The Ultimate Guide: Top 13 Family Destinations in Texas

Estimated read time 15 min read

When it comes to family vacations, Texas offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences that cater to everyone’s interests. From the vibrant cultural scene of San Antonio to the breathtaking landscapes of Big Bend National Park and the sunny shores of South Padre Island, Texas has it all. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best places to visit in Texas with your family.

San Antonio: A Cultural Gem

San Antonio, often referred to as the heart of Texas, is a city that effortlessly blends history and culture. Its appeal lies in its ability to offer visitors a multifaceted experience. Families are drawn to this vibrant city because of its iconic River Walk, historic missions, and thriving arts scene.

River Walk 

Where Culture Flows The San Antonio River Walk, a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, is an urban oasis that meanders through the heart of the city. Lined with restaurants, shops, and vibrant street performances, it’s a place where culture flows as freely as the river itself. Families can enjoy leisurely strolls, take boat tours, and savor the unique atmosphere that defines this iconic destination.

The Alamo 

A Glimpse into History One cannot visit San Antonio without exploring the historic site where the Battle of the Alamo took place. The Alamo is a symbol of Texas’ fight for independence and offers an educational and inspirational experience for all ages. It’s a place to immerse oneself in the past and gain a deeper understanding of Texas history.

San Antonio Zoo

An Animal Adventure For families with a love for wildlife, the San Antonio Zoo is a must-visit destination. This zoological park features a diverse range of animals from around the world. It’s a perfect spot for family fun, where children can learn about and appreciate the beauty of the animal kingdom. The zoo’s commitment to conservation and education makes it both entertaining and educational.

Big Bend National Park: Nature’s Wonderland

For families seeking an escape into the heart of nature, Big Bend National Park beckons with its breathtaking desert landscapes and opportunities for unforgettable adventures.

Hiking Trails 

A Trek Through Beauty Big Bend boasts a network of hiking trails that wind through a stunning variety of landscapes. From challenging desert hikes to serene riverfront walks, there’s a trail for every skill level. Exploring these trails provides a unique perspective on the rugged beauty of Big Bend and allows families to connect with nature in a profound way.

Rio Grande River 

A Scenic Float Floating down the Rio Grande River is a magical experience. Families can embark on scenic float trips, drifting gently through canyons and soaking in the magnificent vistas. This natural waterway offers a refreshing escape from the desert heat and a chance to appreciate the park’s unique geology.


A Cosmic Spectacle Big Bend National Park is a designated Dark Sky Park, making it an ideal destination for stargazing enthusiasts. Here, the night sky comes alive with a brilliant display of stars and celestial wonders. Families can lay out under the vast desert sky, ponder the mysteries of the universe, and witness the Milky Way in all its glory.

South Padre Island: Sun and Surf

South Padre Island is a tropical paradise that caters to families seeking sun, sand, and surf. With its pristine beaches and an array of beachside activities, it promises endless fun in the sun.

Beach Activities 

Fun in the Sand South Padre Island offers a wide range of beach activities to keep families entertained. Whether it’s beachcombing for seashells, building sandcastles, or playing beach volleyball, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Watersports enthusiasts can try their hand at jet skiing, kiteboarding, or parasailing for an adrenaline rush.

Dolphin Watching 

A Magical Encounter Embarking on a dolphin-watching tour is a must-do experience on South Padre Island. Families can get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures as they frolic in the Gulf waters. It’s a magical encounter that leaves lasting memories for both kids and adults.

Sea Turtle Inc.

Conservation and Education Sea Turtle Inc. is an educational center dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. Visiting this facility allows families to learn about these incredible marine creatures and their conservation efforts. It’s a chance to connect with nature and gain a deeper appreciation for the island’s ecosystem.

Austin: The Live Music Capital

Austin city, view from afar

Austin, often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” is a city known for its vibrant music scene, unique culinary offerings, and a laid-back atmosphere that embraces individuality.

Live Music 

A Symphony of Sounds Austin’s Sixth Street, the heart of the city’s music scene, is a haven for music lovers of all ages. Families can catch live music performances ranging from blues and rock to country and indie. With numerous venues catering to various tastes, you’re sure to find a melodic experience that resonates with your family.

Food Truck Culture

A Culinary Adventure Austin’s food truck culture is legendary. Sample eclectic dishes from around the world, all conveniently served from food trucks scattered across the city. Families can savor everything from gourmet tacos to mouthwatering barbecue, making mealtime an adventure in itself.

Zilker Park 

Natural Relaxation Zilker Park offers a natural oasis within the city. Families can relax and play in this expansive urban park that features a natural spring-fed pool, hiking trails, and plenty of open spaces for picnicking and outdoor games. It’s a place where you can unwind and recharge amidst the city’s vibrant energy.

Dallas: Urban Excitement

Dallas, the cultural and economic hub of North Texas, offers a dynamic blend of cultural attractions, shopping, and family-friendly activities.

The Sixth Floor Museum

A Glimpse into History Explore the history of JFK at The Sixth Floor Museum, located at the site of the infamous assassination. The museum provides a thought-provoking journey through a critical period in American history, making it an educational and reflective experience for families.

