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20 Fun Things to do in Galveston

20 Fun Things to do in Galveston

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Galveston Island is one of the most popular getaways in Texas. It’s no wonder that locals and tourists flock to this Texas town on the Gulf Coast. There are so many fabulous things to do in Galveston, we think you will fall in love with this beach town for sure!

Galveston is a Texas town that we find ourselves visiting over and over again. We just love the historical homes, the fun shopping, and, of course, the Galveston beaches.

Honestly, Galveston, Texas is full of fun and interesting places to visit. I mean, it is one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast!

With that in mind, let’s dive in and see what Galveston has to offer!

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    Things to do in Galveston

    Check Out A Galveston, Texas Beach

    beach at sunset-things to do in Galveston

    If you are looking for the perfect stretch of sand to spend some time on, don’t worry, Galveston, Texas has you covered. Some of the most popular beaches on the Gulf Coast in Galveston, TX include Stewart Beach, East Beach, and Galveston Island State Park just to name a few.

    With over 30 miles of Gulf Coast beaches, you are sure to find the perfect one for you and your family.

    Visitors flock to East Beach to experience the lively parties, concerts, and festivals that are often held here. The fact that East Beach is the only public beach in Galveston where alcohol is legal probably doesn’t hurt either.

    If you want something a little calmer, then head to Stewart Beach, located between the Seawall and Broadway Avenue. Stewart Beach boasts a stretch of sand that is family-friendly for sure.

    Known for as it often has gentle waves, and having a lifeguard on duty, Stewart Beach is a great place for kids in Galveston.

    Stewart Beach does have an admission fee, but it is worth it as this pays for the use of their facilities.

    We especially love visiting San Luis Pass Beach located on the far west end of Galveston Island. Visitors to this stretch of sand don’t have access to beach amenities, but what they get in exchange is a pretty stretch of sand that is usually less crowded with a great view of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Visit Galveston Island State Park

    Galveston Island State Park is another great beach area in Galveston, Texas. This 2000-acre state park is such a great beach area that it needed a section all to itself.

    Not only is this a great beach, but there are also loads of outdoor activities like kayaking and biking/hiking trails.

    Galveston Island State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors love the bird watching, fishing, and wildlife viewing that the park is known for.

    Of course, the biggest draw to Galveston Island State Park is the beautiful beach that allows visitors to explore both the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay. Take note that the beach side of the park is closed until 2022 for renovations.

    You can’t make a trip to Galveston, Texas and not visit the beaches.

    Get the most up-to-date information on the State Park’s website.

    Hang Out on Galveston’s Seawall

    aerial view of Galveston

    One of my favorite things to do in Galveston, Texas is wake up bright and early and go for a morning walk along Galveston’s seawall.

    I just love how Galveston feels like one of the small towns in Texas, yet it is really good sized.

    The Galveston Seawall is a 10-mile stretch of wall and sidewalk that separates Seawall Blvd. from the ocean. Built after the devastating Great Storm of 1900, this 17-foot tall stretch of seawall has helped to grow Galveston into the tourist mecca that it is today.

    People flock to this coastal Texas town to see and play on the Galveston seawall.

    If you were the walk the 10-mile stretch of sidewalk, you would be treated to great beaches, fishing piers, restaurants, unique shops, and, of course, the famous Galveston Pleasure Pier.

    Have Fun at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

    pier over the ocean with carnival rides on it

    As you are walking or driving along the seawall, you can’t miss the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. The colorful rides and attractions tower of the ocean water and seem to beckon visitors to come and enjoy!

    During your visit to Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, you can enjoy 16 amusement park rides (one of which is a 5D Theatre Ride), loads of midway games, and fun shops.

    Of course, if you get hungry during your time on Pleasure Pier, you can fast on all of your favorite carnival foods. I’m talking funnel cakes, turkey legs, hot dogs, pizza, and more. Adults can even enjoy an adult beverage or two during their visit.

    This is honestly one of the top attractions in Galveston.

    Explore the Strand Historic District

    buildings in Galveston historic district

    Once dubbed “The Wall Street of the South,” Galveston’s Strand Historic District is rich in history and intrigue.

    In its inception, Galveston, Texas was one of the richest cities in the world and the third richest city in the United States in comparison to its population. This can be seen throughout town, but especially in the Strand District.

    The beautiful Victorian buildings that lined this area housed banks, insurance companies, cotton factors, newspaper printers, and stores. Since all major railroads serving Galveston, and it being a major port city, about 60 percent of the state’s cotton crop was being exported out of Galveston, ensuring the wealth of its merchants.

    This helped downtown Galveston, TX to become a bustling commerce site.

