Shore ’Nuff

With more than 350 miles of coastline in Texas, choosing the perfect getaway can make you want to bury your head in the sand. Where do you go for a family vacation? (Or to avoid kids at all costs?) Who can teach you to surf? (Or to build a massive sand castle?) Never fear. I’ve found the twenty best beaches in the state, from sophisticated resorts to secluded islands. All you need is your bathing suit—and that “novel” you’ve been dying to read.

1. Spot a Spoonbill

Bolivar Flats When it comes to Bolivar Flats, mankind did something extremely beneficial for the bird world. Of course, it happened unintentionally. When the jetties were completed in 1898, the intent was to stabilize the Houston–Galveston ship channel, not to alter the longshore current so that it would deposit nutrient-rich sediment along the north jetty’s backside and create the flats. The resulting triumvirate of mud, marsh, and Gulf waters harbored the smorgasbord of shrimp, small fish, and polychaete worms that proved so attractive to flocks of waterfowl. Then mankind (specifically the Houston Audubon Society) did something else nice for the birds, this time on purpose: creating the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary. The sanctuary manager, Winnie Burkett, who’s been birding since she was four, says you don’t even need binoculars, especially in the summer, when the flashiest crowds— herons,

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