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Take a Break and Escape: Day Trips from Houston

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Galveston Bay

Girls just wanna have sun at the Galveston bay. (Photo courtesy of Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau)

If you’re tired of sitting in Houston traffic and need an escape for a day, you can get away from the city in under 90 minutes. Think about visiting one of these destinations as a day trip or a weekend getaway, and hopefully, you won’t hit traffic in your travels.

Kemah
Only 45 minutes away from downtown Houston, Kemah provides the boardwalk experience without having to get on a plane. Known as the “Gateway to the Bay,” this bayside city has every classic boardwalk attraction you could imagine – arcade games, shopping, rides, and delicious food. Have some fun on the boardwalk and then get on the water. Rent water skis or book a dinner cruise through one of the many rental services in Kemah. Head to the Kemah Boardwalk on Thursdays during the summer and enjoy Rock the Dock, a free, weekly concert series. 

Lake Houston Wilderness Park 
In under an hour, escape to the Lake Houston Wilderness Park. Funny enough, this park is a misnomer, as it is actually located about 20 miles north of Lake Houston in New Caney. At the wilderness park, you can walk the trails, explore the woods, and enjoy the quiet. Because the land is so heavily forested, it feels like an entirely different world for only being 60 minutes from downtown. Lake Houston Wilderness Park is also the only park in the Houston metro area that allows overnight stays. Reserve an overnight campsite for $7 or enter the park for the day for $3. Guests are welcome and encouraged to kayak, canoe, ride the trails, fish the streams, grill out, and camp at LHWP. 

Lake Conroe 
It’s no wonder that Conroe is Texas’ fastest growing city. The main attraction of the city is Lake Conroe and the surrounding Sam Houston National Forest. With 156 miles of shoreline and 254 square miles of national forest, there is no shortage of places to see and things to do. Spend the day on the water by renting a kayak, canoe, or water skis. Lake Conroe is known as Houston’s “aquatic playground,” so fishing guides can guide help you cast in the right direction. After a full day on the water, head to downtown Conroe for a brewery tour or a meal at one of Conroe’s many restaurants.

Haley Kurisky

Buzz contributing writer Haley Kurisky enjoying Galveston with friends. In her 2016 article, Haley debunks myths about the safety of Galveston. (Photo: CSP Photography) 

Galveston 
Head to Galveston for a day on the beach. Some of the main attractions Galveston has to offer are Schlitterbahn waterpark, Moody Gardens, and Pleasure Pier. Galveston Island also has a rich history to explore. Historic homes and buildings are scattered around the city. Each holds its own distinct story, many over a century old. Check out the Galveston Railroad Museum, the Lone Star Flight Museum, the Galveston Naval Museum, and more. For a unique experience, join Galveston Historic Seaport for Sail Training program on the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa starting July 31. 


Join the Galveston Historial Foundation for a sail training program on the 1877 Elissa Tall Ship. (Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation)

Brazos Bend State Park 
Within an hour’s drive from Houston, experience Texas the way it used to be. The biodiversity at Brazos Bend State Park in Needville includes swamps, marshes, lakes, tallgrass prairies, and forest. Known as the “Nature Lover’s Paradise,” the land and wildlife is virtually untouched. As you walk or bike the gravel trails through the park, look out for alligators, birds, and deer. Bring lawn chairs and picnic supplied to lunch under one of the many pavilions. And at night, visit the George Observatory, sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and explore the night sky. Enter Brazos Bend for $7 and $10 to enter the observatory.

Brazos Bend

A photo capturing the serenity of New Horseshoe Lake at Brazos Bend State Park. In this 2017 article, Maddy Payne explores Brazos Bend State Park at the peak of summer. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

Editor’s note: For more on quick road trips, see this feature by Dai Huynh on waterfront dining in Bayview, Bacliff, and San Leon. 

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