5 Must Do Things in San Leon

Oysters at Topwater Grill | Courtesy of Topwater Grill

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

About 40 miles southeast of Houston sits the peaceful, bayside town of San Leon, where time seems to sit still and the oysters are as fresh as they come. The Seabreeze News dubbed it “a small drinking community with a large fishing problem,” so head here to spend a lazy day with cold brews and the local catch.

You’ll also want to look out for the return of the annual San Leon Oyster Festival, and check out these five other must do things:

5 Must Do Things in San Leon

  • Slurp down Gulf oysters at Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster HouseThe brainchild of Raz Halili second-generation oysterman and Vice President of his family’s world-renowned fishery oyster distributor, Prestige Oystersthis tide-to-table oyster house has become one of the hottest seafood spots in the Greater Houston area since opening just last year. At the kitchen’s helm is the uber talented Chef Joe Cervantez (formerly of Brennan’s), who dishes out big and beautiful, freshly shucked oysters, both raw and hot smothered, plus seafood specialties like lobster rolls, chowder, and crispy red snapper. Snag a seat on the gorgeous open-air patio to catch prime views and bayside breezes; and those who want to stay the weekend can check out the Pier 6 Bungalows, luxury waterfront condos open for booking. Click here for directions.
  • Then slurp down some more at Gilhooley’s Restaurant and Oyster BarThe buttery, garlicky, cheesy, bubbling bivalves at this San Leon standby are things of legend. They’re known as Oysters Gilhooley, and you simply put them on your dining bucket list. The vibe here is entirely old-school, longtime bartenders, picnic tables under the shade, ramshackle indoor dining, and a laidback mix of locals and visitors 18-and-up. Click here for directions.
  • Have dinner and drinks overlooking Galveston Bay at Topwater Grill Off the beaten path by the April Fool Point Marina, this bayside seafood house is a local favorite, and for good reason. Score a seat glider on the patio and dine on hot steamed deepwater Gulf shrimp, grilled fish tacos, drunken redfish, and whole stuffed flounder. Then wash it down with a Rum Runner and some key lime pie. Click here for directions.
  • Get a real deal dive bar feel at San Leon Beach Pub Over by Mooner Beach, the oldest bar in San Leon throws it back 50-plus years, hawking ice-cold beers and cheap booze, and everything you could want from a classic dive—we’re talking jam sessions, dark, no-frills interior, quirky regulars, and a chill, beach town feel. Click here for directions.
  • Take a rum-fueled distillery tour at Railean Distillery Founded in 2006, Railean is the first legal rum distillery to get its start in Texas, opening its tasting room to the public back in 2013. Today, you’ll find rum, agave spirits, vodka, and whiskey, plus fun stuff like live music, special events, and an on-site Buccaneer Bar, paying homage to an old neighborhood pirate bar that was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Distillery tours normally run on Saturdays, but you can stop by regular operating hours; Wednesday to Firday 4pm to 8pm, Saturday noon to 8pm. Click here for directions.
Sunset views on the shores of San Leon | Courtesy of Topwater Grill

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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 .