18 Fun Road Trips From Houston, Texas (2024 Guide)

If you’re looking for some ideas for some great road trips from Houston, here are our top recommendations!

There is so much to do in Houston, Texas! From visiting the famous Space Center Houston, to touring the Museum District, to roaming around Buffalo Bayou Park, you can spend days enjoying the city life of Houston.

But if you want to explore more of Texas and the surrounding states, try one of these road trips from Houston! There are so many great places within driving distance from Houston, whether you want to drive for a few hours or for a whole day.

You can head down to the seaside and explore beautiful places like Mustang Island or Galveston Island. Or you can head inland to explore the antique shops of a small town or go wine tasting in Hill Country.

Those who want to venture further can drive to the remote regions of Texas such as Palo Duro Canyon or Big Bend National Park. Check out hiking and biking trails and immerse yourself in the landscapes of the US Southwest.

From nearby locations that are just an hour’s drive away, to ambitious journeys across the state, here are some of the top road trips from Houston!

If you need more destinations, here are some of the top places to visit in Texas.

18 Fun Road Trips From Houston

Explore the outskirts of Bayou City with any of these amazing road trips. Whether you want hiking routes through the wilderness, lively cities, or coastal getaways, there are so many ways to broaden your horizons and find something new around Houston!

Dallas Skyline
A road trip from Houston to Dallas is a fun way to explore Texas.

1-Day Road Trips

If you’re looking for destinations that are just a short drive away from Houston, here are some great options. All of these places are under 3 hours away from the city, so you can easily have a short road trip and be back in Houston by the end of the day!

San Antonio

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 197 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Located in the heart of Texas, San Antonio is a city that seamlessly blends rich cultural heritage with modern charm. Renowned for its iconic symbol, the historic Alamo, the city preserves a pivotal chapter in American history.

Beyond its historic significance, San Antonio thrives as a vibrant metropolis with a diverse culinary scene, lively arts and entertainment, and a dynamic riverfront. The scenic River Walk, lined with shops and restaurants, winds its way through the city. The River Walk is a great place to stroll around or take a river cruise.

The city’s cultural fusion is evident in its festivals, such as Fiesta, where the spirit of the community comes alive in colorful parades and events.

From the historic San Antonio missions to the contemporary energy of its neighborhoods, San Antonio captures the essence of Texas hospitality, making it a compelling destination for both history enthusiasts and those seeking a lively urban experience.

Galveston Island

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 55 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

Another fun road trip from Houston is Galveston Island. Depart the city and head for the coast, while enjoying quaint towns, roadside seafood shacks, and occasional glimpses of wildlife along the way.

After traveling about an hour south of the city, you’ll reach Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico, a town that boasts miles of pristine beaches that beckon sun-seekers and water enthusiasts alike.

The island’s historic strand district, with its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, provides a nostalgic glimpse into the past, offering a range of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Visitors can explore the fascinating Moody Gardens, the enchanting Bishop’s Palace, and the iconic Pleasure Pier, a waterfront amusement park.

Read next: The Perfect 3 Days In Houston Itinerary


  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 165 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Head to the capital city of Texas on a road trip from Houston! There are so many fun things to do in Austin, a city that embraces its reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. The city has an eclectic and energetic music scene that permeates its streets, venues, and festivals.

Austin’s unique character is further reflected in its outdoor lifestyle, with locals and visitors alike enjoying the picturesque Lady Bird Lake, the trails of Zilker Park, and the iconic Congress Avenue Bridge, home to a famous bat colony.

The city’s food scene is diverse and celebrated, ranging from food trucks serving mouthwatering tacos to upscale restaurants offering inventive cuisine. Jump on a secret food tour to taste the best food in the city! From outdoor adventure to live music, Austin makes a great place for a day trip from Houston.


  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 183 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Nestled along the banks of the Brazos River in central Texas, Waco is a fun city that is within easy driving distance of Houston.

