11 Wonderful Last-Minute Labor Day Getaways in Texas
By James Waterson
Labor Day Weekend is a glorious three-day break that comes right at the tail end of a (usually hot) Texas summer. Along with being a rare reprieve from work or school, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to do some traveling.
If you’re looking for somewhere amazing to go this Labor Day Weekend but you don’t want to go far, we’ve got you covered. There are countless towns and cities near the likes of Austin, Houston, and San Antonio that have one-of-a-kind museums, gorgeous parks, and all sorts of other things you won’t find anywhere else.
Better yet, many of these places are within a two-hour drive of these big cities, leaving you with even more time to enjoy your vacation. So, what are you waiting for? Check out these 11 awesome Labor Day getaways and start planning your trip today.
For many, Labor Day Weekend represents the last chance to visit the beach before the end of the summer. So why not go to a bustling city with miles of sandy beaches and more than enough other stuff to do to keep you busy throughout the weekend? That’s exactly what you’ll find on Galveston Island, which has a bit of something for everyone. Relax on the beach and tickle your taste buds at a local eatery along Seawall Boulevard, then enjoy all the rides at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.
Head into the Strand Historic District to see stunning Victorian-era buildings, take in the nightlife, and catch a show at the beautiful Grand 1894 Opera House. For a full day’s worth of fun for all ages, head to Moody Gardens or Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark. Throughout Labor Day weekend, Moody Gardens is hosting the Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival, a can’t-miss event for lovers of ales and lagers. Sample brews from more than 50 craft breweries from across the country while you savor delicious food and listen to tons of live music. Unique museums and craft breweries also reside within Galveston, making it a great option regardless of what you like to do.
If you love being outdoors, Burnet is a great destination for your Labor Day getaway. Some of the most spectacular state parks in Texas are just a short drive away, a trip you won’t regret as the roads are winding and the views are stunning. Explore the colorful rock outcrops or play on the water at Inks Lake State Park, or tour the spectacular Longhorn Cavern State Park, a limestone cave system that is one of the most unique in the world.
Even more adventures are to be had at Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park (home to 14 miles of hiking trails), and Lake Buchanan, a top spot for bass fishing. For you wine lovers out there, Burnet is near two wineries where you can sample the reds and whites, kick back, and revel in the beauty of the Hill Country.
With a proud German heritage, an abundance of charming historic architecture, and an abundance of breweries and wineries, there’s no place quite like Fredericksburg. Cruise along Main Street (also known as the Haupstrasse) and you’ll pass German restaurants and locally-owned craft shops that reside in beautifully restored storefronts.
Soak up the culture, then tour one of the top World War II museums in the country, the National Museum of the Pacific War. Located in the heart of Texas Wine Country, Fredericksburg is a great starting point to sampling some of the best reds and white made right here in the Lone Star State. If all this wasn’t enough, the town is a short drive from Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, home to a massive pink granite dome that you must see to believe.
The shimmering blue water of the tranquil Colorado River and rolling hills blanketed in verdant oak trees greet you when you cross over Highway 281 into Marble Falls. This quiet Hill Country getaway located just 50 miles west of Austin has it all. Rent a kayak and paddle on Lake Marble Falls (which is part of the Colorado River), or enjoy the view from Lakeside Park.
Grab a bite to eat at the Blue Bonnet Café - known statewide for its delicious pies - then get a drink at one of the two craft breweries in Marble Falls (Double Horn Brewing Company and Save the World Brewing Company). A charming downtown full of one-of-a-kind boutique shops provides plenty to browse, and Marble Falls is an easy drive from some of the best wineries in the Hill Country.
Like Fredericksburg, New Braunfels is a town that wears its German heritage on its sleeve. Yet this quaint community, located about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio, is perhaps best known as the home of Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort, a premier amusement park with rides for all ages. Home to two pristine rivers, New Braunfels is a great place to go swimming, fishing, or simply floating on an inner tube and soaking up the sun. After a full day outdoors, put on your two-stepping shoes and head up to Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall that hosts country and blues acts nightly.
For soft white sand beaches, fresh seafood, and a relaxing getaway, it’s hard to beat Port Aransas and Mustang Island. Unfurl a beach towel and bask in the warm September sun, then head into town to browse one of the many funky shops or a tasty meal from a local pizzeria or seafood joint. Along with all the beach-based fun, Port Aransas is known as a must-visit destination for birders and boating enthusiasts. Visit Mustang Island State Park and camp on the beach, or rent a quaint cottage. Although Port Aransas has plenty to see and do, it also offers an ideal escape if you’d rather set your own pace.
