Affordable Family-Friendly Guide to the Texas Gulf Coast

Summertime is right around the corner. You know what that means right? It means summer vacation is right around the corner. The Texas beaches are one of the most popular destinations for family vacations. While spending hours jumping waves, soaking up the sun from a beach chair and swimming in the ocean are the main attractions, the Gulf Coast offers more than just great beaches. From roller coasters to baseball, here are the top inexpensive family-friendly attractions to add to your vacation itinerary.


Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

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For some good old-fashioned fun, take your family on a stroll along the historic Pleasure Pier. The nostalgically-themed oceanside amusement park provides hours of entertainment. Try your hand along the Midway with games like Ring Toss, Lucky Duck and Balloon Pop. Ride the 100-foot tall Galaxy Wheel while colorful LED lights create a spectacular display. For thrill-seekers the Pirate’s Plunge log ride that drops 40 feet and the 52-miles-per-hour Iron Shark Roller Coaster are not to be missed. Bumper cars, the teacup ride and a carousel are available for younger children.

Moody Gardens

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From penguins to sharks to free-roaming monkeys, Moody Gardens has it all. Enjoy an authentic rainforest free-roaming monkeys, macaws and other endangered animals, touch the underbelly of a stingray or take an hour-long cruise aboard a replica of a 1800s paddlewheel boat. Your kids will be having so much fun they will not realize all the learning going on.


Sandcastle Building Lesson

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Want to improve your sandcastle building game? If so, take some lessons from the professionals. Galveston is hosting free sandcastle building lessons each Saturday morning from June 2 to August 18 near the Steward Beach Pavillion. Or head over to South Padre Island where the artists at Sandcastle Lessons teach groups how to create works of art in the sand. After a fun, two-hour lesson you and your family will be sculpting sandcastle masterpieces sure to the talk of the beach.  


Corpus Christi Hooks Baseball Game

Take a break from the beach and partake in America’s favorite summer pastime - baseball. The Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros-affiliated minor league team.  take center stage all summer long at the Whataburger Field. Head to the ballpark, root for the home team, eat some Cracker-Jacks and enjoy a pleasant evening by the ocean without being on the ocean.  


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Fireworks are not just for Fourth of July. Every Sunday starting June 3 the Galveston Island Park Board will provide a magnificent firework display off the Seawall for families to enjoy. Fireworks will light up the sky in Corpus Christi after every Friday Hooks Baseball game despite a winning score. Watch the color from colorful fireworks reflect off the ocean in South Padre Island every Friday and Saturday at 9:15 p.m.


Surf the Day Away

Texas might not have Hawaii’s famous waves, but contrary to popular belief it does have perfectly surfable waves. Horace Caldwell Pier is the most popular surf spot in Port Aransas because of its easy access and consistent waves. For those who want more powerful waves, head to Fish Pass Jetties on Mustang Island. Several surf shops who are happy to rent you and your little ones a board for the day dot the coast. If you are new to surfing or need a little refresher the instructors at Texas Surf Camps will have you hanging ten in no time.


Artist Boat Kayak Excursion

Did you know there are more shades of green than any other color? That is one of the fun facts families learn during an outing with Artist Boat, a nonprofit that combines outdoor adventure, art and science to promotes environmental awareness and preservation. A three-hour kayak adventure through the Coastal Heritage Preserve includes not only a lesson on coastal prairies, but also a stop for watercolor lesson and painting time. They also offer Habitat Restoration Adventures designed to promote stewardship through restoring coastal habitats, birding tours