Houston is one of the largest cities in the US and a popular tourist destination but did you know there are many small towns near Houston that are worth a visit?

Whether you’re taking a weekend trip or day trip from Houston or planning a road trip through the area, there is no shortage of fun and unique little towns.

I took a road trip to five different towns and cities in the Houston area in the summer of 2022 and was so surprised at how beautiful the landscapes were and how friendly the people are.

So here are some ideas for small towns near Houston to check out when you’re in the area.

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15 Small Towns Near Houston

1. Magnolia

Located about 30 miles northwest of Houston, Magnolia is a tiny town with a rich history. Home to many historic sites and beautiful parks, it’s a great place for visitors to explore and learn more about the area’s history.

Plus, it also has some delicious food options, making it perfect for a weekend getaway. For example, the Magnolia Coffee House Bistro is a great stop for breakfast and lunch. It’s open 6 am – 3 pm Wednesday through Sunday.

Situated at the edge of the Texas piney woods, Magnolia provides an outdoor oasis for birding, cycling, golf, and more.

With five routes that qualify for MS-150 certification, many cyclists travel Montgomery Trace to take in the sights all year round. Don’t miss this rural town near Houston!

2. Nederland

tex ritter park nederland

Nederland is a great place to visit because it has a lot of great shopping. Boston Avenue in Nederland is full of charm, with vibrant murals and one-of-a-kind boutiques. It’s also home to the Welkom to Nederland sign, which is definitely worth a visit.

Buckstin Brewing is also on Boston Avenue. They have a great selection of housemade brews that cater to a variety of palates. They also offer excellent thin-crust pizza. My favorite is the Chicken, Bacon, Ranch.

Lastly, Nederland is home to Tex Ritter Park. This is a small green space in town. You can find the Dutch Windmill Museum and the La Maison Acadienne Museum there as well.

The Dutch Windmill Museum tells the story of the Dutch heritage of the people who settled in the town, and the Acadienne Museum tells the story of the French culture of the people who moved from southern Louisiana to settle in this area.

This is a super cute west Texas town that’s well worth a visit.

3. Huntsville

Sam Houston statue in one of the small towns near Houston

Huntsville is a small town outside of Houston about 70 miles due north. It has plenty of outdoor attractions and activities that make it worth the road trip.

If you love nature, then Huntsville State Park is the place to be! This park offers camping, fishing, biking trails, picnicking areas, and more. Plus, there are plenty of historical sites to explore in the park.

If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual, then check out the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. This museum is dedicated to Sam Houston, one of Texas’ most famous heroes. Learn about his life and times as well as other interesting exhibits.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the historic Downtown Huntsville. This area offers a variety of restaurants, shops, and other attractions that are sure to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

4. Salado

Salado is a small town located closer to Austin but it’s still good for a day trip. It has a ton of history, as it was once home to the Tonkawa Indians.

This charming little town is filled with unique shops, galleries, and restaurants that are worth exploring. The Shed Restaurant & Bar serves excellent burgers and is well known for its friendly staff.

Plus, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy too. If you love golf, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Salado Golf Course. It’s a great course and has some stunning views of the countryside.

Salado is also home to Mill Creek Park, which offers plenty of hiking trails, fishing spots, and more. There are also several tourist sites in town that are worth visiting. These include the Salado Historical Museum and the Salado Sculpture Garden.

5. Pearland

Pearland is a suburb located south of Houston. It has a lot to offer, from great shopping and dining to plenty of outdoor activities.

If you’re looking to get some shopping done, then check out the Pearland Town Center. This open-air mall features a variety of stores and eateries, including Texas-based favorites like Freebirds World Burrito.

For something a bit different, head over to the Pearland Butterfly Garden. This garden is home to over 70 different species of butterflies and has a beautiful outdoor butterfly house. You can also take a guided tour of the garden and learn about butterflies.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the Pearland Farmers Market. Visit on Saturday mornings to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade jams, artisanal breads, and more.

6. Conroe

lake conroe kayaking

If you’re looking for a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Conroe is the perfect spot. Just an hour north of Houston, this lake town offers plenty of outdoor activities, delicious restaurants, and craft beverages galore.

