Excitement and adventure abound at Galveston, Texas. Grab your beach chairs and picnic blanket from your Galveston vacation rental and head to the Strand Historic District to enjoy a free family-friendly movie or concert under the stars. For daytime entertainment, stroll through Saegnerfest Park for some live entertainment and an opportunity to play chess on a life-size board. Walk, hike, and bike on the longest continuous sidewalk in the country along Seawall Boulevard. Your entertainment options at Galveston are vast, so consider adding a few of these attractions to your itinerary.

Large majestic buidling with palm trees
Source: Flickr/Brian Ambridge

1. The Texas Seaport Museum and 1877 Tall Ship Elissa

This impressive museum highlights the history of seaborne commerce and immigration in the Port of Galveston. Called the ‘Ellis Island of the West,’ Galveston welcomed more than 133,000 immigrants to its shores. Imagine the days when daring men sailed the Seven Seas as you walk the decks of the 1877 tall ship Elissa. Step into the theater to witness Elissa’s remarkable restoration following her rescue from a scrap heap.

2. Moody Gardens

Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the ocean depths as you walk beneath the water and explore the sanctuaries of marine animals such as sharks, stingrays, tuxedo-clad penguins, and applauding seals. The tropical Rainforest Pyramid gives you a close-up introduction to unique and endangered plants such as the Corpse Flower and fascinating views of giant Amazon River otters, Saki monkeys, and a vast array of colorful birds.

3. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

Recognized as one of the top five seaside parks in the world, this old-fashioned amusement area rivals Chicago’s Navy Yard and Coney Island’s Luna Park. The pier, poking 1,130 feet over the Gulf of Mexico, is home to the first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Texas. Find souvenirs at a number of charming shops, then hit the midway for an afternoon of games and rides from a thrill-seekers roller coaster ride to gentle rides for younger visitors.

4. Schlitterbahn Galveston Island

More than just a water park, this impressive attraction challenges your courage on fast, tall, and cliffhanging water slides such as the Monster Blaster. From soaring over the landscape on a zip line to splashing in rivers and wave pools to sunning on beaches such as Whitewater and Kristal. Schlitterbahn is a relaxing way to beat the heat.

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5. Bishop’s Palace

Also known as Gresham’s Castle, this impressive 1892 Victorian castle is cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most important buildings in America. Browse this grand structure with its delightful colored stones, intricately carved ornamentation, bronze dragons, stained-glass windows, and a silver-lined, imported fireplace.

6. Baywatch Dolphin Tours

Head down to Pier 21, located a short distance from the downtown Strand District, for a 45-minute up-close encounter with dolphins in their natural habitat. The comfortable boat is covered, has a heated interior for your comfort, and is sans-propellers to protect the animals.

7. Galveston Island State Park

There’s plenty of free activities at this beautiful state park. Take in the displays and video presentations at the Nature Center, then enjoy a kayak ride, participate in a bird walk, hike the paths on a nature field trip, or explore the beach and surf.

8. Galveston Island Railroad Museum

Harken back to the golden days of railroading at this beautiful museum where you can find pictures of Hurricane Ike’s devastation, model trains, railroad jargon, maps, and illustrations. One of the most popular things to do at the museum is browsing through the dining car exhibits when, during the golden age of trains, first-class passengers were served gourmet food in grand style.

9. East End Historic District

Take a tour of this beautiful area where following the devastation created by Hurricane Ike, optimistic residents and area sculptors took matters into their own hands to transform damaged oak trees into attractive sculptures. You can see more than 30 of these tree sculptures nestled into gardens and side yards throughout the District.

10. 61st Street Fishing Pier

Grab your gear and head down to this pier for a day of family-friendly fun. Everything you need for a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is at your fingertips right on the pier including equipment rentals and bait. Spend the day making memories then pick up some special souvenirs and grab a refreshing cold drink or snacks such as pizza and ice cream.

11. Lone Star Flight Museum

Take a day trip to Houston and visit the Lone Star Flight Museum which features dozens of primarily World War II aircraft.
If you feel adventurous, plan a flight session aboard a vintage plane such as the Fairchild PT-19 Cornell, the B-17 Flying Fortress, or the T-41 Mescalero, the military’s version of the Cessna 172.

12. Galveston Island Horse and Pony Rides

Join a dedicated group of long-time residents for a relaxing ride along the beach at sunset. The horses are carefully chosen and trained, ensuring a smooth, enjoyable ride for the entire family.

13. Sea Turtle Tours

Take a tour of this NOAA Fisheries Laboratory where five species of Gulf turtles are raised and protected including the loggerhead, leatherback, Kemps ridley, green, and hawksbill. These turtles are instrumental in helping to design netting technology, for example, such as shrimp nets that allow marine animals that are accidentally captured to escape unhurt and without undue stress.

14. Airboat Tours of Galveston Bay

Jump aboard Captain Hal Newsom’s 450-horsepower, state-of-the-art airboat then hang on as you zip across the waters of Galveston Bay. As you approach the protected area, engines are cut, and the boat glides silently through an unspoiled landscape where birds, alligators, and turtles invite you to observe their habitats.

15. East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve

This lovely 694-acre preserve has largely undeveloped land along an extensive marine coastline. As you wend your way through habitats that support a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, expect to experience non-tidal wetlands, upland prairie, freshwater ponds, and black mangroves. The preserve’s wetlands attract a variety of birds including raptors, sandpipers, and plovers, as well as large flocks of gulls, pelicans, and terns.

 
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