If you are looking to plan a fun family getaway for this Memorial Day weekend or a summer trip – search no more. Here are my favorite family-friendly resorts in Texas (all within driving distance from Houston). I’ve outlined the highlights of each along with some tips – including how to stay fit and healthy (if that’s one of your goals!).
Hyatt Lost Pines
The Hyatt Lost Pines is located just about 2 hours northwest of Houston, east of Austin. It’s an easy drive with some unique places to shop for a snack and stretch your legs. We’ve been visiting this resort for the last 6 years and love it. Here is why:
The lazy river! They have probably the best lazy river I’ve been to – because it’s just that – lazy. I don’t like ones that feel like you are riding the rapids, so this one is great. They also have a bar that you can float through and grab a drink!
The food is great. We usually eat dinner outside at Sheller’s Barrelhouse Bar so the kids can run around on the big green lawn and play. Dinner at the Firewheel Cafe is also amazing and it’s usually a buffet so there is lots to choose from. They always have a little kids’ buffet section too that has a good variety (not just fries and chicken tenders!). The breakfast buffet there is one of my favorites in Texas with lots of heathy options and a large variety of fresh ingredients. They also grow their own fresh herbs right outside of the restaurant!
You feel like you are on a big ranch and can even ride horses. This resort definitely has more of a Texas feel and you feel like you are on a large ranch. They have another building on the property (Renegade Trailhead) that feels like an old ranch home where you go to check-in if you are planning to do a trail ride or pony ride with your kids. It’s an extra fee, but totally worth the experience. For adults, you can do a longer trail ride along the trails with a guide. They also have longhorns on site, a barn area where you can pet some of their animals like pigs, goats and sheep and then they also bring out the longhorns and alpacas most days so you can pet them and even get your kid’s pic taken sitting on a longhorn!
The Colorado River: The hotel is located along the Colorado River and there are trails that you can take down to the water to check it out. If you want to go on more of an adventurous hike with your family – you can take the small paths that run on the edge of the golf course and they will take you along the river or even down to the bottom where you can skip stones, check out fish and see wildlife.
The room layout is great. The rooms were remodeled a few years ago and are very spacious. I like the table with bench seating and walk hooks for bags at the entry.
Fit Tips: The resort has a great gym with separate cardio and weight training rooms. The equipment is top-notch with free weights, cable machines, squat racks and more. The spa is also connected and has a variety of hill-country spa packages. For dining – you can’t go wrong at the Flywheel Cafe with lots of healthy breakfast buffet options and a la carte items for dinner. Grab a map with hiking trails along the Colorado River or get one of the complementary bikes and take a family bike ride!
JW Marriott San Antonio
The JW Marriott San Antonio is another favorite of ours, but a little farther of a drive since it’s closer to San Antonio (about 3 hours from Houston). It feels more like a large hotel just because it is very large and has more than 3 floors (like the Hyatt above). The rooms are also more similar to a larger hotel chain, with the exception of the country/Texas decor. What we love:
The lazy river and pools. Like Lost Pines – this place also has an amazing group of pools and a lazy river. I prefer the lazy River at Lost Pines because you feel like you are floating out in the Hill Country vs. around a hotel – but the lazy river here at the JW is bigger and lasts longer. The kid pool at the JW Marriott is a lot bigger and they have a huge sand “beach” with zero entry pool. This is a big hit for my kids! Their main pool is very large and also has a zero entry area for littles and they do “dive in movies” here sometimes at night. They also have a dedicated toddler/baby pool with 2 little slides and shallow depths.
The conference area (aka “the castle”). Part of the large resort is dedicated to conference rooms and event spaces. It’s actually a very huge area with impressive tall ceilings, large tables, Texas decor and a bunch of fun escalators that the kids love to ride up and down. The fun thing about it is that it’s usually not used that much during the spring – so if you happen to be there on a rainy day, it makes for a fun place to explore. Part of it also connects to an outdoor garden where they also grow some of their own herbs.
