10 Texas State Parks Within a Day's Drive of Houston

While we should all rightfully balk at the idea of “celebrating” Memorial Day, being that it is a holiday dedicated to honoring those who have died in war, the fact is that it's a three-day weekend on the cusp of summer. Therefore, most of us do use the opportunity to have mini-vacations, barbecues and camping trips. As I write this, the weather is slated to be awfully nice come this weekend, so I thought I’d offer some of the best state parks within driving distance of Houston to visit over the holiday.

10. Padre Island National Seashore
4 hours
Camp on the beach, fish for sharks or try out the windsurfing. Padre Island National Seashore is the perfect weekend getaway for those with the beach in mind. Call the Hatchling Hotline (361-949-7163) if you’re interested in seeing when the baby sea turtles might be making their journey from nest to shore.

Photo courtesy of Texas.gov

9. Washington-on-the-Brazos
Drive: 1 hour
If you're in a more historical mood, visit Washington-on-the-Brazos, where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. There you can visit the Barrington Living History Farm and the Star of the Republic Museum, as well as sight-see, picnic and bird-watch. The walk along the Brazos River is particularly lovely.

Sam Houston National ForestEXPAND
Sam Houston National Forest
Bobby Ketchum via Flickr

8. Sam Houston National Forest
1 hour
There are a couple of full-service hook-up campsites available in Sam Houston National Forest, but it's really the sort of place to go when you want to get out into the woods and away from humanity. The hiking there is choice, though it can get very hot in the summer. You can also rent canoes and paddle boats at Double Lake. Fishing spots are available, particularly for black bass.

Huntsville State ParkEXPAND
Huntsville State Park
Photo courtesy of Texas.gov

7. Huntsville State Park
1 hour
With more than 21 miles of hiking trails, Huntsville State Park is a great place to put some steps on your Fitbit. They also have fishing and geocache hunts if that's more your bag. Alligators do live in the park, and you really should read their safety tips before going near the water. There are some nice, screened-in shelters for overnight stays.

Brazos Bend State ParkEXPAND
Brazos Bend State Park
Photo courtesy of Texas.gov

6. Brazos Bend State Park
Drive: 1 hour
Brazos Bend State Park is one of the more accessible parks for first-timers. There's a nice paved hiking trail with bronzed statues of woodland creatures, exhibits and plenty of rest stops. You can bring horses to ride if that's your pleasure, and a great deal of the park is wheelchair-accessible. As in Huntsville SP, please respect the alligators. Make sure you visit the George Observatory, a part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science most city dwellers don't get to see.

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