Nestled on the Bolivar Peninsula on a barrier island sits the low-key coastal community of Crystal Beach. With the sound on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, a Crystal Beach vacation rental comes with amazing water views and the chance to watch the sun rise each morning over the water from your deck. You can spend your days relaxing on the beach, biking around town and exploring nearby areas, such as Galveston and the grand city of Houston. Your kids are going to want to spend the first few days playing in the water, but after that, you need to have some ideas of other fun activities. Here’s a quick list of the top nine things to do with your kids while staying in Crystal Beach.

1. Baywatch Dolphin Tours

With its warm, calm waters, the Gulf of Mexico is home to many dolphins. These water mammals aren’t shy and come close to the boats that enter their area. If you look to the back of the boat you might get to see dolphins frolicking in the wake. Your kids will squeal with delight as the dolphins jump out of the water and back in. The tours last around 45 minutes, so smaller children won’t get bored.

2. Willis-Moody Mansion

Step back in time and take a tour of the Willis-Moody Mansion in the historic neighborhood of Galveston. This mansion dates back to the 1890s, and the tour helps your kids understand what life was like at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a guided tour presented from the Moody children’s perspective. This Romanesque mansion has four stories and 31 rooms, including a special children’s dining room. It’s a great escape on a hot day or rainy afternoon.

3. Anahuac National Wildlife Preserve

Enjoy the fresh air and a long walk at the Anahuac National Wildlife Preserve. The park covers more than 34,000 acres and offers the chance to see both marshlands and a prairie. You’ll see a variety of wildlife, from birds to alligators. Bring your binoculars from your vacation rental to get a closer look at some of the more fearsome animals. You can bring fishing gear and go fishing at the lake and waterways inside of the preserve. This is the perfect spot if your family wants to spend the entire day outdoors.

4. Galveston Pleasure Pier

Let all your family members become kids for an evening, no matter how old they are, at the Galveston Pleasure Pier. Located along the water, this amusement park has rollercoasters and thrill rides for older children and a Ferris wheel and kiddie rides for smaller children. Try your luck and skill on one of the games, and score a stuffed animal if you’re successful. You’ll find plenty of food to purchase on-site, including nachos, funnel cakes, hot dogs and hamburgers.

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5. Biking

Bring your own bikes from home, or rent them from one of the outfitters in the area. You and your family can ride around town or pedal along the main road of the barrier island while enjoying stunning views of the Gulf. Pack a picnic, and find a beach area to stop and have a family meal. Along the sound side, you’ll notice an island just off the shore line called Goat Island which is only accessible by boat.

6. Fun Spot Waterslide

Take your kids to Fun Spot Waterslide and enjoy a fun-filled, thrilling afternoon. This water slide winds its way down the side of a hill, and if you’re afraid of heights, you’ll be glad to see that this slide sits on the ground instead of way in the air. Smaller kids can share your mat and the mats and life vests available once you get to this slide.

7. Schlitterbahn Water Park

If you’re looking forward to spending the entire day at a water park, then Schlitterbahn Water Park has you covered. This Galveston water park has something for everyone in your family. Tiki Tikes is a great place for the smallest and youngest members of your family, with its fountains that spit water and shallow pool. Your tweens and teens will make a bee line for the MASSIV Monster Blaster that’s part water slide and part roller coaster. Enjoy the lazy river and the wave pool when you want to relax.

8. Kayaking

Bring kayaks from home and store them in the garage of your vacation rental. Whenever you’re ready, take the family out on the water for the day. On the sound side of Crystal Beach you’ll find calmer waters. Paddle along the waterline of Goat Island for a look at its pristine beaches and marshes. The Gulf side offers a little more challenging kayak ride and you might get to see the dolphins that play in the water along the coastline.

9. Fort Travis Seashore Park

Learn a little more about local history and enjoy your fill of the fresh air at the Fort Travis Seashore Park. On this site there have been several Fort Travis encampments, starting in the 1800s and ending towards the end of World War I. Explore the seawall and the remains of the bunkers before enjoying a picnic lunch by the water.

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