Walkable Houston: Kemah Boardwalk & Old Kemah

Photo courtesy of Kemah Boardwalk

While Houstonians definitely love their cars, there are nooks and crannies of the city that are best explored by foot. In our Walkable Houston series, we traverse those districts to find the prettiest parks, hottest restaurants and bars, coolest local art and shops, and most visit-worthy hidden gems.

Enjoy a breezy escape from the city at Kemah Boardwalk and Old Kemah, located just 20 miles from Downtown Houston. The waterfront district offers entertainment for all ages, with boardwalk, ample shopping and on-the-water opportunities, and special events like the “Rock the Dock” summer concert series. Take a stroll through to discover what the Kemah coast has to offer.

Play & Explore

  • Kemah Boardwalk Amusements Billing itself as being “like a summer fair all year long,” Kemah’s amusement park includes classics like the Ferris wheel and swings, plus thrilling rides like the one-of-a-kind wooden Boardwalk Bullet coaster and Flare, a 73-foot tall looping roller coaster that rotates forward and backward. Ride tickets can be purchased individually, or get an all-day pass for $18.99 to $24.99. You’ll also find a variety of games, a playground, and an arcade. Sunday through Wednesday 10:30am to 9pm; Thursday 10:30am to 10pm; Friday and Saturday 10:30am to 11pm.
  • The Boardwalk Beast Running seasonally, the Boardwalk Beast takes you on an exhilarating 25-minute boat ride through Galveston Bay. The captain and crew are there to make sure you get splashed as you cruise at speeds up to 40 mph out into the bay. Cost is $20 for adults; $15 for children 12 and under.
  • Stingray Reef Housed in the first level of the Aquarium Restaurant, this touch tank offers the opportunity to touch and feed live stingrays. The restaurant also boasts a rainforest exhibit, featuring piranhas, snakes, scorpions, turtles, and tarantulas. Tickets are $5.25 or $6.99 value pass including Reef entry and fish food.
  • On the Water – Boardwalk FantaSea cruises offer party boats, romantic dinner voyages, and historic sightseeing tours on the water; while South Coast Sailing Adventures offer sailing classes, fishing charters, cruising packages and more.
  • Special events Lookout for a lineup of special events at the boardwalk, from fireworks, beer festivals, fun runs, and kid days to the popular summer concert series, Rock the Dock.
  • Dungeon of Doom Haunted House This seasonal haunted house is located in the breezeway under the Boardwalk Inn.

Eat & Drink

  • Amadeus Italian Restaurant & Bar This lively eatery rocks a piano bar alongside Italian classics.
  • Aquarium Restaurant Wine and dine on seafood, salad, pasta, chicken, steak, and burgers next to a 50,000-gallon tank housing fish, sharks, and stingrays.
  • Bakkhus Taverna This 6th St. taverna boasts a relaxing atmosphere and traditional and modern Greek fare, from spicy “fire feta” and hand stuffed dolmathes to gyros and moussaka.
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Get beer-steamed peel-and-eat shrimp, fried shrimp, gumbo, po’ boys and more at this Landry’s outpost.
  • The Cadillac Bar Enjoy a full lineup of margs, nachos, fajitas, tacos, and enchiladas at this Tex-Mex bar and grill.
  • Clear Creek Vineyard Tucked into the heart of old Kemah, this vineyard offers everything from premium wine flights to guided winery tours on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Crazy Alan’s Swamp Shack You’ll find boudain, smoked oysters, and good times at this Cajun haunt on Texas Ave.
  • Eculent Looking for something more refined? Enjoy a farm-to-table dinner and fully immersive multi-sensory dining experience at this forward-thinking spot.
  • Hubcap Grill One of the city’s best burgers sits in Old Kemah, with choices for both purists and the daring. Burgers range from the classic Hupcap Decker to the peanut butter, bacon, and grilled banana-topped Sticky Monkey.
  • The Flying Dutchman This family-friendly boardwalk spot offers everything from live seasonal crawfish and Louisiana Cajun gumbo to grilled mahi and fried flounder sandwiches.
  • Kemah Steak Company Tucked into the side streets off of Kemah Boardwalk, this classy-casual spot offers steaks, seafood, spirits, and wine. Feast on blackened red Gulf snapper, dry-aged NY strip, truffle mac and cheese, and flaming banana foster bread pudding.
  • Landry’s Seafood House Enjoy panoramic views of the waterfront as you dine on New Orleans crawfish bread, cedar plank salmon, IPA battered fish and chips, and chargrilled ribeye. Seasonal, happy hour and kids menus are offered.
  • Lighthouse Buffet This Landry’s concept features multiple buffets with soups, salads, ever-changing entrées, frozen yogurt, kids items, dessert and more.
  • Molly’s Pub Located across the marina from the boardwalk, this Irish sports pub offers cold brews and plenty of shenanigans.
  • Red Sushi & Hibachi Grill Head to this boardwalk spot to dine on sushi and sashimi, specialty rolls, fresh seafood, steak, chicken, tempura, and hibachi classics.
  • Saltgrass Steakhouse Get steakhouse classics and top notch bar bites, from jumbo shrimp and jalapeño “Ranger Rattlers” to mushroom-smothered strip.
  • Skallywag Suds N’ Grub Hit this dive to unwind with cold drinks and pub grub like brisket burgers and pulled pork nachos.
  • Stuttgarden Tavern This German-inspired beer bar and restaurant offers eats like schnitzel, brats, and pub pretzels.
  • Sweet Scoops Satisfy your sweet tooth with a sundae, shake, malt, or waffle cone at this ice cream shop, located in the retail area across from the Boardwalk Inn.
  • T-Bone Tom’sThis beloved hangout has live music, a backyard patio (aka Tom’s Backyard) and Southern and coastal eats, from surf to turf and fried oyster baskets to hushpuppies and a big, beefy porterhouse steak cooked just the way you like.
  • Tookie’s Burgers Hop around the marina to find this local institution and you’ll be treated to another top contender for Houston’s best burger.
  • Voodoo Hut This local haunt is a sports bar by day and nightclub by night.
  • Zone 504 Head to this Old Kemah sports bar grill for live music, bar games, and cheap drinks.

Shop & Support Local

  • Bodhi Essential Oils & WellnessSteps away from the boardwalk, this shop offers a variety of essential oils, diffusers, and gifts.
  • Born 2 Shine Boutique BarHit this local boutique for women’s clothing, island wear, and accessories.
  • The Candy BoxShop for an array of chocolates, novelty gifts, and candies, from the sweet and sour to the chewy and gooey.
  • Christmas at KemahThis seasonal Kemah Boardwalk shop has all your Christmas holiday favorites.
  • Simply Twisted Boutique This Old Kemah gift shop offers women’s clothing, home décor, jewelry and more.
  • Style & TrendThis Kemah Boardwalk shop carries brands like Vera Bradley, plus stylish ready-to-wear, accessories, and beauty products for women.
  • Sylvia Cozy CornerStop by this unique shop for unique and handmade items including Coca-Cola collectibles, decorative sailboats, wind chimes and more.
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .