While Houston has already enjoyed weather in the 90s this year, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer for most of the country. That means backyard cookouts, pool time and beach trip getaways for the extended weekend. Being an hour from the Gulf of Mexico certainly has its benefits, but a simple trip to Galveston or Bolivar Peninsula or Surfside might take far more time than you expect with great weather on tap and loads of families with the same thought in mind.
No one thinks Houston needs more roads, just better ones, but we are fortunate that alternate routes abound when it comes to getting to the coast. Here are five ways to try and sneak around traffic on your way to the water.
Two Options For Galveston Besides the Gulf Freeway
Interstate 45 South continues to remain under nearly perpetual construction. Thankfully, there are ways around it.
SH 225 to SH 146
This is a particularly handy route if you are on the east side of town. The trip through Pasadena past all of Houston's refineries might make you feel a little queasy until you think of all the suckers stuck in traffic around Clear Lake. SH 225 runs into SH 146 just west of Baytown, so you'll get a lovely view of the majestic Fred Hartman Bridge before making your way toward Kemah. There will likely be a slowdown as you approach the Boardwalk, which is fine if you want a pit stop, but it will clear up and shoot you all the way south back onto I-45 just before the causeway.
If you are west of town, particularly southwest (i.e. Sugar Land), this is probably ideal. Yes, it can, at times, get a little crowded so check your traffic apps, but when it is clear, it's a nice alternative to crazy I-45. Plus, you can access it at various points - the Fort Bend Toll Road, SH 288 and SH 35 - along the way. Like 146, it merges with I-45 just north of the causeway.
Two Options for Surfside Besides 288
Surfside is our favorite beach. It's quieter than Galveston and is much more like a traditional beach than the Seawall. Plus, you can drive up and down the Bluewater Highway, even up to Galveston if you like. But 288 is a total mess with construction. Thankfully, there are alternatives.
This is WAY southwest of town, but if you live in Sugar Land or even Richmond, this is a great way to get to the Freeport area going through West Columbia. It's a much more pleasant drive, especially if you are already out that direction. Take it all the way to S. Velasco Boulevard and hang a left. That gets you right over to SH 332 just about two miles north of Surfside Beach.
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If you are closer to town, try using 35 straight through Pearland and Alvin. It's a straight shot to Angleton where you can turn off onto Business 288. Of note, if you are staying in a rental as so many do in Surfside, turn off Business 288 at Oyster Creek and hit the gorgeous, gigantic Kroger to grab your groceries. Pro tip.
One Alternative Route to Bolivar
If Crystal Beach or Stingaree is your thing - hey, good for you! - don't bother with the Bolivar Ferry. Don't get us wrong. We love that ferry. But wait times can reach hours at peak times. You can follow their Twitter feed for regular updates. Fortunately, you don't have to put your car on a boat to get to the peninsula. Instead, take Interstate 10 east to Winnie and then SH 124 south to the coast. You'll see signs for the beach all over the place.