Top Texas Summer Vacation Spots

From the beaches to San Antonio, there's lots to do

Summer is a favorite time to visit Texas. And the Lone Star State is full of great and varied places to spend your summer vacation. If you're looking for a vacation by the water, you'll find it in Texas, from the Gulf Coast to inland lakes and rivers. Landlocked summer vacation spots feature theme parks, water parks, history, and Texas-style good eating with an abundance of authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants and renowned barbecue, along with serious culinary scenes in Houston, Austin, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

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    South Padre Island Welcome Sign
    ••• Danno Wise

    South Padre Island, Texas' southernmost beach destination, has a semi-tropical climate, miles of white sand beach, and clear-green beachfront waters. The island has a number of condos, hotels, shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark and several other attractions. Just across Laguna Madre Bay is the historic town of Port Isabel. And a short drive away is the city of Brownsville and across the border, Matamoros, Mexico. Between fishing, swimming, surfing, ​windsurfing, jet skiing, beachcombing, birding, shopping, and just relaxing, there is more than enough to fill out a full week of summer vacation on South Padre Island.

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    Covering just over 1,400 acres, which include 10 acres of river frontage along the Frio River, Garner State Park is one of the most popular summer destinations for Texans and visitors to Texas alike. Hands down, the river is the draw. The park is a prime spot for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, snorkeling, or just cooling off. Aside from the river, Garner State Park offers hiking, birding, and nature watching. The majority of visitors to Garner State Park stay overnight, either in rental cabins or in tent camping sites.

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    Conveniently located within an hour's drive of Houston, Galveston Island offers visitors a perfect getaway for a weekend or longer. In addition to miles of beaches, Galveston features a great number of unique shops, many set in the historic Strand District. Strolling along the famous Galveston Seawall is also an entertaining and relaxing way to spend time. Galveston is also home to a number of restaurants, hotels, and condos. And there are several interesting attractions on the island, like Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Moody Gardens, as well as historic landmarks such as the Bishops Palace.

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    Centrally located along the middle Texas coast in the region known as the Coastal Bend, Corpus Christi has long been a favorite summer vacation spot for visitors to Texas. With part of the city situated on the mainland along the western shore of Corpus Christi Bay and the other part located on North Padre Island, Corpus Christi gives visitors a wide variety of beach options. It also is home to some of the state's top attractions, like the Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington. Corpus Christi also features a number of restaurants and clubs as well as a bevy of hotels and condos.

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    San Antonio is the Lone Star State's most popular vacation destination year-round. Summer is certainly no different. In addition to its most renowned attractions, the Alamo and the River Walk, San Antonio features several summer attractions, the most prominent one being  Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

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    Located on the tip of North Padre Island, Port Aransas is a quaint island community with an interesting array of unique restaurants and shops to complement its miles of pristine beaches. One of the highlights of a visit to Port Aransas is the ferry ride across to the island, which helps set the tone for a relaxing vacation experience.