Whether you’re planning a staycation this holiday season, or want to find fun destinations that don’t involve too much driving, we’ve got you covered with the best day trips from Houston. All of the trips on this list are less than a 90-minute drive from downtown Houston, so you can travel back and forth on the same day.
If you’re looking for some fun things to do without leaving the city, check out our guide to things you probably never heard of in Houston, the prettiest hikes and nature walks in Houston, and our complete list of everything to do in Houston.
Best Day Trips From Houston
Old Town Spring (29 Minutes)
Old Town Spring is a quaint and historic town located just north of Houston, Texas. It is known for its charming antique shops, unique boutiques, and delicious restaurants. The town has a rich history, with many buildings dating back to the 19th century.
The town’s rich history and charming atmosphere make it a draw for tourists. The town has a number of historic buildings, including the McCraw Flour Mill and the Spring Creek Place, which were both built in the 1800s.
You can also visit the Heritage Museum, which offers a fascinating look at the town’s history and the people who have called it home.
In addition to its historical attractions, Old Town Spring also offers a wide variety of shopping and dining options. The town is home to a number of antique shops, where you can find unique and one-of-a-kind treasures.
You can also visit the various boutiques and specialty shops, where you can find everything from clothing and accessories to home decor and gifts. And when it comes to dining, Old Town Spring has something for everyone, from casual cafes and coffee shops to fine dining restaurants.
George Ranch (45 Minutes)
If you’re looking for a fun and interesting day trip from Houston, you should definitely consider visiting George Ranch in Richmond, Texas. Located just 45 minutes from downtown Houston, George Ranch offers a unique glimpse into the history of Texas.
At George Ranch, you’ll have the chance to explore a sprawling historic property that has been in the same family for over 180 years. The ranch offers guided tours that will take you through various time periods, from the early 19th century to the early 20th century.
You’ll get to see authentic historic homes and buildings, including an 1840s dog-trot cabin, a Victorian-era home, and a turn-of-the-century farm complex.
In addition to its fascinating history, George Ranch also offers plenty of fun activities for the whole family. There are hands-on activities, such as churning butter and trying on period clothing, as well as live demonstrations of ranching and farming activities.
You can also enjoy a picnic on the property, go for a hike, or just relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
But the best part of visiting George Ranch is the opportunity to learn about the incredible history of Texas. The ranch was originally settled by four brothers who fought in the Texas Revolution, and their descendants went on to play a key role in the development of the state.
By visiting George Ranch, you’ll not only have a fun day out, but you’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the rich history of Texas.
Barrington Plantation & Star of the Republic Museum (90 Minutes)
Barrington Living History Farm
The Barrington Living History Farm is another great day trip from Houston, just 90 minutes away, in the town of Washington, Texas. The farm is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of rural life in Texas during the 19th century.
At the Barrington Living History Farm, visitors can experience what life was like on a 19th-century Texas farm. The farm is a working farm, with a number of animals and crops that are raised and harvested just as they would have been in the 1800s.
Visitors to the farm can see how the crops were grown, how the animals were raised, and how the farm operated on a daily basis. You can learn about the history of farming in Texas, the tools and techniques used by the early settlers, and the challenges and rewards of life on the land.
On weekends, volunteers in full period costumes interact with guests and work at tasks 19th-century Texans would have worked at on the farm, like spinning, smithing, and more
. Visitors have the opportunity to take part in some hands-on activities as well. Our kids loved using the old fashioned washing machine (spoiler alert, it’s not a machine at all)
The farm is set on a sprawling property that offers plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy the outdoors. You can take a leisurely walk around the farm, enjoy a picnic under the shade of a tree, or just sit and relax in the peaceful surroundings.
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site & Star of the Republic Museum
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is nearby as well, with plenty of opportunities to relax in nature. The Historic Site is also home to the Star of the Republic Museum. This museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Republic of Texas, which existed as an independent nation from 1836 to 1846.
The Sar of the Republic Museum offers a number of exhibits and displays that provide insight into the history of the Republic and the people who lived and worked there. You can learn about the struggles and triumphs of the early settlers, the politics and government of the Republic, and the daily lives of the people who lived during this exciting and tumultuous time.
If you have kids, they’ll love some of the hands-on exhibits that allow them to dress up and pretend to be early Texas settlers. They’ll get the opportunity to milk a (fake) cow, set the table for dinner, ‘cook’, ‘drive’ a wagon, and more.
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site (1 Hour)
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Texas history. Located in the town of San Felipe, just outside of Houston, the site offers a unique look into the early days of the Republic of Texas.
Founded in 1823, San Felipe de Austin was the first Anglo-American settlement in Texas. It served as the capital of the Austin colony, where Stephen F. Austin, known as the “Father of Texas,” brought 300 families to settle in the fertile lands along the Brazos River.