Waco has garnered national attention in recent years, thanks in part to the magnificently restored Magnolia Market at the Silos, a lifestyle complex created by HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Visitors can explore Waco’s historic district, where century-old buildings house boutique shops and eateries, or take a stroll along the scenic Riverwalk. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum provides a deep dive into the state’s law enforcement history, while the Cameron Park Zoo offers a family-friendly escape. Spend a few hours enjoying all the excitement of Waco before driving back to Houston!

Magnolia Market
There are lots of adorable things to see in Waco’s Magnolia Market.

Sam Houston National Forest

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 47 miles
  • Driving time: 45 minutes

Just under an hour’s drive from Houston is Sam Houston National Forest. Spanning over 163,000 acres in southeastern Texas, here you can venture into the great outdoors via the East Texas piney woods, serene lakes, and winding trails.

Hiking, camping, and birdwatching are popular activities within the forest, where visitors can explore the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail. There are also some great biking trails and opportunities for horseback riding through a diverse array of landscapes.

The forest’s centerpiece, Lake Conroe, provides opportunities for fishing and water recreation. Rich in biodiversity, the Sam Houston National Forest shelters various plant and animal species, making it a prime spot for nature observation and photography.

With its proximity to urban centers and a plethora of outdoor activities, the forest stands as a natural oasis, inviting locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the beauty of Texas wilderness.

Read Next: Check out our post on the best day trips from Houston!

Lake Charles

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 144 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

You can actually explore a bit of Louisiana on a day road trip from Houston! Lake Charles, situated in the heart of southwestern Louisiana, is a city enriched with a unique blend of cultural vibrancy and natural beauty.

The city’s namesake, Lake Charles, is a picturesque freshwater lake offering a scenic backdrop for outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and birdwatching.

Nestled within the region’s lush landscapes, Lake Charles embraces its Cajun and Creole heritage, evident in its lively festivals, distinctive cuisine, and vibrant music scene. The city’s downtown area is adorned with historic architecture, eclectic boutiques, and a thriving arts community.

With world-class casino resorts adding a touch of excitement to the local scene, Lake Charles stands as a charming destination where Louisiana’s rich traditions harmonize with contemporary flair.

Find more unique things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana!

Weekend Road Trips

These road trips from Houston are perfectly suited to a weekend getaway! Most of them are about a 3-4 hour drive from Houston. The distance from Houston is a bit far to reach in one day, but these places are ideal for a long weekend away from the city.


  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 239 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Dallas is another great weekend trip to make from Houston. Known for its towering skyline, the city embraces a cosmopolitan vibe while retaining its Texan roots.

Dallas is a cultural hub with a thriving arts district, world-class museums like the Dallas Museum of Art, and the iconic Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which chronicles a pivotal moment in American history. Check out Bishop Arts District or feast at the many traditional barbecue joints.

From the vibrant energy of the Deep Ellum entertainment district to the scenic beauty of the Katy Trail, Dallas offers a compelling blend of urban excitement and outdoor leisure. Dallas beckons travelers to explore its diverse offerings in the heart of the Lone Star State.

If you need more ideas in the area, check out these day trips from Dallas!

Fort Worth

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 262 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 50 minutes

Fort Worth and Dallas are both a similar distance from Houston, so you could easily combine both into the same journey! After exploring Dallas, head over to Fort Worth and explore the town’s rich cowboy heritage.

Fort Worth’s most unique attraction is the historic Stockyards National Historic District, where cattle drives and rodeos pay homage to its cowboy legacy. If you’re spending the night and you don’t have to drive, indulge in a Stockyards pub crawl so you can experience the local saloons.

Or explore the more refined side of the city. The Fort Worth Cultural District is a haven for art enthusiasts, hosting renowned museums like the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Sundance Square, in the heart of downtown, offers a vibrant blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment, while the Fort Worth Water Gardens provide a serene oasis in the city center.

Fort Worth
Soak in the Texas spirit in Fort Worth!

Caddo Lake State Park

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 234 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 48 minutes

Just a short distance from Houston is one of the state’s most beautiful parks, Caddo Lake State Park. Home to the largest natural lake in Texas, the state park sprawls across cypress swamps, bayous, and Spanish moss-draped bald cypress trees, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.

