Being only about an hour from the Gulf Coast affords Houstonians the opportunity to go to the beach as frequently as they are able. Most head for Galveston and, sure, it's fine, but if you want a slightly more laid-back beach experience, try Surfside. Southwest of Galveston along the Blue Water Highway, it is devoid of the tourist traps of its big sister. Mostly, it is populated by families staying in rent houses that line the beach and folks down for the day from Houston. Best yet, you can avoid the hellish traffic on the Gulf Freeway in favor of the far tamer 288.