When one thinks of beaches, some places that come to mind include Miami, Florida, Hawaii, and even California. Now when one thinks of Texas, they don’t necessarily think of the hot summer sun by the beach. However, what many tourists don’t know is that one part of Texas is most notable for its white sand beaches and spectacular shorefront views. That place is nothing other than The Oleander City, Galveston, Texas. If you are one of those tourists who are up for a day or two at the beach, then this place might just be the spot for you as you’ll surely get your fix of “Vitamin Sea” right here.
Galveston, Texas is a coastal resort city right off the southeastern coast of Galveston Island and Pelican Island in Texas. The city proper is a whopping 542 km2 large and you can bet that there are countless places for you to visit here. The city itself is the county seat of Galveston County and it is one of Texas’ biggest attractions next to Dallas.
Though a bustling city now, Galveston has a long history of political turmoil and war. Before we get into what you’re excited about, let’s take a little trip down the history of the city.
The namesake of the town and county is Spanish military and political leader, Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, Count of Galvez. The early inhabitants of the coastal island were members of the Karankawa and Akokisa tribes. When they were around, the island was called Auia. Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and his team were shipwrecked on the island in November 1528. When they arrived, the island was called as Isla de Malhado, or the Isle of Bad Fate.
Like in most areas on the coast of the U.S., some of the first foreign settlers of Galveston came from Spain and other areas of Europe. The first ever settlement in the area was built around 1816 by Louis-Michel Aury. At the time, he helped the small Republic of Mexico fight for for its independence from Spain.
The port of Galveston was created in 1825 with the help of the Congress of Mexico when it first got its independence from Spain. By then, Galveston started to play a huge part in Texas as the city served as the main port of the Texas Navy during the Texas Revolution of 1836. It was also made as a temporary capital of the Republic of Texas.
Galveston Port was one of the largest ports in the U.S. during the 19th century. Because of its size, it played a major part in the economy of the U.S. as it was turned into a commercial center and avenue for trade. It was at this time that the city acquired a nickname called as the “Queen City of the Gulf.”
Major crisis hit the city in an event now called as the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The hurricane resulted in massive flooding and heavy rain which almost decimated the entire town. To this date, it is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
During the early 20th century, the city reemerged once again. This time, it became a center for tourists and gamblers alike. This newfound avenue for growth help support the city and the island which helped it become the tourist attraction that it is today. Now, let us take a look at some of the important things you should know before going to Galveston.
- 1 How To Get To Galveston, Texas
- 2 Budget For Galveston
- 3 Best Time To Visit Galveston
- 4 Things to Do in Galveston, Texas
How To Get To Galveston, Texas
If you want to Galveston, you may have to make a long trip. The only airport in Galveston is the Scholes International Airport. However, it only serves private and chartered flights. If you are coming from somewhere far off, your best bet is going to Houston. There are two airports here, the William P. Hobby Airport and the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. We recommend going to William P. Hobby as Galveston is directly connected to it via Interstate 45. It will take you about 45 minutes to drive there. You can hire rent-a-car services from the airport for your leisure.
If you want a cheaper alternative, then you can hop on The Island Express. This is an inter-agency bus transfer that runs three times every day from Monday to Friday. This will cost you about $9 one-way.
Once you are in, getting around is easy as the island itself is small enough to walk. This will also get you to enjoy the sights and sounds that the island has to offer. If you aren’t up for walks, then you can ride pedal cars around the city. You can also hop on Island Transit as it offers rides throughout the city.
Budget For Galveston
There’s a lot to do in Galveston that’s why if you want to save up, you need to buy a Galveston Island Pass. This will provide you with up to 40 percent discounts on major attractions such as the Lone Star Flight Museum, Moody Mansion, the Grand 1894 Opera House, and more. Each pass is valid for 30 days so it is ideal if you are planning for a long stay.
A single day visit on Galveston will cost you around $50 and this includes food and transportation. Overnight tourists will spend at least $110 per day. If you want to save up, then you need to buy the Galveston Island Pass and you will need to book your rooms ahead as well.
Best Time To Visit Galveston
The best time to visit Galveston has to be from October to November. The temperatures during these months are around the 80-70s. Since you’ll want to explore the island more, this is the perfect temperature for walks. The room rates and airfare are priced regularly though as discounts come around December. At the very least, you won’t be spending much on seasonal highs which come during the summer.
If you want to avoid spending too much on rooms and the flight, then avoid visiting during April. You will also avoid the influx of tourists because of Spring Break by avoiding this month.
Things to Do in Galveston, Texas
When talking about Galveston, Texas, many people often think of cruise and serene Galveston beaches that are perfect for travelers who want to bask in the sun and/or relax as they hear the tranquil sound of the waves. But Galveston, Texas is more than just that. There are more interesting things to do in Galveston that you can imagine besides cruising and hitting the beach. In case you’re in Texas and craving for some more activities, here are some of the interesting things to do in Galveston, Texas, that we highly recommend.
1Ride a ferry
Sure, ferry rides are common in most places but Galveston Island Ferry is one of the interesting things to do in Galveston that we highly recommend because it’s one of the activities that will give you the best views that Galveston has to offer. The ferry will take you between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. Aside from the nice views of the gulf, if you’re lucky enough, you can even see dolphins swimming alongside the ferry boat. The best part of this activity is that it’s free and they even have a vessel that operates 24 hours a day. You can also bring your car with you. However, many locals and tourists who have already tried it say that it’s much better to just leave your car behind if you don’t want to wait long. For more information about the Galveston Island Ferry, you can check them out here.
