Getaway Guru: One-Tank Trip to Kemah

July 7, 2012 6:00 AM

Take the ambience of a seaside boardwalk amusement park combined with the relaxed luxury of a harborside marina, add a side of fine dining and great shopping, and you’ll find yourself in Kemah.

Take the ambience of a seaside boardwalk amusement park combined with the relaxed luxury of a harborside marina, add a side of fine dining and great shopping, and you’ll find yourself in Kemah. Sit by the bay on a cool verandah sipping a tall, cool drink as sailboats lazily leave a marina. Roam the amusement-ride and game-filled Kemah Boardwalk, or check out the Lighthouse District, but don’t miss out on a day trip to gorgeous, exciting Kemah.

Getting There

Less than 30 miles and 45 minutes from downtown Houston, Kemah is easily less than a tank of gas from anywhere in the metropolitan area. Although some locals like to take Highway 225 (La Porte Freeway) out to La Porte and then head about 10 miles south on Highway 146, most travelers get there by taking I-45 South (Gulf Freeway) to the NASA 1 bypass. Take the NASA Parkway east to Highway 146. Kemah is on Highway 146, south of NASA Parkway and just a short trip over the marina bridge.

Stop Along the Way

nasa space center Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Kemah

Photo Credit:

Space Center Houston
1601 NASA Parkway (formerly NASA Road 1)
Houston, TX 77058
(281) 244-2100

Prices: $22.95 adults/$21.95 seniors/$18.95 children ages 4 to 11 at the door/$5 discounts for online ticket purchases

Houston is the heart of NASA, and Space Center Houston, on the NASA campus, is the place to go to learn all about the history, people and technology of the American space program. Take the NASA tour, check out the gallery of astronauts and actually experience what it feels like to be in outer space. This stop is a must-see for anyone who is a astronomy buff, sci-fi fanatic or just a high-tech aviation aficionado.

t bone toms Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Kemah

Photo Credi: T-Bone Tom’s/Facebook

Where to Eat

T-Bone Tom’s Steakhouse Restaurant
707 Highway 146
Kemah, TX 77565
(281) 334-2133

The aroma from the wood-burning grill at this local hotspot will capture your attention immediately. A staple in the area for more than 30 years, it boasts the endorsement of Food Network’s Guy Fieri. Tom’s offers a great a variety of tasty menu items. Selections ranging from steaks to seafood, and barbecue to chicken fried steak will please everyone at the table. Live music by local bands spices up the weekends and the daily lunch and dinner specials are also easy on the wallet.

boardwalk fantasea Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Kemah

Boardwalk Fantasea Yachts/Facebook

Where to Play

Boardwalk Fantasea Yacht Charters
#8 Kemah Boardwalk / Suite G
Kemah, TX 77565
(281) 538-9600

Prices: from $24.99 adult/$19.99 seniors and children

Cruise Trinity Bay on a variety of excursions that range from a one-hour informational tour of the Kemah and Seabrook areas, to brunch and dinner cruises with live music or DJs. The calm summer breezes of the bay refresh you as you view the surrounding sailboats from the decks. Expect lively music and a festive atmosphere every time. The popular Friday night fireworks cruises take cruisers out to watch the bay light up from the colorful fireworks display on the Kemah Boardwalk.

kemah old tyme photos Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Kemah

Photo Credit:

Old Tyme Photos
Kemah Lighthouse District
602 6th St.
Kemah, TX 77565
(281) 334-6171

Prices: from $23 to $54/from $18.99 frames

Whether it’s a family fun day or a party night with pals, gather the gang to search this shop’s hundreds of costumes, and then pose for a group photo on a variety of creative sets. A 3D pirate ship made by the creators of the Disney “Pirates of the Caribbean” sets could be the backdrop for your clan of buccaneers. An old west bar might be the perfect setting for your band of cowboys, or take advantage of a green screen to create a magazine cover for you to grace.

Sylvia’s Cozy Corner
Kemah Lighthouse District

601 Kipp Ave.
Kemah, TX 77565
(281) 538-1048

This weather-worn shop is the place to stop to grab that unique or hand-made gift that will be a reminder of your day in Kemah for years to come. Decorative trinkets with nautical themes, seashell wind chimes, banners and interior décor offer options for everyone. Shoppers will spend quite a bit of time in this aptly named nook trying to choose the right keepsake for themselves and friends. Alumni and fans should browse the university-themed merchandise from their favorite area colleges.

kemah boardwalk Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Kemah

Photo Credit:

Kemah Boardwalk
215 Kipp Ave.
Kemah, TX 77565
(877) 285-3624

Prices: $3.50 to $5 for individual amusement rides/$19.99 adult day pass/$16.99 children younger than 12

This 42-acre entertainment center boasts dozens of activities rolled into one. Thirteen amusement rides, a row of boardwalk games, dancing fountains, quaint shops and bayside restaurants will fill up the longest of summer days. This is the perfect spot to get a close-to-home taste of classic East Coast seaside amusement parks. Don’t worry about the heat — cool zones spraying water mist, sea breeze and plentiful shaded spots ease the effects of the summer sun.

Where to Stay

screen shot 2012 06 05 at 10 55 22 am Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Kemah

Photo Credit:

Kemah Boardwalk Inn
#8 Kemah Boardwalk
Kemah, TX 77565
(281) 334-9880

Prices: from $229

If your one-tank trip includes an overnight stay, the Boardwalk offers 52 well-appointed waterfront rooms with private balconies that overlook the boardwalk and channel into Trinity Bay. The shops, restaurants and fun of the boardwalk are just steps away. Spend time cooling off in the outdoor pool, or rejuvenate the body in the jacuzzi after an active day. Early risers may spend the morning watching the sailboats head from the marina to the bay before heading back out to play in Kemah again.

Lonnie King is a freelance writer living in Houston. His work can be found at

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