Beaches & Islands - 14 min read

15 Best Beaches in Texas for Families (Fun Activities For All Ages)

Angie Grier

Angie Grier, Updated October 1, 2022

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Texas is a large state bordered by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This state and its several offshore islands contain many popular beaches.

Of these beaches, the following fifteen are perfect for families. Each beach on the list offers something different to visitors, and parents can find exactly what they want for their next beach vacation. 

Families looking for a full beach experience with crowds and plenty of fun activities enjoy South Padre Island the best. For families that want their dogs to be a big part of their vacation, Surfside Beach provides plenty of activities for kids and their dogs. Rockport Beach is the cleanest beach in Texas with its pristine sand and clear waters. 

Families looking for a fantastic fishing experience love Boca Chica. Nature-loving families enjoy Padre Island National Seashore and Mustang Island State Park. Whatever families are looking for on their next beach vacation, Texas has it. 

1. South Padre Island

Credit: South Padre Island Bay, Anthony Acosta / Wikimedia

While South Padre Island has always been a popular Spring Break destination for college students, it is also a wonderful Spring Break destination for families with younger children.

The beach at South Padre Island does get crowded, but the north end of the beach is typically less crowded and busy. Families can enjoy the many opportunities for fun without having to mix with the crowds during the entire vacation. Families looking for a less crowded time of the year can also visit South Padre Island during the summers. 

The beaches of South Padre Island are pet friendly, so children can enjoy playing in the sand and surf with their furry family members.

Isla Blanca Park is one of the nicest parts of the beach with its concessions, wide sandy beach area, and the ease of booking boat tours for deep sea fishing or dolphin watching.

The nearby Beachpark Waterpark offers families some non-sandy fun with a zipline and several waterslides.

2. Padre Island National Seashore

Credit: Padre Island National Seashore / Wikimedia

The Padre Island National Seashore is an exceptional place for families to vacation. With more than seventy miles of undeveloped beaches, dunes, and tidal flats, kids enjoy exploring this pristine conservation area.

Children love to observe the many different birds found here, as well as the sea turtles that come onto the shore at certain times of the year. 

Beachcombing on the Big Shell and Little Shell Beaches are very fun activities for kids and adults of all ages. In addition, the Malaquite Swimming Beach is the place to go when park rangers host baby sea turtles releases and conservation programs geared towards educating kids.

This national park also has a paved Grasslands Nature Trail where kids can explore an unspoiled area to see what it looked like hundreds of years ago. This scenic and untouched area allows kids and their parents to connect with nature and appreciate what it has to offer.

Related Read: 25 BEST Things To Do in Dallas, TX With Kids

3. Boca Chica

Credit: Boca Chica Dunes, Senorelroboto / Wikimedia

Boca Chica is a laid-back, relaxing beach perfect for families who want to escape the crowds of busier beaches. Its lack of amenities is more than made up for by its beautiful, sandy beaches.

Families enjoy packing a picnic basket and spending the day at this beach. Swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters of Boca Chica are fun activities for kids.

Surf fishing at this beach is also a fun pastime for kids and adults. Because this beach is located next to where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf, abundant fish are found here. 

Visitors to this state park’s secluded and rustic beach can sometimes see Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles crawling on shore to lay their eggs. Many beautiful shorebirds are found here, and people enjoy watching them as they stroll along the beach looking for shells and shark teeth. Boca Chica is the perfect place for a quiet family beach vacation. 

4. South Packery Channel Beach

Credit: Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle, Texas, USEPA / Wikimedia

The South Packery Channel Beach, also known as South Packery Jetty Beach, provides a serene place for families to enjoy a beach vacation.

Children enjoy playing in the shallow surf of this beach and building sandcastles in the pristine white sands on the shore. Because this beach attracts fewer tourists than many other beaches, families have plenty of space to spread out. 

In addition to swimming and boogie boarding at South Packery Channel Beach, fishing from the jetty is very popular here. Anglers never know what fish species they may catch each day, making this an exciting place to fish.

Kids love to see what fishermen pull out of the water, and they enjoy fishing themselves. Sea turtles can also often be seen in the water here, sometimes sitting on a rock. This beach makes an excellent place for families to hang out.

5. Mustang Island State Park

Credit: Beach at Mustang Island State Park, Jonathan Cutrer / Wikimedia

Mustang Island State Park is a beautiful barrier island close to Corpus Christi, Texas. This island’s beach provides an excellent place for active families to enjoy spending time together.

