Road trip season is year-round for me; Texas may have unpredictable weather but, that never stops me from traveling throughout my great state. With my mood to be by the ocean and craving some good seafood, my destination of choice this past weekend was Galveston Island, Texas. Galveston is an island city on the Gulf Coast of Texas. With its population of 47,762 people (2012 Census estimate), it’s the county seat and second-largest municipality of Galveston County. It is within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. Galveston certainly has a lot of charm in its downtown area, lots of history flows throughout the city, has some awesome local restaurants, and being able to take a stroll on its Seawall morning, noon, and night is the icing on the cake.
Listed are 10 things I did when visiting Galveston Island, Texas:
- The Visitor’s Center. Want to make the most of your visit on the Island? Be sure to visit the Galveston Island Visitors Center located at Ashton Villa, that was the first stop I made when entering the island. The staff was so friendly and welcoming, I felt right at home instantly. Their knowledge of the island, maps, and information enhanced my visit. For more information 409-797-5144.
- The Strand or better known as Galveston’s downtown area is enriched in history and lots to do! There is a unique selection of shops, restaurants, galleries, museums, and many historic buildings (which survived the 1900 Storm, regarded as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.) all within walking distance of each other which makes it easy to see it all. The Strand is home to the Cruise Ship Terminal, Galveston Island Railroad Museum (one of the nation’s most popular rail museums.), Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center and Museum, Texas Seaport Museum, and Tall Ship ELISSA, and many different restaurants from Greek, Italian, Mexican, and fresh Gulf Coast seafood. (For those with a big sweet tooth, stop by La King’s Confectionary!)
- Pleasure Pier is a waterfront fun and entertainment site right on the Gulf Coast that features family-oriented attractions including rides, midway games, and a wide selection retail shops. Pleasure Pier also has some great restaurants nearby such as Bubba Gump, Landry’s, Saltgrass, Rainforest Café, and a few Fun Food places right on the pier. A Pleasure Pier pass to ride all 16 rides as many times as you want throughout the day is $26.99 (48″ and up) and $19.99 (under 48″) based on height requirements.
- Moody Gardens is an educational and super fun tourist destination. It also has its own golf course and hotel in which opened in 1986. The non-profit destination uses nature to educate and excite visitors about conservation and wildlife. With my trip being a short one, I toured the Moody Gardens Rainforest pyramid and enjoy rare, up-close experiences with endangered plants and animals from the rain-forests of Asia, Africa, and the Americas in one of the truest replicas of a real rain-forest. The entrance fee for the Rain-forest pyramid is $21.95 adult, $17.95 child/senior. Children 3 and under free.
- The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry is a free service that runs 24 hours that takes travelers on SH 87 between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. It’s about a 50-minute ride and a great way to take a break from walking The Strand. In my opinion, the best time to take a ferry ride is at sunrise and/or sunset; can’t beat the view of the sun right over the water. To receive updates and the latest news regarding the ferry, follow Galveston Ferry on Twitter.
- Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant is pure elegance with its Gulf views, nautical theme, and attentive staff. San Giacinto Gaido first opened his doors to the beach-going public in 1911; the same year air conditioning was invented. Their unique sauces, seasonings, salad dressings and delicious desserts are all house-made from time-tested family recipes. And over the decades, have blended in traditional southern deep-frying, Southwest open-flame grilling, and rich Creole flavors. Not only is the history of the restaurant amazing, but so is their freshly caught gulf seafood.
- The Galveston Fishing Pier has been the longest fishing pier in Texas since 1971. The pier is family friendly; each adult angler may bring 3 rods; 2 of which may be surf rods, no rods longer than 10 feet, and 1 rod per child ticket. Fishing Pier Fees: Adult Day Pass is $12.00, Senior Day Pass 65+ (Must show ID) $8.00, Veteran/Military Day Pass (Must show ID) $8.00, Kid’s Day Pass under 12 $6.00. Check out the live view of the pier daily by visiting their website.
- Moody Mansion, also known as the Willis-Moody Mansion, is a historic residential building in Galveston, Texas located at 2618 Broadway Street. The thirty-one room Romanesque mansion was completed in 1895. Guests can visit 20 rooms on a tour that depicts the home life of a powerful Texas family. The Moody’s established one of the great American financial empires. Based on cotton, it grew to include banking, ranching, insurance, and hotels. Tour fees: Self-Guided: Adults $12, Students age 6 and over $6, Children 5 & Under Free. Behind The Scenes: $25 per person | 4 p.m. – Fri-Sun.
- Galveston Island State Park was named one of the top 5 “Best Gulf Coast Beaches” by Travel Channel in 2013. The park offers a quiet oasis on the island’s West End where visitors can explore the Gulf of Mexico or Galveston Bay. Families can enjoy kayak tours, beach and surf explorations, bird walks, nature field trips and fishing clinics at no cost. Many activities require advance sign-up. The park also offers beach camping. The park features 2,000 acres of upper Gulf Coast barrier island ecosystem. Park fees: Adults: $5 and free for kids 12 years & younger.
- Murdoch’s isn’t your ordinary souvenir shop; Murdoch’s Bathhouse is one of Galveston’s most historic locations. Originally built in the late 1800’s, the wood structure was constructed directly on the sand. Without the protection of a Seawall, the 1900 storm destroyed the bathhouse. Although the structure was rebuilt in 1901, the storms of 1909, 1915, and 2008 were so violent, that reconstruction was required after each. Not only can you find shirts, seashells, and other neat trinkets to take to your loved ones, Murdoch’s is also a cool spot to relax and grab a cold beer and sit in a cozy porch chair overlooking the gulf.
A huge thank you to Galveston Island for the VIP Pass and it’s hospitality. All opinions in this post are my own.