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article imageA day at a local beach: Spring Break for those family types

By Nikki Weingartner     Mar 21, 2009 in Travel
Looking for a beach location that is inexpensive and safe for the entire family? Look no further than those small town beaches as they may have a bit more to offer the family oriented crew.
Its Spring Break time, with March and April having many American families looking for an inexpensive getaway spot to spend their week off from school. Unless you are one of the very few families who have an unlimited source of funding or paid off credit card during bleak economic times, chances are that a Disney cruise or trip to France won't be on the list of travels.
While the majority of Americans will be spending their respite week within the boundaries of their own country, the activities afforded to them are becoming limited especially this year and maybe next. While some may take ski trips, hanging out on the slopes and sipping cocoa by the chalet fireplace in the evenings, the cost of lift tickets and lessons for a family for four or more can leave a bank account feeling a bit, well, anorexic. Add a meal or two to the mix and it could be imminent financial death. Others will head to popular fun sites, loaded with amusement rides, water parks, zoos and sea creatures. But a majority set their sites on white sands and blue waters, with ships sailing by in the distance and seagulls flying over while the kids play in the water.
Ship passing in the distance
Ship passing in the distance
nikki w
So where do you go? Daytona, Florida where thousands of partying teens and young adults stand under rubber tubes of flowing beer or cheap wine and hot babes with big breasts and tiny brown buns shake their money makers to the tunes of the car stereo? Or how about the fabulous wet t-shirt contests and beer drinking contests on the beaches of South Padre Island, Texas? Even the mixed bag of drunk and trashy groups living it up in retreat style and family oriented groups trying to build sand castles along the beaches of Corpus Christi or Port Aransas might be enough to deter those looking for a more respectable family location and are looking for a little privacy or maybe a bit less of a party for their young children.
The smaller beaches in places like Matagorda, Rockport or Indianola, all located in the state of Texas, provide fantastic sun and surf, full of breezy palms, squawking seagulls and an occasional ship passing in the distance. Kids can play in the water without too many problems with undertow. The sand may not be crystal white like the Caribbean but the kids don't care.
Setting up for some family fun
Setting up for some family fun
nikki w
Lining the beach are both locals and visitors from near and some as far as Canada. San Antonio is about three hours away and Houston, around two so a day trip isn't out of the question. And the local fare? Well, in Indianola, a small convenience store called the Indianola Fishing Marina serves as a full restaurant with a covered fishing pier complete with ceiling fans and an icy beverage! The jalapeno poppers are decent and watching the kids try to catch a shark? Worth the few dollars spent. (Check out the pictures of the fish caught off the pier).
Visitors of the beach
Visitors of the beach
nikki W
Rockport offers a few more inexpensive entertainment and food options, with several inexpensive buffets or all-you-can-eat seafood places like the nearby Big Fisherman leaving some change in your pocket. It isn't five-star, but then again, we are talking kids and traveling. Not hanging out at The Ritz! There are also several fishing piers that charge around $2 per pole but 24-hours of fishing. And their beach is one of the few environmentally certified beaches in the United States, cleaned regularly and adorned with volleyball nets, tether ball, playscapes and palapas. It is also a bird sanctuary providing endless observation of our winged friends, up to 500 noted species.
Rockport Blue Wave Certified Beach
Rockport Blue Wave Certified Beach
nikki w
Matagorda Island is positioned directly on the mouth of the Colorado river and the Gulf of Mexico, so its a double treat. However, it is a camping only type of beach with an R.V. park nearby. Most visitors bring their own grills, although the huge cabana has a few inset grilling stations on a first come first serve basis. The sand is smooth and the beach is lovely, but the water is a bit more dangerous for children than the other two locations. The fishing pier offers beautiful views of Gulf while trying to land the big one. The number of people hanging out under the cabana and on the boardwalk area were simply amazing, with children playing and music blaring. It was as if it were one giant family reunion of strangers.
Fishing at its prime on Matagorda Island Pier
Fishing at its prime on Matagorda Island Pier
nikki w
So when looking for a family friendly location that isn't too littered with T&A or free-flowing alcohol and drunks stumbling over your little boy's sand castle art, take a look at the smaller towns and what they have to offer. You may be pleasantly surprised by the local ambiance and even a surprise festival or two.
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