There’s more to Texas than cowboy hats and rodeos, and Galveston is a prime example. With more than 32 miles of sandy shores and unparalleled views of the Gulf of Mexico, this isle is the place to come to kick up your boots and breathe in the salty air. Galveston is small and picturesque, making it an ideal locale for a romantic excursion for two. But don’t rule out this historic island for a family getaway either – there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied. No matter what time of the year you’re planning a vacation, you’ll be pleased with mild temperatures that induce relaxation like you’ve never felt before. Go ahead, find yourself on island time.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier:
Originally constructed in the 1940s for military use, historic Pleasure Pier was turned over to the city after the end of World War II. For years, this sprawling entertainment hub welcomed traveling families and locals alike until a devastating hurricane in 1961. While the Pier opened back up in 1965, it was severely damaged once again in 2008 by Hurricane Ike. After a multi-million dollar renovation, the Pier opened once again in May 2012 with waterfront rides, games and entertainment.
What began as a horse barn in the mid 1980s is now one of the most beloved attractions in the Southwest. Moody Gardens sits right on the water and features attractions for visitors young and old. Check out the Aquarium Pyramid, the largest of three, which allows visitors to trek through four distinct environments. Get chilly with the penguins, gaze upon the vibrant hues of coral reefs and fish, or walk through an underwater tunnel where sharks, sea turtles and eels swim around you.
Galveston Island State Park:
While it’s a blast to see animals from around the world, there’s nothing like witnessing wildlife in their natural habitat. Galveston Island State Park spans 2,000 acres of barrier island ecosystem, which are actually always changing due to waves, tides and wind. Keep an eye out here for armadillos, marsh rabbits, mallard ducks and a variety of wading and shore birds. Here you can cast a line, go for a dip, bike through the mountains or strap on your hiking boots. Don’t forget binoculars!
Things to Do
Historic Strand District:
This quaint waterfront district is home to an array of restaurants, shopping and art, but this is one place where you can judge a book by its cover. A simple stroll through this area is a treat, as stunning 19th century and Victorian architecture line the streets. In fact, Galveston is home to one of the largest and most well-preserved areas of Victorian architecture, despite past disastrous weather.
Galveston is home to a handful of small museums that can almost all be seen in a day or two. Check out the Texas Seaport Museum, Galveston Railroad Museum, Lone Star Flight Museum and Seawolf Park. As a waterfront city, Galveston has a deep-rooted history with the military and Seawolf Park is a sight to see for any history buff. You can see the submarine USS Cavalla and USS Stewart.
Postoffice Street Arts & Entertainment District:
This district is technically located in Strand, but it is home to a bevy of cultural attractions like the Grand 1894 Opera House, Island Etc East-End Theatre Company as well as a number of galleries. The Grand Opera House is listed as the official opera house of Texas and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Top Restaurants and Shopping
If you love antiquing, you’ll find Galveston to be heaven on earth. You’ll feel a blast from the past walking along the historic blocks in Galveston where art galleries, antique shops and boutiques line the streets. Those who are in the market for some souvenirs to take home should head to Seawall Boulevard.
Galveston chefs like to get creative with the abundance of seafood they have at their fingertips, so expect to dine on some innovative dishes with the fruits of the sea. From spicy Cajun to savory Italian to mouthwatering steak, restaurants in Galveston specialize in just about everything - after all, there are more than 100 establishments to choose from. Check out the Porch Café, Bento’s, Galvez Bar & Grill or The Spot.
Galveston is a hotbed of cultural, historic and natural attractions across roughly 200 square miles. This tiny city is just 40 miles south of Houston, but you’ll still find a small-town charm and tropical atmosphere.