Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Check Out Moon Shots, Hot Beaches & Cultural Collections Along The Texas Gulf Coast
When it comes to great beach destinations, Texas isn’t always the first to come to mind. Barbecue, yes; bikinis, no. However, the truth is that the Gulf Coast region offers almost 1,000 kilometres of sparkling coastline, dotted with quaint seaside towns.
As you explore this region, you’ll encounter natural wonders that you don’t expect from Texas, like the Padre Island National Seashore, which boasts the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier-island beach in the world. The Gulf Coast is also full of historical landmarks, like the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, where Texas gained its independence from Mexico.
Houston is the region’s modern metropolis. The 4th largest city in the U.S. is home to NASA and the Texas Medical Center, as well as a wonderful mix of world-class arts, booming businesses, professional sports teams and award-winning cuisine. And if you’re looking for cowboys, you’ll find them in Houston, too. Each year in the spring, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is held at the city’s Reliant Center.
Just 128 kilometres from Houston, Galveston Island is home to some of the best attractions that Texas has to offer, including Moody Gardens with its new Rainforest Pyramid, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark and the new Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.
This historic beach town offers a plethora of unique museums and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country. Add to that some 50 kilometres of beaches, and you’ll understand why Galveston is such a big hit with Canadian travellers.Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau
Nestled between the dunes of Mustang Island and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, Port Aransas’ tranquil beaches, gentle breezes and abundant wildlife make the perfect backdrop for your next vacation photos. Beachcombing, kite-surfing, kayaking, jet-skiing and parasailing are all big news in this small town. But fishing always tops the bill in Port Aransas: the surrounding Gulf waters are brimming over with fish, and tournaments fill the event calendar almost every weekend during the summer months.
Then there’s Corpus Christi, which is one of Texas’ most popular waterfronts, and South Padre Island, located on the ‘tropical tip of Texas’, just 40 kilometres north of the Mexican border.
Art & Culture
Greater Houston CVB/Hugh Hargrave
With more than seven million annual visits, the Houston Museum District is one of the top cultural districts in the U.S. Nineteen institutions make up the district – 11 of which are free – and all of them are within walking distance of each other.
Two of the most visited museums are The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) and the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). MFAH, which was founded in 1900, counts in its collection more than 56,000 works of art dating from antiquity to the present day. HMNS features nine permanent exhibitions, including the new Hall of Paleontology and Hall of Ancient Egypt.
In Galveston, the Texas Commission on the Arts recently announced the designation of the Galveston Downtown Cultural Arts District as an official cultural district.
The district is home to two theatres – The Grand 1894 Opera House and the Island ETC Theater – as well as more than 20 art galleries in beautifully restored historic buildings. It is also home to a wide variety of antique shops, boutiques, museums and culinary gems.
Galveston Island Convention and Visitor BureauKids have a blast in Houston. A CityPASS is a good option for fun-seeking families, as it provides savings of up to 46 per cent at the city’s top attractions. This means that you can save at attractions like Space Center Houston, the Downtown Aquarium and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
The Children’s Museum is a must when you’re travelling with kids, as is the zoo, where the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo has been especially designed for the little ones.
This year, Galveston was recognized as one of the ‘Top 10 Family Vacations of 2013’ by Family Vacation Critic. Kids are never happier than when they’re on the beach, but if that grows old, check out the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, which boasts 16 rides, midway games and live entertainment.
City of South Padre Island
There’s plenty of family fun to be had at South Padre Island’s Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark, too. Slides, tube chutes, uphill water coasters, the Sand Castle Water Fun House, the Boogie Bahn surfing ride and the award-winning Rio Aventura… The kids will love it.
Dining & Nightlife
With 8,000 restaurants representing cuisine from more than 35 countries and regions, Houston’s restaurant scene is as ethnically diverse as its four million residents. Sample steak at Pappas Bros, some of the best margaritas in town at Hugo’s, and Cajun and Creole delicacies at Brennan’s of Houston.
Some of the hottest neighbourhoods for nightlife in the city include Washington Avenue, downtown, midtown and Montrose. Pop into Max’s Wine Dive in Washington Avenue, or if you’re downtown, check out the city’s oldest bar, La Carafe. In Montrose, sidle up to the bar at the Anvil Bar and Refuge, which has been named as one of the best bars in America.
In Galveston, Gulf Coast cuisine, from red snapper to oysters, dominates the menu. The award-winning Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant has operated on the island for more than 100 years, and it serves up some of the best seafood on the island, as well as some of the best pecan pie in Texas!
And if you still want to dance after all that seafood and pie, check out the Rumshack, H20 Pool and Bar or Club 21 Wine and Martini Bar.
Texas Dot/Norm Jones
One event you should not miss is the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which attracts more than two million attendees. What started in 1931 as a small, seven-person lunch at the Texas State Hotel has evolved into the world’s largest rodeo event. There are carnivals, barbecue cook-offs, wine tasting competitions, trail rides, concerts and of course, action-packed rodeo thrills.
The X Factor
Space Center Houston, the official visitors’ centre for NASA's Johnson Space Center, is the only place on earth where guests can embark on an out-of-this-world journey through human adventures in space. The Starship Gallery takes a look at some of the most amazing artifacts that trace the progression of manned space flight, including the Apollo 17 Command Module, a full-size Skylab Training Module and a moon rock that you can touch.
The Gulf Coast: What’s On?
ReMax Ballunar Liftoff Festival, September 28 to 30
Sand Castle Days, October 4 to 6
Mustang Fest, October 4 to 6
Harvest Moon Regatta, October 18 to 20
Lone Star Motorcycle Rally, October 31 to November 2
Dia De Los Muertos Street Festival, November 2
Caroler’s Afloat & Boat Lighting Parade, December 7
Martin Luther King Jr Grande Parade, January 18
Mardi Gras In Galveston, February 21 to March 4
World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, February 27 to March 1
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, March 4 to 23
Galveston FeatherFest, April 10 to 13
Texas Sand Fest, April 11 to 13
Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Deep Sea Roundup, July 10 to 14
Houston International Jazz Festival, August 2 to 4