Galveston, Texas attracts visitors of all ages with its rich international history, sandy beaches with crystalline Gulf water, and numerous family-friendly points of interest. Nestled between Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston is an island offering fun and excitement to all who come to its shores. Look forward to admiring stunning architecture such as the Bishop’s Palace and the Galveston Island Seawall, as well as embarking on adventures at Moody Gardens and relaxing on Palm Beach. Book a stay at one of many vacation rentals in Galveston today. Start making your Galveston travel plans and consider these exciting activities.
1. The Galveston Island Seawall
The city constructed the Galveston Island Seawall in 1904, after the devastating hurricane of 1900. Today, the wall protects the island from high water and provides a unique public walkway. Rent bikes for the family from Island Bicycle Company, or stroll along this 10-mile elevated boardwalk. Take in the beautiful views of the city and the Gulf of Mexico.
2. Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens in Galveston started in 1983 as a horse-riding therapy program for people with traumatic brain injuries. Now, it’s a top leisure and educational facility where everyone feels welcome. Your family can interact with monkeys and macaws at the Rainforest Pyramid, or climb the five-level sky trails on the ropes course. The Aquarium Pyramid is full of excitement, with sharks and Humboldt penguins. To relax, take in a movie at the gardens’ state-of-the-art theater.
3. Palm Beach
At Palm Beach in Galveston, you and family can relax or play beach volleyball on the island’s only white-sand beach. Watch your kids splash around in the huge wave pool, enjoy Lazy River, and let the more adventurous family members take on the two enclosed-tower water slides. Moody Gardens runs this smoke-free beach and offers plenty to eat at its food concessions.
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4. The Bishop’s Palace
Originally known as Gresham House, the Bishop’s Palace is a glorious Victorian mansion that survived the hurricane of 1900. Visit this imposing home in Galveston’s East End Historical District, with its 23-inch-thick walls, a silver-lined fireplace, and stained-glass windows, and imagine the hundreds of people who took shelter there during the storm. Travel back in time on a tour of this grand, lavish home, which was completed in the early 1890s.
5. Galveston Island Historical Pleasure Pier
For rides, food, and all-around fun, go to the Galveston Island Historical Pleasure Pier. Several rides suspended over the water make this a unique amusement park experience. See the Gulf of Mexico from the top of the Galaxy Wheel, a 100-foot Ferris wheel with an LED light show. Rock over the Gulf 50 feet in the air on the Sea Dragon. Take the Pirate’s Plunge, a fast-moving water flume ride, or brave the Iron Shark roller coaster’s high-speed vertical drop. When your stomach settles, get some food on the pier. Try pizza from Slices & More, or treat everyone to goodies from Carousel Court Sweets.
6. Pier 21 Theatre
Need a rainy-day activity outside of your Galveston vacation rental? Treat the family to three fascinating films at Pier 21 Theater. “The Great Storm” tells the story of the Category 4 hurricane of 1900, including survivors’ personal stories and how Galveston rebuilt itself. Watch “The Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte,” and decide whether the infamous pirate Lafitte really buried his treasure on Galveston Island in the 1830s. “Galveston — Gateway to the Gulf” describes how international immigration shaped Galveston’s unique culture.
7. The Galveston Railroad Museum
Treat your family’s train lovers to the Galveston Railroad Museum, a popular attraction ranked among the top five collections of restored railroad cars in the United States. Take a self-guided tour and share an audio tour with a companion throughout the museum’s exhibits and memorabilia. Before you visit, ask about the schedule to ride the Harborside Express, and stop at the specialty gift shop before heading back to your Galveston vacation rental.
8. Island Carriages Tours
Experience Galveston the old-fashioned way. Let Island Carriages take your family on a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city’s East End Historical District, including the Bishop’s Palace and the 1875 Ruhl House. If you choose the tour through the Strand, the city’s Historical Landmark District, you’ll see classic preserved buildings, including the Grand 1894 Opera House.
9. The 1894 Grand Opera House
Like the 1875 Ruhl House in the East End Historic District, the Grand Opera House — built in 1894 in downtown Galveston — was a hurricane survivor. This luxurious theater features an arched entryway, marble tile lobby, and oak seats. When the theater fell into disrepair, the Galveston community came together to restore it. Don’t miss this beautiful work of architectural design and craftsmanship that earned a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
10. Kayak Adventures With Artist Boat
Explore the marshes of Galveston Bay by kayak with Artist Boat for another perspective of Galveston. A two-hour guided tour in a tandem kayak takes you on an interpretive Eco-Art adventure through the shallow marshes of the East End lagoon. You can release your inner artist on a three-hour tour that includes instruction on watercolor techniques. Create a painting while on the marsh as a lasting remembrance of your fun-filled trip to Galveston.
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