Swimming, surfing, and sunbathing are popular activities here, as well as wildlife watching. From the beach, visitors can often see many shorebirds, dolphins, and sea turtles. 

In addition to the beach activities, this state park has twenty miles of hiking trails for families to explore. Families that enjoy paddling activities can go paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking through the Park’s Paddling Trail.

This trail contains twenty miles of shallow-water canals that provide many opportunities for people to get up close to wildlife. Camping is available at this state park and families can spend a night or two being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves.

6. Port Aransas Beach

Credit: Visit Port Aransas / Facebook


Port Aransas Beach is located on Mustang Island, not far from the Mustang Island State Park. This beach is typically far more crowded than the beaches of the state park because it offers far more amenities.

At Port Aransas Beach, well-maintained restrooms and outdoor showers are available for beachgoers. This beach is conveniently located near many local restaurants, hotels, and rental vacation homes that can accommodate a variety of family vacation budgets. 

The beach sand at Port Aransas is a perfect blend of sand, clay, and silt, which makes it very easy to pack together. Children and adults enjoy building sandcastles at this beach. Because of this unique sand, every year at this beach, the Texas Sandfest is held here.

This weekend’s sand sculpture competition draws thousands of visitors who enjoy watching people compete to create amazing art. This beach provides families with an idyllic place to spend their vacation.

Related Read: 20 BEST Things To Do in Waco, TX With Kids

7. Rockport Beach

Credit: Rockport Beach in the Morning, dwh1974@hotmail.com / Wikimedia

Rockport Beach is the cleanest beach in Texas and is the first to be recognized as a “Blue Wave Beach” certified by the Clean Beaches Coalition. To keep this beach clean, people are not permitted to take pets, camp, set off fireworks, build fires, or drive cars here.

The shallow waters of the shoreline provide a fun place for kids to swim. Because of its location on Aransas Bay, Rockport Beach does not commonly have undertows or large waves, making this a safe place for kids to swim.  

Palapas are spread out along the shoreline, providing shade to those who want it. Amenities at Rockport Beach include picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. 4

The jetty here provides people with an excellent place to fish or stroll. Parking at this beach is only $5 so this is an affordable place for families to spend the day.

8. Crystal Beach

Credit: Bolivar Point Lighthouse, darlingtrk / Wikimedia

Crystal Beach provides a fun, secluded place for beachgoers to hang out. A ferry from Galveston is required to access this beach, so that discourages huge crowds from visiting. But Crystal Beach is famous for its party-like atmosphere.

Visitors to this beach can drive onto the beach after paying a $10 fee and set up camp just like they would set up for a tailgate party. Families mix and mingle together, set up grills and bonfires, and set off beachside fireworks.

People at this beach love to swim and fish here. Kids enjoy hunting for shells and hermit crabs along the shoreline. The nearby Bolivar Point lighthouse has an interesting history. While it is not open to the public, historical markers around the lighthouse help tell its story.

In addition, families can visit the nearby Fun Spot Waterslide for some inexpensive fun. Most people go for an hour to cool down with some waterslide fun while enjoying the delicious concessions at the park. 

9. North Beach / Corpus Christi Beach

Credit: North Beach Corpus Christi / Facebook

The big city of Corpus Christi has a great family beach within its city limits. North Beach, sometimes referred to as Corpus Christi Beach, requires visitors to cross the Harbor Bridge to reach it.

Once there, people will find a 1.5-mile-long beach that provides an excellent place for kids to swim in gentle waves or for people to go fishing.

Close to the beach are two popular places for families to visit. The first is the Texas State Aquarium, where a huge tank habitat contains numerous sharks and a jungle exhibit displays plants and animals from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

The second is the historically significant USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a naval museum. With so many amazing things to see in one place, families should take time to visit North Beach. 

10. Galveston Island East Beach

Credit: Galveston Seawall / Facebook

Galveston Island is a fun place for families to vacation. East Beach on Galveston Island is the largest and prettiest of the beaches on Galveston Island.

Many families enjoy visiting this beach to play in the surf and sand and experience some of the many activities hosted here each year. The waves at this beach are perfect for kids to swim or boogie board and the sand provides an excellent place to build sand castles.

Concerts and festivals at East Beach each summer draw thousands of tourists. In addition, a sandcastle competition occurs here every summer.