At the historic site, visitors can explore the restored buildings that once housed the government and business offices of the colony, as well as the home of Stephen F. Austin.
One of the highlights of a visit to the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is the museum, which features a rich collection of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the early days of the Republic of Texas.
From documents and maps to household items and tools, the museum offers a fascinating look into the daily lives of the settlers who braved the challenges of the wilderness to build a new life in Texas.
The museum also includes a number of interactive exhibits and displays, which allow visitors to learn about the history of Texas in a more hands-on way.
These exhibits include touch screens and other interactive elements that allow visitors to explore the history of the region and its people in a more engaging and immersive way.
In addition to the museum, the historic site also features a walking tour that takes visitors through the town of San Felipe, where they can see the original layout of the streets and the foundations of some of the original buildings.
The tour also includes a visit to the San Felipe Cemetery, where many of the early settlers are buried, including Stephen F. Austin himself.
In addition to its historical significance, the San Felipe de Austin Historic Site is also a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, situated on the banks of the Brazos River.
Stephen F Austin State Park is just across the street and offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, including picnicking, hiking, and fishing.
Rosenberg (45 Minutes)
The town of Rosenberg is a perfect day trip from Houston, with plenty of history, shopping, and nature to fill the day.
The city’s historic downtown area is home to a number of unique shops and boutiques, where you can find everything from clothing and accessories to home decor and gifts.
For dining, Rosenberg offers a range of options, from casual cafes and coffee shops to more upscale restaurants. Some popular spots in the city include Jax Burgers, a local favorite known for its delicious burgers and fries, and Golden Star Chinese Restaurant, which offers a variety of tasty Chinese dishes.
Fort Bend Museum
The Fort Bend Museum offers a glimpse into the rich history of Fort Bend County, with exhibits featuring artifacts from the area’s early settlers, as well as information about the region’s role in the Texas Revolution and the Civil War.
Some of the highlights of the museum include a replica of an 1850s log cabin, a steamboat exhibit, and a collection of artifacts from the Confederate Army. The museum also has a research library where visitors can learn more about the history of Fort Bend County.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the Fort Bend Museum also hosts a variety of special events and programs throughout the year. These events can include guided tours, lectures, and hands-on activities, making the museum a great place to visit for people of all ages.
Rosenberg Railroad Museum
The Rosenberg Railroad Museum, located in Rosenberg, Texas, is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the railroad in Texas and the southwestern United States.
At the museum, you’ll learn about the important role that the railroad played in the development of Texas and the southwestern United States. The museum offers a number of exhibits and displays that provide insight into the history of the railroad in the region, including the challenges and obstacles that the early railroad builders faced and the impact that the railroad had on the economy and society of the region.
The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts related to the railroad, including locomotives, passenger cars, and other equipment used by the railroads. You can also see rare documents and manuscripts from the period, including maps, timetables, and other historical items.
In addition to its historical value, the Rosenberg Railroad Museum is also a fun and interesting place to visit. The museum offers a number of interactive exhibits and displays, which allow visitors to learn about the history of the railroad in a more hands-on way. You can climb aboard a real locomotive, see how a telegraph works, and even experience what it was like to be a train conductor.
Check out our full post on the Rosenberg Railroad Museum here.
If you have enough time, you can also check out Brazos Bend State Park (next on our list), just a short drive away.
Brazos Bend State Park (50 Minutes)
Brazos Bend State Park is another great day trip from Houston. This 4,897-acre state park located in Fort Bend County, Texas is known for its diverse range of plants and animals, including a large population of American alligators.
The park is a popular destination for visitors who want to see these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat and offers a number of opportunities to view alligators, including guided alligator-watching tours and the chance to see alligators from a boardwalk that runs through a swamp area.
The best time to spot alligators is early in the morning or late in the evening, when they are most active. The park’s alligators can be found in a variety of habitats, including swamps, wetlands, and creeks.
If you do decide to go alligator-watching at Brazos Bend State Park, it’s important to remember to keep a safe distance from the animals. Alligators can be dangerous if they feel threatened, so it’s important to follow the park’s guidelines and stay a safe distance away from them.
Alligators aren’t the only animals living at Brazos Bend State Park. Located along the Brazos River, the park features a variety of habitats, including wetlands, forests, and prairies. These habitats are home to a wide range of plants and animals, including over 300 species of birds and more than 50 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Visitors to Brazos Bend State Park can also take advantage of hiking and biking trails, as well as fishing, boating, and camping opportunities.
Brazos Bend State Park is also home to the George Observatory, a public observatory that offers visitors the opportunity to view the night sky through a variety of telescopes. The observatory is open to the public on select nights throughout the year, and is operated by volunteers from the Houston Astronomical Society.