Caddo Lake State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking trails that wind through the lush forest, providing glimpses of the diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can explore the lake’s intricate waterways by canoe or kayak, immersing themselves in the serene beauty of the cypress-lined channels.

Birdwatchers will find the park to be a haven, as it hosts a plethora of migratory and resident bird species. With its unique ecosystems, scenic waterways, and opportunities for both relaxation and adventure, Caddo Lake State Park is a captivating destination for those seeking a tranquil escape into the heart of nature.


  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 220 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 25 minutes

Lafayette, the heart of Acadiana in Louisiana, radiates a distinctive cultural energy that captivates visitors with its vibrant Cajun and Creole heritage.

The Historic District showcases charming architecture and offers a delightful stroll through boutiques, galleries, and eateries. Lafayette is a culinary haven, where the spicy flavors of gumbo, crawfish étouffée, and boudin reflect the region’s culinary prowess.

The surrounding natural beauty, including nearby Avery Island with its famed Tabasco sauce factory, adds to Lafayette’s allure, making it a destination that seamlessly blends cultural authenticity with a warm Southern welcome. It’s a super cool destination for a weekend trip from Houston!

Check out more things to do in Lafayette if you have time!

Corpus Christi

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 211 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Corpus Christi is a sun-soaked destination on the Texas Gulf Coast that makes a popular road trip from Houston. Boasting miles of sandy beaches along the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi is a paradise for beach enthusiasts and water lovers.

The city’s iconic bayfront features the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, a floating museum housed in a World War II aircraft carrier, and the Texas State Aquarium, providing a fascinating look into the region’s marine life. You can also immerse yourself in the city’s history with an exciting ghost tour!

Continue your adventure by heading over to Mustang Island, a stunning barrier island right next to Corpus Christi. This is one of the most scenic drives in southern Texas!

Texas Hill Country

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 289 miles
  • Driving time: 4 hours and 25 minutes

Embarking on a weekend road trip from Houston to the Texas Hill Country unveils a captivating journey through diverse landscapes and charming small towns. As you leave the city behind, the scenery transforms into rolling hills, vineyards, swimming holes, country roads, and expansive ranches.

In Texas Hill Country, there are so many cool places to explore. Check out Fredericksburg, a small town known for its wineries, boutique shops, historic architecture, and German heritage. The scenic Willow City Loop provides a picturesque drive, especially during the wildflower season.

Stop by the iconic town of Luckenbach, where the laid-back atmosphere and live music encapsulate the Hill Country spirit. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon at one of the region’s many wineries, savoring the locally produced products of Texas wine country.

You can also visit the enchanting town of Wimberley, known for its charming square, art galleries, and the refreshing waters of the Blanco River. Or explore Dripping Springs and its iconic Hamilton Pool. With its mix of natural beauty, cultural richness, and relaxed vibes, a weekend road trip to the Texas Hill Country offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Houston.

Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool is a stunning location in Texas Hill Country.

Longer Road Trips

Those looking for longer road trips from Houston can tackle any of these amazing routes. Whether you want to explore the vast landscapes of Texas, or venture into another state such as Louisiana or Arkansas, here are some long road trips that are about 5+ hours away from Houston.

South Padre Island

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 374 miles
  • Driving time: 5 hours and 45 minutes

South Padre Island, nestled at the southern tip of Texas, is a sun-drenched paradise known for its gorgeous beaches and vibrant coastal atmosphere. Stretching along the Gulf of Mexico, the island offers a tropical escape with soft sands, clear waters, and a plethora of outdoor activities.

Popular among beachgoers, water sports enthusiasts, and nature lovers, South Padre Island provides opportunities for dolphin-watching, kiteboarding, and sea turtle encounters.

The island’s laid-back vibe extends to its lively beachfront scene, featuring beachfront bars, seafood restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. With its warm climate, year-round festivals, and a diverse range of attractions, South Padre Island is one of the top getaways from Houston!

