life's a beach
Gulf Coast getaways from Galveston to Padre beckon with a perfect Labor Day weekend escape
Labor Day weekend offers the perfect three-day respite before the full reality of back to school and the fall fury gets underway. Here in the Greater Houston area, that means a beachy getaway is a short drive away to Galveston and the surrounding communities.
For those up for a longer road trip, Gulf Coast cities such as Port Aransas, Corpus Christi (three hours or more) and South Padre Island (six hours) boast white, sandy beaches, blue water, palm trees, and coastal community charm. Consider them balmy versions of Cape Cod or 30A – but with a Texas ZIP code. Even better, a flight is as fast than an average commute from the 'burbs to downtown.
With that in mind, we've rounded up a list of favorite getaways in each city. Given the myriad options via Airbnb, Vrbo, boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and discount sites, we placed particular focus on high-end hotels and resorts that offer choice amenities for couples or families. As publication time, reservations are still available at each destination for that warm, sunny, last-minute beach escape.
Long known as the only truly historic beachfront hotel on the Gulf Coast, the Galvez has seen guests since 1911. The AAA 4-Diamond landmark hotel and spa known as the "Queen of the Gulf" has just undergone a massive renovation and update throughout the entire space and all 219 rooms, courtesy of new owners Mark and Lorenda Wyant.
The sweeping East Loggia at the Grand Galvez.Photo via Grand Galvez Galveston
True to its name, the Galvez dazzles with iconic, beachside and pool views, a grand entry and communal spaces, and lavish, old world design evoking Great Gatsby-era living. Don't let the fact the Galvez is considered the most haunted hotel in Texas deter from booking a room at 20 percent off the published rate for Labor Day (be sure to call the hotel directly to book).
2024 Seawall Blvd; 409-765-7721
The Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center is a no-brainer, one-stop-shop for on-site attractions and upscale lodging. Photo via Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center
A Galveston landmark, the complex is known as an oasis within the city. Comprised of 242 acres, the palm-tree-lined destination includes an upscale hotel and spa near next to the aquarium, discovery museum, golf, zip line, ropes course, an on-site palm beach, and even its own boat dock/slip and marina for visiting boaters. The iconic, glass rainforest pyramid is visible from miles away and is a year-round attraction. One part resort, one part beach theme park overlooking the water, Moody Gardens is a no-brainer for families or those who want to maximize the on-site fun. (The Moody Gardens hotel sits across the street from Schlitterbahn Waterpark.)
Currently, available rooms include island view, bayou view, and pyramid view — all distinct. Look for a Summer Fintastic Package: Sharks in Depth and Planet Earth: Deep Sea Adventure exhibits in the Discovery Museum, a 20,000 Leagues show in the Audience Recognition Theater, One 3D theater film in the MG3D theater, and two Deep plushies. Other packages include an Explore Moody Gardens for couples and families.
7 Hope Blvd.; 409-741-8484
Like the Galvez, Tilman Fertitta's massive resort sits on Galveston's seawall, offering guests the famed Houston billionaire's brand of over-the-top luxury. Enjoy pampering via spa treatments, dine at upscale in-house restaurants Grotto and The Steakhouse, and stroll the palm-lined compound. Opt for a standard room or for even more luxury, book one of the five private, secluded villas with their own controlled pool and private bar.
For Labor Day weekend, the San Luis is hosting Pickleball Paddle Battles, where guests and the public can face off in a fun, open-play format for all skill levels (Friday through Sunday). Or, grab that yoga mat and stretch out with an adorable goat yoga session on the grounds, in partnership with Goats On The Bayou farm. (Book here; free for kids aged 10 and younger.)
5222 Seawall Blvd.; 409-744-1500
One of the oldest standing properties in Galveston, the Tremont dates back to 1839, when it was originally constructed. Nestled in a historic area in the city, the Tremont is a local and state favorite for its rooftop bar (a must for any visit) overlooking the city and site to sweeping sunsets and 360-degree views. Now part of the Tribute hotel group, the Tremont has also seen major updates and renovations to all 135 guestrooms and suites. In a nod to the hotel's past, the Tremont now is home to the 1872 Toujouse Lobby bar, on loan from the Galveston Historical Foundation, but the live piano sessions are also a draw. Unlike many hotels, the Tremont is entirely pet friendly and provides water bowls outside of the main entrance, dog beds, and a pet amenity.
