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8 Best Beaches in Texas for Families (In 2023)

Best Beaches in Texas for Families

If you live in or plan on visiting Texas, you know the area is beautiful and warm, with lots of desert sand and sprawling plains. However, Texas is also a surprisingly great place to swim, and the best beaches in Texas for families can give you, your partner, and your children a fun place to swim and hang out and the chance to meet others in a relaxing environment. 

In this article, we're going to give you an in-depth look at the best beaches in Texas for families and highlight what makes them so unique. We'll give you the inside scoop on each of these beaches, including the lakes on which they sit, where you can find them, and if there are fun activities in the area that you and your family can enjoy while you're checking out the beach. 

The idea behind this article is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the many unique and engaging beaches available in Texas. After all, it's a big state, and it's easy to miss out on these amazing and unique destinations. With our help, it should be easier for you to narrow down your options and identify a beach that fits into your family's travel plans. 

Our Methodology for Selecting the Best Beaches in Texas for Families

Now, our articles are always better than a random listicle because we take our research very seriously. We're not just randomly selecting the best beaches in Texas for families but have dug deep into various review sites, checked out photos, and worked long and hard to find the answers for you. In other words, we do the hard work for you so that you don't have to do it.

Our research typically works in a multi-pronged format. We start by identifying several beaches in Texas that families may enjoy, including identifying their location, overall feel, amenities, things to do, and pet policy. If available, we'll discuss the parking situation and let you know if there are any fees. In this way, you should feel comfortable stopping by for a visit. 

Once we identified multiple beaches that we thought deserved to be on our list, we narrowed down our options by quality and carefully picked and ranked those that we thought were worth your time. Frankly, it took us more time to research this article than it did to write it because we're obsessed with making sure that you get the most accurate information possible. 

As a result, our list is the most accurate and detailed available and includes information that will make choosing a family-friendly beach easier for you. Please read through each entry on this list carefully, talk with your family, and choose a beach that you'd like to try out. Note that some of these beaches may be near each other, meaning you can hit a few in a single day!

List of Family-Friendly Beaches in Texas

The following best beaches in Texas for families should provide you with hours of fun and help your children learn to enjoy spending time outdoors away from electronic devices. Swimming is one of those activities that you can enjoy at any age, especially if you like tanning or getting in some deep stretching exercises. Let's not waste any more time but dive right into our list of the best beaches in Texas for families to help you make the right choice for your needs.

8. Lighthouse Beach 

At a Glance 

  • Location: Port Lavaca (southeast of San Antonio and southwest of Houston on the Gulf of Mexico)
  • Parking: Free parking near the entrance (limited spaces)
  • Atmosphere: Fairly natural, with a well-maintained coast with access to nearby amenities
  • Amenities: Hookups, laundry facilities, shower rooms, and a playground (at the nearby campsite)
  • Things to Do: Indianola Fishing Marina, Calhoun County Museum, La Salle Monument
  • Pet Policy: None allowed (unlike Magnolia Beach)


Lighthouse Beach just makes our list for a few simple reasons. First, while it's a fairly small beach, it has a well-maintained look and clean water that Port Lavaca keeps looking great. This small town isn't a major tourist destination, meaning it's pretty easy for you to find a place to hang out without fighting for space. There's also plenty to do on the beach as well. 

For example, reviews on Tripadvisor state that there's a beautiful pier where you can hang out with your family, a gazebo where you can sit and have a picnic, and plenty of fishing, swimming, and relaxing in the area. While not the most exciting option on our list, we think it's more than worth considering if you're interested in the best beaches in Texas for families.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

The low-key atmosphere of this beach and its smaller scale makes it a great option for families that want to relax in a cozy and welcoming environment. There are many accommodations in the area that may work well for your family, such as La Quinta by Wyndham and Brand New RV Bay Front, which vary in price from about $90 to $133, depending on the option.

7. Stewart Beach

Stewart Beach

At a Glance 

  • Location: Southeast of Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico
  • Parking: $15 per day or $50 for yearly entry
  • Atmosphere: Mostly relaxing (though nearby attractions may entertain your kids:
  • Amenities: Active beach patrol, restrooms, well-maintained sand, cooking pits
  • Things to Do: Nearby pier-based amusement park, swimming options, fun projects
  • Pet Policy: Pet friendly in some areas (must be kept on leashes)


Stewart Beach is one of the best beaches in Texas for families for a few reasons. First, it combines a more rural atmosphere in some areas (with lots of wilderness to explore) with big-city fun, like an amusement park. It's also not far from Seawall Urban Park, East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve, and other fun destinations that your kids will love.

Another reason we love this beach is that it staffs plenty of lifeguards along its length to keep your children safe. If you have very little ones or kids who can't swim, knowing that there are trained individuals nearby should help you feel more relaxed and comfortable. Not every beach in Texas has lifeguards like these, so it's a great idea to visit here to keep your children safe.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

Like the rest of the best beaches in Texas for families, Stewart Beach has many cool amenities and exciting activities that make it worth visiting. Even better, if you don't feel like roughing it (many kids don't enjoy camping in tents), you can stay at hotels or Vrbo rental options in nearby Galveston to enjoy a little more comfort. Expect prices between $56-150 in this area.

