Known as the “Lone Star State”, Texas has a unique charm and appeal that makes it the perfect place for family getaways. Texas is the largest state after Alaska, offering over 250,000 square miles for families to explore. From spooky ghost towns to magnificent beaches and national parks, Texas has something for everyone. Here are the best family vacations in Texas for all ages.
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Things to do in Texas with Kids
Dallas is a modern metropolis located in Northern Texas that has seen epic growth in the past few years – and for good reason, the area has a ton of attractions for families. The DFW area encompasses Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, and many other cities. You could explore for a month and not see it all.
For those with young kids, head to Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo, or the Fort Worth Zoo. Each one of these offers endless hours of fun.
History buffs, on the other hand, should head to the Sixth Floor Museum (where JFK was assassinated), the George W Bush Presidential Library (fascinating and appropriate for older kids since there is a lot of reading), and Dallas Firefighters Museum.
Likewise, for those with an affinity for science, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will entertain kids all day with hands-on activities and exhibits.
Looking for something a bit more adventurous? Visit Hurricane Harbor and Six Flags over Texas, a water and roller coaster park that is perfect for adrenaline junkies! Other outdoor adventures in Dallas include: the Dallas Arboretum, Trinity Forest Adventure Park, and Klyde Warren Park.
For those really hot summer days, don’t miss these indoor activities in Dallas: Kidzania (an interactive indoor play space), the National Videogame Museum, and Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark.
Where to stay in Dallas with kids
2. San Antonio
With history and art throughout the city, San Antonio is the perfect place for a family vacation in Texas. This marvelous city has a variety of sculptures around town. One of such examples is the awe-inspiring, reddish-orange Torch of Friendship. This is a beautiful 65 feet tall, abstract sculpture by Mexican sculptor Sebastián.
If your kids aren’t into art, don’t worry, San Antonio has a lot more to offer. Visit the legendary RiverWalk for a nice, relaxing stroll. Of course you can’t miss the Alamo, but we highly recommend visiting the other San Antonio Missions (there are four others). They are as impressive as the Alamo.
Animal lovers and children alike may enjoy seeing the animals at SeaWorld (link), San Antonio Aquarium, and San Antonio Zoo. There’s also a Six Flags amusement park in San Antonio (Six Flags Fiesta) for the thrill seekers in your group. One of our favorite places to visit with kids in San Antonio is Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25 acre park that is the world’s first completely accessible park. There’s plenty of entertainment, the kids will never want to leave!
If you’re lucky, you may even be able to experience one of the annual boat parades on the River Walk. We visited San Antonio at Christmas and it’s something I highly recommend!
Where to stay in San Antonio with kids
We really enjoyed Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk, and I think you can’t go wrong with a Riverwalk property. If you want to stay in a resort outside the city, favorite choices are Hyatt Regency Hill Country and JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country.
Known as the live music capital of the world, Austin is perfect for music lovers. Rock out to a variety of music festivals and concerts throughout the year. Sixth Street is a perfect place to start if you’re wanting to check out some bands.
For a more peaceful experience, learn about Texas history at the Bob Bullock Texas State History museum or take a tour of the Texas Capitol Building. More adventurous nature-lovers will enjoy swimming in the natural springs at Barton Springs Pool. Others may love Lady Bird Lake, which is great for hikes, biking, and boating.
And don’t forget to see the Mexican free-tailed bats who live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. At sunset over a million bats depart for their nightly adventures. It’s truly a sight to behold!
If you’re looking for a more educational experience with kids in Austin, The Thinkery, a children’s museum, is a must-see for kids and parents alike.
Where to stay in Austin with kids
4. Hill Country
Found in the heart of Texas, Hill Country, is a marvelous place to visit. Its rolling hills have some of the most notable features, including the Enchanted Rock, the second-largest granite formation in the US.
Parents will love the region’s family friendly wineries. Visiting a vineyard with kids is not only accepted, but many even have playgrounds for the kids. Discover pastures with livestock, fields with beautiful wildflower, and magnificent viewpoints.
For adventurous individuals that love getting out in nature, be sure to cool off at one of the swimming holes in Hill Country. Some favorites are: the Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Krause Springs in Spicewood, and McKinney Falls State Park in Austin.