For Labor Day, the Tremont is promoting a Stay For Breakfast in Galveston package, which includes breakfast in the hotel restaurant for up to two adults and children 12 years old and under (registered in the same room).
2300 Ship Mechanic Row St.; 409-763-0300
Sitting on Mustang Island, Cinnamon Shore is a picturesque community of beach homes, condos, gulf view homes, large-family rental homes, pet-friendly rentals, and townhomes in Port Aransas. Rental guests can look forward to beach homes and condos with golf cart boardwalk access to the beach. Beachfront and gulf view rentals offer room for couples, families, or themed getaways with up to eight bedrooms in modern, handsomely appointed houses. Other outdoor draws (besides the obvious Gulf Coast waters and Mustang Island beachfront) include charming parks, lakes, and onsite pools, parks. Staff are on hand to direct guests to on-site dining and amenities, as well as island attractions.
Cinnamon Shore brings a bit of Cape Cod to Texas. Photo courtesy of Cinnamon Shore
Travelers checking in during Labor Day weekend can take advantage of a reduced, three-night minimum stay. Hope on a golf cart and head to themed summer activities like surfing and sandcastle lessons, live music, and s’mores nights at community fire pits. Lake fun includes outdoor movie nights and fishing lessons for kids and adults. For a romantic or memorable night, book a private beach bonfire session. Find more Labor Day information here.
Those charmed by the destination or who can't make it for Labor Day can check out a Late Summer/Fall Special, offering 50 percent off an additional night for when booking two or more nights. (The promotion excludes holiday weekends, including Labor Day; other restrictions apply.)
5009 TX-361; (888) 893-0658
Situated on the Corpus Christi Bayfront, the Omni Corpus Christi is perfect for families or couples looking for a relaxing getaway. The hotel offers four restaurants and bars, including South Texas' only AAA Four Diamond restaurant, The Republic of Texas. Located at the top of the hotel, the restaurant serves a delicious Texas and seafood-forward menu with stunning views of Corpus Christi Bay.
The hotel is also minutes away from some of the area's most sought-after attractions, including The Texas State Aquarium, Whataburger Field, USS Lexington, and the Harbor Bridge. Guests can choose from nearly 500 comfortable rooms or luxurious suites. The hotel also offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center, a full-service spa, and racquetball courts.
900 N Shoreline Blvd.; (361) 887-1600
Located on Corpus Christi Bay, Omni Corpus Christi Hotel offers accommodations with ocean views and close proximity to the many area attractions.Photo courtesy of Omni Corpus Christi
South Padre Island
This South Padre Island resort offers the exclusive perk of private beach access and a lush 10-acre tropical paradise just waiting to be explored. The resort also boasts two resort-style swimming pools and tennis and sand volleyball courts catering to relaxation and play.
When it comes to accommodations, Isla Grand Beach Resort has something for everyone. For those seeking space and luxury, the resort has two-bedroom, high-rise condominiums with panoramic views of the stunning Gulf of Mexico. Guests can also choose from cabana rooms, each offering scenic views of the beach, garden, or swimming pools.
The resort offers families a seasonal array of children's activities and convenient access to various beach services, including adventures like parasailing and banana boat rides. The resort has daytime and evening live entertainment between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Daily schedules include family-friendly comedy shows, live music, and fun events like crab races – and don't miss the Thursday evening fireworks show to cap off a fantastic stay.
500 Padre Blvd. South; 800-292-7704
Isla Grand Beach Resort is right on the beach and includes two swimming pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, beach volleyball, and more.Photo by Isla Grand Beach Resort
When guests arrive at the brand new Margaritaville resort, they will immediately recognize its familiar tropical charm. The resort offers a selection of 200 thoughtfully appointed guest rooms and an additional 50 luxurious beachfront condos, all providing panoramic views of the Gulf.
The resort has three restaurants and bars on-site, each seamlessly encapsulating the well-known brand. Margaritaville South Padre Island also has amenities, including the region's largest temperature-controlled hotel pool, outdoor fire pits, and hammocks.
Guests can choose from relaxing on the beach or exciting adventures like windsurfing, banana boat rides, and parasailing. Offshore fishing, dolphin-watching sessions, and wave runner rentals are also available. Margaritaville has a fully equipped exercise center and a full-service spa, Sapphire Spa, which offers a full menu of luxurious treatments and services, and a professional hair salon.
310 Padre Blvd.; 956-761-6551
Enjoy a daycation at Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island, a premier oceanfront resort.Photo by Margaritaville Beach Resort at South Padre Island