Most people think of tumbleweeds and endless deserts when they think of Texas. Texas is actually home to a huge variety of landscapes, from expanses of desert to lush rivers and lakes. During the Texas summer, there’s no better way to beat the heat than to head for the water.

Water Sports in Texas

Surfing

There are several popular areas along the Texas coast that surfers flock to. Galveston is a popular beach near the city of Houston, and though the water is shallow it can get some decently sized waves. Corpus Cristi is one of the windiest beaches along the Texas coast and can be a great location to surf, but South Padre Island tends to be a more popular destination.

Jet Skiing

Many lakes and beachfront venues offer Jet Ski rental services, since most of us don’t own our own. Most national and state parks forbid Jet Skiing in their lakes to protect the local wildlife, such as Padre Island National Seashore. The lakes of the Hill Country and the Gulf Coast are ideal destinations for those who want to try their hand at Jet Skiing.

Snorkeling and Diving

Snorkeling and diving are a great way to have up close encounters with local Texan marine life. South Padre Island is a popular dive destination for its abundance of wildlife such as sharks and stingrays. You can also take an eerie tour of the sunken Texas clipper. Other springs, lagoons and lakes offer plenty of diving and snorkeling opportunities as well.

Kayaking, Canoeing and Rafting

Texas is home to more than 15 major rivers and over 3,700 streams. There are plenty of places to choose from if you want to go kayaking or canoeing, and many offer rental services. If you don’t have much experience with kayaks or canoes, a lot of rental agencies also offer lessons and guided tours.

Whitewater rafting is popular during certain seasons when the rivers are running high enough to be turbulent. Rivers around the Hill country and the Guadalupe are some of the best areas for rafting.

Water Sports in Texas

Boating and Sailing

Whether you want a romantic captained voyage down the coast or to steer your own boat across a lake, you can find an experience to suit your needs in Texas. If you want to sail yourself but don’t have the know-how, many boat rental agencies offer lessons from a qualified captain. Some even offer certification programs. There are plenty of wide, windy lakes and expansive coastlines throughout Texas that offer the perfect opportunity to try out sailing.

Water Sports in Texas

Flyboarding

Flyboarding is a relatively new extreme water sport that is taking off in Texas. A Flyboard is a water jetpack that is attached to and powered by a watercraft such as a Jet Ski. Streams of water propel you up into the air, much like an aquatic hoverboard. There are a couple of Flyboard rental services scattered throughout Texas, and many of them offer lessons for beginners.

Water Sports in Texas

Hitting the Water

Texas is home to an abundance of rivers, lakes and coastal regions. No matter which watersport you’re into, you can find somewhere in Texas to practice your hobby. The next time you’re feeling a little hot, slap on a swimsuit and jump in the water.

The Texas Hill Country is famous for its natural beauty and cultural diversity. Located in the heart of Texas, it covers over 10,000 square miles and is home to over 100 different cities. You can see a stunning mixture of architecture, terrain and wildlife as you travel across the Hill Country.

Outdoor Fun in the Texas Hill Country

Beautiful clear rivers flow through the Texas Hill Country, and several lakes dot the countryside. During the warmer months, many tourists go swimming and inner tubing or try their hand at kayaking. Even when the water is too chilly to take a dip, it’s relaxing to sit by the lakeside and fish.

Outdoor Fun in the Texas Hill Country

There are 42 different wineries scattered throughout the Hill Country. You can tour expansive vineyards and see how wine grapes are grown, or learn about each winery’s unique wine making process. After a tour, most wineries will let you taste samples of their products. Some are even attached to a bistro, so you can order a meal to pair with your wine.

Outdoor Fun in the Texas Hill Country

If you are a nature enthusiast, you may enjoy a hike or bike ride around the countryside. The Texas Hill Country offers breathtaking views at any time of year. There are also a few wildlife centers to visit, such as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Here you can take guided tours and learn about native plants throughout North America.

Outdoor Fun in the Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country is a beautiful and exciting mix of culture and natural splendor. From hikers to wine connoisseurs, the Hill Country has something to offer everyone.

On a nice day in Texas, it feels great to go for a dip in the pool or to take a hike through the countryside. Whenever you step outside, you should always be sure to cover up. It’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Staying Safe in the Texas Sun

It might be tempting to wear a tank top when it’s hot and muggy out, but a thin white shirt can cover more skin while still keeping you cool. Wearing a hat can protect your neck and scalp from getting burned.

Staying Safe in the Texas Sun

Any exposed skin should be covered with sunscreen. All sunscreens have a Sun Protection Factor rating, of SPF rating. This number tells you how long it would take for your skin to burn with the sunscreen on versus off. An SPF of 15 means that the sunscreen will protect you for fifteen times longer than if you weren’t wearing it. SPF 15 sunscreens are able to block out about 93 percent of UV rays. You should choose an SPF between 15 and 50 depending on your skin type.

