Starting out in Houston and want to explore? Whether you have one day or a few, these are our favorite road trips from Houston.
If you’re looking for a fun trip with Houston, Texas as your starting point, here are eight places you may or may not have considered. Many of these are great day trip lengths—two hours or less each way. A couple (Fredericksburg and San Angelo) have drive times of more than three hours and may be better suited to a long weekend. Whatever length is right for you, these eight trips from Houston will get you in the mood to start planning that road trip.
8 Road Trips from Houston
I’ve included the mileage and average drive time according to Google, with the center of Houston as your starting point, so your mileage will vary a little bit from the time and mileage I’ve listed. And, if you’re starting out from Houston, you probably already know that traffic can be a wildcard.
Enjoy these eight trips from Houston. I hope they make you want to explore the area.
85 miles/1 hour 13 minutes
Beaumont is located directly off Interstate 10, which makes it a quick and easy ride from Houston, depending on what the traffic is doing. One bonus of visiting Beaumont is that there are so many free things to do, so it’s easy to do this trip from Houston on a shoestring budget.
Don’t miss Beaumont’s Cattail Marsh, especially if the weather is nice. There’s a boardwalk overlooking scenic wetlands that are great for wildlife watching. You might even spot an alligator.
Visiting the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum is another activity to put at the top of your list. This open-air museum on the campus of Lamar University gives a great, hands-on view of the Texas oil boom.
While there’s no shortage of places to eat, Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp is a don’t miss for me. I live about five hours from Beaumont, and I’ve seriously thought about going back solely to eat at this restaurant. There are plenty of places to spend the night just off I-10. You won’t find anything fancy, but there’s a good variety of familiar hotel chains to choose from.
Check out more things to do in Beaumont here.
2. Lake Charles, Louisiana
143 miles/2 hours
Texas is such a large state that it usually takes a few hours of driving to cross the border. Not so when you begin in Houston and head East on I-10.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate Mardi Gras, enjoy outdoor activities like golf or kayaking, or sample legendary Cajun Cuisine, Lake Charles, Louisiana is an easy trip from Houston.
If you’re looking to stay and play, The Golden Nugget and L’Auberge are my top picks. They’re located near all the action and offer a ton of in-resort amenities, such as gambling, shopping, live entertainment, and a lazy river if you don’t feel like leaving your resort.
Check out more things to do in Lake Charles here.
3. San Antonio
197 miles/2 hours 49 minutes
With the drive from Houston to San Antonio being just under three hours each way, this is one of the trips from Houston that’s probably best if you have an entire weekend to spend. Remember to pack your cooler with all of your favorite treats!
As a popular convention and tourist city, visitors to San Antonio usually want to explore the River Walk and the historic Pearl, which is a former brewery that’s been redone. It includes a luxury hotel, shops, a food hall, and lovely outdoor space. A weekend trip is the perfect length of time to spend in either location, but the options in this large Texas city are almost endless.
The Alamo might already be on your list of things to check out, and if you’re staying downtown, that’s easy to do. If you have time, the other four San Antonio missions are worth a little extra effort. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.
Check out more things to do in San Antonio here.
4. A Day Trip from Houston to the Capital City of Austin
162 miles/ 2 hours 33 minutes
If you fancy a visit to Texas’ capital city, you won’t lack things to do in Austin. From a legendary music scene to trendy restaurants, Austin has some of the best nightlife in the state.
If you want to focus on outdoor activities, check out the famous SoCo district. South Congress Avenue offers plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars that always feature live music. Or you might decide to float or Kayak one of the area lakes or rivers or swim in one of the nearby natural watering holes, such as Barton Springs Pool or McKinney Falls State Park.
Check out more things to do in Austin here.
237 miles/3 hours 45 minutes
Because of Fredericksburg’s proximity to the 290 Wine Trail, you’d be correct in assuming that wine tasting is a popular activity for those visiting Fredericksburg. If you're interested in something besides wine, the newly-opened Dietz Distillery is a fun stop. In addition to day drinking, downtown Fredericksburg has fantastic shopping and two museums, The Pioneer Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War. There are nearby hiking trails and gorgeous views at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
If you want to enjoy a great meal, Fredericksburg is certainly the place to do it. With such a German name, you’d be correct in your guess that Fredericksburg is a great place to grab schnitzel and bratwurst. However, upscale yet still approachable Fredericksburg eateries such as Hill & Vine and Sage are perfect if you want to explore something a little more adventurous.
Check out more things to do in Fredericksburg here—there’s something going on every weekend.
73 miles/1 hour 3 minutes
Just an hour from downtown Houston, the small city of Columbus is a fun place to explore for the day. There are several campgrounds and RV parks along the Colorado River, which makes this area a popular spot for outdoor fun.
Fun things to do in Columbus include checking out the Live Oak Art Center, the Santa Claus Museum (dedicated to Santa memorabilia from all over the world), taking a walking or driving tour of the picturesque downtown area, and snapping pictures in front of the third-largest Live Oak in Texas. The latter might sound a little corny, but at over 70 feet high, this tree is still very impressive, even if it’s now in third place.
Columbus is a fun little afternoon escape from Houston or a new town to explore while you're camping or doing a more outdoor-centered trip. To read more about things to do and local events, click here.
65 miles/1 hour 4 minutes
The Brazosport area encompasses Clute, Freeport, Lake Jackson, Quintana, and Surfside Beach. While the beaches may be the draw, there are a variety of things to do in the area besides going to the beach. There are four beaches in the Brazosport area: Surfside Beach, Follet’s Beach, Quintana Beach, and Bryan’s Beach. You may hear the locals refer to Follet’s Beach as “the free beach” because there’s no fee to drive and park on the beach.
Other things to do include visiting the Varner Hogg Plantation State Historic Site, Sea Center Texas, and Brazos Bend State Park. Lake Jackson is the largest city in the Brazosport area and you’ll find lots of shopping and lodging options there.
Here's more about Brazosport and the things to do there.
8. San Angelo
365 miles/5 hours 42 minutes
Houston to San Angelo is the longest trip listed. Unless you really, really enjoy driving, this is best saved for a three- or four-day weekend or a longer vacation. I wanted to include it on this list of trips from Houston because it takes you to a completely different part of Texas, and it’s fun to get a peep at such a different landscape. There’s a lot of small-town charm and enough activities to keep you going for two or three days.
Enjoy shopping and restaurants and take in the murals and other street art in the walkable downtown area. You can learn about Old West History at Fort Concho, you'll find a variety of things to keep you busy in San Angelo. For those who are interested in camping or hiking, there's San Angelo State Park, which is home to Bison and the state herd of Texas Longhorn cattle.
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Great Road Trips from Houston—Which One Will You Take?
Some of these trips from Houston are easy to combine to make a longer trip, such as either San Antonio or Austin with Fredericksburg or Beaumont and Lake Charles. Whatever destination you pick and whether you’re looking to plan a quick escape or a longer, more immersive trip, I hope you’ve found something on this list of cities that sparks an interest in discovering something new.