How to spend a day in charming Victoria with kids

This small Texas town on the Gulf Coast has numerous options for family-friendly activities.

Photo of Brianna Griff
Outlaw Pass in Victoria, Texas

Outlaw Pass in Victoria, Texas

Brianna Griff/Chron

For parents planning a vacation, "kid-friendly activities" is typically the very first Google search for their destination. Sometimes the results are numerous (looking at you, Houston!) and other times, panic ensues when parents cannot find ways to entertain the whole family. In Victoria, families will find several ways to stay busy while soaking up the small-town Texas vibes. The city is about a two-hour drive southwest of Houston, which makes it an easy weekend destination. I recently traveled there to visit my parents—here are my best recommendations for a getaway in Victoria.

Getting There

Traveling solo with kids should be an Olympic sport. Though I probably would not make it to the podium, I did make the mandatory pit stop at the Buc-ee's in Wharton. We managed to make it out with only Buc-ee's Beaver Nuggets, though my toddler did attempt to steal at least six stuffed animals in a span of 15 minutes. When the kids start to get antsy during a long drive, I like to play stories like this fun 1977 album from Sesame Street. If you want to break up the journey with a meal, consider Mikeska's BBQ in El Campo, owned by the same family for 50 years.

Breakfast: The Donut Palace

The Donut Palace in Victoria, Texas

The Donut Palace in Victoria, Texas

Brianna Griff/Chron

Why not hype your kids up on sugar before tackling a day of adventure? You can start the morning strong at the Donut Palace. This locally owned shop has more than just donuts, though: The menu includes breakfast sandwiches, tacos and the mandatory kolaches. The owners were friendly, with one giving my starving, crying child a donut hole to appease him until it was our turn to be served. In fact, each donut came with a free donut hole placed on top, which absolutely thrilled my kids. My go-to order is a cinnamon sugar donut, which nearly melted in my mouth it was so soft.

Morning: Children's Discovery Museum

Children's Discovery Museum in Victoria, Texas

Children's Discovery Museum in Victoria, Texas

Brianna Griff/Chron

I had never been to the Children's Discovery Museum in Victoria, but my son has begged to go back since his grandmother took him last summer. If your family is a fan of the Children's Museum Houston, then you're in luck. The Children's Discovery Museum has Playtown, which is similar to the Houston museum's Kidtropolis, USA, where kids get to try their hand at different jobs, from veterinarian to supermarket cashier. But in Victoria, the museum is much less crowded, so children are able to explore more exhibits, such as the giant Lite Brite replica. The best part is that admission is $8 for anyone who is older than 23 months.

Lunch: Ramsey's Restaurant

Now that everyone is tired and happy from having fun at the museum, it's time for lunch before nap time. We made our way to Ramsey's Restaurant, a local diner that always has a full parking lot. The diner has been a cornerstone of the town since it opened in 1948. This is the place to eat if you want to feel like a local. Breakfast is served all day, so my kiddos were happy to tuck into pancakes while I enjoyed a salad.

Afternoon: Outlaw Pass

Outlaw Pass in Victoria, Texas

Outlaw Pass in Victoria, Texas

Brianna Griff/Chron

After a brief rest, it was time for our next activity: Outlaw Pass, a "family fun center." There is something for everyone here. We decided to play mini golf, but my sons enjoyed checking out the large arcade area and watching the go-karts race around the track. For those who want a more thrilling time, there are amusement rides such as the Shockwave, which twirls riders around. There's even a massive sandbox and a charming playground where the younger kids can play.

Dinner: Double J Eatery

Double J Eatery in Victoria, Texas

Double J Eatery in Victoria, Texas

Brianna Griff/Chron

For dinner, we decided on Double J Eatery, which has been voted Victoria's best restaurant for the past seven years, according to the Victoria Advocate's "Best Of" awards. The restaurant's chicken fried steak is the star of the show, having won "Best of the Best in Victoria" for nine years, but our crew decided on hamburgers for everyone. The Little J Meals come with a small order of fries and a 20-ounce drink for $6.49. The burgers were cooked perfectly, with a soft bun and a juicy patty.

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