The unique combination of wetland, bayou, prairie, and forest ecosystems in the area around Houston, Texas have given rise to several protected wildlife and natural refuge areas. Beyond the close proximity several smaller towns offer crabbing, quaint eateries and an array of outdoor festivals. Grab your sunscreen, hat and wanderlust and hit the road for the perfect summer day trip.
1 Hour—Sam Houston National Forest
Sam Houston national forest is one of Texas’ four national forests. Sam Houston covers a massive landmass of 163,037 acres of forest, and contains many different species of flora and fauna to be enjoyed by visitors and locals.
The forest is packed with hiking trails, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, off-roading, and horseback riding.
Management supports these activities with a number of shelters, pavilions, and other facilities. The forest also protects a number of important bird species, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and provides a winter habitat for the national bird of the United States—the bald eagle.
Unlike most Gulf Coast haunts, this artsy little town offers an upscale seaside experience. Hunt for blue crabs, hook a redfish, or take a guided kayak tour, then pop into the galleries.
Don’t miss Sunday brunch at Glow (glowrockport.com), a boathouse eatery frequented by locals and out-of-towners alike. While options like fried chicken with green chile gravy are tantalizing, the crab cake Benedict with buttermilk biscuits is the dish to try. A stay at the Lighthouse Inn features salty breezes and scenic views.
3 Hours 15 Minutes—Blanco
What’s cheaper and easier than a trip to Provence? Taking in the majestic purple hills at Blanco’s annual summer Lavender Festival where the dry weather and limestone soil create perfect conditions for growing the fragrant flowers. The festival includes tours of local farms and a lavender market at the town’s historic courthouse. While you’re here, further indulge your senses at Real Ale Brewing Co. and, in nearby Hye, the Garrison Bros. Distillery. Make the most of a stay at the bucolic Juniper Hills Farm with a cooking class at the adjoining Onion Creek Kitchen.