GALVESTON, TEXAS-- Texans tend to take beaches their beaches for granted. Ask about them and you'll likely get a reply of something like this: "Of course we have beaches; we've got everything." The state does indeed have almost everything when it comes to beaches and beach resorts. With 3,300 miles of shoreline along the Gulf Coast, there is something for every beach lover. What makes Texas beaches so attractive is not only the variety, but access to terrific fishing, family activities, relatively small crowds, and unbelievably low prices for accommodations. Here's a list of sandy spots to consider for your next trip to the Lone Star State.
Now that Spring Break has ended, this is a great spot to start your beach explorations of the state. Much of the Texas coast is protected by barrier islands, creating a shallow bay between the island and the mainland that is ideal for sport fishing. The beaches are on the outer side of these islands. South Padre is one such barrier island.
Access to this narrow spit of land is at Port Isabel, via the Queen Isabella Causeway. Accommodations on the island itself include campgrounds and a string of chain hotels, all with rooms around the $100 mark, even in the height of the season, making South Padre one of the hottest beaches deals almost anywhere. If chain hotels aren't your thing, consider a vacation rental. You will find anything from tiny beach cottages to high-rise condos.
Besides the beach itself, there's horseback riding among the dunes, bird watching, and off-shore fishing charters.
Mustang Island and Port Aransas
Further up the coast, the Mustang Island State Park near Corpus Christi has forty-eight campsites with water and electricity, just over the dunes from the gulf. The park offers twenty miles of paddling trails on the bay side of the island.
There are a handful of hotels near the park, all in the $100 range.
A little farther north is "Port A," as Texans like to call their favorite beach destination for RV'ing. But don’t fret if you don’t have a rig of your own-- the mega-resorts like
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If you like your beaches far-removed from the crowds, Matagorda may be your spot. About two hours southwest of Houston, the activities here are all about enjoying nature, including birding to fishing. The number one attraction is miles of clean, uncrowded sand. Accommodations include a handful of vacation rentals and RV parks.
After taking a direct hit from Hurricane Ike in 2008, Galveston Island underwent major reconstruction and now has more fun than ever before. Whether you are extending a cruise departing from Galveston or planning a complete vacation on the island, Galveston has plenty to do. The beaches are clean, the seafood is fresh, and the hotels plentiful. Prices here tend to be a little higher than in other Texas beach communities, but still well below the $200 mark at the upper end, with options in the $100 and under category year-round.
Must-see attractions include the aquarium at Moody Gardens, slated to open at the end of the month following a complete makeover, the 1892 Bishop's Palace, and the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa. Galveston also has its own Schlitterbahn Waterpark, as well. And don't forget the Historic Pleasure Pier, which is essentially a re-incarnation of the pier that stood at the site from 1943 through 1961.
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