Texas's breakout destination is Galveston, a pretty, prosperous town on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico known for its beautiful historic district, amazing fried shrimp, beaches (including seven miles of new beach), and myriad family fun attractions.
Sail Away on a Cruise
Hit the Beach
Galveston has nearly 40 miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. The 17-foot-high seawall—built after a destructive 1900 hurricane—is a great place for a long stroll or bike ride. The kids will love Pleasure Pier with its carnival rides, midway games, shops, and food stalls.
Zip Down Some Waterslides
The 26-acre Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark has a retractable roof, which makes this indoor/outoor venue a sure bet no matter the weather.
Spy Some Frolicking Dolphins
The Gulf of Mexico is teeming with dolphins, and you'll see plenty on an affordable 45-minute cruise with BayWatch Dolphin Tours, a family-run operation that's been in business for over a decade. Departs every hour on the hour, 10am-5pm, from Pier 21.
Fill Up on Saltwater Taffy
In the historic downtown just a few blocks from the cruise terminal, La Kings Confectionary has a working 1920s soda fountain serving malts, shakes, ice cream sodas, sundaes, and other tasty treats. You can also watch them pull the best saltwater taffy in Galveston. (2323 Strand St., 409/762-6100)
Visit the Pyramids
Housed in pastel glass pyramids that might seem more at home in Vegas, Moody Gardens is a entertainment and educational complex that includes an aquarium, rainforest habitat with exotic animals, and 4D theater.