5 Must Do Things in Kemah

Photo courtesy of Kemah Boardwalk

In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit. 

Just 20 miles from Downtown on Galveston Bay, you’ll find a breezy escape from the city.  The waterfront region has no shortage of entertainment for all ages, with a killer boardwalk, ample shopping opportunities, and special events like the “Rock the Dock” summer concert series. And of course, the bay is the perfect spot to take out a sailboat on a beautiful day. Check out five awesome ways to experience this coastal town.

Note: For the purposes of this list, Kemah is defined by this map.

5 Must Do Things in Kemah

  1. Stroll the Boardwalk – Probably the most popular attraction in the neighborhood, Kemah Boardwalk is a lot like the charming boardwalks of the East Coast. Open daily, it offers amusement park rides, Gulf Coast eats, live tunes, charming shops, and funky festivals. Pop into shops for seaside treats ranging from candy to surf wear, then hit the amusement park attractions. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel, go up, down and around on the Wipeout Wheel, swing high above the ground on the Aviator, and test your fearlessness on the 140-foot Drop Zone or Boardwalk Bullet. Enjoy a seafood feast at the Flying Dutchman Restaurant & Oyster Bar or at the waterfront Landry’s Seafood, take down beer-steamed peel-and-eat shrimp at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop at Sweet Scoops. Be sure to look out for special festivals and events, including 5k and 10k walks/races, a craft beer festival, and October’s BOO on the Boardwalk; and check out our Walkable Houston guide for even more fun on-foot.  Click here for directions.
  2. Experience the water – Open March through November, the Boardwalk Beast takes you on a thrilling 25-minute boat ride through Galveston Bay. Don’t expect it to be a dry ride, either. 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 and $15 for children 12 and under. Boardwalk FantaSea cruises offer party boats, romantic dinner voyages, and historic sightseeing tours on the water. You can also check out the kayak and paddleboard rentals at the Kayak Shack.
  3. Chill out at T-Bone Tom’s – What started as a meat market into the ‘60s has turned into one of Kemah’s most beloved institutions. Crack a cold one on the backyard patio (aka Tom’s Backyard) as you listen to live jams and work up an appetite for a Southern and coastal-inspired meal that’s bigger than Texas. Go from surf to turf when you treat yourself to fried oyster baskets, Southern-style fried catfish and hushpuppies, and a big, beefy porterhouse steak cooked just the way you like it. Click here for directions.
  4. Sip wine at the Clear Creek Vineyard – Did you know Kemah had its own winery and vineyard? Well, now you do. Nestled in the heart of old Kemah, this Tuscan-inspired winery offers everything from weekend wine tours and tastings to private blending sessions at the Blending Bar. For some extra relaxation, plan an overnight bed and breakfast stay at the charming Clipper House Inn & Cottages. Click here for directions.
  5. Go under the sea at the Aquarium Restaurant – Don’t miss your chance to wine and dine next to a 50,000-gallon tank housing fish, sharks, and stingrays. Just be sure to save time to take the kids (or the kids at heart) to Stingray Reef, where you can touch and feed live stingrays in a touch-tank. The restaurant also houses a rainforest exhibit, featuring piranhas, snakes, scorpions, turtles, and tarantulas. Maybe save that one for after you dine. Click here for directions.
Photo: Mike Fisher
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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 .