Looking for a great Labor Day vacation with the kids? Pack your bags and head to Abilene, the “Official Storybook Capital of America.” Take your young’uns on the coolest scavenger hunt in Texas as you wander through downtown Abilene looking for statues of lovable children’s book characters like the Cat in the Hat and the Lorax. Then browse the art exhibits at the one-of-a-kind National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature before seeing all the creatures at the Abilene Zoo.
Of course, there’s plenty here for grown-ups as well. Hear first-hand accounts of World War II at the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum, tour the ghostly remains of Fort Phantom Hill, and listen to the tales of pioneer settlers at Frontier Texas! All of this can be found just a few hours west of Fort Worth, making Abilene a convenient small-town retreat with plenty of unique things to see and do.
Spectacular sunrises and sunsets, incredible natural beauty, and a wealth of ways to play outdoors make Lake Whitney an ideal Labor Day getaway. Book a cabin or a room at a hotel or resort near the lake, then set out for a full day of boating, kayaking, and fishing. The Lake Whitney area, which comprises two counties and several towns, is also home to two stunning golf courses, scenic driving routes, museums, and antique shops and malls. Don’t miss all the fantastic Western art in the galleries in Clifton, the “Taos of Texas.”
What’s There: Art Galleries, Lake, Golf Courses, Museums, Shopping, Water Park, Winery
Region: Prairies and Lakes
Who screams for ice cream? We all do, which is exactly why you should visit Brenham, the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream. Savor a cool scoop of something sugary sweet at one of the ice cream shops in downtown Brenham. While you're there, embark on an epic geocaching adventure or check out the boutique shops, restaurants, bakeries, and craft brewery (Brazos Valley Brewing Company).* If wine is your thing, you’re in luck.
Brenham is a short drive from four wineries where you can go to sample the various offerings and go on a tour. For a bit of history, head straight for Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. Known as the Birthplace of Texas, it's here that the first Texas constitution was ratified in 1836. Today, the site is composed of three remarkable attractions: Star of the Republic Museum, Independence Hall, and the Barrington Living History Farm.
An inviting small-town charm only adds to Brenham’s appeal. Yet the best part is it is just 75 miles outside of Houston, a relatively short drive for what could be a romantic Labor Day weekend.
*Some of these locations in downtown Brenham may be closed on Labor Day.
Denton is a bustling college town with a youthful vibe, a thriving live music scene, and definite identity of its own. But what do you actually do here? Head downtown, of course. Here you’ll find awesome coffee shops, local restaurants serving up a wide variety of high-end cuisine, and some truly fantastic local breweries and pubs. Lest we forget the spectacular old Denton County Courthouse, which is now home to the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum.
Gallop on out of downtown Denton to go on a scenic drive of North Texas Horse Country, or go hike the trails and take in the views at Ray Roberts Lake State Park. Despite all the things going on, Denton still holds on to its small town charm. Located just north of the Dallas area, you don’t even need to drive to get here. Simply take the DART line north to Lewsiville, then hop aboard the DCTA train that takes you right into the heart of downtown Denton.
Tuck into a sandwich at the oldest deli in Texas, then hop in a kayak and paddle down the Guadalupe River. Aim a tee shot down a verdant tree-line fairway, then feed and interact with a primate at the Texas Zoo. These are a few of the adventures that await you in Victoria, a lively community located about two hours southwest of Houston. Snap a photo of the beautiful Victoria County Courthouse in downtown, then tour the Museum of the Coastal Bend or the Nave Museum before seeing the breathtaking homes on the Old Victoria Driving Tour.
To enjoy the great outdoors, head to Riverside Park. This sprawling 562-acre park has hiking trails, provides access to the Guadalupe River, and is home to the Riverside Park Golf Course, a rose garden, and the Texas Zoo. Once the sun sets, indulge in Victoria’s energetic nightlife and hear local bands perform at venues like The Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar or the Moonshine Drinkery. With its gorgeous historic buildings, park with plenty of recreational options, and abundance of places to enjoy a night out, it’s fair to say Victoria has everything you need for a remarkable Labor Day weekend.