We won’t lie to you: The journey to Sea Rim State Park, about a half-hour south of Port Arthur, isn’t what we’d call a lovely one. But no matter. In under two hours, we hit the tall marsh grasses of the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, and the drive was forgotten. Soon we found Sea Rim State Park, and, thankfully, not much else.

Sea Rim, named for the point where the sea meets the marsh, encompasses 4,000 acres of marshland and dunes, and more than five miles of shoreline, all of it teeming with wildlife. The park, which was renovated after Ike, also features miles and miles of paddling trails through the marsh, ranging from beginner loops to a full 10-mile endurance challenge, making it a favorite among canoers and kayakers. It’s also well-known for great fishing—you can find speckled trout, red drum, and flounder in shallow lakes you paddle out to along the marsh.

Some campers pop their tents right on the beach, hopping out of their sleeping bags straight into the warm Gulf waters for early-morning swims. Others, more into creature comforts, book the park’s single $95-a-night cabin, located next to the boat launch, or the popular RV campsite. And the really adventurous—or those who really, really need to get away—choose the park’s $15 primitive floating campsite dock, which is accessible only by boat, two miles out from the paddling trail head.

This is such a peaceful place to spend a weekend. Campers while away the hours picking perfect shells off the quiet beach and spotting herons and egrets out on the three-quarter-mile boardwalk loop through the thick of the marsh. The breeze rustles through the tall grasses while visitors lazily drop a fishing line in the water, the lucky ones catching something for dinner. It’s hard to believe a place so untouched, so wild, could exist just down the way from what you drove through to get there. But to us, that makes this place even more special.

Four More Destinations on the Water:

Matagorda Island

If you’re into the Gulf Coast vibe and want something even more secluded, try taking a boat to this 38-mile barrier island off the coast from Port O’Connor featuring fishing, swimming, and birding opportunities aplenty. There’s no electricity or drinking water, but campsites are available at the Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area, and you’ll likely be unbothered out there on the untouched beaches.

Galveston Island State Park

This is a convenient spot for campers who just want to set up on a nice spot by the beach or bay. The park offers boardwalks over dunes and marshes, hike and bike trails, and plenty of fishing and birding opportunities. Those wanting some refuge from the sand can rent one of the park’s cabins.

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park

This is a great option for paddlers looking to explore the maze of swamp and bayou along the Louisiana border in the Piney Woods. There are 50 miles of waterway trails, and with a forest of old Cypress trees thick with Spanish moss right there in the water, the challenge is in not getting lost. In addition to campsites and screened shelters, the park offers historic cabins.

Lake Livingston State Park

The lake, one of the largest in Texas, is best known for its white bass fishing. The park has a pier, cleaning stations, and multiple boat ramps, and campers can rent fishing gear. There’s also plenty of opportunities for hiking and swimming, and the Big Thicket National Preserve and Sam Houston National Forest are nearby.

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