The Lone Star State may not be your first thought for a beach trip, but Texas has several great coastal spots to relax and enjoy the sea. Many top and lively beach towns can be found along the state’s 367-mile (3,359-mile) Gulf Coast.
There are rural and energized beachfront locations spread throughout the southeast coast of the state. From Port Arthur on the Louisiana border in the north to South Padre Island, there is a perfect atmosphere for everyone. While the water off these shores can get pretty warm, the best time to visit this coast is in the spring or fall, when there are fewer crowds and nicer temperatures.
These coastal communities fit the mold for a variety of families, couples, older people, or anyone who wants to live by the water. Enjoy a morning, day, or evening along one of Texas’ beautiful beaches.
Here’s a look at the top beach towns in Texas to live and visit, in no particular order:
Galveston is a unique island town with its own personality, thanks to its Victorian architecture and colorful promenade that oozes Southern charm. The town motto is a simple “It’s Island Time”. This city is perfect for a weekend trip with its prime beach location and a short distance from Houston. In 2020 it had an estimated population of 53,520 residents.
Because much of the city is known for being quiet and peaceful, the people who live there have a good reputation for being friendly and helpful. Besides the beaches, numerous other attractions make this the ideal vacation spot. There are many hiking trails and incredible natural springs in the 200-acre Galveston State Park, which is a welcome escape from the Texas summer heat.
There are almost 30 miles of shoreline, so beachgoers can choose between party sites and relaxing spots. Some of the most frequented sands include East Beach, Stewart Beach, and Jamaica Beach. You can find wonderful vacation accommodations near the ocean and amenities like showers and bathrooms at some beaches.
Port Aransas, TX
Port Aransas, located on Mustang Island, is highly reputed for its beautiful shores along the Gulf of Mexico and as an excellent area to live for people of all ages. This coastal town is known as the “Fishing Capital of Texas” due to its abundance of fish and 18 miles of unspoiled shoreline.
In the 19th century, the town was a haven for pirates, but now it’s home to around 2,904 residents (according to the 2020 Census). In this safe community, kids flourish in its nationally recognized school system, while retirees and those without children may fill their time with enjoyable pursuits.
Several exciting stores, boutiques, and studios in downtown Port Aransas are favored by tourists and residents. Popular eateries, peaceful parks, and many rental outlets may all be found close to one another in the Port Aransas retail area.
It’s no secret that Port Aransas Beach is a hotspot for tourists. There is plenty of room to indulge in activities like surfing or looking for shark teeth on the seaside’s many miles of sand. Rent a beach bike and pedal to other beaches for even more fun. Roberts Point Park has a lookout tower where you can see the bay and maybe even see a few dolphins if you’re lucky.
Located along the Gulf of Mexico coast, Rockport is around 30 miles from Corpus Christi and roughly 190 miles from another famous coastal city, Galveston. People come to this area because there are so many things to do outside, especially on the beaches, watching birds, and fishing.
This little hamlet on the Texas Gulf Coast (population 10,070 as of the 2020 Census) is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best-value seaside destinations for living. Residents of Rockport are known for their laid-back demeanor and the town’s wealth of peaceful neighborhoods.
Rockport is an excellent place to go to the beach, and it also has many fascinating museums and historical sites related to the marine industry. The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail is popular among birdwatchers because it is home to the world’s only wintering group of whooping cranes—more than 265.
Rockport Beach Park is renowned for its clean seas and pristine dunes, making it the perfect place to go for a stroll or relax while watching the waves come in. Families love coming here because of the powdery white beach, friendly atmosphere, and clean facilities.
Take a walk out to Rockport Pier for some higher ocean viewing. This beach has many amenities for its visitors, like volleyball courts, picnic tables, barbecue pits, beach cabanas, freshwater showers, two fishing piers, basic bathrooms, and places to hold events.
Corpus Christi, TX
Texans keep coming to Corpus Christi because it has pleasant weather all year and stunning coast. This area has a lot to offer, like miles of untouched beaches, essential conservation areas, and many plants and animals.
This bay in the semitropics was given its name, Corpus Christi, by the Spaniard Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, who visited the holy Feast of Corpus Christi in 1519. About 317,863 people call the city home as of the 2020 Census, making it a bustling city with plenty of employment opportunities, a low cost of living, and a good quality of life.
The town is popular with families and young professionals because it’s small and distinctly southern. This seaside city has more than enough attractions, from the Texas Surf Museum and the SS Science Museum to the Art Center, to keep visitors occupied for a whole week.
The shores of Corpus Christi are the city’s lifeblood. There are many beaches to choose from, from calm water to prime places to surf. More than a hundred miles of sandy shoreline can be found between the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi Bay, giving sunbathers numerous choices for where to spend the day. McGee Beach, North Beach, and Little Shell Beach are among the finest in the region.
The small town of Kemah, on Galveston Bay’s shores, is known for its busy, lively beachfront. The Kemah Boardwalk is a giant amusement park with a stingray touch pool, a rainforest display with snakes and turtles, and plenty of waterfront restaurants and attractions.
