At this stage in my toddler’s life, I’m not keen on long flights, mostly because my almost two-year-old is in a screaming phase and can’t sit still for more than a minute (or, if I’m lucky, 15 minutes with an awkward YouTube Kids short). I figure driving is less traumatic, as you can schedule the trip around nap times and no one else has to endure the occasional, but impressive, deafening wail coming out of the very same gap-toothed toddler that normally melts my heart. Therefore, my dear fellow mothers, and all those looking for a vacation close to home, I’ve created a list of places that might provide the escape you yearn for. Some may even make you feel like you’re in a different country—or at least a different state. Most of these are kid friendly, and the ones that are not will work great for a romantic summer getaway or friends weekend.
Cypress Valley Canopy Tours®
I wrote about Cypress Valley Canopy Tours a while back for a different publication and fell in love. This is a treehouse resort just north of Austin inspired by the canopy tours of Costa Rica. Not only can you zip-line through the treetops, you can also sleep among them. It also boasts a private pool and a lake with a swinging rope and its very own zip-line. On select days during the summer, kids between the ages of 10–17 fly free with a paying guardian. This is such a unique experience and only about two hours north of San Antonio.
Horseshoe Bay Resort
Horseshoe Bay Resort is the ultimate resort for families with kids of any age. The resort is situated on Lake LBJ, which is about 45 minutes north of Austin. The drive alone, through the Texas Hill Country north of Austin, is gorgeous in its own right, but the resort is a cut above, boasting four pools and two private resort beaches. They also often host live music and various shows/events. One of my favorite things about this resort is how kid friendly it is. Besides the kids’ club, they have a program for youth that sets up your kids with tennis camps, water activities, and s’mores by the fire, to name a few. There’s also jet skiing, kayaking, boating, and (if you’re feeling frisky) at least half a dozen wineries surrounding the area.
The San Luis Resort
It’s not an island off the Caribbean, but Galveston Island has its own, albeit less crystal-like, charm. The San Luis Resort is one of the nicer resorts along the Texas Coast. The pool is heated with a swim-up bar, and you’re right off the beach. I mostly chose Galveston island for the Galveston Pleasure Pier. The amusement park, once called Electric Park, opened in 1906 and is the self-described “Coney Island of the South.” It closed in the 1940s due to severe damage after hurricane Carla and recently reopened in 2012 as Galveston Pleasure Pier. I love this pier because it reminds me of the old piers you’d see near New York or Chicago during the mid-1900s when they were at their peak in popularity.
Lajitas Golf Resort
If you haven’t ventured to West Texas, you must go. Lajitas Golf Resort is often considered a resort in the middle of nowhere, but magically so. Lajitas is situated near Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande. The drive is a little more lengthy than the other places I’ve listed, about seven hours, so I recommend that you plan to spend a little more time here. The resort is surrounded by mountains and wildlife for miles and offers horseback riding at either sunrise or sunset, zip-lining, Texas’s most beautiful golf course, a spa, and a swimming pool looking out at a striking mountainous desert landscape. If you’re looking for a little more adventure, head to Big Bend National Park, about 30–40 minutes away, and spend the day hiking through one of the most beautiful Texas parks. On the way home, take a slight detour north to Marfa, Texas, which is absolutely worth seeing. I can best explain it as an artists’ town, in the middle of nowhere, following no specific agenda or rules. It’s eclectic, odd, plain, and beautiful all at the same time—and something you have to see for yourself, even if it’s just for a day.
The Lakehouse Bed & Breakfast Canyon Lake
The Lakehouse Bed & Breakfast Canyon Lake is perfect for a romantic getaway or weekend with girlfriends. It’s located on the south shore of Canyon Lake, only about 45 minutes from central San Antonio. You won’t have to go far, and it’ll feel like you’re in a cliffside B&B near Spain or Italy. The architectural style of the house is Mediterranean-Spanish, and most of the rooms have beautiful views of the lake. It’s also close enough to Gruene, Texas, if you want to enjoy some live music at Gruene Hall or wine tours at some of the many wineries nearby.
The Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay
Although still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, The Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay is now open to guests with some limited amenities. This beautiful inn is located in the endearing town of Rockport, Texas, a small fishing town about two-and-a-half hours from San Antonio. The inn is situated in the Fulton district of Rockport, one of the city’s most beautiful areas. Simply sit and watch the boats enter and leave the harbor, enjoy the sunsets and slow-paced living, or head to Rockport Beach.
The Inn at Chachalaca Bend
I included the Inn at Chachalaca Bend (named after a rare bird you might meet while staying there) not only for the beautiful grounds, but for the location. This is a unique stay near one of Texas’s most charming towns, Port Isabel. The Inn is a bird paradise situated in a secluded area surrounded by trees, a beautiful pond, and charming pathways. During the day, visit Port Isabel’s beach, learn the significance of the island’s history, and then climb up the Port Isabel lighthouse to panoramic views of this truly charming oceanside town.