Staying Safe in the Texas Sun

Your eyes are a sensitive area that needs to be protected. UV exposure can cause short and long term damage to your vision, so you should wear sunglasses that are able to block out at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Staying Safe in the Texas Sun

Whenever you feel like going outside to enjoy the sun, remember to slap on some UV protection. Your skin will stay safe while you enjoy all that the Texan outdoors has to offer.

Every kid needs fresh air, and a fun outdoor activity can be a refreshing change for the whole family. Instead of going to see the latest movie, why not slap on some sunscreen and head for the nearest national park? Texas is full of endless outdoor fun that your kids will love.

Dude Ranches

A lot of people think of horses and cowboy hats when they think of Texas. At a dude ranch, you get exactly that. Your family can immerse itself in old-fashioned Texan culture and get in touch with nature.

Many dude ranches give you and your children the opportunity to ride horses. Regardless of your experience level, you’ll receive professional help saddling up and hopping on your horse before going for a pleasant ride through the local countryside.

If your idea of a vacation involves less horse riding and more relaxing, some dude ranches have spas to visit. Parents can sit back and be pampered while the kids have a blast fossil digging or going for a hayride.

Outdoor Activities for Kids in Texas

After a day of activities, your family can all sit down to a traditional cowboy cookout around the campfire. There’s nothing more delicious than fresh smoked Texas barbeque for dinner.

Wildlife Preserves and Parks

You don’t need to take your family on an expensive trip to Africa for a safari tour. You can see all sorts of exotic wildlife in outdoor parks across Texas. Unlike zoos, these preserves let animals roam free.

Most safari parks offer tours where you can get up close and personal with all of the animals. You ride through the park in either your own car or on a guided tour while exotic animals roam free around you. Your kids will love seeing a curious antelope come up to the window or watching a pack of zebras grazing just feet away.

A trip to a wildlife preserve can be educational as well as fun. Your kids will learn about all sorts of different animals, ecosystems, and the importance of protecting our environment.

The Texas Renaissance Festival

The Texas Renaissance festival is another educational activity that your kids will enjoy. You and your family will feel like you’ve been transported back in time when you set foot into the flurry of medieval dresses and chain link armor. The Renaissance Festival runs on weekends in October and November every year.

Dressing up in medieval garb is just one of the fun traditions of the Texas Renaissance Fair. There are over 300 vendors selling unique goods and trinkets, as well as over 200 daily performances that range from Celtic dancing to magic shows. Your kids can also learn how swords were made or what goes into weaving a tapestry.

After spending all day outside watching jousting matches, you can relax in one of the taverns set up around the fair grounds. You and your family don’t have to worry about getting bored while eating your meals, since live music and performances are on stage around the clock. A day might not even be enough time to see everything!

Outdoor Activities for Kids in Texas

Mazes

Mazes are both a challenging and exciting activity for your family. Texas has several huge outdoor mazes that your kids can spend hours running through, some up to 7 acres in size.

A lot of mazes also offer other activities to keep you and your family entertained throughout the whole day. Your kids can go on a hayride or a train ride, visit an authentic pumpkin patch, or even race ducks.

Corn mazes can be a spooky place to take your kids for a little Halloween fun during October. Some Mazes put on special Halloween events such as haunted hayrides and pumpkin carving geared towards families with toddlers and young children.

Theme Parks and Water Parks

What kid doesn’t love rollercoasters and water slides? Texas is home to a couple of theme parks, including SeaWorld and two Six Flags parks. There are also several Schlitterbaun water parks scattered throughout the state.

Some parks are geared towards bigger kids rather than toddlers and tykes. The intense rides at Six Flags parks often require riders to be over 42 inches, and sometimes up to fifty inches. Younger children might rather visit a park such as Sea World, where there are shows to watch throughout the day. Schlitterbaun water parks all offer pools and slides geared towards youngsters.

Outdoor Activities for Kids in Texas

Theme parks and water parks tend to get crowded during vacation seasons such as summertime, so it’s best to go during off-peak days. You can also often save money on tickets by searching for deals and discounts online.

Caves and Caverns

There are caves dotted all over Texas, covering about 20 percent of the state. You can visit some of them and take tours deep down inside the caverns. Caves often stay at cool temperatures, so they are a good destination to visit during those hot and humid Texan summers. There are magnificent structures carved by water that you can see, and even cave art has been found in certain places.

Tours of caves and caverns are both beautiful and educational. Your kids can learn about the geology and ecology of the world beneath our feet. Some caves even offer more adventurous tours for youngsters, where your kid can feel like a real cave explorer. With special padding and safety equipment, guided tour groups can crawl and squeeze through small cave passages.

Some cave sites have above ground activities such as zip lines and adventure courses, or educational activities such as pan mining and mineral identification. Caves across Texas are a fun feat of nature for the whole family to explore and learn about.

