your hidden gem! (PS – they have a couple of Airstreams for rent!)
Marble Falls is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country on the Colorado River in the middle of the Highland Lakes area, the largest chain of lakes in Texas. Only a scenic 3 hour drive from H-town.
Renowned for scenic beauty, visitors come to this area to experience our beautiful waterways and lush, rolling hills. Indigenous species range from American bald eagles during winter months to great old live oaks that shade the landscape throughout the seasons. Spring brings a burst of color with a multitude of wildflowers including our state flower, the bluebonnet. Fields and back roads are covered with blossoms as far as the eye can see. Many amateur and professional photographers and artists come to capture the natural beauty of the Highland Lakes area.
Inks Lake State Park
In the mood for an adventure of camping, trail hiking, cliff diving, fishing and boating? Look no further than Inks Lake State Park. With its sparkling blue water, colorful rock outcrops and striking sunsets, you’re sure to have a wonderful time with your family. The park also offers onsite paddle boat, canoe and kayak rentals. The best part of the park is called “Devil’s Waterhole” Here you can explore scenic waterfalls, swim and dive off of the large rock formations.
Hidden Falls Adventure Park
Gear up for an amazing off-road adventure in the beautiful hill country at Hidden Falls Adventure Park. Here you can load up your own ATVs, UTVs, Jeeps or Dirt Bikes for a weekend adventure or make use of the on-site rentals. Camping options are available with choices from tent, RV, cabin, bunkhouse and motel rooms. The views are stunning, the terrain is tough and the fun your family will have is worth the drive.
Admission per day is $25 Adult Driver, $15 Adult Passenger, $15 Minor Driver, $5 Minor Passenger, Kids 6 and under are FREE.
Hill Country Adventure Rentals, Marble Falls
Offers equipment rentals of ATVs, UTVs and Dirt Bikes for those wishing to enjoy a day of off-road riding and adventure. Rental operations are open Thursday-Sunday only.
ATV and Dirt bike rentals start at $150 for 2 hours
UTV rentals start at $225 for 2 hours.
Within a 3-hour radius from Houston
Far enough to make you feel like you are on vacation, but close enough to get back home
Within this big, beautiful state called Texas, we are blessed with countless destinations to visit with the kids that offer gorgeous natural venues, landmarks and attractions to see without interacting with huge crowds. Think smaller, or obscure attractions. Places you’ve always passed on the road, but never stopped.
Dinosaur Park, Bastrop
Located just 12m east of the Austin airport, this outdoor museum is a blast for all your little dino lovers out there! Meander down the half mile walking trail through the park and gaze at all of the life-like dinosaurs on display throughout. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and have snacks in the car. No food concessions on-site.
Tickets are $9 adults, $8 kids 2-12, kids under 2 are free. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Open Thursday – Sunday 10a – 4p.
Franklin Drive Thru Safari
Located just past Bryan/College Station heading northwest on Hwy 6, you will find a 100-acre paradise for over 1000 different types of animals. A great getaway day, that will keep you safe while the kids feel like they are out on safari! If you feel like getting out and stretching your legs, you can stop by the Baby room to cuddle with some of the little ones in person. Additional ticket price to play with the babies!
$15 per person, kids under 2 are free. Open 7 days a week, 9a – 5p.
Artist Boat Tour, Galveston
Looking to connect with nature and create a beautiful piece of art, then this is the place for you. Hit the water for a three to four hour adventure that will find you out on Galveston Bay experiencing all of the amazing wildlife while taking in a little vitamin D. Kids must be at least 7 years old to participate. Be sure to check the weather before you head out.
$75 per person ($50 if you bring your own equipment). Saturdays and Sundays 9a.
San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge has a diversity of coastal wildlife, including more than 400 species of birds, 95 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 130 species of butterflies and dragonflies. Great place to take the kids fishing. Free. Open daily.
Sea Center Texas, Lake Jackson
Operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the complex features a 50,000-gallon stand-in for the Gulf of Mexico; kid-friendly touch pools; a boardwalk slicing into a 5-acre marsh; and a hatchery for redfish and speckled trout.
Free. Closed Mondays.
Village Creek State Park, Lumberton
Paddle away! This primordial wonderland in Texas’ Big Thicket is home to more than 1,000 species of flowering plants, 300 types of birds and 50 species of reptiles. Admission is $2; free for ages 12 and under.
DragonLady Airboat tour
Only passengers from your group will be on the airboat adventure! This is a private, very unique, and exciting airboat ride and swamp tour through the Blue Elbow Swamp, Sabine River and surrounding estuaries of Orange, TX. Pricing is the same regardless of number of passengers.
$325 for private tour. Open daily. Must have reservations.
Heritage Village Museum, Woodville
The complex includes dozens of historical buildings ranging from a 140-year-old cantilever log barn to a general store that features much of its circa-1863 fixtures. When ready for a break, drop by the Pickett House for chicken and dumplings that will make you weep with joy.
Admission is $4; $2 for children. Open daily.
Lake Livingston State Park, Livingston
Be a cowboy for an afternoon on a trail ride at Lake Livingston Stables. Guided rides on more than two miles of wooded trails. A one-hour ride costs $15. Not into horses? You can also enjoy fishing, boating and mountain biking.
Wherever you and your family are headed this summer, be smart & be safe. There is no one that knows the needs of your family better than you.