You might know Houston as "Space City," but there's plenty to explore Earth-side. From epic family-friendly camping resorts to conveniently located RV parks, you don't have to be an astronaut to go on an out-of-this-world adventure.
You might be thinking, “Camping? … In Houston?” Houston is often referred to as a concrete jungle, so while your reservations are understandable, we can assure you there is more to this urban destination than you might expect and an infinite amount of beauty to be explored. Whether you find yourself northwest in the rolling hill country, in the southeast for a gulf coast experience, or right in the heart of downtown, Houston has something special waiting for you and your loved ones.
Houston is far from lacking in stunning state parks, lush forests, and beautiful lakes. Once you familiarize yourself with the surrounding parks, campgrounds, and roadways—you’ll be confidently navigating this lively city. The following tips should provide you with a great jumping-off point to start curating your Houston family adventure.
If you’ve ever visited Houston in the summertime, you’re no stranger to the scorching temperatures these months can produce. Known for its 90 to 100 degree summers, this toasty city also experiences high humidity especially in June through August. Houston summers are best spent with some form of water involved—whether it’s a pool, water park, or lake day activities. While we wouldn’t recommend pitching a tent in mid-July, upgrading to an RV or cabin could provide the perfect way to escape the heat after a day full of summer activities.
If a traditional camping experience is more your speed, you might consider traveling in the spring or fall. In March through mid-May, temperatures will range from the 70s to 80s during the day with mild lows in the 50s at night. If you find yourself camping near Houston in early spring, you might catch a glimpse of the iconic Texas bluebonnets. Beginning in late February—open fields and roadsides are blanketed with vibrant shades of blue and purple. Don’t forget your camera to capture these stunning state flowers.
Temperatures typically begin to climb at the end of May and you’ll start feeling that summer heat. If you’re all booked for the spring, I would skip the summer months and plan on arriving in late September, October, or early November. The crisp autumn air, crunchy leaves, and classic fall scent will only enhance your experience.
No matter the season, Houston never fails to provide a never-ending itinerary of activities. If your animal-loving little ones are tagging along, head over to the Houston Zoo for an experience they won’t forget. This 55-acre zoo is home to over 4,500 animals and offers events throughout the week tailored to different age groups. You can even stop by to feed the giraffes before heading to the Naturally Wild Swap Shop—where your child can bring in any nature-related items to be swapped for points. These points can be used to purchase something in the shop while learning more about the items they brought in.
While a visit to the theatre may not be the first thing on a camper’s radar, this isn’t your typical formal evening. At Miller, there’s no need to pack your stilettos or suit and tie. All you need is a pair of flip flops for this laid-back venue in Houston’s museum district. Campers can grab their blankets, lawn chairs, and food for an evening picnic and a show. While it’s always free admission, the planning-ahead types may also claim assigned seats at the box office. Miller hosts a variety of performances from the Houston Symphony and musicals performed by Theatre Under the Stars to family movie nights. What better way to end a full day of adventuring than to gather on a blanket under the stars for some wholesome entertainment?
If you and your loved ones are seeking some safe, family-friendly areas to bike and explore, check out Buffalo Bayou Park. With 160 acres of green space running along the bayou, this park offers bike rentals, bike and walking trails, and even dog parks. If you plan on braving the summer heat, be sure to check out their annual 4th of July celebration.
Navigating Houston can feel like a daunting task for first timers. However, once you familiarize yourself with a few of the city’s major roadways, you’ll be confidently exploring in no time. Unless you plan on sticking to your campsite, you’ll probably find yourself on Interstate 45, Highway 59, or Interstate 10 at some point in your journey. I-45 runs north/south through Houston and into Galveston. Interstate 69 (often still known as Highway 59), runs north/south and veers west once you are south of Houston. One of the major vessels that gets you to the east and west parts of town is I-10. This interstate runs horizontally through downtown and can get you all the way to West Texas or Louisiana. Lastly, you should familiarize yourself with the two major loops that circle downtown Houston: Beltway 8 and 610. Highway 610 is a small loop surrounding downtown. Beltway 8, often referred to as “the beltway,” encompasses both 610 and the downtown Houston area.
Apart from mastering the roadways, planning your transportation ahead of time is key for avoiding unnecessary stress during your trip. Traveling via car is recommended for traveling to and from campgrounds. However, if you plan to fly or bring an RV, you may need to opt for Ubers, public transportation, or car rentals. When exploring downtown Houston, there are several bus options as well as the MetroRail and BCycle (Houston’s bike share program). The Houston bus system provides plenty of routes to get you all over town. If you opt for the MetroRail, keep in mind that routes are a bit more limited. For transport to Houston’s most populated neighborhoods such as downtown and the Museum District, the Redline will be your best option. Download the METRO app to find bus times, pick up locations, stops, and fare information.
Houston is recognized for its diverse neighborhoods with a mix of historic bungalows, Victorian style homes, and multimillion-dollar mansions. If you’re in need of a mid-week refresh, a scenic drive through these stunning neighborhoods may be the perfect break from hiking, boating, or birdwatching. These noteworthy areas all sit inside of the 610 loop, making for accessible transportation.
This beloved Houston neighborhood is home to the River Oaks Theatre. Built in 1939, this iconic landmark offers a variety of indie and foreign films. After filling your film-junkie craving, take a stroll down Westheimer for an afternoon of antique shopping before finishing your day with some classic American comfort food at State of Grace or a taste of authentic Indian cuisine at Verandah.