Dallas World Aquarium

An Underwater Adventure For families fascinated by marine life, the Dallas World Aquarium offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with exotic aquatic species from around the world. The aquarium’s immersive exhibits provide a window into the wonders of the deep sea, making it an engaging and educational outing.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Hands-On Learning Engage in hands-on learning experiences at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Designed to inspire curiosity, this museum offers interactive exhibits on a wide range of topics, from paleontology and space exploration to technology and human biology. It’s a place where education meets entertainment.

New Braunfels: Water Recreation

New Braunfels, with its German heritage and scenic waterways, is a hidden gem perfect for family water adventures.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark 

Thrilling Water Rides Schlitterbahn Waterpark is a water lover’s paradise. Families can enjoy thrilling water rides, lazy river tubing, and splash-filled fun. With a variety of rides and attractions, it’s an ideal destination for cooling off on a hot Texas day.

Gruene Historic District

Charming Exploration Explore the quaint and historic Gruene Historic District. Known for its iconic dance hall, this charming district invites families to step back in time. Browse unique shops, enjoy live music, and savor delicious Texas cuisine at local restaurants.

Comal River

Serene Tubing Tube down the pristine waters of the Comal River, surrounded by lush greenery. This scenic adventure offers a relaxing way to experience the beauty of the Texas Hill Country. Families can leisurely float along and soak in the natural splendor.

Amarillo: Western Charm

Amarillo, located in the Texas Panhandle, offers a taste of the Old West and is home to some iconic roadside attractions.

Cadillac Ranch

Art in the Desert Witness the famous art installation of half-buried Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch. This quirky and visually stunning roadside attraction invites families to leave their mark by spray-painting the cars. It’s a fun and artistic adventure that captures the spirit of the open road.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

A Canyon Adventure Palo Duro Canyon State Park, often called the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” provides a striking backdrop for outdoor adventures. Families can hike, bike, or even horseback ride through the second-largest canyon in the United States, immersing themselves in the rugged beauty of the Texas plains.

Big Texan Steak Ranch 

A Hearty Challenge For the adventurous eater in your family, the Big Texan Steak Ranch offers a legendary dining experience. Challenge yourself to the 72-ounce steak challenge, where if you can finish the massive steak, it’s on the house. Even if you don’t take on the challenge, the restaurant offers a taste of hearty Texan cuisine.

Fort Worth: Cowboy Culture

Fort Worth, often referred to as “Cowtown,” embraces its cowboy heritage and offers a glimpse into the Old West.

Fort Worth Stockyards

Cattle Drives and History Witness the daily cattle drives in the Fort Worth Stockyards, where you can experience the excitement of the Old West. Explore the historic district, visit western-themed shops, and even catch a rodeo show. It’s an immersive journey into cowboy culture.

Kimbell Art Museum 

A World of Art Admire a world-class art collection at the Kimbell Art Museum. This architecturally stunning museum houses a diverse range of artworks from different eras and cultures. It’s a place where families can appreciate the beauty and significance of art.

Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

Legendary Cowboys Learn about legendary cowboys and rodeo stars at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Through exhibits and displays, families can gain insights into the lives and contributions of those who shaped Texas’ cowboy culture.

Grapevine: Charm and Wine

Grapevine place, top view

Grapevine, a picturesque town nestled in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, combines small-town charm with a burgeoning wine scene, making it a delightful family destination.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad 

A Nostalgic Ride Take a journey back in time aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. This vintage train ride offers scenic landscapes and a taste of nostalgia. Families can choose from various themed rides, making it an enjoyable experience for all.

Grapevine Lake

Waterfront Adventures Grapevine Lake provides a scenic backdrop for water sports, fishing, and picnicking. Families can indulge in outdoor activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing, or simply relax by the water’s edge. The serene lake offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city.

Grapevine Mills

Shopping and Entertainment Shop to your heart’s content at Grapevine Mills, a massive mall featuring outlet stores, entertainment options, and dining. Families can explore the wide range of shops and enjoy activities like indoor mini-golf and arcade games.

Corpus Christi: Coastal Beauty

Corpus Christi, located on the Gulf of Mexico, is a coastal haven offering pristine beaches and a rich maritime heritage.

Padre Island National Seashore

Unspoiled Beaches Explore miles of unspoiled beaches at Padre Island National Seashore. Families can enjoy sunbathing, beachcombing, and picnicking while experiencing the natural beauty of the Texas Gulf Coast. Keep an eye out for nesting sea turtles during the season.

USS Lexington Museum

A Floating Museum Tour the USS Lexington Museum, a historic aircraft carrier that’s now a floating museum. Families can explore the ship’s decks, aircraft, and exhibits while gaining insights into naval history and aviation. It’s an educational and interactive experience.

Texas State Aquarium 

Marine Marvels Discover marine life from the Gulf of Mexico and beyond at the Texas State Aquarium. This family-friendly attraction offers a chance to get up close to fascinating creatures of the deep. Interactive exhibits and educational programs make it an engaging experience for all ages.

