Talk to travelers or Texans about Galveston, and you could get some scoffs and looks of displeasure if you name the island as a place you want to vacation. Galveston is not known for the best beaches in the US, nor does it have world class hotels. Most don’t love the view of oil rigs that line Galveston Bay. But this little stretch of Texas continues to draw crowds, grow and change despite unfortunate disasters.
The coastal island that stretches 208.3 square miles was devastated by a hurricane in 1900. Galveston never gained the economic status it had before that time. After the Great Galveston Hurricane came ashore the level of the island was raised 4ft. to block incoming waves. It wasn’t enough to stop the next catastrophe. In 2008 Hurricane Ike hit Galveston with all its might taking away with it many of the wooden piers that gave Galveston it’s unique character. Ike destroyed and flooded thousands of homes, uprooted trees and cut electric power to millions of customers for weeks.
The town lives on with opulent antique homes that survived the hurricanes set against layers of colorful condos on the beach and bars that line Seawall Blvd. Fishing boats, giant tankers, and large cruise ships now line the shores of Galveston. The city that survived nature’s fury is now a quirky get-a-way location. With cheap hotels, inexpensive fresh seafood, great bars and plenty of activities for the whole family it’s no wonder that the island makes for a vacation destination for many in Houston and from afar.
Kids and adults alike will have fun in at the beach building castles, finding shells and dipping their toes in the cool ocean. History buffs will enjoy hearing the stories of unique homes such as the Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion. For the nature lovers, a walk along the beach, a day bird watching (there are over 300 species of birds that live or fly through Galveston), or a day kayaking at Galveston State Park is sure to delight. Galveston offers romantic places to stay as well as excellent dining options for couples looking to escape and reconnect. While the active traveler can parasail, kayak and ride the tides. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy on the island.
The Best of the Best in Galveston, TX
Best Places to Eat in Galveston
Number 13 Prime Steak and Sea Food uses the highest quality ingredients to serve up seafood as well as in-house 30-day dry aged Angus prime.
Rudy & Paco offers a healthy casual lunch or indulge in grilled seafood and steak
with a South and Central American sabor.
Willie G’s Seafood & Steaks where you can enjoy the view of the ocean while eating in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Ronaldo’s Restaurant offers the finest Italian cuisine and notable wines in a sophisticated environment.
Mosquito Café it might be a funny name, but this great local restaurant offers daily chalkboard specials and has some of the best breakfast around.
Tour Moody Mansion where ornate designs and dazzling rooms are on display. Tour Bishop’s Palace, named one of the top 100 outstanding buildings in the U.S. by the American Institute of Architects.
Take the whole family to Moody Gardens. *The aquarium is undergoing a muli-phase renovation set to be completed in May 2017 and is not worth the money to see it under construction, in my opinion.
Tour Elissa and look for dolphins at Pier 21, then take a harbor tour.
Visit Galveston Railroad Museum to learn about locomotive history.
Stop by the Bryan Museum. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts, documents and artwork relating to Texas and the American West.
Take a stroll or rent a bike to ride around Seawall Blvd. Then head off to the many tree sculptures starting at 20th and Sealy. You can find a handy map here.
Galveston State Park is perfect if you want to look for the 300 migrating coastal birds that reside in the area.
Space Center Houston is just 35 minutes from Galveston. It’s a great stop if you are going to or leaving Galveston. Adults and kids will love the tram tours and interactive exhibits.
Explore historic downtown making your way to The Strand and Postoffice Street.
Best Places to Shop
The Hendley Market is not your typical tourist shop on the Strand. Hendley Market is known for its electric antiques, unusual gifts and fascinating artwork.
Watch candy makers pull old-fashioned saltwater taffy at La King’s Confectionery.
If you are into alchemy, astrology or looking for something metaphysical look no further than The Wichery.
The Old Galveston Trading Company in Historic Downtown offers a broad range of home decor products and local artwork.
Nautical Antiques has all the nautical themed items your heart desires, and not the cheesy souvenir kind either.