Cheap, Weekend Vacation Tips: Houston Edition


Living in the vibrant city of Houston has its perks, but everyone needs to get away from time to time. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic out-of-town destinations that most people can fit into their budget. Whether you want a relaxing beach vacation or an adventurous mountain retreat, we've got just the thing for you. Continuing our series of cheap vacations for residents of major cities, we'll explore some affordable out-of-town vacation options for Houstonians and share some tips for finding cheap flights from George Bush Intercontinental Airport. (And if you don't live in Texas, some of these tips can help you no matter where you live!)

Cheap Flights from IAH

A sign for George Buch Intercontinental Airport

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One of the best ways to get cheap flights from Houston is to be flexible with the dates that you are traveling. If you are able to be flexible, use’s fare comparison tool to explore flight prices across different dates. You can sign up for fare alerts when you complete a search for flights to any destination, just make sure the fare alerts box is checked when you complete your search. You will then get updates on pricing straight to your mailbox, so you can book when prices are at their lowest. Often, flying mid-week or during off-peak seasons can result in significant savings, so this is a good way to figure out when those lower prices hit.

There are a number of other tricks that savvy shoppers use to get the best prices out there. For one, it's generally cheaper to book your flights well in advance, as airlines often offer their best deals several months before the departure date. Also, consider flying to nearby airports if there are multiple airports in the vicinity of your destination, as pricing will differ. Houston has two major airports to choose from, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), and many major cities have alternatives as well. Many airlines offer loyalty programs that can help you accumulate miles and enjoy discounts on future flights, and vacation packages that bundle flights, accommodation, and other amenities can often offer significant savings compared to booking each component separately.

New Orleans, Louisiana

A man with a tuba on the streets of New Orleans

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Just a five-hour drive or a short flight away, New Orleans is a perfect destination for a quick escape. Known for its lively music scene, delicious cuisine, and rich history, the Big Easy has something for everyone. There are also a lot of free and cheap attractions around the city, like city parks and museums where you can learn about the history of New Orleans. You can also expect to find street performers and free events livening up the city streets. Be sure to explore the French Quarter, indulge in beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, and catch some live jazz music on Frenchmen Street.

San Antonio, Texas

The San Antonio skyline at sunset

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If you are looking for somewhere not too far out of town, San Antonio is a great option. Only a three-hour drive from Houston, this city is known for its historic sites, including the Alamo and the San Antonio Missions, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stroll along the picturesque River Walk, savor authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. While driving is convenient, you can also find affordable flights from Houston to San Antonio if you book well in advance or use a fare comparison tool.

Galveston, Texas

A bird's eye view of Galveston, Texas

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For a budget-friendly beach escape, head to Galveston, a short drive from Houston. This charming island city offers beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and attractions like Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Waterpark. You can relax by the shore, explore the Strand Historic District, or visit the impressive Bishop's Palace. Since Galveston is a short drive away, you can save on airfare by opting for a road trip. This is also a cruise port, and it is possible to find cheap, short cruises into the Gulf of Mexico. The prices can be almost as low as a couple of nights in a hotel, so it is definitely an option worth considering. 

Austin, Texas

The skyline of Austin with the sun in the background

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Austin, the capital of Texas, is approximately a three-hour drive from Houston and offers a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the picturesque Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, which offers stunning views of Lady Bird Lake and the downtown skyline, all for free. Explore the vibrant street art scene at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, a graffiti park where artists express themselves freely. For a taste of Austin's music culture, visit venues like the Continental Club or the Elephant Room, which often feature live performances with no cover charges. Additionally, don't miss the captivating bats emerging from under the Congress Avenue Bridge during summer evenings, an incredible natural spectacle that won't cost you a dime. 

Corpus Christi, Texas

People walking on the streets of Corpus Christi

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For a beach vacation with a laid-back vibe, consider a trip to Corpus Christi. Located about a four-hour drive from Houston, this coastal city offers miles of sandy beaches, water sports, and attractions. One of the city's most affordable gems is the stunning Corpus Christi Bayfront, where you can enjoy a scenic walk along the bay, take in breathtaking views of the harbor bridge, and even catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming in their natural habitat. The Texas State Aquarium offers an engaging and educational experience, and you can often find discounted admission tickets online or through local promotions. The USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, a retired aircraft carrier, is another must-visit attraction with reasonably priced admission and a wealth of history to explore. 

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