6. Surfside Beach

Surfside Beach

At a Glance 

  • Location: Freeport (south of Houston and west of Galveston right on the Gulf of Mexico)
  • Parking: $12 beach permit
  • Atmosphere: Busy with plenty of water-sport activities
  • Amenities: Stahlman Park Event Center, dressing rooms and restrooms, dance floor options
  • Things to Do: Swimming, surfing, Trunk or Treat, Christmas celebrations, other holiday events
  • Pet Policy: Pet friendly (dogs on leashes)


Surfside Beach is the kind of place that most people wish was open to them all year round. It has many unique activities and amenities that make it a popular place not just for visitors but residents. For instance, the annual Christmas celebration brings in many surfing Santa impersonators that should give your little ones a unique and exciting thrill.

Even better, this busy beach gives your kids the chance to meet new friends and build their social skills by interacting with people they've never met. That kind of practice is a great benefit for little ones who may be shy. Even better, you won't have to worry about them needing to "go" because there are restrooms nearby. Not every Texas beach has that amenity!

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

Though always rather busy, Surfside Beach is well-maintained and very safe. As it's so close to Freeport, it also provides you with the chance to check out this fun and engaging city. Try one of the many Airbnb or hotel rental options in this area to visit in comfort. These cost between $50 to $200, depending on the quality of the venue. Often, Airbnb provides lower prices with some good amenities, such as enhanced privacy.

5. Rockport Beach


At a Glance 

  • Location: Rockport (on a small peninsula that juts into Aransas Bay)
  • Parking: $10 a day for the whole day
  • Atmosphere: Busy, modern, more urban
  • Amenities: Saltwater pool, BBQ pits, freshwater showers, volleyball courts, beach cabanas
  • Things to Do: Swim, hike, play volleyball, hang out in play areas, hold a beach-side cookout
  • Pet Policy: No pets allowed


Some of the beaches on this list are hidden secrets, but Rockport Beach is a popular and well-known summer destination. It's one of the best-maintained beaches in Texas, with clean sand, a family-friendly vibe, and camping options that may work for you and your kids. It's always very busy, which might not be to everyone's tastes, so be prepared for that.

That said if you want to have fun meeting new friends, enjoying the modern amenities of Rockport, the town, and plan on making the beach just part of your daily activities, try out this option. While you can hang out in the sand all day when visiting here, many people tend to drift in and out and check out the many restaurants and activities available in the area.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

If your children want a busier and more exciting beach experience, try Rockport. It's a fun and exciting modern beach that you could probably spend days playing at if you wanted. Note that there are multiple Airbnb and hotel options in the area. Costs are typically around $110 per night, though you can find some cheaper options closer to $70, depending on the season.

4. Matagorda Beach 

At a Glance 

  • Location: Matagorda (close to the Gulf of Mexico between Corpus Christi and Houston)
  • Parking: Free at nearby Jetty Park (you'll need to walk to get to the beach)
  • Atmosphere: Busy with lots of people and activities
  • Amenities: Beach vehicle permits, fishing spots, kayaking options, paddling trails
  • Things to Do: Swimming, surfing, riding beach vehicles, cleaning up the beach
  • Pet Policy: Free to dogs on leashes


If you want a more modern beach experience for kids who are a little afraid of spending time outdoors, try Matagorda Beach. It's not too far from Matagorda, a comfortable and relaxing town with plenty of exciting things to do. The beach itself is also fairly modern and includes multiple activities, such as kayak and paddling trails and fun fishing experiences. 

Once here, your kids can enjoy swimming, exploring the dunes with you, hanging out at nearby Jetty Park on the playground, and much more. Note that the beach itself is still fairly isolated and natural, though it does get pretty busy. As one of the most popular beaches in the region, it's no surprise that you'll likely make some new friends while hanging out here.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

The more modern style and proximity to Matagorda make this a great place to take your children because it's safe and exciting. As for accommodations, Matagorda has multiple vacation rental options from Airbnb, including cabins, homes, and apartments that you can use to stay in comfort. These cost between $40 to $200 a night, depending on where you stay.

3. Boca Chica Beach

At a Glance 

  • Location: Brownsville (very close to the tip of Texas near the Mexican border)
  • Parking: Free parking (though lots fill up quickly)
  • Atmosphere: Safe, busy, well-maintained (includes lifeguard-protected areas)
  • Amenities: Gorgeous landscapes, beautiful hiking trails, various animals (birds, jellyfish, etc.)
  • Things to Do: Palo Alto Battlefield, Gladys Porter Zoo, Sabal Palm Sanctuary
  • Pet Policy: Pet-friendly (dogs on leashes)


Boca Chica Beach is a popular and open beach that doesn't have a ton of modern amenities (there are no restaurants, outlets, or restaurants, so be prepared!) that welcomes dozens of visitors every year. Even without modern amenities, this is a great family-friendly beach because your kids will be able to play in the sand, swim, and even build sandcastles without distractions.

