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12 Best Family Vacations in Texas

See recent posts by Amanda Geronikos

Want to explore an Old West town? Texas has many. Thinking about a trip to the beach? Texas has those, too. A national park? Yup, Texas even has one of those… not to mention some of the country”s most popular cities, amusement parks (including the world”s only amusement park for those with special needs), museums, and everything in between. The food, of course, also adds to the appeal for family getaways in Texas, with chicken fried steaks that fill up entire plates and authentic Mexican delicacies galore.

Consider one of these Texas family getaways for your next vacation with kids.

1. South Padre Island

South Padre Island provides plenty of opportunities to get out on the water during your Texas getaway, from dolphin tours to pirate cruises. Other highlights include Sea Turtle, Inc., a rehabilitation center for injured turtles; a Schlitterbahn Beach Resort, with an indoor and outdoor water park; and South Padre Island Adventure Park, for horseback riding, zip-lining and more. Vacation rentals are extremely popular in South Padre, adding to the appeal for a Texas family vacation.

Recommended Hotel: Schlitterbahn Beach Resort

Dallas Texas

2. Dallas

Dallas is an ultra-modern city (especially when compared with other popular Texas tourism areas), offering something to please each person in your family. Your youngest will like the Dallas Firefighters Museum and Children”s Theater, while teens will beg to visit Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor. The whole family will enjoy Sandy Lane Park, complete with mini-golf, boat rides and more. Also check out the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and Dallas Heritage Village—the amazing architecture and scenery, alone, are worth a visit during your Texas family getaway.

Recommended Dallas Hotel: Embassy Suites Hotel Dallas Park Central Area

San Antonio Texas

3. San Antonio

San Antonio is absolutely charming and, hands down, one of the best Texas getaways you can take with kids. You could spend an entire family vacation exploring the River Walk, a labyrinth of pathways with stores and delicious restaurants (make a reservation at Boudro”s) along the San Antonio River! But there”s much more to this historic Texas city, including the Alamo and other missions that were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015; Six Flags Fiesta Texas; SeaWorld San Antonio; The DoSeum, a children”s museum that”s also fun for adults; and Morgan”s Wonderlandhe world’s only amusement park designed for children with special needs and their families.

Looking for a place to stay? See San Antonio Family Hotels.

Recommended San Antonio Hotel: Omni San Antonio at the Colonnade

Grapevine Texas

4. Grapevine

Just 10 minutes from Dallas Forth Worth International Airport, Grapevine is authentic Texas at its best. It’s also convenient for a long layover in Dallas or those considering a short Texas getaway.

The town’s Main Street has cafes, boutiques and wine tasting rooms (hence the name), plus a weekly farmer”s market and other events — particularly at Christmas. In fact, Grapevine is the Christmas Capital of Texas, with 1,400 events events hosted each November and December—including train rides with Santa on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad! Also unique to this Texas destination is its glockenspiel, which features a show performed by life-like (animatronic) characters four times daily.

Recommended Grapevine Hotel: Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine

Fort Worth Texas

5. Fort Worth

Fort Worth, Texas, is famous for the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District, where cobblestone streets lead to the oldest continually running livestock show in the U.S.; the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame; the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame; and Fort Worth restaurants serving melt-in-your-mouth barbecue and other local delicacies. You”ll also find boutiques and souvenir stores within the stockyards. Other things to do during your Texas family getaway in Fort Worth include visiting the Vintage Flying Museum.

Recommended Fort Worth Hotel: Stockyards Hotel

6. Big Bend National Park

We bet you didn’t know there’s a national park in Texas! Big Bend National Park is one of the best Texas getaways for families. Enjoy the scenery with a drive, hike or bike ride before cooling off at Hot Springs Historic District, located on the Rio Grande River. The landmark was formerly a health resort for those who sought the help of the natural springs, and some of the buildings still stand. Other things to do in Big Bend National Park include kayaking, ranger-led tours, and Junior Ranger programs for kids. Stick around for the stargazing at night.

Recommended Big Bend National Park Hotel: Wildhorse Station

Amarillo Texas

7. Amarillo

If your kids liked Cars, they’ll also like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, an artistic collection of overturned cars covered in graffiti! They might also enjoy the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum. Both attractions are located within the Route 66 Historic District — the main attraction people seek in Amarillo, popular for scenic drives and window shopping at antique stores. Amarillo, Texas, is also home to a small amusement park (Wonderland Park) and water park called Splash Amarillo.

Recommended Amarillo Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Amarillo West

Galveston Texas

8. Galveston Island

Galveston Island isn’t just for pre- or post-cruise stays. One of the best vacations in Texas on a budget, the barrier island, situated on the Gulf of Mexico, has plenty to fill a Texas family vacation, such as Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark and the Galveston Railroad Museum, not to mention the beach! Head to The Strand for a bite to eat and some souvenir shopping.

Recommended Galveston Island Hotel: Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel

Houston Texas

9. Houston

The Houston Museum District beckons families to visit all of the city’s museums are located in one place, making it easy and efficient to walk from place to place on your Texas family getaway. Museums include the Children”s Museum of Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science; the Houston Zoo is also located in the museum district. Other Houston vacation highlights for families include the Cockrell Butterfly Center and the quirky National Museum of Funeral History.

Recommended Houston Hotel: Hyatt Regency Houston

Austin Texas

10. Austin

Not only is Austin hip, but it’s also beautiful — the rolling hills just beyond city limits are worthy of a driving tour or overnight stay at one of the luxurious resorts tucked into the landscape. Other must-sees are Lady Bird Lake, where you can hike, bike or boat; The Thinkery, a children’s museum; and of course, a concert! Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, after all.

Recommended Austin Hotel: Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Port Aransas, Texas; Courtesy of Visit Port Aransas & Mustang Island

11. Port Aransas

If you enjoy camping and the beach, you’ll love Port Aransas, where you can combine the best of both worlds with beach camping at Mustang Island State Park. Spend your days building sandcastles on the beach or dropping a line, and come nighttime, take a pirate-themed cruise with Red Dragon Pirate Cruises before having a delicious seafood dinner.

Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN Port Aransas

Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas

12. Waco

Magnolia Market offers kid-friendly diversions, so why not make a Texas family getaway out of your shopping trip? Other things to do in Waco with kids include the Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, and Hawaiian Falls, a small water park. Downtown Waco is also fun to explore.

Recommended Hotel: Homewood Suites by Hilton Waco Texas

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