Revel in the relaxed seaside atmosphere in Galveston, a welcoming city on the stunning Galveston Island. An hour’s drive from Houston, this small island is the world away from the chaos of the city. Here, white sand beaches provide world-class swimming and sunbathing, while the downtown area stands as a testament to Texas’ seafaring history. Galveston is packed with attractions for travelers of all ages and in one day, you can tour a destroyer escort ship at Seawolf Park, ride a Ferris wheel on the beach, and catch an evening performance at The Grand 1894 Opera House. Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach escape or a rowdy family trip, there are many Galveston vacation rentals to meet your needs.

1. East End

Step back in time in Galveston’s East End. This stunning neighborhood is home to the East End Historical District, where towering Victorian mansions sit next to ornate cottages. Vacation rentals in this area provide easy access to a truly unique local experience: the self-guided Tree Sculpture Tour, which takes you past sculptures carved from trees that were destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. After a day of sunbathing, leave your car at your rental and walk down to Seawall Boulevard to check out popular restaurants such as BLVD Seafood and Miller’s Seawall Grill.

2. East Beach

If you’re looking for a vacation rental tucked between the seaside and the conveniences of downtown, look no further than East Beach. This relaxed community features a plethora of charming white clapboard homes, many divided into apartments that are suitable for couples or small families. Many rentals in the neighborhood are situated a short walk from East Beach itself, which is the largest beach in Galveston. If you’re visiting in the summer, check out the busy schedule of Oceanside concerts or the American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition that’s held each June. Year-round, the boardwalk offers excellent views and people-watching.

3. Midtown

With its large blocks and spacious streets, Midtown Galveston gives you plenty of room to breathe. Here, families enjoy evening strolls down wide sidewalks, and quiet streets provide safe bike-riding opportunities. A short walk brings to you the seaside, where the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier delights travelers of all ages with roller coasters and classic carnival rides. Seawall Boulevard, which runs along the ocean, features a wide range of restaurants, but to feel like a local, check out hidden gems such as Shrimp and Stuff. If you’re interested in staying in a 1920s-era vacation rental, check out Denver Court or Cedar Lawn; both areas are listed on the Register of National Historic Neighborhood Districts.

4. Near West End

The Near West End neighborhood is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a vacation rental condo with an ocean view. The area also boasts historic homes, and apartments, so it’s a breeze to find an option for groups of any size. If you’re traveling with children, the Near West End is packed with family-friendly attractions. Spend an afternoon at the Magic Carpet Putt Putt Golf, or head for Moody Gardens to check out the aquarium, ride the zip line and see tropical animals in the Rainforest Pyramid.

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5. West End

Get away from it all in the West End, a large neighborhood with miles of quiet beaches. A popular spot for second homes, the West End offers a peaceful atmosphere and a wide range of vacation rentals. Look near the ocean for condos and raised beachfront cottages, or search inland for single-family houses on one of the area’s many canals and lakes. If you’re looking to get active, enjoy a sunrise run on the beach, or rent a bike to explore the area’s wide-open spaces. Nearby, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark offers high-speed water slides for all ages, along with a wave pool and a lazy river.

6. Jamaica Beach

Book a quiet escape within reach of Galveston’s lively atmosphere in Jamaica Beach, a small community that lies approximately 15 miles down the coast. Tucked onto a narrow piece of Galveston Island, this neighborhood offers water-front vacation rentals on the ocean, canals and the West Bay. Don’t miss Galveston Island State Park, which offers birding, fishing, and an educational nature center. Take a mountain bike down 4 miles of trails, or bring your kayak to explore the park’s paddle trails. A few restaurants sit nearby on Termini-San Luis Pass Road, including the Blue Water Grill and Ignoble Pizzeria, but it’s helpful to stock your rental’s kitchen with the essentials.

7. Downtown Strand

Stay in a renovated Victorian-era building in the Downtown Strand, which is populated with historic structures converted into condos and lofts. Bustling with activity from early morning to late evening, this beautiful area is perfect for travelers who want to be in the middle of the action. A short walk from your vacation rental, indulge in brunch at local favorite Eat Cetera before a pleasant afternoon of shopping the area’s many boutiques. The Downtown Strand caters to art lovers, with a monthly Art Walk and the yearly ArtoberFest each October. During Mardi Gras, the area comes alive with live music and parties that last late into the night.

8. Harborside

Spend a morning watching giant ships sailing into port in Harborside, which lies just west of the Downtown Strand. The Galveston Cruise Terminal makes its home in the neighborhood, so it’s a great choice if you’re a nautical enthusiast or if you have time on the island before setting sail. Local birders flock to this area for bird-watching in the local wetlands. Harborside’s vacation rentals offer something for everyone, from beautiful Victorians to ultra-modern apartments. The Downtown Strand, with its high concentration of restaurants and shops, lies a 10-minute walk from most rentals in the neighborhood.

9. Bolivar Peninsula

Sunbathe in peace on the Bolivar Peninsula, a small stretch of land positioned just off of Galveston Island. Known for its 27-mile stretch of beaches, colorful shrimp boats, stunning sunsets and family-friendly vibe, this quiet area is an ideal spot for a relaxing trip. Many local vacation rentals offer large yards, ensuring privacy at all hours. For great fishing, look for rentals on the northern side of the peninsula; some properties enable you to cast off from the back porch. Explore the white-sand beaches on foot, or do as the locals do and rent a golf cart for speedier travel. Local outfitters rent everything from surfboards to fishing rods, making it easy to enjoy everything the ocean has to offer.

10. Pointe West

Perched on the far western tip of Galveston Island, Pointe West caters to travelers who are seeking absolute quiet. This stunning area houses endless beaches dotted with picturesque sea grass, creating opportunities for long beach walks and calm afternoons next to the surf. Enjoy your morning coffee from the deck of your beachfront cottage, or bring the whole family to a sprawling seaside mansion. The Bluewater Highway runs through the center of the neighborhood, so it’s easy to get on the road to Galveston or the Texas mainland.

11. Tiki Island

Enjoy views of Galveston Island from Tiki Island. Thanks to its unique system of canals, almost every vacation rental on the island come with a stretch of waterfront, and many include private boat slips for easy water access. Relaxation is the name of the game in this small neighborhood. Spend an afternoon wandering the quiet streets, rent a golf cart for leisurely rides or enjoy a sunset from your back deck. A few convenience stores lie a short walk away on Virginia Point, and the many beaches and restaurants in Galveston sit just 15 minutes away by car.

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