1. Get chilled and thrilled.
Ride a wild and woolly waterslide at a Texas water park. Try the Padre Plunge at Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi; Alien Chaser at Wet 'n' Wild Splash Town in Spring; Thunder Rapids at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio; or Jaguar Falls at Wet 'n' Wild Waterworld in Anthony, near El Paso.
2. Up your pool game.
Infinity pools are so yesterday. Today, swanky hotels are creating lazy rivers six stories high (like the Marriott Marquis in Houston, 713-654-1777) and hosting dive-in movies (such as Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne, 855-627-2243; tapatioresort.com). The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa (210-276-2500; jwsantonio.com) has nine acres of water features, including six waterslides and a lazy river.
3. Soak in the river.
On summer Saturdays, go tubing on the Trinity River in the Dallas-Fort Worth area while listening to concerts staged by Rockin' the River (rockintheriverfw.com).
4. Hop on pops.
Hand-crafted ice pops can banish summertime blues: You can find them at Alchemy Pops in Fort Worth (817-502-2026; alchemypops.com); Popcart Handmade Ice Pops in the Houston area (281-799-6005); Steel City Pops in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Waco (steelcitypops.com); and Mary's Paleteria in Abilene (325-670-9960).
5. Get your licks in.
Head to Lick Honest Ice Cream (ilikelick.com) in Austin and San Antonio for unusual flavors of artisanal ice cream, like Cilantro Lime. "We celebrate the season, the culture, and the flavors of Texas," says co-owner Anthony Sobotik.
6. Sip 'n' savor.
At the Pappy Slokum Brewing Co. in Abilene, hoist homegrown brews, like Mac Pappy's 80 Schilling dark ale, in a kid- and dog-friendly setting. Saturdays only. 325-201-4112; pappyslokum.com.
7. Run a river.
Go on a water safari by canoe or kayak. Texas has several paddling trails both inland and on the coast. Luling Zedler Mill Paddling Trail is 6 miles long on the San Marcos River. Village Creek is 3 miles in East Texas. Buffalo Bayou runs 26 miles through Houston; and Santa Elena Canyon stretches 20 miles in Big Bend National Park. Outfitter Desert Sports (888-989-6900; desertsportstx.com) can arrange a shuttle or guide for Santa Elena Canyon.
8. See sea turtles run.
Between mid-June and August, watch sea turtle hatchlings—most are endangered Kemp's ridleys—scramble for their lives and the surf on Padre Island National Seashore's Malaquite Beach. 361-949-7163; nps.gov/pais.
9. Rig up.
Several companies offer diving trips to decommissioned oil rigs, including Fling Charters out of Freeport (flingcharters.com); Ultra Dive from Freeport or Galveston (ultradive.com); Copeland's in Corpus Christi (copelandsdiveski.com); and American Diving in South Padre Island (divesouthpadre.com). You'll need to have open water certification to scuba dive in the Gulf of Mexico.
10. Get sandy.
Port Aranas, near Corpus Christi, has 18 miles of uninterrupted beaches. Check out Nueces County Beach (also called IB Magee Beach) between Horace Caldwell Pier and Port Aransas South Jetty for free parking and easy access to restrooms.
AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.
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