Galveston Island is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Texas. This lovely barrier island on the Gulf Coast has it all: miles of wonderful white sandy beaches, a port for cruise ships, a beautifully restored historic old town and a distinct Southern charm.
Elegant Victorian architecture, endless festivals, and fantastic outdoor
adventures will make you want to come back.
Here are the best things to do in Galveston, TX
1.Seawall Urban Park
With ten miles of the nation’s longest continuous sidewalk, plenty of beach side entertainment, and a plethora of restaurants, resorts, and beach side attractions, the Seawall Urban Park is one of top Galveston attractions and guaranteed fun for the entire family. Whether visitors like to splash in the water, sunbathe, go for a walk or jog, or people watch, a sunny beachside is the best place to do it.
Away from the water, visitors can shop for souvenirs at the beachside shops or relish in a fresh seafood meal. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park is packed with rollercoasters that soar over the Gulf of Mexico, carousels to take the little ones on a ride, and other exciting attractions.
2.Galveston - Port Bolivar Ferry
Until 1929, the only link between Galveston Island and the mainland was the skiff, The Tarpon, and later, two barges. The ferry, when it started taking people back and forth in 1929 was toll-free, but it was so popular that a fee had to be imposed. Today, free again, the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry takes more than eight million travelers between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula every year.
While one vessel operates 24 hours a day, up to six ferries can be added if there is need. The ferry bridges two parts of State Highway 87, the only highway that goes around Galveston Bay. The ferry is the only way for motorists to cross the water between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula.
3. Tall Ship ELISSA
ELISSA, a three-mast sailing vessel, is one of the world’s oldest sailing hulls still in operation and one of the best things to do in Galveston, Texas. ELISSA has a rich history as a merchant vessel, and it was launched in 1877 from Aberdeen, Scotland – she’s also sailed under Norwegian, Finnish, Greek, and Swedish flags.
Visitors can explore the decks of this now floating National Historic Landmark and imagine themselves as the daring sailors who were once onboard taking on the world’s oceans. There is a museum and theater for visitors to gain a better understanding of ELISSA’s history as well as her rescue from the shipyard and her restoration.
4.Bishop's Palace, Galveston, Texas
You cannot miss it: Bishop's Palace, also known Gresham's Castle, is a riot of colored stone, rare woods, exquisitely carved decorations, bronze dragons, and stained glass – and that is only on the outside. On the inside, it is 19,082 square feet of Victorian opulence, with immense fireplaces, luxury furniture, sculptures of all kinds, and beautiful textiles.
The Victorian beauty, completed in 1892, is located in the East End of the Galveston’s Historic District and is considered one of the city’s dearest treasures. Galveston’s premier architect Nicholas Clayton designed the palace, and it was built for prominent city lawyer Colonel Walter Gresham. This spectacular Victorian building is considered by the American Institute of Architects as one of America’s most important buildings.
5.Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark is 26 acres of fun. With dozens of spectacular adventures, it provides year-round entertainment to kids of all ages and those who are kids at heart. It has over 30 innovative, high adrenaline attractions, including the award-winning three-river system named Transportainment®. While a great number of adventures are seasonal, the Wasserfest area of the waterpark transforms into an indoor park in the winter in order to stay open year around.
There are three speed slides, four tube slides, three kids' activity areas, a heated pool, a secluded beach, a surfing wave, and the famous Torrent Tidal Wave River. The Soaring Eagle gondolas will let you fly 100 feet in the air, offering the best way to see the whole of Galveston. With fun private cabanas to create your own picnic or a party and a number of diverse restaurants, Schlitterbahn will keep you happy for days.
6.The Strand Historic District
The Strand Historic District, or the Strand, is located in downtown Galveston, Texas and is registered as a National Historic Landmark District. It consists of a number of beautiful Victorian buildings that today house boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and antique stores. Start your self-guided tour at the Galveston Railroad Museum on the corner of 25th and Strand. Give this popular museum at least half an hour.
Check the stores on the Strand and remember that many of them survived the storm of 1900 when a hurricane killed more than 6000 people in Galveston. Don’t miss Galveston’s famous restaurants on the waterfront – the seafood is spectacular. In Harborside, on Pier 19, visit the Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center and Museum, check what is showing at the Pier 21 Theater, and enjoy the beauty of the tall ship Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum.
7.Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum
If you have always been curious about the life on one of the drilling rigs, come and visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, an actual tried, tested, and retired jack-up drilling rig. Located about an hour from downtown Houston, the world's oil capital, the museum is operated by the Offshore Energy Center and is located on Galveston's Pier 19 just a block off The Strand.
