Day Trips: Matagorda Beach

A seashore with social distancing

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Matagorda Beach offers miles of uncrowded sandy paradise a little over three hours from Austin. 

Of all the Texas beaches, Matagorda is probably the least overused public shoreline other than the difficult-to-access shores northeast of Galveston. 

At the mouth of the Colorado River, Matagorda's main attraction is the Lower Colorado River Authority's Matagorda Bay Nature Park (admission charged). The focal point of the 1,333-acre park and nature preserve is the Natural Science Center, which provides tours, kayak rentals, nature programs, birdwatching, horseback riding, a small store, and even miniature golf. Across the parking lot from the center are a picnic area and boardwalk to the beach. 

The road leading to the water is a short drive from the center. A $10 annual permit is required to drive on the beach. Once you get past the entrance, the shoreline opens up with plenty of room for social distancing. Relatively free of litter, unlike so many of Texas' popular beaches, the sand is decorated with shells that look like pieces of colorful pottery. 

Bay City is the closest mercantile center, but Matagorda has essential services and a few restaurants. The town is home port to several shrimp boats, and during fishing season, table shrimp is available right off the boat. Stanley's Market at the Intracoastal Waterway bridge houses a bait shop, grocery store, and hamburger stand, and sells beach permits. 

Matagorda Beach is close enough to Austin to do in a day, but if you decide to stay the night there are options. The LCRA park includes a campground and RV park that also has two Airstream campers for rent. If you're looking for a vacation rental, go to

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Matagorda Beach, Colorado River, LCRA, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, Bay City

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