Lake Jackson (55 Minutes)
Lake Jackson, Texas is a vibrant city located just a short drive from Houston. With its beautiful parks, interesting museums, and delicious restaurants, Lake Jackson makes a great day trip from Houston.
One of the top things to do in Lake Jackson is to visit the Sea Center Texas. This interactive aquarium and maritime museum offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of the Gulf of Mexico. The Sea Center features a variety of exhibits, including touch tanks, a 3D theater, and a shark exhibit. It’s a great place to visit for families with kids, or for anyone who loves the ocean.
Another popular attraction in Lake Jackson is the Lake Jackson Historical Museum. This museum offers a fascinating look at the history of the city, with exhibits that showcase artifacts, photographs, and documents from the area’s past. The museum also has a research library where visitors can learn more about the city’s history.
In addition to the museums, Lake Jackson also offers plenty of outdoor activities. Dunbar Park on the banks of Oyster Creek is a great place to paddle if you have a kayak or canoe. Wilderness Park is great for hiking, with a 4-mile trail and interpretive nature loop on the banks of Buffalo Camp Bayou and the Brazos River.
Galveston (55 Minutes)
Galveston, Texas is a beautiful island city located just a short drive from Houston. With its sandy beaches, historic buildings, and exciting attractions, Galveston is a great option when looking for the best day trips from Houston all year long.
One of the top things to do in Galveston is to visit the historic Strand District. This charming neighborhood is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, which offers an array of amusement park rides and games. The Strand is also home to the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, which is a National Historic Landmark.
Another popular attraction in Galveston is Moody Gardens. This educational and recreational complex features a number of attractions, including a small water park, a rainforest pyramid, an aquarium, and a 3D theater. Moody Gardens also offers a variety of hands-on activities, such as a ropes course and a zip line.
In addition to the attractions, Galveston also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. The city has a number of beautiful beaches, including East Beach, which is known for its volleyball courts and live music, and Stewart Beach, which is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.
Galveston Island State Park
You can also visit Galveston Island State Park, which offers hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for fishing, birdwatching, kayaking, swimming, and sunbathing.
Galveston is home to a number of interesting and educational museums that are fun for adults and kids alike.
The Galveston Railroad Museum showcases a collection of historic trains and rail equipment, as well as interactive exhibits that explore the history of railroads in Texas.
The Texas Seaport Museum, located in the historic port district, explores the history of Galveston as a major seaport and the role of the city in the Texas Revolution and the Civil War.
Galveston Naval Museum at Seawolf Park houses the USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart, two historic World War II-era submarines that are open to the public. Read our full post on Seawolf Park here.
Galveston Pirate’s Museum helps visitors learn about the real-life pirates who roamed the Gulf of Mexico in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the myths and legends that have surrounded these notorious figures. The museum has a collection of artifacts that were used by pirates, including weapons, tools, and personal items, as well as a variety of interactive exhibits that offer a hands-on experience.
Galveston, Texas is home to a number of historic homes that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich past. Some of the most notable historic homes in Galveston include the following:
The Bishop’s Palace: Located in the East End Historic District, the Bishop’s Palace is a Victorian-style mansion that was built in 1892. The home is considered one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in the United States, and is open for tours.
The Ashton Villa: Built in 1859, the Ashton Villa is a Greek Revival-style mansion that was the first brick home built in Galveston. The home is open for tours and features a collection of period furnishings and artifacts.
The Moody Mansion: Located in the East End Historic District, the Moody Mansion was built in 1895 and is considered one of the most opulent homes in Texas. The home is open for tours and features a collection of period furnishings and artwork.
The Menard House: Built in 1838, the Menard House is the oldest brick home in Texas. The home is open for tours and offers a glimpse into the early history of Galveston.
The Colonel Thomas William House: Built in 1838, the Colonel Thomas William House is a Greek Revival-style home that is open for tours. The home features a collection of period furnishings and artifacts, and offers a unique glimpse into the history of Galveston.
Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
At Space Center Houston, visitors can explore a variety of interactive exhibits and displays that showcase the history and technology of space exploration. The center has a number of exhibits that focus on the different aspects of space travel, including the International Space Station, human spaceflight, and space science.
One of the main attractions at Space Center Houston is the NASA Tram Tour, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Johnson Space Center. The tour takes visitors to the historic Mission Control Center, where they can see the actual control room used during the Apollo missions. The tour also includes a visit to the Rocket Park, where visitors can see a variety of historic rockets and spacecraft.
In addition to the exhibits and tours, Space Center Houston also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including space-themed camps and workshops, as well as special presentations and guest lectures.
During the holidays the center puts on a light show known as Galaxy Lights, which is a beautiful display of lights featuring a space theme.
There are so many great day trips from Houston that allow you to see new places and experience new things without sitting in the car for hours. Whether you’re looking for shopping, history, culture, nature, or fun, there’s something for everyone in this list of best day trips from Houston.