Houston: Space, Science, and More

Night Houston city

Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, is a hub for space exploration, science, and culture. Families will find a wide array of attractions that cater to diverse interests.

Space Center Houston 

A Journey to the Stars Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, offers a fascinating look at space exploration. Families can explore interactive exhibits, take a tram tour of the space center, and even touch moon rocks. It’s an educational experience that inspires young minds to reach for the stars.

Museum of Natural Science

Dinosaurs and Beyond The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a treasure trove of knowledge. Families can encounter lifelike dinosaurs, explore ancient civilizations, and dive into the world of gems and minerals. The museum’s butterfly center is a favorite among children and adults alike.

Children’s Museum of Houston 

Interactive Learning The Children’s Museum of Houston is designed to spark children’s curiosity and creativity. With hands-on exhibits covering topics from science and technology to art and culture, it’s a place where learning is an adventure. Kids can engage in interactive play while gaining knowledge.

Buffalo Bayou Park

Urban Oasis Buffalo Bayou Park is an urban oasis where families can enjoy outdoor activities. The park features walking and biking trails, a beautiful waterfront, and even a skate park. It’s a serene escape within the city, perfect for picnics and leisurely strolls.

Houston Zoo 

Animal Encounters The Houston Zoo is home to a diverse array of animals from around the world. Families can wander through exhibits featuring everything from majestic lions to playful sea otters. It’s an opportunity to connect with wildlife and learn about conservation efforts.

Waco: A Fixer-Upper’s Paradise

Waco, a city in central Texas, has gained fame as the home of Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of the TV show “Fixer Upper.” Beyond the world of home improvement, Waco offers its own unique charm and attractions.

Magnolia Market at the Silos 

Shopping and Food A visit to Waco wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Magnolia Market at the Silos. Families can shop for home decor, clothing, and unique gifts. The food trucks and bakery on-site offer delicious treats and refreshments. It’s a trendy destination with a welcoming atmosphere.

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Prehistoric Giants The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site where families can explore the remains of mammoths from the Ice Age. Guided tours provide insight into the scientific significance of the site and the history of these ancient creatures.

Cameron Park Zoo

Wildlife Adventures Cameron Park Zoo is a family-friendly attraction featuring a wide variety of animals in naturalistic habitats. From giraffes and lions to komodo dragons and river otters, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The zoo’s lush surroundings add to the immersive experience.

Dr Pepper Museum 

Soda History Waco is home to the Dr Pepper Museum, where families can learn about the history of this iconic soft drink. Interactive exhibits showcase the soda’s evolution, and visitors can even sample a variety of Dr Pepper flavors from around the world.

Waco Suspension Bridge 

Historic Landmark The Waco Suspension Bridge is a historic landmark that spans the Brazos River. Families can stroll across the bridge and take in scenic views of the river and the city. It’s a peaceful spot for a leisurely walk and a great place for photos.

Galveston: Coastal Charm and History

Galveston, an island city on the Gulf of Mexico, offers a blend of coastal charm and historical significance. Families can enjoy the beach, explore historic districts, and immerse themselves in the island’s rich heritage.

Galveston Beaches

Sun and Surf Galveston boasts miles of sandy beaches, making it a perfect destination for families seeking sun and surf. Whether it’s building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or simply soaking up the sun, the island’s beaches offer relaxation and recreation.

The Strand Historic District

Victorian Architecture The Strand is a historic district known for its well-preserved Victorian architecture. Families can take leisurely walks along the cobblestone streets, visit unique shops, and enjoy a variety of dining options. The district’s historic buildings evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

Amusement Fun The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is an amusement park built on a historic pier over the Gulf of Mexico. Families can enjoy thrilling rides, games, and classic amusement park treats like cotton candy and funnel cakes.

Moody Gardens

Educational Entertainment Moody Gardens is a multifaceted attraction offering entertainment and education. Families can explore the aquarium pyramid, rainforest pyramid, and discovery pyramid, each providing a unique learning experience. The gardens also feature a water park and a paddlewheel boat.

Galveston Railroad Museum

Trains and History The Galveston Railroad Museum is a fascinating destination for train enthusiasts and history buffs. Families can explore vintage locomotives, railcars, and exhibits that highlight the importance of railroads in Galveston’s history.


Texas is a vast and diverse state that caters to all types of family vacations. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing on the beach, Texas has it all. So, pack your bags and explore the best places to visit in Texas with your family, creating lasting memories together.


Is Texas a family-friendly vacation destination?

Absolutely! Texas offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions and activities.

When is the best time to visit Texas with family?

Spring and fall are generally the most pleasant seasons, with mild weather for outdoor adventures.

Are there any kid-friendly museums in Texas?

Yes, many museums across Texas offer interactive exhibits and activities for children.

What are some must-try Texan dishes for families?

Don’t miss out on Tex-Mex cuisine, BBQ, and delicious southern comfort food.

Are there any special events or festivals worth attending in Texas?

Texas hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, so check the calendar for what’s happening during your visit.

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