Gulf Shore beaches await surfers and sun-seekers.

By Travel & Leisure
April 17, 2014
Riding Waves in Surfside, Texas
Credit: Ken Cedeno

This laid-back beach town is just an hour south of Houston. Street signs topped with American flags mark the wide roads, and pastel houses are hoisted up on stilts. Yellow umbrellas dot the wide Gulf Shore sands, also lined with restaurants and nautical-themed inns.

Surfside Beach

The waves along this stretch of beach are consistent, thanks to deep, long jetties, making it ideal for surfers. If you don’t have your own board, rent one from Beachfront RV Rentals; the outfitter also has body boards, bikes, and kayaks. (Surfboard rentals, $30/2 hours)

Pirates Alley Café

This kitschy, colorful space has rows of painted outdoor tables and menu items—a half pound burger topped with bacon and cheddar; beer battered cod fish tacos—that might make you rethink your teeny-weeny yellow bikini.

Ocean Village Hotel

This oceanfront property has 15 unfussy rooms with bright accent walls, 42-inch plasma TVs, and private decks overlooking the waves.

Jetty Shack

This hole in the wall is a surfside institution. Settle in the paraphilia-filled dining room for special events like bingo night, or order your burger and crab stuffed jalapenos to go and set up a picnic on the beach just down the block.

Run Surfside

Runners from all over the world descend on Surfside each February for the annual full-and half-marathon, the only race of its kind that takes place on the beach from start to finish. Hard, compact sand, fresh air, and the largely undeveloped coastline create ideal running conditions.