Getting Your Family Outside

Outdoor Activities for Kids in Texas

Outdoor activities give kids the exercise and vitamin D that they need to keep their bodies healthy. By experiencing nature and learning about the environment, your children will also become more educated and conscientious about the world that we live in. Texas is a big and beautiful state that offers countless ways for your family to have fun outside.

From the rock formations of the Hill Country to the vast expanse of the desert, Texas has boundless and breathtaking natural beauty to offer. One of the best ways to enjoy the Texas outdoors is to spend a few days camping in one of the many nature parks scattered across the state. No matter what your skill level is, Texas has a destination for every camper.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The Enchanted Rock State National Area is found in the Texas Hill Country, which is renowned for its natural beauty. The area is named after a 500-foot high dome formed out of pink granite. This rock is estimated to be about one billion years old, making it one of the oldest exposed rocks in North America. The site is also mentioned in several Native American legends.

Enchanted Rock State National Area offers both conventional campsites with running water, restrooms and showers along with more primitive campsites. If you like to get the full outdoors experience, the primitive campsites have no running water and are a couple miles from the nearest parking area. Any supplies that you need, you have to take with you by foot.

The Four Best Camping Sites in Texas

Enchanted Rock is a popular destination for avid hikers and rock climbers. For those who want to stick closer to their tent, there are picnic tables and grills in the conventional campgrounds where families can relax and share a meal. Enchanted Rock State National Area offers an experience for the casual and experienced camper alike.

The Four Best Camping Sites in Texas

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park offers a rugged terrain characterized by mountains, canyons and sprawling deserts. This is Texas’s biggest state park, with 238 miles of hiking, biking and horseback trails. There is even a 5,500-foot long airstrip for those who want to fly into the park. There are three separate campgrounds to visit, all more that 1,000 feet above sea level.

The Rio Grande Village Campground and RV Campground is set amongst Cottonwood trees next to the Rio Grande. It is the most luxurious of the campsites, with running water, flushing toilets and a nearby shop in case of forgotten supplies. If you camp in an RV, the Rio Grande Village also has full hookups and a dumpsite. When you’re not relaxing at the campsite, you can swim, kayak or fish in the nearby Rio Grande.

The Chisos Basin Campground is settled among the cliffs and mountains at an elevation of 5400 feet. It also has the luxury of flushing toilets and running water, but there are no hookups or dumpsites for RVs. The campground is located next to some of the park’s most well-known and popular trails, making it the perfect site for campers who love to hike.

The Cottonwood Campground is located in a desert setting and is the most rugged camping terrain that Big Bend has to offer. There are no hookups, no generators allowed, and only simple pit toilets available. The Cottonwood site offers a more stark and challenging campground for the experienced camper.

The Four Best Camping Sites in Texas

Padre Island National Seashore

Although white sandy beaches may not be what comes to mind when you think about Texas, you can find them at Padre Island. It is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the United States, with 70 miles of scenic coastline.

There are five campgrounds available to the public. You are required to have a camping permit, which you can get at the front kiosk. Most of the campsites are fairly primitive, and better suited for the more experienced camper.

The Malaquite campground is home to the most amenities. There are running showers and flushing toilets, as well as a nearby visitor center. If you are camping in an RV, there is a dumpsite and a water filling station but no hookups.

The Bird Island Basin site is popular among watersports enthusiasts. It’s located right on the edge of Laguna Madre, and boasts a windsurfing area and a launching ramp. Even for those new to watersports, there are instructors and rental units for anyone who wants to learn to kayak or windsurf. This site has no running water and chemical toilets.

The North Beach, South Beach and Yarborough campsites have no facilities whatsoever. They are very primitive and somewhat difficult to access. South Beach is only accessible by driving along the sand, and the Yarborough Pass can only be reached by 4-wheel drive through South Beach and by boating down the Laguna Madre. These three beach sites are all geared towards the highly skilled camper.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park spans over 1500 acres and is located alongside the Paluxy River. As the name suggests, the area used to be home to dinosaurs. You can find some of the most well preserved dinosaur footprints in the world along the river. There is a small museum where you can learn more about the park’s history, as well as two giant models of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and an Apatosaurus.

Dinosaur Valley is a good place to take the family camping. In addition to learning about dinosaurs, there are kid friendly activities such as swimming and trivia trails. If your family rides horses, there are many wooded areas that you are allowed to explore on horseback.

For families that are looking for a casual camping experience, Dinosaur Valley State Park offers campsites with electric and water hookups, as well as restrooms and running water. There are also primitive sites with no amenities that are only accessible by foot. This park is perfect for both the vacationing family and the hobbyist camper.

Choosing a Camping Experience

Texas has a campsite for every type of person, from the dad relaxing on his family vacation to the adrenaline fueled rock climber. It’s important to think about what you want to get out of your camping trip before picking a location. Do you want to hike through the mountains, or relax in the sun on a beach? With all of the beautiful state and national parks scattered throughout Texas, you’re bound to find the perfect campsite for you.