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Visiting the Texas Gulf Coast

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Where to stay and where to play

With over 300 miles of coastline bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Texas offers a variety of vacation spots -- from sleepy fishing villages to party towns to family-friendly seaside spots.

Port Aransas

Port Aransas

Port Aransas is located on Mustang Island, which is bordered by Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. You can spend your days in Port Aransas strolling the tranquil beaches, swimming in the warm gulf waters or taking a deep sea fishing excursion. If you're feeling adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities to go parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking and, of course, surfing, too.

Though it gets busy, crowded and rowdy for spring break, just like any other beach destination, Port Aransas is not just geared toward partying college students. Port Aransas is a wonderful place for families and couples on vacation too. Birding is popular in Port A and the small town is also home to plenty of fishing tournaments as well. In town, you can take a trolley to funky boutiques, local seafood eateries and cool art galleries.

Though there's no shortage of beach houses and condos for rent in Port Aransas, you should consider staying at one of the area campgrounds. Recently, our family had an RV vacation in Port Aransas. We stayed at the Pioneer Beach Resort — an RV resort just steps from the beach with two pools, a game room and more. RV travel is a fantastic choice for families.

South Padre Island

South Padre Island

Known for its amazing beaches and warm gulf waters, South Padre Island is located on the tropical tip of Texas. South Padre is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay.

Students and young people flock to South Padre for spring break and throughout the summertime. However, other parts of the year, it's a great place for a quiet, relaxing escape from the daily grind. Whether you like hiking or birding, golfing or playing tennis, horseback riding or lounging at the beach, you can do it all in South Padre. And then, of course, you have all the water activities — scuba diving, surfing, fishing, parasailing and anything else you can do on water.

Vacation rentals are plentiful in South Padre, with tons of options to choose from. If you are looking for something romantic, you can find several very nice bed and breakfast inns. If it's a big resort-type hotel you seek, they have that too. However, if you want some privacy and space, consider renting a beach house or condo. For the best rates, avoid spring break time, the heart of summer and the holidays.

Galveston Island

Galveston Island

Galveston Island is located on the Texas coast just 50 miles south of Houston. The island offers a relaxed atmosphere, over 30 miles of beaches, a historic downtown district, fishing, shopping and more. There is a host of places to stay on Galveston Island — from large hotels to beachside bungalows. One of the best experiences is to rent a private beach house.

Recently our family stayed in the Pirate's Beach area of Galveston and rented Fiddler's Deck — one of the many rental properties available in the area. You can find homes right on the beach, but to get the most bang for your buck, consider the houses just a block or two away.

Whether you like fishing, boating or just hanging out at the beach, Galveston is the perfect place to vacation with friends or family.

Besides the beach, the top destination for visitors to Galveston Island is Moody Gardens. The Moody Gardens complex is like a theme park, educational facility, world-class aquarium and beautiful gardens — all rolled into one. Visitors love exploring the large blue glass Aquarium Pyramid, which is home to 10,000 marine animals. From touch tanks to the Sharks In Depth exhibit to the Penguin Encounter, adults and kids alike will love it all. But there's much more to Moody Gardens than the aquarium. There are the Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, 4D Special FX Theater, MG 3D Theater, RideFilm Theater, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, Palm Beach (seasonal) and more. You can buy a day pass for $50 that gets you into all the attractions, or you can buy individual attraction tickets instead.

Whether you are looking for a place to party, somewhere to hang out with your family or just a place to relax, you can find it all on the Texas Gulf Coast.

More about beach vacations

3 Most romantic beaches for couples in the U.S.
New York City's best beaches
5 Essential items to pack for a beach getaway

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