Known for its stunning Victorian era homes that sit on the tree-lined Heights Boulevard, The Heights is worth a visit if you are downtown. A short walk up 19th street will lead you to an array of timeless vintage shops, historic homes, and local restaurants. Also popular in The Heights are local farmers markets that are open year-round. You should keep your eye open for Epicurean Market on Heights Boulevard known for their live music, fresh produce, and local artisan vendors.
This cultural hub holds some of the most spectacular museums in Houston. Houston Museum of Natural Science contains five floors of permanent exhibits including astronomy, geology, and Texas wildlife. Home to 90,000 square feet of exhibits, the Houston Children's Museum features hands-on workshops, science demos, and toy stores. For the art lovers in your family, check out The Museum of Fine Arts. One of the 10 largest art museums in the United States, this venue holds multiple cafes, libraries, a repertory cinema, and over 65,000 art pieces.
Saying Houston is hot in the summer is like saying the sky is blue. That being said, if a little heat doesn't scare you, there are a few key things you should keep in mind. First, consider upgrading to a cabin or an RV. Most campgrounds around the Houston area have these options and you will be grateful for a place to cool off and shower after a long day in the sun. For activities, your best bet will be anything water related. Houston has some of the best lakes and water parks to keep you cool this summer.
Houston is packed with exciting water adventures for all ages. Check out Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Waller, Texas. This water park and campground is fully equipped with a sports field, outdoor theater, fishing, arts and crafts, and even a dog park for your furry family members. Or if you find yourself north of town, head over to Hurricane Harbor Splashtown in Spring. Schlitterbahn is another great option for those camping near the gulf coast. After a full day of water adventures, you can set up camp at Bolivar Beach Club and RV Resort.
You can’t finish off a camping trip without a memorable family lake day. Sitting on opposite sides of Sam Houston National Forest are Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston. Both of these lakes are wonderful options for families camping up north. They offer open sailing year round as well as fishing, kayaking, and jet ski rentals. Southeast of Conroe, you can wake up in waterfront cabins at The Retreat RV and Camping Resort. At this Lake Houston camping gem, you can enjoy a day of fishing, canoeing, kayaking, special events, and even a dip in the pool to beat Houston’s toasty summer months.
If you’re craving the sounds of the ocean and feeling of sand between your toes, head southeast to Galveston, Texas. This barrier island on the gulf coast contains an assortment of beautiful beaches, local eateries, and historic shops. Babes Beach, Stewart Beach, and Crystal beach are a few of the most popular day-trip destinations. Galveston is also home to Pleasure Pier—a thrilling amusement park sitting over the gulf. If topsy-turvy carnival rides aren’t your cup of tea, fear not. While your other family members risk seeing their lunch again, you are free to enjoy the stunning Gulf Coast views while exploring the shops and sipping on your favorite cocktail.
Avid birders will not be disappointed after visiting these charming migratory bird spots. High Island, Lafitte Cove, and Quintana Bird Sanctuary are a few of the most sought-after resting spots. High lsland is a geologically elevated “island” in Galveston due to salt domes at the edge of the gulf. This has been a rest stop for migratory birds for thousands of years and a hit for Houston area birders. Also in Galveston, Lafitte Cove is a nature preserve offering an exciting array of bird species year round. You won’t want to leave without checking out the quiet trails and observation towers at Quintana Bird Sanctuary. Every year during the month of April, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory staff provide birding information, checklists, and even lead tours.
Formerly a public golf course, this 132-acre garden is surrounded by Sims Bayou. It contains a variety of gardens with themes such as Global, Culinary, Stormwater Wetlands and the Coastal Prairie. Here, visitors can explore hundreds of plant species that are related to a specific environment. The garden is open every day from 9am to 5pm and is only a few miles from downtown.
Some of the most stunning Texas state parks lie within the Greater Houston area. Just an hour long drive north of Houston, you’ll find Huntsville State Park. This serene getaway offers trails, fishing lakes, kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes. To get the full Huntsville experience, you can pitch a tent, rent a cabin, or bring your RV to Harmon Creek RV Park and Marina. These convenient locations allow your family to be immersed in nature while still in decent proximity to downtown. Heading south west on Interstate 69/Highway 59 will take you into Brazos Bend State Park. This stunning park offers 13 miles of multi-use trails, six fishing lakes, horseback riding, and more. It welcomes more than 270 species of birds along with an alligator observation. For a relaxing beach getaway, head down to Galveston Island State Park. Catch the best birding sights in the morning, spend the afternoon at Pleasure Pier, and finish the day with a shrimp dinner at Jimmy’s on the Pier. Just 50 miles north of downtown is Sam Houston National Forest. One of four Texas national forests, it is home to the 128 mile Lone Star Hiking Trail.
Apart from the wonderful array of campgrounds, state parks, and forests, Houston provides hundreds of diverse nature experiences. A visit to the Moody Gardens rainforest pyramid will transport you to the rainforests of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. As you step through the tree-covered doors, you will be met with over 1,700 species of exotic plants and endangered animals. Or take a drive to Houston's Arboretum and Nature Center to surround yourself with a fascinating array of wildlife. Houston’s vast collection of camping opportunities will be sure to provide lasting memories for you and your family.