Where to stay in Hill Country with kids
There are so many places to explore in Hill Country, so we recommend a vacation rental so you can explore the area efficiently. Here are some Hill Country accommodations on VRBO.
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5. Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is a great place to visit, if you love nature and, especially, if you have children. Take ranger-led tours around the park or go kayaking with friends! Children can become mini-rangers by joining the Junior Ranger programs.
Those who want to head out on their own can take river trips on the Rio Grande, hike, or explore on horseback. Popular trails include Lost Mine Trail and Santa Elena Canyon Trail that runs along the river. One of the best benefits of visiting Big Bend is being able to enjoy the night skies without city light pollution.
Where to stay in Big Bend with kids
There are limited accommodation options in Big Bend National Park. Look at Chisos Mountains Lodge, Lajitas Golf Resort, or a vacation rental near Big Bend. If camping is more of your style, camp your RV in designated primitive sites.
Amarillo is a beautiful city with a whole lot of history. This place features everything from antique furniture to art installations and thrift stores. Kids may enjoy visiting Cadillac Ranch, a modern art collection of 10 cars covered in graffiti. Visitors can contribute to the public art piece, so be sure to bring your own spray paint cans!
If you want to explore the outdoors, head to Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the US (after the Grand Canyon). A bit further of a drive is Caprock Canyons State Park where kids will love seeing the bison that roam the park.
To unleash your more adventurous side, consider visiting Splash, a water park that is perfect for people of all ages. Wonderland Park, another amusement park is another worthy option, especially to those with kids!
Where to stay in Amarillo with kids
For a fun-filled adventure, Houston is the place to be. Families love the Houston Zoo, which is home to over 4,500 exotic animals. The Children’s Museum of Houston is also a fun place for kids, showcasing arts, culture, history, health, human development, science, and technology.
For science geeks, the Museum of Natural Science is a must-stop. There, you’ll be able to visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center and learn about beautiful creepy-crawlers. Future astronauts may love NASA’s Johnson Space Center at the Space Center in Houston. Here you’ll be able to see actual objects that were once sent into space.
If the kids need an outdoor play space head to Discovery Green where you’ll find a 12 acre park with a lake for kayaking and paddle boarding, an entertainment venue, and a playgrounds for the kids. For something more calming, visit the San Jacinto Battle Monument and Museum where you’ll find the tallest war memorial in the world, standing at 570 feet.
Where to stay in Houston with kids
There’s some great family resorts in Houston, including Margaritaville and The Woodlands Resort. Another fun place for families to stay in Houston is Kemah Inn located on the Kemah Boardwalk, a waterfront entertainment venue with carnival games and rides and dining options.
8. Galveston Island
On the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Island is great fun for families. Texans flock here for the beach, and there are both public and private options (usually associated with vacation rental properties). If your kids tire of the beach, head to Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark.
Other fun things to do in Galveston with kids are the Galveston Railroad Museum, Moody Gardens (exhibits are housed in three pyramids, each with a different theme: Aquarium, Rainforest, and Discovery), Pleasure Pier (boardwalk and games), and a dolphin cruise.
Where to stay in Galveston with kids
9. Port Aransas
If the cool ocean breezes are calling, Port Aransas may be the relaxing vacation you need. Not only will you have the opportunity to build sandcastles with your family, but you’ll also be able to rent boats and head out fishing. Don’t miss Padres National Seashore with tide pools, sand dunes, and sea turtles (at certain times of year) that will keep the kids entertained all day long!
Where to stay in Port Aransas with kids
Vacation rentals in Port Aransas are a popular option. Take a look at Cinnamon Shores, Banyon Bay, and Lost Colony.
10. New Braunfels
New Braunfels isn’t far from San Antonio, but it offers a few different experiences. If your family loves exploring historic towns, you will enjoy the Gruene Historic District in New Braunfels. Want to try tubing in the river? Head to the Comal River where you can spend the day floating. Schlitterbahn Water Park is also a great place to visit that your kids will love.
Make learning fun when you take your children to the McKenna Children’s Museum. For more animal-related entertainment, enjoy Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo!
Where to stay in New Braunfels with kids
For a state that’s known for everything being “bigger and better”, Texas definitely holds up. From giant amusement parks to huge national parks, families will fall in love with everything the state has to offer. A Texas vacation with kids will not disappoint!