OK, we'll cut to the chase—the Kemah Boardwalk is a commercial, touristy development run by Landry's Restaurants (the folks who brought you Joe's Crab Shack and Saltgrass Steakhouse)—but most people love it. Just off I–45 between Houston and Galveston, this cluster of moderately priced restaurants, amusement-park rides, game arcades, and inns is set on a bustling ship channel. It's a family-oriented destination where you can catch a Gulf breeze, eat seafood, shop,
or just watch the ships sail by. Kids can get up close to some of nature's most misunderstood creatures at Stingray Reef—they can even feed them. A 96-foot-tall wooden coaster called the Boardwalk Bullet was recently added to the mix. It reaches speeds of 51 mph—only five feet from the water's edge. Don't eat first!