Southeastern Texas Vacation Ideas Southeastern Texas - Road Trip Planner

Places to Visit in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Padres Island, Texas

Things to do / Travel Guide

Houston and Surrounding Area

This is where you will find the swampland that is still home to cotton fields dating back to before the Civil War. It is thick with pine forests and long winding bayous that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Houston, the largest city in Texas, and the fourth-largest in America, is here, built on a drained swamp. Visitors expecting to find arid desert are often shocked to find this region, albeit dominated by a bright and hot sun, so full of greenery. The city contains impressive skyscrapers and is home to NASA's Mission Control, and the Johnson Space Center.
There is a large metropolitan population, a significant portion of which consists of immigrants from all over the world, especially Latin America and the Far East.

Nearby is the historic city of Galveston, on the Gulf Coast. This is a resort town known for its beaches, Victorian architecture, and history as a free port for French pirates in the pre-state period. Elsewhere in southeast Texas are many national and state parks, excellent places for freshwater fishing and camping, and of course a selection of reasonably-priced Texas Motels. You will also find quiet towns where a large Cajun and Creole population still barbecue and make soul food and Cajun food, rivaling the cuisine of any other region in the country.

San Antonio

San Antonio is one of Texas' oldest cities and is the largest tourist destination in the state. Besides being the stronghold for Tejano culture, it is the home of the Fiesta Texas amusement park, Sea World, the Alamo, and the beautiful Riverwalk, which is lined with bars, restaurants, and excellent shopping. Also in the city is the Institute of Texan Cultures, a well-maintained museum of the histories of the different ethnic cultures that settled in Texas. San Antonio is also home to the 750-foot Tower of the Americas, which dominates the skyline and offers a commanding view of the southwestern plains.


Just 60 miles north of San Antonio is Austin, home of the Texas Capitol and the University of Texas, the second-largest university in the world. Austin is also referred to as the “Live Music Capital of America,” especially on account of the area around Sixth Street in downtown. Every genre of music imaginable can be found any night in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. In mid-March, the city becomes home to “South by Southwest,” the largest musical festival in the world.

Hill Country

In the areas between and to the west of San Antonio and Austin is the Texas Hill Country. Here, visitors can sample from the Texan native breweries and wineries, board in historic bed and breakfast establishments (B&Bs), and visit the quaint European farm towns of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg, where the natives still speak the colloquial German of their ancestors. New Braunfels is the home of the three-mile, spring-fed Comal River, where locals lie in rented inner tubes and drink beer while floating down the river. The natural spring water of the river also supplies the environmentally-correct Schlitterbahn, a locally-owned and operated water theme park that offers a unique and very personal experience unlike any other theme park in America.

The Coastal Bend: Corpus Christi and the Mexican Border

This area is the home of southeast Texas' finest beaches and bays. Fishing, surfing, sailing, boating, bird watching, windsurfing, and beachcombing are excellent along the coasts of southeast Texas' barrier islands. These islands start on the coast near the town of Victoria, two hours south of Houston by car, and go all the way to Brownsville, 300 miles further south.

Beach Escapes

There are three main areas for the best beach escapes. One is in the easygoing fishing village of Port Aransas on Mustang Island, which is a good place to rent an air-conditioned bungalow and condo and spend a week, and catch some bird watching in nearby Aransas Pass. Near Corpus Christi are the beaches of North Padre Island, full of state and national parks for camping and high-rise beachfront hotels. For the more conventional tourist destination, you can visit the beaches of South Padre Island near the border, which are the most luxurious. The hotels are the plushest, the surf the biggest, and the water is crystal clear.

Places to Visit in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Padre Island and Southeastern Texas

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Mustang Island - Port Aransas (Corpus Christi), Texas
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Bandera, TX
Big Thicket National Preserve
Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center