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Cover 07/10/2013

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Photo: Photo by Callie Enlow, License: N/A

Photo by Callie Enlow

Not a bad view in Port A

Nightlife: The late-night scene in Rockport isn’t what you’d call upscale, with mainly dive and sports bars. For slightly more fancy environs, head to Mermaids, just a few blocks off the beach and decked out in exotic woods, for a curated selection of wine, beer, and cigars. Burgers and coffee are also available.

Galveston: The City Beach

If you’re trying to accommodate your brood’s varying opinions on what constitutes a fun vacay, Galveston might be the place for you. The city boasts more than 30 miles of beaches (still covered in seaweed and jellyfish, I hear), though few are free, unless you hoof it instead of paying for parking. Your best cheap-o bet is to head to the Seawall, an attraction in itself with the longest continuous sidewalk (10.3 miles, lined with shops and restaurants and good for biking as well as walking) in the world on top of it. If you can’t hack the less-than-pristine water and sand, the shore offers a plethora of distractions from Victorian castles Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion to the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa to family-friendly amusement areas like Pleasure Pier (an old-timey park on the pier complete with Ferris Wheel), Schlitterbahn Galveston, and Moody Gardens (no, the pyramids on the beach aren’t left over from a Lost set, they house the park’s aquarium and rainforest habitat).

Sleep: Galveston is awash in mega-resorts, and if that’s your tip go for San Luis Resort, mainly for its insane “tropical” pool with a 45-foot waterslide and a waterfall. On the other hand, Galveston also offers many charming Victorian B&Bs. The clear winner in this category is Coastal Dreams, which isn’t right on the beach, but makes up for it with delightful personal service, a pool oasis, and a killer breakfast.

Food: Get a twofer by dining at the Spot on the Seawall for burgers and seafood and then ambling over to one of four nearby bars on the same complex for after-dinner drinks. For more than your average beachside fare, head toward town from the Strand to Rudy and Paco’s pan-Latin steakhouse con seafood. For breakfast or a more low-key meal, locals favor Sunflower Bakery and Cafe.

Nightlife: Even if you’re not a fan of the featured entertainment, it’s worth it to go to The Grand 1894 Opera House; think the Majestic, but even more over-the-top, and family-friendly to boot. For adults, partying on the beach, or next to it, is incredibly easy. Salvation nightclub on the Strand produces “Euro Nights” on Thursday and Sunday. There’s also a couple of dedicated gay bars including Robert’s Lafitte on Avenue Q, which produces a locally legendary drag revue Saturday and Sunday evenings.

South Padre Island: The Party Beach

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