There’s nothing quite like the cure of the sea. Feeling the sand beneath your feet, welcoming the sun as it shines above and exhaling with a sense of instant calm – as if the sea air has brought in a fresh promise of renewal as it rolls off the waves.
This is what being on Galveston Island is all about. Galveston is Texas’ beach and has served as the backdrop for family memories for generations. And it’s here when you’re ready.
Galveston’s beaches have as many personalities as the more than 7 million visitors who come to the island every year. Beach parks East Beach, Stewart Beach, the Seawall beaches and Dellanara R.V. Park beach, offer amenities including showers, restrooms and concessions. And our staff is dedicated to providing a strenuous cleaning protocol at all our facilities to protect and safeguard our guests.
But there’s more than just beaches…
If you step away from the island’s 32 miles of sparkling beaches, you can just as easily fall in love with its unique character and variety.
Drawing you in with its old-world charm, Galveston is the type of place that nurtures curiosity. There’s something enchanting about exploring its rich history and visiting historic sites like the 1892 Bishop’s Palace and 1895 Moody Mansion. History buffs will marvel at taking a step back in time when they climb aboard the U.S.S. Stewart and the U.S.S. Cavalla at the Galveston Naval Museum. Those with an affinity for the fascinating history of the south and southwest will certainly need to prioritize a visit to The Bryan Museum. Housed in the 1895 Galveston Orphans Home, The Bryan Museum contains more than 70,000 pieces – maps, documents, weaponry, saddles, paintings and more – relating to this region of the country.
Yes. There are many stories to tell here. Galveston was once home to a thriving immigration port, second in size to New York’s Ellis Island. Here, people came to the United States from Europe and beyond and their legacies live on through the families who stayed and founded restaurants, businesses and entire industries. The Galveston Historical Foundation is dedicated to preserving this important piece of Texas’ legacy and visitors can experience it when they tour the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa or visit the Texas Seaport Museum, currently undergoing a significant renovation.
Stepping into Galveston’s Historic Downtown district is like stepping into another world. Victorian architecture lines the streets here. Once home to banks, schools, and office buildings, now they’re restaurants, boutiques, antique shops and coastal-inspired art galleries beckoning visitors. From Strand Street to the Postoffice District and along the charming streets in between, there’s a new discovery waiting at every corner. A visit to La King’s Confectionery is always in order (as is indulging in its irresistible chocolates, ice cream and fresh saltwater taffy). Catching a live show at The Grand 1894 Opera House is an equally enjoyable treat in an intimate setting with no seat further than 70 feet from the stage.
In fact, Galveston is home to one of the country’s largest concentration of Victorian architecture and it spills out from the downtown core into quaint historic neighborhoods on the island’s east end. One way to explore the neighborhoods is to embark on the Galveston Tree Sculpture Tour. After Hurricane Ike flooded much of the island in 2008, thousands of oak trees became casualties of the storm. Regional artists transformed dozens of these trees into works of art as testaments to the island’s resilience.
With all its Victorian beauty, the island is just as much a modern destination for family fun, whether you dare to ride the world’s tallest water coaster at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark or ride the state’s tallest swing ride at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. You could spend days exploring family adventure resort Moody Gardens with its three iconic pyramids housing an impressive discovery museum, living rainforest, 3D and 4D theaters, and aquarium. The popular Aquarium Pyramid recently underwent a $37 million renovation that has created an entirely new experience.
Galveston is home to more than 5,000 hotel rooms. From four-diamond luxury resorts like The San Luis Resort, Hotel Galvez, The Tremont House and Moody Gardens Hotel, to limited services properties, there’s a room with a view for your budget. Families who travel together are in for a treat. More than 2,500 vacation rentals can be found on the island. Beach homes whose front yards are sand and surf, historic homes, downtown lofts and beachy bungalows are all in the mix for a girls’ getaway or a family reunion.
With its history as the second busiest immigration port in the U.S., Galveston is unsurprisingly a melting pot. And this pot has boiled over into the island’s vibrant food scene. Although tucked deep in the heart of south Texas, Galveston’s culinary flair is influenced by nearly every part of the world. And, for lovers of fresh Gulf seafood, your taste buds will never get bored because no two restaurants prepare this island specialty the same way. In this historic beach town, independent, family-owned restaurants are the majority, offering unique flavors you can only find on the island. The award-winning Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant has been family-owned and operated on the island for more than 100 years and serves up some of the best seafood on the island plus the best pecan pie in Texas. Other award-winning restaurants include The Steakhouse, Shearn’s Restaurant and Rudy & Paco Restaurant – known for its Central American twist on steaks and seafood. Rudy & Paco is included on OpenTable’s list of top 100 “Best Restaurants in America.”
Galveston is for the birds – and the fish
Because of Galveston’s natural resources and year-round warm weather, the island is one of the top locations for nature and birding enthusiasts in the United States. Located on the trans-Gulf migration route, Galveston is a central location for novice and expert birders, offering more than 300 species of birds that reside and travel through Galveston during fall and spring migrations. Many birds find rest on Galveston Bay, a productive estuarine eco-system with busy harbors and salt marshes. Anglers will delight in the opportunities to fish from piers, jetties and boats along the beaches and bays.
With all Galveston has to offer, the best part is there’s no pressure when you’re on island time. You can do it all or simply remain at the beach, sinking your toes in the sand and taking it all in one relaxing breath at a time.