The Complete Guide To Driving From Houston To Mcallen

The drive from Houston to McAllen in South Texas is around 330 miles along Highway 59 South and offers beautiful scenery and attractions along the way.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The drive from Houston to McAllen takes around 5 hours if driving nonstop. You’ll want to stop in towns like Victoria and Corpus Christi to see attractions, eat, and rest, extending the drive to 6-7 hours.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide tips for the road trip, highlight can’t-miss attractions and restaurants, and outline the most direct route to get you from Houston to McAllen smoothly.

Planning and Driving Tips for the Road Trip

Optimal Time to Leave Houston

When planning a road trip from Houston to McAllen, choosing the right time to hit the road can make a significant difference in your travel experience. It is generally recommended to avoid rush hour traffic, so leaving early in the morning or late at night can help you avoid congestion on the highways.

Additionally, consider checking the weather forecast before your departure to avoid any potential storms or adverse weather conditions that could impact your journey.

Recommended Stops and Rest Areas

Driving for extended periods can be tiring, so it’s essential to plan for rest stops along the way. Some recommended stops between Houston and McAllen include Buc-ee’s, a popular convenience store chain known for its clean restrooms and wide selection of snacks.

Another option is to take a break at one of the state parks along the route, such as Brazos Bend State Park, where you can stretch your legs, enjoy a picnic, or even take a short hike. These stops not only provide a chance to rest but also offer unique experiences and attractions.

Gas and Snack Stops

Ensuring you have enough fuel and snacks for the journey is crucial for a smooth road trip experience. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of gas stations where you can refuel your vehicle, such as Valero, Exxon, and Shell.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your fuel gauge and plan ahead for your next refueling stop.

When it comes to snacks, consider packing a cooler with refreshing drinks, fruits, and snacks to keep you energized throughout the journey. However, if you prefer purchasing snacks on the go, there are numerous convenience stores and fast-food restaurants along the route, including Whataburger, McDonald’s, and Sonic Drive-In.

Driving Safety Tips

Ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road should be your top priority during the road trip. Here are some essential driving safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Observe and obey all traffic laws and speed limits.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers are properly restrained.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting or using your phone.
  • Take regular breaks to combat fatigue and stay alert.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and use your signals when changing lanes.
  • Be aware of weather conditions and adjust your driving accordingly.
  • Stay updated with road conditions and potential construction or traffic delays.

By following these safety tips, you can have a pleasant and accident-free journey from Houston to McAllen.

Top Attractions and Activities Along the Way

Corpus Christi Beach

As you drive from Houston to McAllen, make sure to take a break and visit Corpus Christi Beach. This stunning beach offers miles of pristine white sand and clear blue waters, making it the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing.

You can also try your hand at various water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing. Don’t forget to grab a delicious seafood meal at one of the beachfront restaurants before continuing your journey.

The USS Lexington

If you have an interest in history and naval warfare, a visit to the USS Lexington is a must. This decommissioned aircraft carrier is now a museum and offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of the United States Navy.

Explore the ship’s various decks and exhibits to learn about its storied past and the brave men and women who served on board. The USS Lexington is a truly unique attraction that shouldn’t be missed.

Victoria Riverside Park

Located in the city of Victoria, Texas, the Riverside Park is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy some outdoor activities. With its lush greenery, scenic walking trails, and picnic areas, it’s the perfect spot for a leisurely break during your drive.

The park also features a playground for kids, a splash pad for hot summer days, and even a mini-train ride that offers a fun and nostalgic experience for visitors of all ages.

Fulton Mansion

History enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Fulton Mansion in Rockport. This beautifully restored Victorian mansion offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Fulton family, who were influential in the development of the region.

Explore the mansion’s elegant rooms, admire the period furnishings, and learn about the family’s contributions to the local community. The Fulton Mansion is a true gem along the route and a testament to the rich history of the area.

King Ranch

No trip from Houston to McAllen would be complete without a visit to the iconic King Ranch. Spanning over 825,000 acres, this legendary ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island and is known for its rich history, impressive wildlife, and picturesque landscapes.

Take a guided tour to learn about the ranch’s cattle and horse breeding operations, explore its stunning gardens, and immerse yourself in the unique cowboy culture of South Texas. The King Ranch is a true Texan treasure and a must-visit destination along the way.