The Kemah Entertainment District is home to the businesses and activities that have helped turn this community of 2,114 (as of the 2020 Census) from a sleepy fishing village into a popular vacation spot. Every day, people of all ages may enjoy themselves on the Kemah Boardwalk.
The boardwalk is about 20 miles from downtown Houston and has shops, festivals, and performances on the ocean. The suburban atmosphere of the town makes it an attractive place to live for families that value affordability and safety above the crowdedness of bigger cities.
Swimming and wandering along the beach are always free pastimes along Kemah’s nearby shores. The area immediately north of town, including El Jardin Beach and McHale Park, is perfect for unwinding after a day of fun on the boardwalk.
Port Lavaca, TX
Port Lavaca has all the charms of the Texas Gulf Coast, like beautiful beaches and a relaxing vibe. This community of about 11,557 (2020 Census) is fantastic because of its variety and the sense of community among its residents.
Port Lavaca features several piers and a marina where you can go fishing, some of which are lit up at night so you can cast in the dark. Each year, as many as 400 different kinds of birds pass through the region, attracting hordes of birdwatchers.
Visit the Calhoun County Museum to learn about the early 16th-century European explorers who visited and to see the original Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse from 1858. Bayfront Peninsula Park also has a free music series every Saturday night in July and August, drawing many tourists.
This little hamlet provides the best beach pleasure without the swarms of tourists that plague other Gulf Coast destinations. Lighthouse Beach has thatched cabanas for shelter, while Alamo Beach is perfect for swimming or hitting the saltwater with a paddle board.
Get down to the Gulf Coast and check out Magnolia Beach, the region’s only rugged shell beach. Spread down a towel and take in some rays, play a game of volleyball with friends, or go for a peaceful walk barefoot.
Port Arthur, TX
Located 100 miles east of Houston, Port Arthur is a seaside city home to Texas’s biggest oil refinery. It’s also host to world-class birding routes, beaches, museums, and calm canals.
The Port of Port Arthur can easily manage any cargo, including steel, wood goods, and even military supplies. Since it was founded in 1898, Port Arthur has grown into a place where residents and visitors can do many different things.
This city of 56,039 people (Census 2020) has a lot to offer, like museums, parks, beaches, historic sites, and fishing. Port Arthur has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, from Tex-Mex and casual fare to fine dining and mom-and-pop establishments, as well as bakeries, a Texas tradition.
McFaddin Beach, located inside McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, is a beautiful stretch of sand on the upper Texas Gulf Coast and an enjoyable tourist destination in the city. From Sea Rim State Park in the east to High Island in the west, you may access the hard-packed beach that stretches over 20 miles along Highway 87.
Sailing, swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing are just a few of the many outdoor activities that may be enjoyed in Port Arthur’s picturesque setting.
South Padre Island, TX
Known locally as SPI, South Padre Island is Texas’ only tropical island and a resort town with 34 miles of beautiful white sand and a brilliant green sea. The area is a great place to live and visit all year because it has a pleasant climate, calm waters, and more than 300 days of sunshine.
The population of South Padre Island in 2020 was 2,066. It was named after a Catholic priest and settler called José Nicolás Ball (Padre Ball). Everything from shopping to dining to water activities like Southern Wave Sailing Charters can be found in this thriving community.
If you’re an animal lover and you want to do your part to protect these magnificent reptiles, a visit to Turtles, Inc. is a must. Ecological trips that travel into the Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are another favorite.
The trip to South Padre Island will be relaxing, but the real adventure begins when you pull your vehicle onto the beach and drive it. One of the many things to do on the island is to book a professional sandcastle-building lesson on your favorite beach.
Camping, swimming, fishing, and more may all be done on the expansive beach at Padre Island National Seashore. Padre Island has an annual average water temperature of 76 °F, with summertime highs reaching 84 °F.
Situated on the Texas Gulf Coast, the town of Freeport in southern Brazoria County is a terrific tourist destination. This coastal town of 10,696 people (Census 2020) is located 60 miles from Houston and offers a beautiful blend of attractions and activities, making it a fantastic place for families looking for a vacation spot on the Gulf of Mexico.
In November 1912, the Freeport Sulphur Company helped establish the town of Freeport as a European-American community. Because of this, it grew to become a vital railroad town with some of the greatest sulfur mines in the world.
Amazing, low-key Gulf Coast beaches have been a major draw to Freeport in recent years. The city has a suburban atmosphere, making it a wonderful place to raise a family if you need more room than you’d find in a bigger, more expensive city.
There are miles of scenic natural beaches in Freeport, perfect for lounging in the sun, swimming, fishing, seeing animals, camping, and picnicking. Quintana, Surfside, and Bryan Beach are some of the best in the vicinity.
If you need anything, stop by the shops in Freeport before heading to the shore since the region is tranquil and undeveloped. There is a speed restriction of 15 miles per hour for cars driving on the beach, so watch out if you have young children or want to nap in the sun.
Travel to any of these top beach towns and coastal cities in southeastern Texas when you’re ready to experience the Lone Star State’s laid-back, waterfront culture. They make awesome vacation destinations and places to live at any time of the year.