The terrain of Texas is broad and diverse, ranging from the rolling hills of East Texas to the mesquite-lined vistas of Austin to the coastal air of Houston. Whether you are a nature lover or simply need a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, Texas offers several natural getaways to offer.
You’ll have a terrific time visiting any of the state parks, from exploring amazing hiking and bike trails to spending a night camping beneath the stars. Each park has its own set of benefits that distinguishes it from the others, and you should know a little about each before picking the right adventure for your family.
Save yourself some money and enjoy all of Texas’ state parks with a yearly pass for a small fee and get discounts with the pass too.
Map of State Parks Near Houston TX
Here is a map of the Texas state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Houston
Below are each of those state parks with their distance from Houston and what makes them worth a visit.
1. Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center
Location: 14140 Garrett Rd, Houston, TX 77044
In under half an hour, you can get to Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center from Houston. Once there, you will find a lake, multiple ponds, wetlands, woods, and even prairies making this a diverse ecosystem park! Then, take the kids to visit the nearby oasis for added fun, wonder, and tons of learning.
Spend your days fishing, hiking, paddling, and enjoying nature for free as this park has no entry free. Throughout the year, the park rangers host a variety of educational programs to engage the community in the park’s mission. The park’s newest addition, the John Jacob Observation Tower, is a must-see. Take on a hiking trail through various habitats and around over twenty ponds. Also, you can fish without a license making this a great day trip for anglers.
Keep in mind the park does have alligators, so you need to use extra caution when there. While a beautiful park with an awesome learning center, this is not a camping location and a good thing, thanks to the gators! Plan your trip accordingly as it’s only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, and it’s closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Learn about plant life, history, and urban development all in one location.
2. Brazos Bend State Park
Location: 21901 Farm to Market Rd 762, Needville, TX 77461
Brazos Bend State Park is one of the top state parks a little under an hour away from Houston, and it’s perfect for nature lovers! In addition, it’s a perfect location for those in the city who need respite from the chaos of life. You can find plenty to do for everyone at the park, including forty miles of hiking trails for epic adventure for the entire family, and some are accessible for wheelchairs.
Other activities include geocaching, hiking, fishing, walking routes, and even horseback riding are all fun activities to do here. Please note the park has alligators, and you need to use extreme caution as this park is wild. You can also bring your own horse or site by the water to view the vast landscape and animals.
The park offers camping with over ninety campsites, including group sites, options with electricity, and primitive sites. Even at the primitive sites, you will have access to restrooms, showers, fire rings, and more. Furthermore, the camp offers 13 screened shelters in case you plan to come when it could rain, or you just want more than a tent. If you do not like to rough it, then grab a cabin without a bathroom but book ahead as there is only one available.
3. Stephen F. Austin State Park
Location: Park Rd 38, San Felipe, TX 77473
About an hour away from the city, you will find the Stephen F. Austin State Park with tons of history and the Brazos River. This park’s location was historically used as a meeting place during Colonial America. It’s now the ideal location for outdoor activities for those who love to walk on trails, go geocaching, or just to enjoy the scenery and solitude.
With 473 acres of wetlands and hardwood forests, you and the family can find tons to keep you busy and relaxed. Some of the areas are even canopied with trees along with a variety of unique plants ready to amaze anyone. Wildlife abounds too, with birds a plenty, deer, raccoons, opossums, armadillos, squirrels, bobcats, rabbits, reptiles, and amphibians. Look for fireflies at night during May and June as they flit about the trees and campsites.
Speaking of campsites, the park has over a hundred with primitive, groups, sites with water, and sites with sewer and electricity. All offer restrooms nearby and other amenities too, and you can even rent screened shelters or a cabin. The park costs five dollars a day for people ages thirteen and up.
Location: 14901 FM3005, Galveston, TX 77554
Galveston Island State Park is without a doubt one of the most popular Texas state parks in the Houston area, and it is also home to one of Texas’ most popular beaches! Galveston Island State Park is a terrific coastal retreat from Houston, whether you want to walk, birdwatch, or simply rest on the beach. You will find the park a little over an hour south of Houston, right in the water on a little strip of land perfect for a vacation.
This Texas state park offers a plethora of water sports due to its location on an island. Swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing are all popular activities on the island. There’s also geocaching, bird watching, and hiking to be had! Even better, the park costs just five dollars a day for those over twelve. Any outdoor activity you want is available at the park, including four miles of walking trails and even paddling trails too.
As it’s surrounded by water, you can camp bayside with or without electricity or drinkable water. You will also find restrooms with showers, picnic tables, and fire rings to make your stay more enjoyable. However, sites are limited, so make sure to book ahead.
Location: 565 Park Road 40 west, Huntsville, TX 77340
Huntsville State Park surrounds the lovely Lake Raven, about an hour and ten minutes away from Houston. While you’re there, you may hire a paddleboat, canoe, or even a kayak to get out on the water and see what one of the best lakes around Houston has to offer. Moreover, the park is adjacent to the Sam Houston National Forest. It’s is home to towering pines and abundant animals ready to amaze the entire family.
Lake Raven is also home to a variety of fish of various sizes, so bring your fishing rod and fish from the fishing dock or out on the water. In addition, there are numerous paths to walk or bike, such as a 129-mile trail that runs through the Sam Houston National Forest and can only be accessed from within the park. Explore geological formations, hundreds of bird species, and a variety of other land animals and plants as well.
Huntsville State Park offers a variety of lodging options, including screened shelters, campsites, and even RV hookups, whether you’re visiting for the day or staying for the weekend. Choose options with electricity and water along with bathrooms, and much more ready to make the stay more comfortable. With over a hundred camping sites, you should have no problem getting in if you plan ahead. Finally, the parks cost just seven dollars a day for adults and are free for children.