Five Superb, Family Friendly Spots on the Gulf Coast

A Magnificent Gulf Coat SunsetCredit: RonAlmog,

For the best in summertime fun-in-the-sun along the western Gulf Coast, try these five, family friendly towns. You will be amazed at the hospitality, the excitement and the affordability. Pack your bags, the fun is about to begin. Have a great vacation!

Padre Island, TX

The City of Splendor by the Sea

Padre Island FunCredit: FitnessFreakLAPadre Island, TX

Quite simply, Padre Island has some of the best weather in Texas. In addition, it is bathed by the pristine and warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is no wonder, then, that, in the past, Padre Island had attracted the best and the worst of beach goers and party animals.

Until recently, the island had gained a reputation as a destination for college students looking to meet, greet and party. Efforts in recent years by the local law enforcement agencies have toned down this activity by a substantial amount. Padre Island is once again a mecca for families and fun-loving outdoor types.

As can be imagined for the second largest island in the contiguous United States, the local recreation is dominated by the beach and the sea. All sorts of activities from lounging on the beach and surfing to parasailing and deep sea fishing are available on an almost year round basis. You can even find a world class sand castle competition there.

Padre Island, located a short drive from Corpus Christi, TX also boasts a fine nightlife scene. There are hundreds of restaurants, bars and shopping venues to delight the most sophisticated tastes. In addition, there is a strong artistic and cultural heritage with plenty of festivals throughout the year.

Galveston Island, TX

Right By the Bayou City

Moody GardensCredit: N. SaumGalveston Island

Further up the coast sits Galveston Island. It is just a little bit south of the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston, and provides a welcome respite from city living for the diverse and exciting residents of that metropolis.

Devastated by multiple hurricanes over the past century, this remarkable seaside town has shown tremendous tenacity and resilience by rebuilding itself time and time again. These days, 21st century Galveston is one of the premier tourist ports in the nation and caters to this clientele while still managing to develop its hometown tourist attractions.

The downtown section of the city, the Strand, has an 18th century feel that is most enjoyable at Christmastime when the area hosts a “Dickens on the Strand Festival.” The more westerly part of the city is given over to the beautiful sandy shores of the island and all the activities that occur there. In addition to the usual fishing and swimming activities, Galveston visitors can also skydive, parasail or visit the any number fo water parks including the world famous Schlitterbahn.

Galveston is visited by thousands of Houston couples and families every weekend. Quite simply, it should be on your short list of best family vacation spots on the Gulf coast.

New Orleans, LA

The Big Easy

All on a Mardi Gras DayCredit: Infrogmation.New Orleans, LA

Fat Tuesday, Jazz Fest and some of the best and most unique food in the country keep people flocking, year after year, back to the Big Easy. Undoubtedly, New Orleans had a very tough time of it after Hurricane Katrina but the city and its citizens have made the town better than ever.

New Orleans hosts one of the preeminent festivals in the world with Mardi Gras. It is a tradition-soaked celebration of food, drink and the opposite sex. While its more salacious activities are best left to the adults, the city is justifiably renowned as family friendly.

Family activities revolve around the French Quarter where the various parks and venues host numerous street artists such as magicians, acrobats and musical acts. It is pure delight to wander through this atmosphere on a warm and sunny Louisiana day and let the Fates take you were they will.

New Orleans is also renowned for its nightlife. There are the world famous restaurants, the iconic bands and, always, the people of New Orleans. They say that you should see Paris and die. Instead, see New Orleans and really live.

Biloxi, MS

Playground of the South

The World Renowned Biloxi LighthouseBiloxi, MS

Biloxi is another town that has, as they say, weathered the proverbial as well as literal storm. It remains a vibrant part of the culture of southern Mississippi and is still visited every year by droves of adoring tourists. Biloxi is home to one of the most photographed icons in the entire South, the Biloxi lighthouse. This steadfast structure has withstood the worst that Mother Nature could devise for over 150 years.

As a surf town, the city is notable for its beaches and for the abundance of game fish in the immediate area. Some of the largest catches North America have been made within a few short miles of this subtropical paradise.

In more recent years, the city has built some of its fame on a more glitzy type of entertainment. The town is home to multiple casinos as well as dozens of high-end restaurants and musical attractions. Still, Biloxi has not forgotten its roots and the town is home to many arts and cultural festivals that are ideal for couple and families. In particular, the Arts Alive and the Biloxi Seafood Festival draw tens of thousands of visitors in the space of a few days.

Dauphin Island, AL

Sweet Home in Alabama

The Dauphin Island BeachCredit: Altairisfar (Jeffrey Reed)Dauphin Island, AL

While not as well-known as the other entries on this list, Dauphin Island is one of the most beautiful, accessible and affordable family friendly vacation spots anywhere on the western Gulf coast.

Of course, the beach is fantastic and there are all the usual beach related activities including surfing, swimming and jet skiing. The city also has a historical side as demonstrated by the Fort Gaines District providing ample opportunity for the amateur historian to explore the past of this storied area. In addition, there is the Estuarium, a fresh- and salt water aquarium that is devoted to the lovcal species of the Gulf and the surrounding waterways.

Dauphin Island is also one of the few seaside areas to offer camping facilities right on the beach. While you will be “roughing it” at your campsite, the modern world is only a short seven mile drive away. For your trouble, the island offers unprecedented views of the southern U.S. coastline, the placid waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the inimitable night skies of Alabama. Sweet home in Alabama, indeed.