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Besides rowdy rodeos, mouth-watering barbecue, and sprawling green spaces, the city of Houston is blessed with being in a prime location. When you begin researching the best day trips from Houston, you’ll quickly realize a huge amount of options all within a very reasonable radius. Waterfalls, caves, theme parks, space museums — they’re all doable in a day. Heed our advice: resist the urge of another lazy Sunday and hop on one of the 11 coolest day trips from Houston.
Trips Under an Hour
Time: One hour
A waterfront community just southeast of Houston, Texas City is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Texas City Dike Levee is the world’s longest human-made pier, which runs for more than five miles and has areas for fishing and picnicking along the way. The sunsets here offer epic, unimpeded views of the water, sky, clouds, and sun. Texas City is also a great getaway for water sports, hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventure right on the Galveston Bay.
Pick Berries in Blessington Farms
Time: One hour
Blessington Farms presents a rare opportunity to inspire your blooming inner gardener. Pick your own fruits and vegetables, learn about best farming practices, and connect with the land. Consider tailoring your trip around seasonal produce. Visit in the fall for the impressive pumpkin collection or during the summer to forage for strawberries. Blessington Farms is a great option for birthday parties, field trips, and corporate events. Entrance is $20 if you want to take advantage of everything they offer, but you can also stroll through some areas for free.
Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens, Galveston Island
Time: One hour, 15 minutes
People from Houston like to brag that their city is within an hour of the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston Island, just southeast of Houston, is a super entertainment hub that offers an array of family-friendly activities. Stroll along Pleasure Pier and enjoy a range of rides, shops, and delicious restaurants. Alternatively, visit Moody Gardens, a theme park with three pyramids that feature an aquarium, a rainforest garden, and a discovery museum.
Johnson Space Center
Time: One hour
The Johnson Space Center is one of the major bases of NASA, the headquarters for the nation’s astronaut corps, and the base for many space station mission operations. Although it’s widely considered to be an overrun tourist trap among local Texans, a day trip here is a must-do. Whether you’re bringing your kid or just bringing out your inner kid, there are tons of interactive exhibits and educational panels that make this spot a gem for both avid space enthusiasts and more casual yet curious road-trippers.
San Jacinto Battleground
Time: 40 minutes
Just a quick 40-minute drive from Houston will bring you to one of the most historic and important monuments in the state. The San Jacinto Battleground is a treasure in Texas, effectively where independence was won after the battle of the Alamo. Here, you’ll find detailed historical accounts, an elevator that rises 489 feet up to the monument’s observation floor for a bird’s eye view, and a museum. Entrance to the museum is free but there’s a charge for heading up to the observation floor.
Brazos Bend State Park
Time: 50 minutes
Just 45 miles from downtown Houston lies a nature lover’s paradise. In Brazos Bend State Park you’re able to hike, bike, fish, geocache, picnic, and ride a horse all through some iconic Texas ecosystems. If time allows for a multi-day adventure, there are also spots for camping in the park. Although be warned: there are gators. If you stumble across one, back away slowly and don’t make any sudden movements (in fact, just give a quick read over this article on alligator safety).
Blue Bell Creamery, Brenham
Time: One hour
Located halfway between Houston and Austin, Brenham is a fun historic town with a friendly vibe, some great natural beauty, and four local wineries: Texas Star Winery, Saddlehorn Winery, Pleasant Hill Winery, and Windy Winery. However, no trip to Brenham would be complete without a tour of the famous Blue Bell Creamery. Discover how the Texas-based ice cream giant makes flavors like Southern Blackberry Cobbler, Moo-llennium Crunch, and Banana Pudding.
A Bit Farther, But Worth it
Eat Cajun Food in Lafayette, Louisiana
Time: Three hours
That’s right — the southern comfort cuisine of Louisiana is within a day trip of Houston. Even if you’re partial to Texas barbecue, any foodie needs to take the culinary pilgrimage to Louisiana. We’re talking crawfish, shrimp, andouille sausage, and mirepoix-based everything. Lafayette is three hours from Houston and here, you’ll find enough restaurants and food tours to keep your palate more than entertained for an afternoon.
Shangri La Botanical Gardens
Time: One hour, 40 minutes
If you’re keen on the idea of spending an afternoon surrounded by flowers, fountains, and rock gardens, you probably owe a visit to the Shangri La Botanical Gardens located just on Texas’ Louisiana border. Exhibits include seasonal gardens, wetland gardens, hanging gardens, fish ponds, and more.
Natural Bridge Caverns
Time: Three hours
How do you feel about crawling into a ballroom-sized cavern and covering yourself in mud? Good? Great. In the Natural Bridge Caverns you’ll descend 180 feet into otherworldly rock formations. It’s pretty built up, so outside you’ll find a ropes course and some food options (en route along your Culinary Trip of Texas Food), and inside you can hop on a tour to go mining for gems and fossils. Even though it’s three hours away just outside of San Antonio, if you leave early this is very doable in one day. Also, if caving is appealing to the adventure traveler in you, check out 10 Activities Every Adrenaline Junkie Needs to Try.
Dip in Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well (Three Hours)
Three hours west of Houston lies two of the state’s most breathtaking spots for swimming that can be paired into a one-day trip if done right. Hamilton Pool is a carved limestone cavern and 50-foot waterfall with refreshing water. Paid online reservations at $26 per car are now required, but it’s definitely worth it. Just south of Hamilton Pool is Jacob’s Well, an underwater cave and swimming hole where the water sparkles an aqua blue. If swimming and hot springs are your jam, discover the 7 Best Hot Springs in the U.S.