    Today, the Strand Historic District is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a must-see in Galveston, TX.

    The Strand Historic District often called The Strand is home to some fabulous restaurants, art galleries, boutique shops, and one of our island favorites, La King’s Confectionary.

    Check out the Grand 1894 Opera House

    The Grand 1894 Opera House is located near the Strand Historic District in downtown Galveston.

    The Grand 1894 Opera House has a special place in the history of Galveston Island. Having survived both the Great 1900 Storm and numerous hurricanes, the Grand 1894 Opera House has earned its place on the island for sure.

    Today, the Grand welcomes visitors to see the gorgeous theatre while watching one of the many live performances offered here throughout the year.

    This gulf coast icon is one of the historic attractions in Galveston that should definitely be on your trip itinerary.

    Step Back in Time at Moody Mansion

    Moody Mansion in Galveston

    Built by the prominent Moody family in 1895, this 28-000 square foot home is a tribute to one of Galveston’s most powerful and influential families.

    The Moody Mansion, which is now on both a Texas Historical Landmark and on the National Registry of Historic places, can be toured during your time in Galveston, Texas.

    Once inside Moody Mansion, you are greeted by gorgeous stained glass, incredible engraved woodwork, and numerous furnishings that belonged to the Moody family. During your time in Moody Mansion, you can see 20 of the 31 rooms.

    Visit their website for up-to-date pricing and operating hours.

    Visit the Galveston Railroad Museum

    The Galveston Railroad Museum is located in the Strand Historic District at 25th and Strand in Galveston, Texas inside the old Santa Fe Railroad station.

    The museum is home to six permanent exhibits that teach all about the history of the railroad system. Explore the steam and diesel-powered engines, historic artifacts, and even get up close and personal with several historic rail cars.

    The Galveston Railroad Museum also hosts special events throughout the year, including The Polar Express during the holiday season. This family-friendly event is a highlight for kids in Galveston allowing them to dress in their PJs and have a fun-filled journey full of surprises just like the movie!

    This is definitely one of the unique things to do in Galveston

    Tour the 1892 Bishop’s Palace

    Bishop's Palaces-a historic home in Galveston

    Bishop’s Palace, also known as Gresham’s Castle, is an 1892 Victorian that is not only listed on the National Registry of Historic Places but is also considered “one of the most significant of Victorian residences in the country,” according to the Bishop’s Palace website.

    Today, you can take tours of the home that are literally from the attic to the basement, seeing the amazing home for yourself. These exclusive behind-the-scenes tours are offered on Saturdays.

    Bishop’s Palace also offers self-guided tours which are available daily. This is a great addition to your list of things to do in Galveston if you are a history or architecture lover!

    Make a Splash at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark

    Galveston, Texas is also home to an incredible Texas-sized waterpark, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island.

    While you will find Schlitterbahn Water parks in other areas of Texas, the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island can’t be missed!

    Schlitterbahn Galveston Island offers fun, adrenaline-pumping water rides that will have kids (and kids are heart) begging for more.

    Of course for those that want to take life at a slower pace, Schlitterbahn has you covered also. You can enjoy the lazy river, wave pool, or just lounging on a chair.

    Of course, there is also an area dedicated to the smaller children in the family!

    This is one of the top attractions around Galveston, Texas, so be sure and add it to your trip itinerary.

    Explore Moody Gardens and Aquarium Pyramid

    glass pyramid at Moody Gardens

    Another one of the fun things to do in Galveston, Texas is to visit Moody Gardens.

    Moody Gardens is a hotel and entertainment complex that is full of attractions. Even if you don’t stay in the Moody Gardens hotel, you can still come to play!

    This fabulous attraction boasts an Aquarium Pyramid where you can explore and learn about the ocean life of the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Atlantic. You will see penguins, seals, sharks, and more while visiting the aquarium.

    Moody Gardens also has a Rainforest Pyramid that houses free-roaming monkeys, sloths, birds, otters, and more. While visiting the Rainforest Pyramid, you will also get up close and personal with over 1,700 exotic plants and animals!

    That’s not all you will find at Moody Gardens. They also have a discovery museum, a paddlewheel boat, a 3 and 4D theatre, and an on-site water park which includes a beach area! This is a great place to spend the day for sure!

    Of course, when you are hungry, there are on-site restaurants and cafes for you and your family to enjoy also!

    Moody Gardens is also one of the reasons that Galveston is one of our top towns to celebrate Christmas in Texas as the park transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays.

    Check out the Moody Gardens website for prices and more information.