The trails around the property are fun to explore. They don’t offer onsite bikes – but they have a lot of walking trails that go through and around the property (they come in handy if you need to do a stroller walk or get a little one to nap!).
Scavenger hunt. They also have a fun scavenger hunt sheet you can pick up in the lobby and look for the “longhorns” throughout the property – even outside. Our kids love to do this each time they go, even though they usually remember where they are hidden!
Fit Tips: They have 2 gyms – one at the main building and one connected to the spa, which is smaller and usually less crowded. The jThere are a lot of sidewalks and trails throughout the property so you can go for a run/walk outside if you want. The onsite restaurant does have some healthy options like the griddle omelet with farm fresh eggs for breakfast or grilled red snapper for dinner.
Margaritaville Resort – Lake Conroe
The Margaritaville Resort one is a new favorite of mine. You feel like you are instantly transported to a tropical resort, when really you are an hour north of Houston. We haven’t actually gone in the summer (which I’m sure would be the most fun!) but rather the off-season in Spring. The resort is fairly new (the building is not but it’s completely renovated) and is part of the Jimmy Buffet brand of Margaritaville Resorts all over the world. At first glance, you’d think a resort with the word “margarita” in it would be geared towards adults – but it’s actually very kid friendly. Here is what my family and I like about it:
The beach-y feel with sand “beach”. The resort is located along Lake Conroe and they have an actual sand beach right outside the Land Shark restaurant where you can chill, the kids can play and you feel like you are at the beach! Plus, the fact that it’s right on the water makes for some amazing sunsets!
Great food including a grab-and-go option. Both the Land Shark Bar and Grill (the stand-alone restaurant with the “beach”) and the License to Chill Cafe and Bar have great food options for adults and kids. We usually eat at both during our stay and then sometimes get a pizza from Joe Merchant’s (grab-and-go shop also with Starbucks and good breakfast options) and take it to the pool for dinner! They also have 2 outdoor bars/restaurants so you don’t have to leave the pool!
Lake activities. At the resort you can go paddle-boarding, kayaking, fishing, take a sunset cruise and more! Also, if you are a local – you can bring your own boat and dock it in your private boat dock right outside your lakeside cottage!
The cottages. We’ve never stayed in the main resort building – but rather choose the lakeside cottages because they are super cute and great for more privacy and fun for the kids! They are painted in bright colors and the interior is decorated with tropical furnishings that make you feel like you are staying in the Caribbean. They also have some with lofts – which are perfect for kids! They also have a large refrigerator and kitchenette area which is great for families.
The pools. They have a variety of pools from adults-only to a large kid pool with a slide. There is a lazy river, pirate ship pool for little kids and then a smaller splash pool for little ones. The kid pool is heated too!
Fit Tips: The onsite gym is huge and in its own building. There is a wide variety of equipment and has never been crowded when I went. You can also use the hotel’s grounds to go for a nice lakeside walk/run or take in a game of golf at the adjacent course, if that’s your thing. They also have a super cute and fun mini golf course on the property that is great for families. There are quite a few healthy dining options at the 2 main restaurants like grilled shrimp, seared ahi-tuna salad, eggwhite omelets for breakfast and lots of fresh fruit! Joe Merchant’s has a lot of healthy snacks like trail mix, popcorn and fruit! I think of the 3 resorts I’ve mentioned – Margaritaville has the healthiest options of all (less greasy, more fresh fruit and more fresh fish options).
Other honorable mentions: Hotel Galvez and San Louis hotel in Galveston; Miraval Resort (formerly Travaasa) in Austin (but it’s adult only); Cinnamon Shore (never been but it’s on my list); Omni Mansion Del Rio in San Antonio (it’s along the Riverwalk and has an amazing brunch).
Comment below and let me know if you’ve been to any of these or if you have another Texas resort favorite!