Next to East Beach at Stewart Beach, kids can take sandcastle lessons and build up their skills before entering the East Beach sandcastle competition.

The nearby amusement park, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, contains a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, and more for some awesome family thrills.

Related Read: 23 BEST Kid-Friendly Restaurants In San Antonio

11. Surfside Beach

Credit: Blue Pelican at Surfside Beach, Texas / Facebook

Surfside Beach is about an hour’s drive from Houston. This small beach town attracts people who enjoy the clean beach and soft sand.

The waves at this beach are stronger than many of the other beaches on this list, but that makes them ideal for surfing, windsurfing, and kayaking.

The fishing jetty at this beach provides an ideal place for families to catch some fish and a crabbing pier is a great place for families to catch some dinner. The splash pad located near the jetty gives small children a safe place to play in the water.

Although Surfside Beach is widely recognized for being a clean beach, dogs, campfires, and vehicles are permitted on the sand. In addition, horses are also allowed on the beach and guided horseback riding tours in the area are offered.

Picnic tables, grills, and free parking make this beach an excellent place for families to spend a day catching and then cooking their dinner.

12. Matagorda Bay Nature Park

Credit: Matagorda Bay Nature Park (Matagorda, TX) / Facebook

Matagorda Bay Nature Park has two beautiful miles of sandy beaches in serene surroundings. Families that travel to this beach look for a quiet place to reconnect with nature and avoid the crowds of people that normally vacation at the beach.

At Matagorda Bay, people can swim in the calm waters or sunbathe on the sand. People rent beach equipment they need from the park such as paddleboards, chairs, umbrellas, and beach wagons. 

Visitors fish off the beach where the Colorado River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Many people ride horses along the beach and into the water at Matagorda Bay Nature Park. Families camp here during the summers and many picnic sites are available throughout the park.

Hiking trails through the sand dunes and coastal marshes give people an opportunity to see plenty of shorebirds and other wildlife. Exploring this extensive natural area will keep kids entertained and allow them to connect with and learn more about the natural world.

13. San Jose Island

Credit: Beachcombing on San Jose Island / Facebook

San Jose Island is a privately-owned island with a public beach that receives ferry service from Port Aransas. Cars are not permitted on this island and there are no amenities like restrooms or running water available for visitors. However, this island is a spectacular place for families to visit.

The beach at San Jose is the only place visitors are permitted to visit on this pristine coastline. People wade at this beach, but children should be cautious about swimming because waves can be large. Surfers enjoy the large waves at San Jose Island.  

People visit San Jose Island because it is one of the best beaches for beachcombing. Shells of all kinds, including rare types, can be found in the sand. Fishing off the jetty is also hugely popular and draws many people here.

The water is so clear at times that fish, stingrays, and turtles can be seen swimming. For a unique beach experience, families should check out San Jose Island.

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Corpus Christi

14. Magnolia Beach

Credit: Magnolia Beach, TX, Patrick Schubert / Facebook

Magnolia Beach, located in Port Lavaca, has a cool, laid-back vibe where people go to get off the beaten path for a while. Families can drive onto the beach with their trucks and campers and set up camp for free for up to two weeks.

Public restrooms and outdoor showers are available. Many people bring small generators to power their campsite and set up elaborate grilling stations for cooking. Others have more simple setups for camping and covered picnic areas are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The shallow water on this natural shell beach is an excellent place for kids to wade. This is also a popular place for anglers to surf fish.

Because this is a shell beach, playing in the sand is not an option, so a playground and volleyball court give kids other places to play at this beach.

Families love this beach because it forces everyone to slow down and take it easy, enjoying the time they have with each other. 

15. Lighthouse Beach

Credit: The Splash Pad at Lighthouse Beach, City of Port Lavaca / Facebook

Lighthouse Beach, similar to Magnolia Beach, is also located in Port Lavaca. This sandy shoreline gives older kids and adults a place to swim.

Because the waves here can be large, smaller children may not enjoy swimming at this beach, but they do enjoy playing in the sand. Younger children can play safely in the water at the splash pad available at this beach. 

In addition to swimming, this beach is also a bird sanctuary. Visitors often stroll the Formosa Wetlands Walkway that borders this beach to see the many species that reside here. They also climb the Alcoa Birding Tower to get a better bird’s eye view of the area.

An RV campground at this beach provides a great place for families on a small budget to get a full beach vacation without the crazy crowds at bigger resort beaches.

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