Houston, Texas is a mecca for indoor and outdoor entertainment. The vacation rentals in Houston range from accommodations in Texas Hill Country with scenic views to beachfront properties in Port Aransas. When you want to escape the city atmosphere to unwind and enjoy relaxation, head to nearby cities for a restful weekend getaway. When planning your vacation itinerary, consider these cities located not too far from the Houston area.

1. Fredericksburg, Texas

Stream surrounded by a rocky shore
Source: Flickr/sbmeaper1

Spend your weekend getaway in the Texas Hill Country when making the three-hour trip from Houston to Fredericksburg. Wine enthusiasts flock to this area where vacation rentals put you within close proximity of more than 50 wineries. Stop in to sample the sweet wine at Four Point Cellars, or sip on some merlot at Hilmy Cellars on a Saturday afternoon. This quaint city is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War and the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, so you can get your fill of history. When you want to enjoy some fun in the sun, pick your own produce at Fischer and Wieser’s Das Peach Haus Farm or hike the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

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2. Port Aransas, Texas

Seagulls over the ocean
Source: Flickr/Shane Pope

Explore five miles of golf coastline when making the 3 hour and 30 minute trip to Port Aransas from Houston. Enjoy some beachside fun at Mustang Island State Park where you can hike the trails or fish in the Gulf of Mexico. Rent mountain bikes from Island Motor Bikes, and venture through the park’s terrain and sandy beaches for some fun with the family. Thrill the bird watchers in your crew with a tour of the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center where more than 400 species of birds are on display, or take a nature walk at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. The adventurous members of your family can see the beauty of the city from a higher level on a parasailing excursion with Chute’em Up Parasailing before retreating back to your cozy vacation rental for some rest and relaxation.

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3. Brenham, Texas

Field of wildflowers
Source: Flickr/faungg’s photos

Escape from the big city with a little over an hour drive to the serene city of Brenham, home to bluebonnet fields and historical attractions. You and the family can learn about the history of old Texas when touring the Brenham Heritage Museum. When you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, stop by the Blue Bell Creamery Museum to see how the ice cream is made. When traveling for the weekend with adults only, consider seeing the beauty of the quiet city on the wine trail that winds to regional vineyards, such as the Windy Winery and the Pleasant Hill Winery. This small Texas city also caters to the nature enthusiasts with outdoor trails and hiking opportunities at Hohlt Park and Toubin Park.

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4. Lake Charles, Louisiana

Bird flying over water
Source: Flickr/Charles Barilleaux

Explore the outback of Louisiana when heading to Lake Charles, Louisiana, located just two hours from Houston. This area is home to the Creole Nature Trail that is known for its nature reserves and stunning views with more than 400 types of birds hovering above. Spot shellfish in the waters or alligators on the mainland, or learn more about the history of the trail when viewing the interactive exhibits at the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point. History buffs seeking to learn more about the Cajun culture can stop in at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu or take a walking tour of the Charpentier Historic District. Have some fun with the kids at the city’s Children’s Museum before trying your luck at the Golden Nugget Casino.

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5. Galveston Island, Texas

Ocean boardwalk
Source: Flickr/mr_t_77

All you need is an hour to reach the 30-mile-long island that borders the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston Island is the ideal vacation destination when you want to get out of the big city and soak up some sun on the beach. Treat the family to a dolphin-watching tour with Galveston Water Adventures, or admire the water from the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier that is also home to an amusement park to entertain the kids. Reel in dinner for the evening when opting for a fishing excursion with Reel Men Fishing Charters. Take a break from the water with a leisurely walk through the Seawall Boulevard to get in some retail therapy at the specialty shops, or stop in for dinner at Gaidos Seafood Restaurant. Make your way around the city to see the Tree Sculptures and the Bishop’s Palace to soak in the history and culture of Galveston Island during your stay.

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6. Johnson City, Texas

Shallow creek running over rocks
Source: Flickr/Shannon

Travel three miles from downtown Houston to Johnson City, and immerse yourself in nature. Pedernales Falls State Park is one of the biggest draws to this Texas city with opportunities to climb limestone rocks or float down the Pedernales River. Treat the animal lovers to a horseback riding tour with Texas Trail Rides, or watch as the kids feed the goats at the Exotic Resort Zoo. When you need some time to sit back and relax, sign up for the Arc de Texas Wine and Views tour.

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7. New Braunfels, Texas

A creek in the woods
Source: Flickr/Michael Salazar

Leave the humidity of Houston behind and make a splash in the Guadalupe River when making the two and a half hour trip to New Braunfels. This Texas city is home to both the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, giving you the opportunity to kayak, canoe, or float with rentals from Rockin ‘R’ River Rides or Texas Tubes. Kids enjoy getting wet and wild at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, while the fishermen in your crew may prefer a guided boat tour with Braunfels Bass Guide to catch something fresh for dinner back at your vacation rental. Family-friendly attractions such as the Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo and the Fischer Park are also popular when making New Braunfels your getaway destination.

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