15 Fun Things to Do in South Texas

Looking for the best things to do in South Texas, both at the beach and inland? We’ve got you covered!

South Texas sightseeing boasts plenty of gems, the diamond of which are the beaches that border the gulf.

Traditional beach vibes might bring images of colorful Miami or the boardwalks of California, but Texas brings its own flair as well.

A little-known fact to non-Texans is that some major cruise lines have ships that depart from Galveston, Texas as well!

South Texas is flooded with all sorts of great finds–here’s what to do in South Texas!

harbor of corpus christi texas. there are several fun museums in corpus christi tx

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Stroll along the San Antonio Riverwalk.

The San Antonio RiverWalk has a fun collection of restaurants and bars in San Antonio, all with a great view.

There are several cool patio spots that offer up a great view of the water. There are so many different types of cuisine available whether you’re looking for a great ice cream spot or a vegan/vegetarian lunch place the Riverwalk will have it all!

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You can take a boat tour through all of the canals, most of this area is man-made but it’s still a really beautiful attraction.

If you walk away from the main strip of restaurants there are beautiful trails that lead around the water.

The San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the quintessential things to see in South Texas.

la villita san antonio riverwalk, one of the best cities to visit in texas

Go horseback riding on the beach on South Padre Island.

Always wanted to ride a horse on a beach? On South Padre Island, you can!

For horse lovers, horseback riding on South Padre, especially at sunset, is one of the best South Texas activities to experience.

Kate Storm riding a chestnut horse on the beach in South Padre Island Texas

Step inside the Alamo.

The Alamo is near the Riverwalk area of San Antonio and it is a relic of military history for Texas.

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The fortress started out as a chapel and compound for Catholic priests and ended up being a shelter for Texan soldiers to defend themselves against the Mexican Army.

There are educational items located throughout the physical building for you to get to learn more about the battle. You can also book a guided tour of the chapel or do a self-guided audio tour. 

The front facade of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas as seen from the ridge side of the building

Discover the San Antonio Missions.

As Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Missions are absolutely one of the best places to visit in South Texas.

These locations are some of the biggest representations of the Catholic faith from the 18th century onward.

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The Missions are connected through a large trail which is broken up into blocks.

The Missions represent a painful but powerful moment in the religious evolution of the city.

A lot of what Texan culture is like comes from this area and this point in time. It is the symbol of the Spanish Conquistadors in American history, some of the most beautiful architecture is represented by the churches at the Missions.

mission san jose from the outside on a sunny day, one of the best reasons to visit texas

Tour the renowned Moody Mansion.

Moody Mansion is a restored mansion in Galveston, Texas. This beautiful, historic home was built in 1895 and was occupied by a wealthy family.

The restored property has made its way to the National Register of Historic Places.

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The home itself is 28,000 square feet and has 20 rooms! It is filled with memorabilia and personal effects from the family and shows what old-school wealth looked like in the early 20th century.

You can book a tour through the website in order to see some more exclusive parts of the home.

The museum has been established as a charitable effort to preserve the arts and promote the Moody family’s philanthropic efforts.

Moody Mansion in Galveston TX, with a wrought iron fence in the foreground. Visiting the haunted moody mansion is one of the best things to do in galveston tx

Board the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi.

The USS Lexington is known as the “Blue Ghost”.

During the day it’s a popular museum full of interesting facts about naval history, but at night it’s actually a rumored ghost ship that is considered one of the most haunted places in Texas!

There are full tours available and even a 3D movie experience.

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If you’re more of a thrill-seeker, you can book an overnight camping experience as well. There is also a flight simulator that simulates warplanes on the ship.

This is really great for anyone interested in military history or interactive museums. Try out the escape room or explore the flight deck.

There are so many things for people to try out, definitely plan at least half a day to really explore everything!

USS Lexington in Corpus Christi TX belongs on any list of what to do in Texas

Get out of this world at the NASA Space Center.

One of the most important sites of the US Space Program, the NASA Space Center perhaps best-known for the line “Houston, we have a problem”.

The science and contributions to space aviation at this site are second to none.

There are multiple exhibitions and experiences that are worth the trip. From astronaut experiences to a family campout this isn’t really a run-of-the-mill museum experience.

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You get a really good insight into everything from astronomy to mechanical engineering and all of the components involved in creating a successful space flight.

Some exhibitions have been created on a rolling basis so often there is something new to see on site.

Within a 10 minute drive, there is also a fantastic memorial park dedicated to NASA astronauts from the Challenger Seven Flight.

NASA sign with logo against a blue sky. The Houston Space Center is one of the best things to do in Houston TX

Get underground at Natural Bridge Caverns.