You can also try a 10-Day Texas Road Trip if want to see more of the state.

Palo Duro Canyon

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 613 miles
  • Driving time: 9 hours

Though it’s quite a distance from Houston, a road trip up to Palo Duro Canyon is well worth it. Located in the rugged Panhandle region of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon is a breathtaking testament to the state’s diverse and expansive landscapes.

As the second-largest canyon in the United States, Palo Duro boasts vibrant, multicolored rock formations, steep cliffs, and a stunning array of geological features. It’s even called the “Grand Canyon of Texas”.

Visitors can explore the canyon through hiking, mountain biking, or scenic drives, immersing themselves in the rugged beauty and the rich history of the region, including the iconic Lighthouse Rock formation.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park offers camping opportunities, allowing nature enthusiasts to extend their stay and fully appreciate the tranquility and grandeur of this natural marvel in the heart of the Lone Star State.

Palo Duro Canyon
The landscapes here are incredible!

New Orleans

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 351 miles
  • Driving time: 5 hours and 15 minutes

The famous city of New Orleans is just a short distance from Houston at only around 5 hours away! You can easily spend a weekend or longer in this city that is steeped in history, music, and culinary delights.

Located along the banks of the Mississippi River, New Orleans is known for its vibrant energy and unique blend of French, African, and American influences. The French Quarter, with its iconic architecture and lively streets, embodies the spirit of the city. Jazz music fills the air and the aroma of Creole cuisine wafts from renowned restaurants.

From the historic St. Louis Cathedral to the lively atmosphere of Bourbon Street, New Orleans invites visitors to explore its enchanting streets, revel in its musical soul, and savor the distinct flavors that make it a one-of-a-kind destination in the American South.

Big Bend National Park

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 563 miles
  • Driving time: 8 hours and 30 minutes

Take on a mighty Texas road trip by traveling from Houston to Big Bend National Park. Situated in the rugged landscapes of southwest Texas, you’ll get to drive through the diversity of the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem.

Encompassing the winding Rio Grande, towering canyons, and majestic mountain ranges, the park offers a dramatic panorama of geological wonders. Visitors can explore the Chisos Mountains, home to scenic hiking trails such as the Window View Trail, providing breathtaking vistas of the desert below.

The Rio Grande, which forms the park’s southern boundary, offers opportunities for river trips and glimpses into the interconnectedness of the park’s ecosystems. With its striking desert flora, star-studded night skies, and a sense of solitude amidst the vast expanse, Big Bend National Park beckons adventurers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of this remote and captivating corner of Texas.

Hot Springs

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 400 miles
  • Driving time: 6 hours and 30 minutes

Another unique destination that you can visit near Houston is Hot Springs, Arkansas, a charming city renowned for its thermal waters and rich spa history.

The centerpiece of the city is Hot Springs National Park, where visitors can witness the unique sight of hot water bubbling up from the earth’s interior. Bathhouse Row, a historic district within the park, showcases elegant bathhouses from the early 20th century, reflecting the city’s heyday as a spa destination.

The city seamlessly blends its natural wonders with a vibrant downtown featuring art galleries, boutiques, and a diverse culinary scene. From hiking scenic trails to indulging in the soothing waters of the historic bathhouses, Hot Springs invites visitors to experience a delightful fusion of nature, history, and relaxation in the heart of Arkansas.

Little Rock, Arkansas

  • Driving distance from downtown Houston: 434 miles
  • Driving time: 6 hours and 50 minutes

Last but not least on our list of epic road trips from Houston is the capital city of Arkansas. Little Rock showcases a blend of antebellum architecture, modern urban amenities, and lush green spaces.

The River Market District serves as a vibrant hub for dining, shopping, and entertainment, while the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum stands as a testament to the city’s political significance. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site commemorates a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, highlighting the city’s role in shaping the nation’s history.

With its cultural attractions, riverfront beauty, and welcoming community, Little Rock invites visitors to explore its diverse offerings and experience the warm hospitality of the capital city of the Natural State.

Find more fun things to do in Little Rock!

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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