We love the beach in winter, and Surfside Beach is our Texas Gulf Coast go-to. Today, the dogs' personalities were off the charts and the clouds made everything silver. It was windy and freezing, but the shells were interesting, the driftwood divine, and the Seahorse Cafe had hot coffee when we needed a break from the cold.
Pros: VERY clean, pretty (for Texas coastline), an hour from Greater Houston. Decent shelling, and 4WD cars can drive on the beach. Dogs are allowed, fire pits are allowed, but familiarize yourself with the rules. Locally there are some decent restaurants, including The Purple Cow and the Seahorse Cafe. The Hotel is one of our favorites, too, and has dog-friendly rooms.
Cons: I have heard complaints that it is not kid-friendly due to cars and fires being allowed on the beach, but I think it's perfect for everyone.