While technically Conroe isn’t considered a small town, it still has that small town feel – especially when you’re downtown.

Make sure you have breakfast at Honor Cafe! This spot is dedicated to honoring our veterans who have bravely served. Not only do they have an amazing mission, but they also serve excellent food. Don’t be afraid to have dessert with your breakfast. You won’t regret it!

The WG Jones State Forest is an absolute haven in Conroe and one of the largest working urban forests in the US. It’s a great place to go for a hike or take the family fishing.

This was personally one of my favorite things to do in Conroe.

If you’re a music lover, Conroe is the place for you! It’s been designated as a Texas Music Friendly Community, which means that there is live music available almost every night of the week. April through September, there are even free outdoor concerts on Thursdays!

7. Katy

water tower that reads "Katy" - one of the small towns near Houston

Katy is a great spot for anyone looking to escape the city and take in some of Texas’ beautiful landscape. It’s just outside of Houston on the same highway that goes to San Antonio and makes for a great getaway.

There’s plenty to do in Katy, from outdoor activities like biking and fishing to exploring the nearby parks. Koala Park is a great spot for families, as it has a splash pad and playground for kids plus plenty of picnic spots and trails to explore.

For some shopping and dining, head to La Centerra at Cinco Ranch. This outdoor mall has everything you need, from clothing stores and restaurants to an indoor ice skating rink.

Katy is also home to Texas Typhoon Waterpark! This waterpark has something for everyone from thrilling slides to a lazy river and even a wave pool. Plus, there are plenty of spots for sunbathing and relaxing.

It’s a great option if you don’t want to drive all the way to Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels.

8. Matagorda

Matagorda is a small coastal town located between Houston and Corpus Christi. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and amazing wildlife.

If you’re looking for a spot to relax, then head over to Matagorda Beach. You can enjoy the sun and surf, or take a stroll along the shoreline. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and swimming.

If you’re feeling adventurous, then check out the Matagorda Bay Nature Park. It offers over 6 miles of trails on 1,333 acres where you can explore the diverse habitats of the region. You might even spot some interesting wildlife, like alligators and armadillos!

The town also has a few great restaurants, like the Waterfront Restaurant. They serve classic seafood dishes plus some unique options, all overlooking the water with a lovely view! You’ll love this rural town near Houston.

9. San Leon

San Leon is a small Texas town along Galveston Bay and an easy day trip from Houston. It’s known for its relaxed atmosphere, great seafood restaurants, and beautiful waterfront views.

Most of the best restaurants in town, including, Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House, are known for their fresh, gulf coast oysters. You have to try some when you head to San Leon!

If you really love oysters, then keep an eye out for the return of San Leon’s Oyster Fest. It took a hiatus from 2020-2022, but hopes are high for 2023!

You can also learn how rum is made while sampling some of the best products at Railean Distillery. It was actually the first legal rum distillery in Texas!

10. Alvin

woman doing goat yoga which is one of the best things to do in Alvin, TX

Alvin is a small town nestled in Brazoria County, just an hour and a half south of Houston. It’s known for its vibrant history, great shopping and dining options, affordable real estate, and beautiful parks. They’re perfect for playing disc golf!

If you’re looking for some outdoor fun, then head to Camp Mohawk County Park. Here you’ll find a trail that runs along the wetlands and is full of lush vegetation and wildlife. If you time it just right, you might even spot some of the area’s famous whooping cranes!

Alvin is also home to one of the only official Goat Yoga studios in the US! You can do yoga and hang out with cute baby goats at the same time. Plus, it takes place on the waterfront so you’ll get an excellent view of the Chocolate Bayou!

If you’re into sustainable farming, you can pick your own veggies and sunflowers at Froberg’s Farm. Or you can enjoy time birding on the Texas Birding Trail. You can even go Texas wine tasting at Haak Vineyards & Winery.

When visiting this small town near Houston, don’t miss the amazing restaurants in Alvin, TX.