    Learn About Offshore Drilling at the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig

    Ocean Star Museum in Galveston

    Head into the Galveston Harbor and you will likely see the large rig that is home to the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum in Galveston, TX.

    This museum is operated by the Offshore Energy Center and is used to educate people on the role that oil and gas play in our everyday lives.

    Visitors are invited to do a self-guided tour of the three floors of exhibits that include some incredible videos and exhibits. This is definitely one of the unique things to do in Galveston, TX.

    Please visit their website for current prices and operating hours.

    Attend a Festival in Galveston, TX

    Mardi Grs sign lit up on street in Galveston

    Galveston, TX is always up for a good party. This is apparent when you visit, and especially if you look at the Galveston, TX calendar of events!

    During the summer, you can attend the annual sandcastle competition while in Galveston. This annual event highlights the top sandcastle builders as they have five hours to build their sand masterpiece.

    Visit Galveston, TX in the fall if you want to see their shrimp festival, Greek festival, ARToberfest, or Oktoberfest.

    Of course, the winter and holiday season bring one of the most popular festivals on the island, Dickens on the Strand. Dickens on the Strand highlights Galveston’s Victorian-era history by celebrating Christmas as they did in 19th century Victorian London.

    As the holder of the third largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, this is a festival not to miss also! Make your plans early to experience this Galveston festival as it gets extremely crowded!

    Explore the Historic Neighborhoods in Galveston

    church and houses in neighborhood

    Galveston Island is full of historic neighborhoods just waiting to be explored.

    Explore more of downtown Galveston than just the Strand. The downtown area is home to some unique architecture and incredible history.

    The East End Historic District is home to structures dating back to the mid-1800s. You can even see the first houses on the island, the Michel A. Menard House (1838) and the Samuel May Williams House.

    Be sure and check out some of the local restaurants in this area also as there are several great ones!

    Another great area to visit is Galveston’s historic Post Office District. The Post Office District is near the Strand and is loaded with great restaurants, boutique shops, and great entertainment venues.

    There is truly loads of history on Galveston Island, Texas just waiting to be explored and most of it is open throughout the year.

    61st Street Fishing Pier Galveston

    fishing pier in Galveston

    Grab a fishing pole and head to the 61st Street Fishing pier in Galveston, Texas to try your hand at some night fishing.

    Don’t worry if you don’t have any equipment. You can rent it at the 61st Street Fishing Pier!

    This pier is a great place to spend the evening under the stars while you try to catch the perfect fish during your time in Galveston!

    Their prime location along the seawall makes it easy to find the 61st Street Pier.

    Take a Dolphin Tours

    Adding a dolphin tour to your list of things to do in Galveston is a fun and unique experience.

    There are several guide companies that take passengers out on 45 minute – 1-hour boat tours to allow you to see the dolphins in their natural habitat.

    During your dolphin tour, you will not only get to see the animals in the water, but you will also learn more about these domestic creatures.

    Read Next: Fun Things to do in Granbury TX

    Galveston Food Tour

    cheesecake with Bachlava on top

    One of our favorite things to do when visiting any area is to take a food tour. We have taken food tours in Dublin, Rome, and our hometown of Dallas, just to name a few.

    Well, lucky for you there is a great food tour in Galveston, Texas also!

    Our friends at Taste of the Strand offer a fun food tour in the downtown Strand district of the island. Here you will make new friends while you experience some fun and unique eateries in Galveston.

    These food tours are a fabulous way to get a bite to eat (too much to eat, actually) and be introduced to some fun restaurants and attractions around the island.

    Texas Seaport Museum & the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA

    deck of the tall ship ELISSA

    You will find the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, a floating National Historic Landmark, at Galveston’s Texas Seaport Museum.

    Inside the Texas Seaport Museum, guests can check out the museum exhibits and the theatre’s presentation to learn more about the history of the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA.

    This three-meter sailboat was launched in 1877 from Aberdeen, Scotland, and had several interesting voyages before she landed on the shores of the Texas coast.

    After exploring the museum, which is located at 2200 Harborside Drive in Galveston, Texas, you have the opportunity to step aboard the ship for a self-guided tour.

    While you are here, there are several other attractions near the ship, so be sure to check them out!

    This is one of Galveston’s unique attractions that you can do year-round!

    Visit Pier 21

    In order to visit the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, you have to make your way to Pier 21. So, while you are here, you might as well explore the Pier 21 area.

    Pier 21 is a restaurant and entertainment district just a couple of blocks from the famous Galveston Strand.

    You will find several great water-front restaurants located on Pier 21. In addition to the fabulous restaurants, this area is also where you can embark on a dolphin cruise, a sunset cruise, or a speedboat tour.

