Just an hour from Houston, Galveston is Texas’s premiere beach getaway. If you’re starved for sun and sand, it’s a quick getaway that’s redefining the quaint Southern escape. Forgo the long drive to the ocean because only in Galveston can you find private oases and big-time attractions that’ll please both the kiddos and those in search of romance. A mere 32-miles long, it packs more history into its shores than cities 20 times its size.

The top three attractions you need to see in Galveston:

Photo Credit: Allen Sheffield

Surf’s up at Schlitterbahn Waterpark

One of the top waterparks in the country, there’s a reason it’s been featured on multiple travel shows. We’d even go as far as to call it the Disney World of Waterparks. Even better, while most waterparks are only a spring and summer attraction, Schlitterbahn is open year-round thanks to its unique indoor rides. Take a plunge down the massive 244-foot slide or grab an inner tube to zooming down the Thunder Tub because Schlitterbahn really is fun for all ages.

Explore the best of Galveston Island State Park

All you need is $5 for access to the best dune hiking and sea kayaking you could ever want. The kayaking tours around the Galveston coast are truly stunning, partially because the land and the waters have been protected since 1975, and partially just because Mother Nature was kind to big Texas. Avid anglers should know you don’t need a fishing license in any Texas state park, so dropping a line and wasting away the day is more encouraged, it’s practically a sin not to.

Moody Gardens: Three Attractions in One

Typically, museum visits on a beach trip are shoved in the rainy day category, but Moody Gardens’ beautiful and interactive family exhibits are perfect no matter what the weather. Organized into “pyramids,” an aquarium, rainforest, and discovery area treat visitors to different sections of wildlife and exploration from across the globe that’s a whole lot closer than making the trek to Giza. The Aquarium continually garners rave reviews thanks to their private penguin and seal encounters. If the weather’s not too bad, the hour-long tour aboard the Colonel Paddlwheel Boat is a star attraction. To help offset costs, opt for one of the package deals allowing you access multiple pyramids on one visit.