11. Richmond

historic courthouse in one of the small towns near Houston

Richmond is a small town outside of Houston located just west of the city. It’s known for its picturesque scenery, historic sites, and numerous recreational opportunities.

The best-known site is the Fort Bend Museum which features an array of exhibits and artifacts that tell the history of this area. You can even see some colonial houses, and if someone is available they’ll take you on a tour of the inside!

You can also learn more about Richmond’s fascinating history by visiting the George Ranch Historical Park. It’s a living history museum, telling the story of the early settlers from 1824 to the present day.

If all the historical learning makes you hungry, grab a bit at Sandy McGee’s Restaurant. This woman-owned pub is an art-filled American eatery with a robust comfort-food menu and full bar.

12. Kemah

large Kemah Boardwalk sign lit up at night

Kemah is a coastal town located just outside of Houston. It’s known for its beachfront boardwalk, seafood restaurants, and festivals, plus the exciting Kemah Lighthouse District.

At the boardwalk, you can enjoy a range of activities like carnival rides, family-friendly attractions, and a Ferris wheel. There are also plenty of seafood restaurants and bars to visit while you’re there!

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, the Kemah Lighthouse District offers a peaceful respite. Here you can enjoy scenic views of Galveston Bay, shop for souvenirs, or even take a boat tour.

Kemah is also home to some great festivals including the Tejano Bluegrass Festival, the Summer Concert Series, and the Kemah Crawfish Festival. And if you’re lucky, you might be able to watch one of their iconic Friday night fireworks shows.

13. Lake Jackson

Sea Center Texas Lake Jackson

Lake Jackson is a small city located forty-five minutes south of Houston. It’s known for its great recreational opportunities, fun downtown boutiques, antique shops, and great dining options.

One of the most popular things to do in Lake Jackson is to visit Sea Center Texas, an aquarium and educational center that houses a variety of aquatic species. It also offers educational programs and activities for children and adults alike.

If you’re looking for some outdoor fun, head to the nearby Lake Jackson Recreation Area. Here you can go fishing, biking, canoeing and kayaking, as well as enjoy a picnic or some bird-watching in the nearby nature preserve.

You can also go birding at Dow Centennial Bottomlands Park, or visit the City of Lake Jackson’s own disc golf course. The 18-hole course is set amidst a beautiful wooded area in Dunbar Park and features a challenging layout.

14. Navasota

Navasota is a small city located just an hour north of Houston. It’s known for its old-time charm, welcoming locals, and delicious home-style cooking.

The city is home to many historic sites, such as the Navasota Blues Alley, which celebrates the unique style of blues music developed in the area. You can also take a tour of its beautiful City Cemetery, which is home to many renowned memorials including that of Mance Lipscomb.

For something a little more lively, visit the Navasota Downtown Historic District. Here you’ll find an array of shops and restaurants, as well as a dance hall and the renowned Navasota Theatre. If you’re staying later in town, make sure to check out their dinner theater experience!

You can also learn more about the history of this area by visiting the Grimes County Historical Society. The society’s museum is an old house filled with artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia that tell the story of this area.

15. Tomball

Located just 30 minutes northwest of Houston, this town is known for its historic buildings and old-time charm.

At the Tomball Museum Center, you can take a tour of the historic buildings and learn more about how the town has changed over the years. The museum is also home to an impressive collection of artifacts from the area, including vintage furniture, tools, and clothing.

If you’re looking for something a bit more interactive, head to the Tomball Train Depot. The museum offers train enthusiasts a wide variety of memorabilia, artworks, antiques, and two intricate model railroads. Those interested can schedule a free tour on Saturday mornings from 10 to 2.

Finally, for a unique experience, check out the Texas Renaissance Festival, an annual event that takes place from October through November. Visitors can enjoy a variety of Renaissance-themed activities including live entertainment, food vendors, rides, and games.

Wrap Up: Small Towns Outside of Houston

There you have it – 15 small towns near Houston, TX! I hope this gave you some great road trip ideas for your next vacation.

Each of these small towns is unique in its own way and offers something different for visitors. Are there other southeast Texas towns that you love? Send me an email and let me know!

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