    Other attractions in this area include the Texas Seaport Museum, the Pier 21 Theatre, and the Ocean Star Offshore Museum.

    This area has to be an addition to your Galveston trip for sure!

    The Bryan Museum Galveston

    Head to the Bryan Museum Galveston, which is located in the historic Galveston Orphans Home, to learn all about the history of Texas and the American West.

    Home to one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts and documents relating to Texas history and the history of the American West, the Bryan Museum is a great place to escape from the Texas heat.

    The permanents exhibits at the museum walk you through the history of the Lone Star state from the Spanish Colonial era through the founding of Texas statehood. There is also a permanent exhibit showcasing the works of prominent Texas artists at this museum.

    Of course, the Bryan Museum also welcomes special exhibits to deepen the understanding of the history of the Lone Star State and the USA.

    Best Time to Visit Galveston

    sunset over ocean in Galveston

    In our opinion, anytime is a great time to visit Galveston!

    Of course, like every other destination, the answer on the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences. Let’s take a look at the seasons on the Texas coast so you can make the best decision for yourself!

    Summer in Galveston (May-Sept)

    Summer is easily the longest season in Galveston, lasting from May-September.

    Temperatures during the summer will average in the mid to upper 80s, but the real feel will be much higher as the humidity is prevalent this time of year.

    The Texas summer heat draws visitors from all over to the Gulf Coast. This increase in guests means that prices for accommodations increase as well.

    The summer season also brings the annual sandcastle building competition and the Galveston Island Shrimp Festival.

    Fall in Galveston (Oct-Nov)

    Fall in Galveston brings about lower temperatures and Galveston’s shoulder season.

    The fall temperatures usually average in the 70s, making this a great time to be outside on the island. This is a great time to explore the island and all of the great things it has to offer.

    Festivals during this time include the island’s Oktoberfest and the ARToberfest.

    Winter in Galveston (Dec-Feb)

    The winter months in Galveston are when you will find the best deals on accommodations and fewer crowds on the island.

    The temperatures average in the mid 60s, making the air brisk. It is important to note that some of the local attractions close during this time of year, so keep that in mind when booking.

    Winter brings about Dickens on the Strand, Galveston Restaurant Week, and Galveston Mardi Gras.

    Spring in Galveston (March-April)

    Spring is one of my favorite times to visit the island. Temperatures range from the low 60s to the low 80s, making it the perfect temperature to be outside!

    While overall this is still a mild season on the island, keep in mind that Spring Break is the exception. During Spring Break, the island is overrun with visitors!

    Spring also brings the migratory birds to the island and thus Galveston’s Featherfest.

    Final Thoughts on Galveston Things to do

    As you can see, Galveston Island is incredible any time of year. There are so many things to do on the island that you can stay busy for weeks for sure.

    We hope we have inspired you to visit Galveston. Drop a line below and add to our list, or tell us what you are most looking forward to seeing on your trip to Galveston!

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    Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

    Book Your Flight:

    We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.

    Book Your Vacation Package:

    If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.

    Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!

    For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.

    Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”

    Book Your Accommodations:

    We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!

    There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.

    Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!

    HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all of the top travel sites with one search to ensure you are finding the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.

    If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.

    Tour Companies We Trust:

    We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!

    For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.

    CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.

    Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.

    Looking to Save Time and Money?

    Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!

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    Michelle Snell founder of That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel

    About The Author

    Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel.  Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.

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    Christina

    Saturday 30th of October 2021

    I had always just visited the beach in Galveston. Next time I'm going to have to find time to visit the museums and other great spots.

    thattexascouple

    Sunday 31st of October 2021

    Oh yay! I am so glad that we gave you some new ideas!

    Terri

    Saturday 30th of October 2021

    ARToberfest sounds divine. I love all the cool fall fun.

    Bliss

    Thursday 16th of September 2021

    Looks like a super gorgeous place to visit. I’d love to do the dolphin tour.

    thattexascouple

    Sunday 19th of September 2021

    Oh yes! The dolphin tour is so much fun!

    Marina

    Tuesday 14th of September 2021

    Wow didn't know anything about this town but now I'm adding Galveston to my (never ending) list of places I want to visit in the US! Thank you so much for sharing all of those precious informations!

    thattexascouple

    Tuesday 14th of September 2021

    That is so great to hear! Thanks for reading, Marina!

    Natasha

    Monday 13th of September 2021

    I've heard of Galveston, but never really knew much about it. You've got me convinced now, though, that it should be on everyone's list when visiting Texas!

    thattexascouple

    Tuesday 14th of September 2021

    This is so great to hear! Thank you so much, Natasha!