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Ultimate Houston to South Padre Island Road Trip

Planning a road trip from Houston to South Padre Island for a spring break getaway or to enjoy the summer vacation on your next trip?

South Padre Island is one of our favorite weekend getaways from the Houston area.

The resort town is famous for its beautiful beaches, great seafood, and fun attractions like the Sea Turtle Release Center.

Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, it’s the perfect time to visit this beautiful beach town in Texas.

Also Read: 28 Best Road Trips from Houston

The beach at South Padre Island is perfect for outdoor activities such as camping and kayaking
The beach at South Padre Island is perfect for outdoor activities such as camping and kayaking

Houston to South Padre: Driving Distance and Time

If you’re looking for a beach vacation without all the hassles of flying, a road trip from Houston to South Padre Island is the perfect solution.

The total driving distance between Houston and South Padre Island is about 375 miles.

The drive takes about 6 hours without stopping.

The road distance via TX-35S and US-77S is 388 miles and takes about half an hour longer.

With a few stops along the way, you can easily make this a weekend getaway.

Houston to South Padre Island Road Trip: Essential Stops

The best route from Houston to South Padre Island is via US-59S and US-77S.

Check out our favorite road trip stops now.


Houston is a vibrant and multifaceted city.

From world-renowned museums to the Space Center Houston, there are plenty of things to see and do in this Texas metropolis.

Try some of the amazing cuisines!

From classic Tex-Mex like fajitas and quesadillas to Southern classics like fried chicken and shrimp po’boys, there are plenty of options for food lovers.


After you leave Houston, your first stop should be Sugarland.

This suburb is home to some of the best shopping in the area.

If you need to stock up on supplies for your trip, this is the place to do it.


Rosenberg is home to a variety of shops and restaurants.

We recommend stopping for lunch at one of Rosenberg’s popular BBQ spots.

After lunch, stretch your legs with a walk through Historic Downtown Rosenberg.

This area is home to a variety of shops and boutiques.

Lake Texana

Take a detour from the driving directions and visit Lake Texana.

Lake Texana is a beautiful place to visit.

Boating, fishing, swimming, and camping are all popular activities at the lake.

The lake is also home to a variety of wildlife including deer, raccoons, coyotes, and birds.

There are several nature trails in the area that are perfect for hiking or biking.

Edna, Tx makes a great base for exploring Lake Texana.


After Lake Texana, your next stop should be Victoria.

This city is home to a variety of attractions, including the Museum of the Coastal Bend and the Riverside Park Zoo.

If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a bite, check out one of Victoria’s popular Mexican restaurants.

Corpus Christi

There are many exciting things to do in Corpus Christi, Texas including beaches, museums, and restaurants.

Some popular beaches in Corpus Christi include North Beach, Mustang Island State Park, and North Packery Beach.

These beautiful white sand beaches have stunning ocean views and are good for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. 

Corpus Christi’s excellent museums and art galleries are perfect for those who prefer indoor attractions.

The Texas State Aquarium is a must-visit attraction for children and adults alike.

Another great option is the Art Museum of South Texas, which has work by local and international artists.

Being 3 hrs from Houston, Corpus Christi also makes a great stop to spend the night: check in to a hotel and continue south the next day!

Corpus Christi Cathedral is a very charming building
Corpus Christi Cathedral is a very charming building

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park is a must-see for anyone interested in American history.

The park commemorates the site of the first major battle of the Mexican-American War.

Visitors can learn about the conflict through interpretive exhibits and ranger-led programs. 

The park also features a variety of hiking trails, picnic areas, and scenic overlooks.

Port Isabel

Port Isabel is an essential stop on this road trip.

It is a popular destination for fishing, swimming, and boating.

There are also several museums and historic sites to explore, including the Port Isabel Lighthouse and the Port Isabel Historical Museum.

And of course, no visit to Port Isabel would be complete without savoring the delicious seafood! 

Several restaurants serve fresh fish, shrimp, and crabs caught right in the Gulf.

South Padre Island beach looks stunning while skydiving
South Padre Island beach looks stunning while skydiving

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Queen Isabella Causeway

The Queen Isabella Causeway is a bridge that spans the Laguna Madre, connecting the South Padre Island, Texas to Port Isabel, Texas.

The causeway is two and a half miles long and the only way to access South Padre Island.

Views of the Gulf as you drive across the causeway are stunning!

South Padre Island

South Padre Island is a popular beach destination in Texas.

Some popular attractions include the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, which is the perfect place to explore the local ecosystem and spot a variety of unique bird species.

Other highlights include Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark, with its pools and thrilling water slides;

…..Isla Blanca Park, with its beautiful boardwalk, first-class beaches, and calm surf;

…..and nearby nature preserves such as Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, where you can go hiking or kayaking through marshes filled with wildlife!

Activities on the island include swimming, sunbathing, fishing, windsurfing, and parasailing.

Dolphin-watching tours are also a popular activity.

The island also has several hotels, restaurants, and shops.

If you’re looking for nightlife, South Padre Island, TX has plenty to offer with its bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Houston to South Padre Island by flight

Want to skip driving and instead, plan to book Houston South Padre Island flights?

We have you covered!

Several airlines fly between the two cities.

The closest airports to South Padre Island are Harlingen (44 miles) and Brownsville (22 miles).

United Airlines and American Airlines fly to Brownsville, and from there you can either rent a car or use the island shuttle with your fellow travelers.

Many airlines including United and delta fly to Harlingen.

Southwest Airlines also flies from Houston Hobby Apt to Harlingen.

But the cheapest way as well as the most scenic way to reach South Padre is by far the road trip along the Gulf Coast!

Did you like our guide to visiting South Padre Island from Houston?