You’re burnt out, sick of the city and overdue for a break -- Well, it’s not too late to plan to one. Here are some easy weekend getaways from Houston that require fewer than four hours roundtrip in a car.
- Distance from Houston: 50 miles
- What you get: Sun-soaked beaches, Southern charm, incredible architecture, family-friendly everything, laid-back island vibes, animal encounters; Galveston, a laid-back city on an island two miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, is a popular weekend and vacation destination. It’s restaurants, beaches and attractions are filled with escapees from Houston and other nearby cities. Juxtaposed with Galveston’s striking collection of historic buildings, restored vessels, and museums are flashy attractions like Moody Gardens and the pleasure pier.
- Where to stay: Built in 1911, Grand Galvez, known as the Queen of the Gulf, played host to such guests as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Its 224 rooms underwent renovations in 2022. Many have views of the gulf and one houses a particularly spirited guest. For quirkier accommodations, try the Kettle House, a popular Airbnb that defies easy explanation, or the Galveston Railroad Museum’s Bonnie Brook Rail Car.
- Distance from Houston: 70 miles
- What you get: Texas history, roadside oddities, scuba diving, small-town charm, one extraordinarily eclectic museum; For some, the idea of doing time in this sleepy East Texas town 70 miles north of Houston evokes images of white jumpsuits, handcuffs and razor wire. But those who visit Huntsville voluntarily will find it quite accommodating. Here you can lose yourself among the majestic trees of the East Texas Pineywoods, dig deep into Sam Houston’s life and legacy, or dive to the crystalline depths of a sparkling blue lagoon.
- Where to stay: Rent this one-bedroom log cabin situated among pastures about 10 miles west of Huntsville. When I stayed here during the summer of 2016, I was taken aback by the beauty of the place. The pond nearby was stocked with fish, cows grazed lazily in an adjoining field, and wildflowers bloomed in patches all over the property. The sunsets and sunrises we’re stunning. The listing photos don’t do it justice.
- Distance from Houston: 76 miles
- What you get: Bluebonnets, barbecue, Blue Bell, historic sites, antique shops; Bucolic Brenham is nestled along a quiet stretch of U.S. Highway 290, 76 miles northwest of Houston. The cradle of Blue Bell and bluebonnets, Brenham is a favorite of weekenders thanks to its rustic charm, lush landscapes and vibrant downtown historic district, not to mention the nearby wineries, parks and historic sites.
- Where to stay: The Ross Carroll Bennett House, a magnificent 19th century Queen Anne style home and a registered Texas historical landmark, has one swoon-worthy suite and three beautifully adorned bedrooms. A champagne breakfast and happy hour with hors d’oeuvres is served daily for guests. For a more rural experience, try this cottage situated on a 60-acre ranch.
- Distance from Houston: 84 miles
- What you get: Alligator encounters, rich Cajun culture, eclectic roadside attractions, museums, stunning natural splendor, a plethora of paddling and hiking trails, zero crowds; Lose yourself in the lush moss-draped cypress-tupelo sloughs of the Big Thicket National Preserve, gander at hundreds of gators at an animal sanctuary, and see where the Texas oil boom began.
- Where to stay: This stunning cabin 15 miles northwest of Beaumont in Lumberton is well worth the drive.
Good people of Houston and beyond, what would you add? This list is by no means comprehensive and I’m grateful for recommendations. Email your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop them in the comment section below.
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