Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Caitlin

Photo credit: Shutterstock

While many travelers head to Houston for sightseeing and shopping, H-Town is also a popular starting point for road trips that explore other parts of Texas and the South Central region of the U.S. Here are the best road trips from Houston.

Fabulous Road Trips from Houston

Ask AutoSlash for a Quote on a Cheap Car Rental

New Braunfels

175 miles / 3 hrs.
New Braunfels, home to the historic Gruene district, also boasts Schlitterbahn Waterpark and nearby Natural Bridge Caverns, where you can weave through underground limestone caves. Interstate highway 10 will take you west to TX-46 north, then directly to the Gruene Historic District. Head to Gruene Hall, Texas’s oldest dance hall, for some two-stepping before getting your fill of BBQ at The New Braunfels Smokehouse.

Inks Lake State Park

219 miles / 4 hrs.
Head north out of the city on I-45 and then US Highway 290 west toward Austin. Follow US-183 north and then take TX-29 west to the state park, which is situated on Inks Lake along the Colorado River. The park is hilly, offering the usual plethora of outdoor activities—hiking, camping, picnicking and fishing—plus swimming in Devil’s Watering Hole, where locals jump into the water from rocky outcroppings. Be sure to pick up pool noodles or inflatable floats, since the water is too deep for standing or wading.

Mustang Island State Park

236 miles / 3 hrs. 40 min.
Craving the sand and surf? Head southwest on US-59, then take the ferry to Port Aransas and this idyllic barrier island situated along the Gulf of Mexico. While the island gets its name from the wild horses the Spanish brought to the area in the 1800s, today the island is an outdoor recreational paradise with impressive sand dunes, more than 400 species of birds, green sea turtles and 600 different types of fish—all of which can be best discovered from a kayak along the island’s 22 miles of paddling trails.

Let AutoSlash Track Your Car Rental for Price Drops

San Antonio

197 miles / 3 hr. 30 mins.
Follow Interstate highway 10 west from Houston to San Antonio, home of the Alamo and the wonderfully strollable 15-mile Riverwalk. The pedestrian path boasts dining and shopping and connects the San Antonio Museum of Art and four of the city’s five 18th-century frontier missions with walking and biking trails. Other don’t-miss draws include the San Fernando Cathedral, built in the 1700s and occupied by General Santa Ana, and La Villita Historic Arts Village. >> Recommended hotels in San Antonio

Shreveport, Louisiana

240 miles / 4 hrs.
Skirt the edge of Sam Houston National Forest, and then Davy Crockett National Forest, as you follow US Highway 5 north, after which US 79 north to Interstate 20 will take you into Shreveport. Music buffs will love the Louisiana Hayride radio program, broadcast weekly from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium. It is credited with boosting the careers of all-American stars like Elvis. Stay for the unique museums and galleries, riverboat casinos along the Red River, and nearby Red River National Wildlife Refuge.

New Orleans, Louisiana

348 miles / 5 hr. 35 mins.

A trip to New Orleans is always a good idea — especially when it is under six hours from Houston. Take Interstate 10 eastward, and just more than three hours later you’ll have an opportunity to stop in the picturesque city of Lafayette. Have lunch and take a tour of the Acadian Village folk life museum. About two hours later you’ll reach New Orleans, a city known for both its seemingly endless number of nightlife options and restaurants serving up delicious Cajun food. Head to bustling Bourbon Street in the charming French Quarter for a classic Hurricane cocktail, or take a break from the party by spending an afternoon admiring the stately oak trees in Audubon Park and savoring the city’s signature beignet pastries at the famous Café du Monde coffee shop. >> Recommended hotels in New Orleans

South Padre Island

374 miles / 5 hr. 40 mins.

The white sandy beaches and emerald waters of South Padre Island make for an easy getaway from Houston that feels more like a tropical vacation than a quick road trip. As the longest barrier island in the world, South Padre Island offers unique outdoor experiences like dolphin watching and snorkeling. South Padre Island is also home to professional sandcastle exhibits and an array of seafood restaurants and outdoor bars. Another option on the way to South Padre Island is to take a detour to the far less developed Padre Island National Seashore, which offers a 66-mile area of protected beaches. This part of the barrier island is accessible via Corpus Christi and offers camping, fishing, birding, and sometimes even the release of sea turtle hatchlings. >> Recommended hotels in South Padre Island