Galveston is a city located in southern Texas. It was first settled by Native Americans and the first European settlements showed up on the island in the early 1800s. The city itself was originally founded in 1836. Galveston even served as the capital of the Republic of Texas for a short period of time.
In the year 1900, one of the deadliest hurricanes on record hit the island. It is often called the Great Galveston Storm. It is estimated that around 8,000 lives were lost and many buildings either flooded or destroyed. Later, a large statue was erected in tribute to the lives lost during this horrific storm. Due to this hurricane, a large concrete seawall was built that would help protect the city from future storms by raising the elevation of the city.. This is along the area known as Seawall Boulevard.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the city became an area that people would travel to for gambling and other “vices”. It was known as the sin city of the Gulf. It was eventually shut down and many businesses and people left the island.
Today, Galveston is a big tourist destination, mainly among fellow Texans. While Galveston Beach may not be known for having beautiful white sand or clear water, it is still a very enjoyable place to visit. I have visited this island many times growing up and as an adult and still have not seen and done everything there is to do. Here is a list of 7 fun things to do in Galveston Texas.
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Things to Do In Galveston
Galveston Island State Park
Galveston Island State Park has so many different activities to offer. You can walk along the beach or hike along the four miles of trails in the park. Fishing and bird-watching are other options. The park offers both a beach side and a bay side to explore. Swimming is allowed, although you must pay attention to any warning signs or flags that might be out on a particular day.
Camping is allowed at the designated campsites. There are also paddling trails, though you must bring your own kayak or canoe, as they are not available for rent. The park is perfect for those who love to be outdoors and explore what nature has to offer.
There are two historic mansions in Galveston that have been restored and offer tours. The first is Moody Mansion. The home was originally built in 1895 and later purchased by the Moody family in 1900. It is both a Historical Texas Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion has 20 different rooms that still have the belongings of the Moody family. The museum also offers a Wellness Walkabout, which encourages visitors to get outside and get exercise. It is a free one mile route around the Mansion’s neighborhood and visits 10 nearby landmarks.
The other mansion is the 1892 Bishop’s Palace. This home is also listed as both a Historical Texas Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. It is even said to be on the list of most significant Victorian residences in the country. The home was originally owned by the Gresham family. This house was able to withstand the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the Gresham family invited survivors of the hurricane into their home during the aftermath. The mansion was later purchased by the Catholic church, where it was inhabited by the Bishop at the time. It consists of four different floors that can be toured with a variety of different rooms.
Moody Gardens is a hotel, convention center, and activity center all in one. Some of the attractions, including the aquarium and the rainforest area, are set up in large pyramids. Other attractions include a Discovery Museum, a 3D/4D Theater, and a Paddleboat.
The Aquarium Pyramid has many different sea creatures, including penguins, sharks, jellyfish, and seals. The Rainforest Pyramid offers the chance to see a variety of rainforest plants and animals. There are even some that are endangered, making it even more important to learn about these.
If you are wanting some time to relax, book a spa package. The spa offers services like massages, facial treatments, and hydrotherapy.
For the golf enthusiast, set up a tee time and play a round of golf along the seaside. There are five different sets of tees available.
You could easily spend a whole day or multiple days exploring Moody Gardens and everything it has to offer.
Pleasure Pier is a historic boardwalk area that has a lot of family friendly options. There are many rides available, including the Iron Shark Rollercoaster, Texas Star Flyer, and the Galaxy Wheel.
If rides are not something you enjoy, there are a few shopping and dining options. Pelican’s Bag offers gifts and other beach items. Or stop at Lolli & Pops to try out their Coke Freestyle Machine. It offers 120 different flavors.
As far as dining options go, you can find everything from hamburgers and corndogs to funnel cakes and ice cream. The Brew Station has a variety of alcoholic beverages available for the adults.
Galveston Children’s Museum
The Galveston Children’s Museum is an interactive, hands-on museum that is designed for ages 18 months to 12 years old. Children can perform a variety of activities, including pretending to catch fish, make pizza, create new artwork, build on a Lego wall, and many other fun activities. There is even a special area designed for the younger kids aged 2-5 years old.
The sections of the museum encourage children to learn important skills like engineering, art, math, and science. The Now Starring You section allows children to create their own performance using either themselves or the provided puppets.
The museum also offers special Saturday Mini Camps that encourage children to explore and learn important STEAM skills. The possibilities at this museum are endless and your children could easily spend a few hours exploring everything there is to do.
There are two shipwreck locations that are around the Galveston Island area.
One is the USS Westfield, which was sunk during a Civil War battle in 1863. The shipwreck itself cannot be seen above the water. However, there is a museum you can visit in nearby Texas City. At the museum, there is a 10,000 pound cannon from the ship that has been excavated and is on display. There are also other artifacts from this ship on display.
The other shipwreck is the SS Selma, which is visible above the water. It is a concrete ship that was originally intended to be used in World War I. The war ended before the ship was ever used, so it was turned it into an oil tanker. It eventually hit a jetty and could not be repaired. It was then intentionally sunk where it still remains today. It can be seen by taking a ferry from Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.
There are so many amazing restaurants in the Galveston area. The choices range from American to Italian to Chinese and everything in between. If you are a seafood fan, you cannot leave without trying out one of the many great seafood restaurants. These are just a few of the great restaurants you should try while you are visiting, though of course there are many more that are amazing as well!
If you love seafood, try Gaido’s Seafood. It is a slightly more upscale restaurant that has a variety of seafood options. The menu rotates based on what is available that time of year. Some of the menu items include Crawfish Asiago, American Cornmeal Fried Catfish, and a Pecan Encrusted Mahi Mahi. For dessert, try out their famous pecan pie.
Miller’s Seawall Grill
This is always one of my favorite restaurants to visit in Galveston. Miller’s serves a variety of food including wings, hamburgers, seafood, and pasta. One of my favorite items on the menu is the crab cakes! They also serve all day breakfast, which is another of my favorite things to order.
Jimmy’s On The Pier
Jimmy’s On The Pier is another great choice. Sit on the deck and watch all the pelicans fly by the pier as you eat. The food choices are mostly seafood, though there are a few non-seafood options available, including some delicious loaded beer cheese fries. I usually opt for the fish tacos, which comes with an amazing mango salsa.
The Spot serves everything from burgers and tacos to seafood. The shrimp served here is all locally sourced. There is also an extensive alcoholic drink menu that includes a variety of mixed drinks, beer, and cider. A special section of the drink menu is dedicated to Texas craft beers.
The Mosquito Cafe is located in an old historic building. The restaurant has an impressive menu and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some of the delicious dishes include Pulled Pork Mac, Shrimp Cake Burger, and Pecan Crusted Brie.
Galveston is definitely worth a closer look if you are ever in the area. It often gets overlooked because it is not known as one of the “pretty beaches”. The variety of activities more than makes up for this.
Read about another beach trip with our post on our Family Vacation to Indian Rocks Beach in Florida.
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