Tropical-Themed Resort Overlooking Clear Lake Outside of Galveston
Clear Lake, often billed as the “Boating Capital of Texas,” is where landlocked Houstonians go to relax, whether by powerboat, sightseeing cruise, or deep-sea fishing charter. The waterfront is only about 30 minutes south of downtown Houston, overlooked by NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Walt Disney–designed Space Center Houston, a NASA-centric theme park. Right across the lake from these two attractions is the South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center, a convenient base for exploring the Galveston Bay area. It’s just steps from the marina and Kemah Boardwalk, a lakefront promenade lined with restaurants and specialty shops.
Housed in a high-rise building, guest rooms at South Shore Harbour Resort have scenic vistas of the marina or city. Tropical hues evoke the breeziness of the lake; many rooms also come with balconies. Downstairs, you can use the included $25 dining credit at the onsite restaurant, Paradise Reef, which has stunning views of Clear Lake. The menu here focuses on American food alongside some creative Continental cuisine. A buffet brunch is served on Sundays from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Guests can also grab hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the lobby lounge. The outdoor pool features a swim-up bar where you can doggy paddle up to a breezy cocktail, or you can unwind with a few rounds on the tennis court or an in-house massage. The executive-room option comes with a $50 credit toward $125 worth of spa services Monday–Thursday.
Texas’s Clear Lake Recreation Area: Boating, Bayous, and NASA
Roughly halfway between Houston and Galveston Island, the Clear Lake area is named for the brackish lake that empties into Galveston Bay. It’s a popular destination for watersports, and boasts one of the largest concentrations of recreational boats in the United States. Here you can rent jet skis, canoes, and fishing boats.
Urban hiking trails provide access to the area’s natural habitats on land. Most notably, Armand Bayou Nature Center has a network of discovery trails that highlight native plant and animal species, including bison and alligators. The park’s main area has a boardwalk that cuts through the region’s forests and marshes; still, some maintain that the best way to explore the bayou is onboard a ranger’s pontoon boat.
One of the most popular attractions on Clear Lake is the Johnson Space Center, home to the Mission Control that NASA astronauts communicate with when out in space. Space Center Houston, the tourist arm of the facility, has plenty of activities for both kids and adults. Interactive exhibits simulate everything from flying a shuttle to working in a frictionless environment. At the Mission Control Center—the same room where the words “Houston, we have a problem” were first heard—visitors can learn about the history of the Apollo missions.
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