2Watch a show at The Grand 1894 Opera House
The Grand 1894 Opera House is not to be missed if you’re traveling to Galveston, Texas. Also known as The Official Opera House of Texas, this attraction is a place where you can get to see awesome shows by top performers. Here, you can get to see orchestras, musical plays and so much more. It also holds a number of events that are surely fun and educational, especially if you have kids with you.
But what makes it a cut above the rest of the other opera houses in other cities is that The Grand 1894 Opera House is one of the island city’s historic attractions. It has survived several natural disasters and has and is still serving a testament to the determination of Galveston’s people that it was quickly repaired and reopened. It is one of the few remaining theaters of its era in the whole Texas as well. So why not grab a chance to visit this place?
3Explore The Strand Historic District
Galveston, Texas may be small but then again, there are a lot of interesting things to do in Galveston. If you’ll stroll The Strand Historic District alone, for instance, you can get to see and try out a lot of things already. The Strand Historic District is one of the places that you should explore too as it has a lot of captivating boutique shops, unique restaurants, and other one-of-a-kind establishments. One of the highlights in this place is LaKing’s Confectionary, an old-fashioned candy shop. here, you can even get to watch how they make saltwater taffy.
The Strand Historic District can talk big about its nightlife too. That said, you can cap your day off by grabbing a drink at one of the countless pubs and bars that The Strand Historic District has to offer. This place alone has nearly everything that every traveler can ask for.
4Sign up for walking tours
If you want to dive deeper into Galveston, Texas’ past, signing up for walking tours is one of the interesting things to do in Galveston too. This small island city has a lot of tours to offer where, needless to say, a guide will show you around.
If you’re up for some interesting stories about the past, you can sign up for the historical tours that the island city as to offer. Galveston Island Historic Tours, for instance, gives interesting tours. You’ll usually be assisted by a history professor who will share his or her knowledge and interesting insights about the Galveston area. And they do it all in a multi-row golf cart.
If you want a more colorful tour of the downtown Galveston, you can ride a horse-drawn carriage on The Strand Historic District. What better way to get narrated with the stories about Galveston’s rich history as you tour the streets of the island city accompanied by the sound of the horse’s hooves guiding you?
If you’re feeling a little braver, you can sign up for the ghost tours. In this kind of tour, you’ll be guided as you walk down the haunted streets and corners of downtown Galveston and, of course, you’ll hear some interesting and chilling ghost stories from them.
5Marvel at its breathtaking architecture
Speaking of the streets of this island city, admiring its establishments’ exteriors is also one of the interesting things to do in Galveston, Texas. Sure, there are a lot of establishments in other cities that have amazing innovative architectural designs. But Galveston’s are different. This is because it still has a lot of historical homes made with Victorian and Greek Revival architecture that are really worth seeing. They may not be as modern as other cities’ establishments but they still sure are breathtaking. Seeing these houses in Galveston may even take you back in time and get a glimpse of what it’s like in the past.
Texas’ Most Famous Mansion
One of the well-known houses with great architectural design in Galveston is the Moody Mansion. It is so famous that Travel Channel even included it on their list of the most popular homes in every state in America.
Here, aside from the fact that you can get to know more about the architecture in the past, you can also get to hear the story of the Moody family, one of Texas’ most influential families. While the house’s first and second floors are only on view, you can still tour 20 of its rooms filled with beautiful pieces of furniture and collections that the family acquired over their 86 years of living here.
Tours in the mansion aren’t for free, though. The admission costs $12 for adults and $6 for students who are 6 years old and up. Still, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience and attraction that you shouldn’t miss. You can check out their website in case you need more information before going there.
6Have a splash at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Park
Galveston is indeed known for its beaches. But if you’re up for more adventure but don’t want to leave the waters, go to Schlitterbahn Galveston Island. This 26-acre waterpark has a lot of water activities to offer. Learn how to surf, enjoy the water slides, or just bask in the sun, all of the activities at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island will surely keep your blood rushing with excitement that it brings. And there’s a ride for everyone.
One of the most thrilling rides in the waterpark is the Faust und Furious waterslide. Here, you’ll get swished from 60 feet in the air through a steep spiral down to a 300-foot slide.
What’s even better is that Schlitterbahn Galveston Island has a 70,000-sq.-ft indoor waterpark with heated pool and, of course, waterslides. That said, the fun will never stop even if its winter. For tickets and other information, click here.
Galveston, of course, has shops filled with unique items too. If you’re looking for something to bring home with you or if your looking for some cool items as a gift, shopping at Galveston’s shops is one of the interesting things to do in Galveston too. This is because it has shops where you can find a spectacular collection of unique finds. From toys to even soaps, Galveston has several unique shops for you.
For artisan soaps and other gifts, head on to Gracie’s and Bungalow at The Strand and you’ll find such items at a reasonable price. For Texan products such as food items that you can only find in Texas, The Strand Emporium is the best place to be. For unique and unusual things, The Witchery got your back. From crystals to even Tarot card readings and anything mystical, you can find them all in The Witchery. For vintage items, Fiesta Ware at Yesterday’s Best is the shop for you.
Many people may think that Galveston beaches are the best place to be when visiting the island city. But then again, there’s more to Galveston than just hitting the beach. These are just a glimpse of the interesting things to do in Galveston that are waiting for you and there’s still a lot more. Why not pack your bags now and see what other activities and attractions you can find besides these?