Where to Eat Along the Route

Embarking on a road trip from Houston to McAllen? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the diverse culinary scene along the way. From mouthwatering seafood to authentic Tex-Mex dishes, there’s something for every food lover. Here are some great dining options to consider:

Houston Food Pitstops

Before you hit the road, make sure to fuel up at some of Houston’s best food pitstops. Start your journey with a hearty breakfast at The Breakfast Klub, known for its delicious chicken and waffles. For a quick snack, don’t miss the famous kolaches at Kolache Factory.

And if you’re craving some mouthwatering barbecue, make a stop at Killen’s BBQ in Pearland.

Victoria Restaurants

If you’re feeling hungry in Victoria, Texas, there are plenty of restaurants to satisfy your appetite. For a taste of Texas-style comfort food, head to Mumphord’s Place BBQ. Their tender brisket and homemade sides are sure to leave you craving more.

If you’re in the mood for seafood, check out The Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar, located on the Guadalupe River. Their fresh catch of the day is always a hit.

Corpus Christi Seafood

No trip to Corpus Christi is complete without indulging in some delicious seafood. Head to Doc’s Seafood & Steaks for a waterfront dining experience. From their famous shrimp cocktail to their mouthwatering fish tacos, you won’t be disappointed.

For a more casual setting, try Snoopy’s Pier, where you can enjoy the ocean breeze while savoring their fresh seafood platters.

Tex-Mex in Kingsville

Kingsville is known for its authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, so make sure to make a stop at El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant. Their homemade tortillas and flavorful enchiladas are a must-try. If you’re in the mood for some delicious street tacos, head to Taqueria Jalisco.

Don’t forget to try their famous salsa verde!

McAllen Local Eats

As you reach your final destination in McAllen, be prepared to indulge in some local favorites. Start your culinary adventure at Delia’s Tamales, where you can savor their mouthwatering traditional tamales. For a taste of Mexican street food, visit Taqueria La Mexicana.

Don’t miss out on their delicious carne asada tacos and homemade salsa.

Remember, this is just a taste of the amazing dining options along the route from Houston to McAllen. Be sure to explore and discover hidden gems along the way. Happy eating!

Detailed Driving Directions from Houston to McAllen

Houston to Victoria

When driving from Houston to McAllen, the first leg of the journey takes you from Houston to Victoria. To get to Victoria, start by heading south on Interstate 69. Take exit 540B to merge onto US-59 South/Interstate 69. Continue on US-59 South for about 100 miles until you reach Victoria.

Along the way, you’ll pass through towns like Wharton and El Campo. Enjoy the scenic views of the Texas countryside as you make your way towards Victoria.

Victoria to Corpus Christi

After reaching Victoria, the next stop on your road trip is Corpus Christi. From Victoria, take US-59 South/US-77 South and continue for approximately 60 miles. This will lead you to Corpus Christi, a vibrant coastal city known for its beautiful beaches and rich history.

Take the opportunity to explore attractions like the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum before continuing your journey.

Corpus Christi to Kingsville

Leaving Corpus Christi, the next leg of your trip will take you to Kingsville. From Corpus Christi, take US-77 South for about 40 miles. As you drive through this stretch, you’ll pass through towns like Bishop and Driscoll.

Kingsville, home to the famous King Ranch, offers a glimpse into Texas’ cowboy culture and history. Don’t miss the chance to visit the King Ranch Museum and explore the ranch’s sprawling grounds.

Kingsville to McAllen

The final stretch of your journey takes you from Kingsville to McAllen. From Kingsville, head south on US-77 South for approximately 135 miles. Along the way, you’ll pass through towns like Sarita and Raymondville.

As you approach McAllen, take in the stunning views of the Rio Grande Valley and the surrounding countryside. McAllen is known for its thriving arts and culture scene, as well as its proximity to the Mexican border.

Take some time to explore the city’s vibrant downtown area before completing your road trip.

Remember to plan your trip accordingly, taking into account traffic conditions and any necessary rest stops along the way. Enjoy the journey and make lasting memories as you drive from Houston to McAllen!


The drive from Houston to McAllen takes you through diverse landscapes and allows you to experience the culture and cuisine of South Texas. With proper planning and strategic stops along the way to see attractions and refuel, the 330-mile journey can be accomplished in 6-7 hours. Take your time to soak in the scenery and local flavor as you make your way to McAllen from Houston.

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