You are welcome to roam free through the rig and take a self-guided tour through its three levels and see the drilling equipment and some fascinating exhibits and videos. One of the most interesting exhibits is Offshore Drilling: The Promise of Discover, which takes you behind the scenes and shows the real process of drilling for oil and gas offshore.
8.Galveston Island Railroad Museum and Terminal
The Galveston Island Railroad Museum and Terminal has been a part of the Galveston community for over 30 years and was created to depict the history of rail transportation. By accumulating the largest collection of rail artifacts, memorabilia, and railroad rolling stock, the museum was able to accomplish just that.
Visitors can enjoy permanent exhibits such as The Depot, which was an active passenger depot for over 30 years, and the “Ghosts of Travelers Past” exhibition, where plaster molds depict individuals who passed through the area. The museum hosts events throughout the year – museum train shows, parades, and Mardi Gras celebrations – all fun for the entire family.
9.The Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston, TX
The Grand 1894 Opera House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a part of Galveston history since 1894. The community, headed by Henry Greenwall, built the Grand in 1894, and then thousands of residents reconstructed it between 1974 and 1990 after a storm caused severe destruction. If you are looking for things to do in Galveston on a romantic date, attend an event at the Grand 1894 Opera House.
Now, visitors can enjoy events throughout the year, from musicals to food and wine festivals and everything in between. The theater hosts art shows and other memorable events; visitors can create memories by renting the opera house for lavish meetings, receptions, and parties.
10.Galveston's 61st Street Fishing Pier
A chilled beer, fresh bait, and a fishing pole is all you need to have a good time at the Galveston 61st Street Fishing Pier – the best part is that visitors don’t need to take any of that stuff with them, as it’s all available at the pier.
The family fun goes on all night on the pier, and for a small fee, visitors can rent equipment, buy bait, and indulge in delicious pier-side snacks and foods. The pier is open for fishing all night, and it offers a great way to spend the day under the sun or the stars.
11.Moody Mansion Museum
The former home of W.L. Moody Jr., one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Wealthiest Americans in 1950, the Moody Mansion Museum is filled with antiques, furnishings, and personal effects from the Moody family. Visitors are invited to tour the 28,000 square-foot, four-story structure that was the home to the Moody family for over 80 years.
Tours include a description of the history of the Moody family, who started in the cotton industry and branched out to banking, insurance, ranching, and hotels. Each room is decorated in a different style and portrays the architecture and taste of the ‘80s.
12.The Bryan Museum
It all started when eight-year-old J.P. Bryan bought an 1859 four-barreled .22-caliber Derringer with the money he earned mowing lawns and delivering papers. It was the first item in his life-long collection of American West historic objects. The collection now has over 70,000 pieces and it includes such curiosities as a Mexican silver saddle and a Walker Colt, a revolver used in the war with Comanches. J.P. Bryan’s collection is now part of the museum that made its home in the fully reconstructed historic former Galveston orphanage.
It is the world’s largest collection of its kind. Different museum galleries contain historically relevant documents, superbly crafted saddles, antique firearms, spurs, rare maps, books, fine art, folk and religious art, superb portraits, and much more.
13.Moody Gardens Golf Course, Galveston, TX
Moody Garden Golf Course is a lavish 18-hole public golf course open all seven days of the week. Visitors can book a tee time and get ready to hit some balls on the breathtaking seaside course, which has a unique tropical feel thanks to its view of the sea, the upland and lowland native areas, natural wetlands, and swaying palm trees.
Visitors can enjoy incredible vistas from the clubhouse patio, dine at the Pelican Grille restaurant, or stock up on golf gear at the pro shop. Visitors planning an event or celebration can visit Moody Gardens’ banquet venue with onsite catering.
14.BayWatch Dolphin Tours
The BayWatch Dolphin Tours is a family owned and operated business on Pier 21 in Galveston, Texas. Passengers are taken on a boat tour to get up close and personal with dolphins in their natural habitat.
For 45 minutes, visitors will learn about the history of dolphins in the area and get an opportunity to see the dolphins swim and play around in the water – visitors are encouraged to take photographs. The BayWatch Dolphin Tours offers an educational and memorable experience.
Jamaica Beach RV Resort - 17200 Termini-San Luis Pass Rd - Galveston, Texas 77554 - (409)-632-0200 - www.jbrv.net