The Best Stargazing Sights near Space City

Grab your telescope and head to these out-of-this world stargazing spots in and around Houston.

Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory, Brazos Bend State Park | Courtesy of the Museum of Natural Science
Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory, Brazos Bend State Park | Courtesy of the Museum of Natural Science

Despite being dubbed “Space City,” Houston is actually a pretty disappointing place to try and view the stars. If you’ve ever driven into the H at night, you know that our city’s stunning skyline can be seen from miles away. Unfortunately, that glow also radiates to the skies, with light pollution in Houston being some of the highest in the state of Texas.

That said, there are still a number of celestial events worth witnessing, like the ongoing Perseid meteor shower (visible through August 24). While the shower’s peak was expected this past weekend, there’s still time to catch this star-studded celestial show, and, if you’re willing to take a drive away from the city lights, you can do so without going too far from home. Keep reading for some of our favorite spots to stargaze near Houston.

Stargazing Spots Near Houston

Rustic Oaks Park in League City has a surprisingly clear view of the night’s sky. The stargazing is so good down here that the Houston Astronomical Society, as well as other astronomy-centric groups use the park to host semi-regular gatherings at the park. While Rustic Oaks park is open for stargazing, it is not a campground, so don’t get too cozy.
Distance: 33 minutes

Take a trip out to New Caney and soak in the stars at Lake Houston Wilderness Park. Lake Houston’s 5,000 acres of wilderness provide a wonderful getaway from the bright lights of the city with plenty of spots to get a clear view of the sky.
Distance: 30 minutes

Southwest of downtown Houston in a little town called Needville, you’ll find Brazos Bend State Park. With acres of wilderness trails and a substantial distance from Houston’s light pollution, Brazos Bend is one of the best (and closest) spots to catch a glimpse of the night’s sky. In fact, the sky sightings are so good here that it’s home to the Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory. Tickets to the observatory are sold separately from entry to the park though, so if you’re hoping to get up-close-and-personal with the stars, be sure to book your ticket in advance.
Distance: 45 minutes

Take 45 North and hop off near New Waverly to find yourself surrounded by towering pines and minimal light pollution. Comfortably positioned in the middle of nowhere, Huntsville State Park is an easy, and reasonably local place to catch a glimpse of a good night sky, particularly near the lake. Unlike national forests, there are camping fees associated with overnighting at state parks, so be sure to check ahead for availability and check in processes.
Distance: ~1 hour

Head to the coast if you like your stargazing served with a side of sand and sea. The sleepy little town of Sargent is far enough south (via HWY 288) that the Space City glow doesn't quite reach its skies making it an ideal place for a serene celestial escape, Bring your telescope and park on the beach for a stargazing experience you won’t believe you found near the city.
Distance: 1 hour+

The observatory at Sam Houston State University is located about 10 miles north west of the SHSU Campus, making the drive from Houston a quick 1 hr and 15 minutes. The observatory is free and open to the public, and is an excellent family excursion. Visitors can check the SHSU observatory website for an astronomic event calendar, but you can also just show up during open hours and enjoy the facilities.
Distance: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Get on Highway 59 North and head out to Angelina National Forest. Situated between the cities of Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Angelina is home to miles of hiking trails, serene waterways, and vast, dark skies once the sun sets. Overnight camping is free here, so bring your tent, your cooler, and your telescope to get a front row seat to the stars. Pro tip: try to snag a campsite on a waterway for panoramic sky views.
Distance: ~2 hours

Halfway between Dallas and Houston, on the north edge of the Davy Crockett National Forest lies Mission Tejas State Park. North of Houston, Mission Tejas offers dark skies, miles of hiking trails and cozy camp accommodations. If you’re planning to catch the meteor shower here, you’re definitely going to want to make a campsite reservation. We promise it’ll be worth it.
Distance: 2 hours

If you find yourself with a long weekend (or are just committed enough to stargazing that you’re willing to take time off for the best spots) you have to head to Lake Murvaul. The lake is vast and friendly to swimmers, boaters, and fishers alike, but the real star of the show (pun intended) is the crystal clear view of the skies that can only be found when you’re miles and miles away from any city with an HEB plus. The drive from Houston is a lengthy one but if you want a good view of the sky and a peaceful weekend getaway, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Distance: 3 hours

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Jupiter Contreras is a Thrillist contributor.