Weekend getaway close to Houston
March 14, 2017 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Is there someplace for a long-weekend vacation near (no more than three hour drive) Houston for a big family with babies, kids and adults?

We usually spend holidays in Houston with my husband's sister-in-law but now I think they are bored with just staying there and are proposing a getaway a few hours drive to some place we can all enjoy. There are babies, kids and adults in the mix, so we are not looking for any adventure such as camping or fishing or whatever, but maybe a place where we can rent a house on Airbnb and spend a Easter weekend having fun. I volunteered to look for something but have no idea where to start. Help?
posted by CrazyLemonade to Travel & Transportation around Texas (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Native Houstonian here. Try Austin, San Antonio, maybe Fredricksburg.
posted by jtexman1 at 10:50 AM on March 14, 2017

Response by poster: Any particular locations you recommend? I've never heard of Fredricksburg but I know Austin and San Antonio are relativelty big cities.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2017

Fredericksburg is in the Hill Country and Enchanted Rock State Park is close by. It's a popular vacation spot but it's about 5 hours from Houston (you could stop in Austin which is about 3 hours away).

You could visit the San Antonio River Walk. Austin is great for music and food (not sure about these lists, it's been 30 years since I moved away). Both places are big and have lots of busy freeways.

Finally, you could just drive out in the countryside to see the wildflowers (although getting out of Houston can take up half your day).
posted by jabo at 11:50 AM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I vote San Antonio for you. Austin is a little more geared toward adult fun, I think. With a large group of varying ages, I think there would be more to do at different price points for you in San Antonio. Plus not far from there are the Guadalupe River, Schlitterbahn Water Park and Natural Bridge Caverns which are all big family attractions.
posted by backwards compatible at 12:37 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing San Antonio: River Walk, Market Square, Botanical Garden, Missions, Schilo's, etc.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2017

More specifics for San Antonio: If you've got a group with kiddos, I recommend looking on VRBO or AirBnB for a place to stay just north of Downtown somewhere near the Broadway corridor (not in downtown itself). You'll be very close to some great kid-friendly attractions like the Botanical Gardens mentioned above, plus the DoSeum, the newly-expanded Witte Museum, the Pearl, Brackenridge Park, and the San Antonio Zoo. You'll still be close to the River Walk, but it'll be the much lovelier, more laid-back Museum Reach. The central part of the River Walk has its moments, but it's mostly crowded and touristy and full of overpriced chain restaurants. The Mission Reach area south of downtown is also pretty awesome, especially if you want to bike the Missions. Both the Pearl area north of downtown and King William/Southtown south of downtown have great restaurants. In downtown proper, some of the best attractions right now for families/kids are: San Antonio - The Saga, a super-cool light show on the San Fernando Cathedral in Main Plaza, and the new children's play area at Hemisfair Park.
posted by maddieD at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check out Wimberley too. It's a small town just outside of Austin. I like it more than Fredericksburg.
posted by monologish at 2:11 PM on March 14, 2017

Galveston Island beach house? They are a dime a dozen on VRBO and AirBNB. You can easily get one big enough for a large group. I recommend the SW side of the island, around Jamaica Beach. You can either stay gulf-side or bay-side. Anyone who doesn't want to hang out on the beach can go into town and do history stuff, drink beer, shop, etc.

I love Fredericksburg and SA too, but SA is a fairly big town and Fredericksburg is at least 5 hours away, depending on traffic.
posted by Brittanie at 2:34 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Brenham and Galveston are both closer than San Antonio if drive time matters substantially. I actually might prefer Galveston as the beach can be easier to escape to without seeming to ditch the family or having possibly expensive family activities.
posted by beaning at 2:35 PM on March 14, 2017

Response by poster: Has anyone heard about something about lakes in Austin? My mother-in-law mentioned something like that. I'm was wasting time on TripAdvisor the other day and found some Lake Austin spas... we don't intend to go to a spa or resort but I'm guessing Lake Austin is a thing?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2017

The lakes in Austin aren't really lakes. They're damned sections of the Colorado River. In other words, if someone hadn't told you it was a "lake" you'd be thinking "this is a stretch of river". Which is fine, but don't be expecting an actual lake.
posted by hoyland at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2017

Does she mean Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake that runs through downtown Austin? There are some very beautiful areas as you follow the Colorado River out west of town and every wide spot wants to call itself a lake but they are all just really different parts of the Colorado River. Lake Austin is just a bit west of Austin and does have a well rated spa and marina but I don't know what's there for kids. Lago Vista is also out west of Austin.
posted by beaning at 5:08 PM on March 14, 2017

That link for Town Lake didn't work right: try this one: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g30196-d109314-Reviews-Town_Lake-Austin_Texas.html
posted by beaning at 5:11 PM on March 14, 2017

Response by poster: Ah ok I get it.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 5:37 PM on March 14, 2017

Lake Travis is the largest and most populated of the Highland Lakes. Lake Livingston and Lake Conroe are just North of Houston but their main draw is probably fishing. The surrounding woods are nice though.

If you are looking for something on the coast, there is Matagorda Bay (where the Colorado River empties into the Gulf and my family used to rent a beach house) and there is South Padre Island farther South near Corpus Christi (about 4 hours drive).

In Galveston, there is a wonderful Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens along with an amusement park and it's about an hour from downtown Houston.
posted by jabo at 6:59 PM on March 14, 2017

On second thought I would have to vote more for San Antonio. Everyone likes the riverwalk, at least the first time, as it can be crowded. Austin has Zilker Park, which is nice, and hiking the trails in and around the lakes in town. But it isn't necessarily a fun place for kids.
If you do chose Galveston you and the kids might enjoy the Pleasure Pier. If you are on the seawall, you can't miss it. It is a huge pier out over the Gulf. It has rides, games, etc that the kids will love. And the adults might enjoy the shops on the Strand.
posted by jtexman1 at 5:23 AM on March 15, 2017

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