Natural Bridge Caverns is just outside of San Antonio. It is halfway on the way to Austin so it could be a fun stopover if you have a buzzing car full of eager travelers.

There are a couple of different tour offerings, most of the tour is on an incline or decline so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.

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There may be slightly wet spots as well so that is something to be cognizant of.

After your tour, you can see the water lines they have set up so allow folks to sift through small amounts of water for stones.

Oddly enough they also sell homemade fudge, and although it’s out of place at a cavern, it tastes fantastic!

Interior of Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas

Go dolphin watching.

If you’re not from Texas, you may not know that dolphin-watching is one of the most popular activities in several South Texas beach towns!

From Port Aransas to South Padre and beyond, spotting beautiful wild dolphins in their natural habitat is an incredible experience that deserves to be featured on any list covering what to do in South Texas.

Dolphins swimming in the ocean near Port Aransas. Safely spotting wild dolphins from a distance belongs on any list of what to do in Port Aransas TX

Visit the Hermann Park Conservancy in Houston.

Hermann Park has a cross-section of all of Houston, there are points of interest for pretty much anyone.

If you’re into flowers and picture-perfect photo ops, you can head over to the multiple different gardens, including the Japanese Garden which has serene water features and greenery everywhere.

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For hikers and bikers, there are several trails and plazas that give you an overview of the city and include lots of great sightseeing opportunities.

From the sculpture walk to the zoo, everything is fairly close by and you can walk for miles and still have something left on the list.

japanese garden at hermann conservancy in houston, one of the best things to do in south texas

Pay a visit to Padre Island National Seashore.

There’s a reason that visiting the Padre Island National Seashore is one of the most popular things to do in South Texas: it’s incredibly beautiful!

Home to the longest stretch of an undeveloped barrier island in the world, there are 70 miles of coastline here.

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You can come here to kayak, see the sea turtles, hike, take photos, and a million other things. There are campsites available too.

This is a great staycation spot for those that love to get in touch with nature.

If you like a little spike of adrenaline you can take 4-wheelers out to tear up 60 miles of terrain. If you want an epic trip this is the place to be!

Purple flowers blooming on sand dunes on padre island, one of the prettiest islands in texas

Head to the top of the Tower of the Americas.

The Tower of the Americas in San Antonio is very similar to Reunion Tower in Dallas.

You can head up to the lookout floor and see a full view of downtown, and also grab a really nice dinner or some drinks and take it all in.

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The surrounding Hemisfair Park is the park that adjoins the Riverwalk to other parts of downtown.

This is a popular running spot for locals. It makes an evening 5K so much less mundane, you get to see the colorful and playful vibes of San Antonio.

Sometimes there are live music festivals or fairs that are so fun to accidentally drop into.

tower of the americas in hemisfair park, one of the best parks in san antonio tx

Go bird watching in Port Aransas.

Port Aransas is home to 6 key sites on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the first and largest trail of its kind in the country.

During the area’s world-renowned spring and fall migrations, you can see many of the 450 different species of migratory birds.

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The strategic location of Port Aransas and Mustang Island on the Central Flyway migration route makes the area uniquely attractive to migrating birds.

The accessible boardwalks and observation towers located throughout the area let even a casual observer spot birds like an old pro, making birdwatching one of the best things to do in South TX!

White whooping crane in shallow water in South Texas. Observing these endangered creatures from a safe distance is one of the best things to do in Port Aransas TX

Feel like a kid again at Kemah Boardwalk.

Kemah Boardwalk is a fun date spot a little way out of Houston. It is very representative of beachside boardwalks on the coasts.

Grab cotton candy or funnel cake and try your hand at the range of carnival games. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are roller coasters and high-thrill tower rides as well! This is a pretty well-rounded way to end the evening. 

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You can grab dinner or snacks, try out some rides, walk around for a little while. It is sort of a complete package, especially for a cute date night. You can access everything within a short walk.

If you want to do something fun that’s not the typical Houston experience definitely check this place out!

Aerial view of Kemah Boardwalk near Houston Texas

Climb a lighthouse in Port Isabel.

Texas is home to several historic lighthouses that are worth visiting, but Port Isabel’s is particularly fun because you can climb it!

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A short 75-step climb up the 19th-century structure will deliver you to beautiful views of Port Isabel, South Padre Island, and Laguna Madre.

This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in South Texas–you won’t find many lighthouses to climb in other parts of the Lone Star State!

3 photos from south texas: galveston pier, galveston beach, san antonio riverwalk. black and red text on a white background reads "15 fun things to do south texas"

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