It's important to note that this area does have a high population of jellyfish. While not aggressive, they do have stingers that could hurt your children. Tell them to avoid these creatures and avoid grabbing them if they see them on the beach. Mostly, jellyfish are noticeable deeper in the water, so your kids should be safe for the most part.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

With a cozy, natural, and relaxing environment, you and your partner can relax in comfort while your children enjoy playing on a beach with little to no modern distractions. There are campgrounds in the area, but most people prefer to stay at places like Wyndham Brownsville or Residence Inn Brownsville, which include pools, hot tubs, and much more.

2. Padre Island National Seashore

At a Glance 

  • Location: Off the coast of Corpus Christi
  • Parking: $15 standard entrance pass
  • Atmosphere: Well-maintained and comfortable
  • Amenities: Campsites, visitor centers, safety guidelines, accessible designs
  • Things to Do: Ranger-led learning programs, birding, fishing, canoeing, stargazing, swimming
  • Pet Policy: Pet-friendly (with leashes of up to six feet)


Padre Island National Seashore is another beach just off the shore of Corpus Christi. This small island provides a truly unique experience and access to many beautiful beaches that your kids will love. In spite of its isolated nature, this park is very well maintained by friendly rangers who will make sure that you're comfortable and relaxed while visiting this area.

One thing that we truly love about this beach is its Junior Ranger program. Kids who attend not only get a Junior Ranger badge but can also visit the Every Kids Outdoors site to learn more about the fun of swimming and spending time outdoors. Programs like these make Padre Island National Shoreline a great place for kids, parents, and everyone in between.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

We love this beach because it's one of the best maintained in the state, the water is clean and clear, and the amenities are great. It's the kind of state park and beach that kids will love, especially if they enjoy dogs. While we think it's best to camp in the park to get the most out of your experience, there are accommodations in Corpus Christi that cost about $80-100.

1. Mustang Island State Park

At a Glance 

  • Location: Port Aransas (on Mustang Island east of Corpus Christi Bay) 
  • Parking: $10 for a daily pass
  • Atmosphere: Isolated and personalized (due to its location on Mustang Island)
  • Amenities: Paddling, picnic shelters, swimming, trails, guided tours, hot showers, toilets
  • Things to Do: Swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, Geocaching
  • Pet Policy: Welcomes pets


Mustang Island State Park is the best option for beaches in Texas for families for a few reasons. First, it's on Mustang Island, a unique and engaging area that you can explore with your kids. There are plenty of fun places to visit, shop, and hang out in Port Aransas and other towns on the island. However, the beach itself is gorgeous, well-maintained, safe, and welcoming.

Reviews on Tripadvisor are very positive and discuss how easy it is to relax on the beach, how gorgeous the sunrise looks every day, and how fun it is to see cranes, seagulls, and sandpipers hanging out on the beach. While the Wi-Fi isn't great here, that's not a big deal. We strongly suggest this beach if you want a truly out-of-the-way experience for your little ones.

Why This Beach is One of the Best for Families

We love this option for families because traveling to Mustang Island will feel like an adventure to your kids. Islands have a mystery and allure that your little ones will love! Furthermore, the beach and campsite are simply the most welcoming in Texas. As for accommodations, you can either camp in the park in modern or primitive sites or book a hotel at places like Best Western, Ocean's Edge, and The Place Hotel for prices between about $81 to $120 a night.

Be Ready for a Unique Experience

As this is the best beach for families in Texas, we think it's important to emphasize it's rather outdoor, rural nature. Though it's not far from cities on Mustang Island, it's way more rugged than similar beaches in Texas. As a result, you need to prepare your kids for this difference before they visit. Talk with them about how Mustang Island includes a more isolated atmosphere and get their feelings on this experience. Many kids may fall in love with the idea, while others may struggle, so be open to their suggestions and listen to your own gut instinct about their capabilities.


What is the prettiest beach in Texas?

Though there are many gorgeous beaches in Texas, we had to select Bryan Beach as the prettiest in the state. Its beautiful coastline is long well-maintained, and the view of the sea is basically unparalleled at any other beach in the state.

What is the safest beach in Texas?

South Padre Island Beach is one of the safest beaches in Texas because the water quality is excellent (minimum pollution), the coast is easily accessible (no difficulty getting to swim), and the water takes a long time to get deep, minimizing drowning risks.

Are Texas beaches swimmable?

Most Texas beaches are very swimmable, meaning that they're safe, easy to access, and usually open to the public. Note that there are some private beaches or even unsafe beaches that might not be swimmable and should be avoided.

Are Texas beaches free?

The Texas Open Beaches Act was passed by the Texas State Legislature to give the public free and unrestricted access to beaches. This includes what is known as the "wet beach" or the water line to the mean high tide. However, the land access to beaches may not be free.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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