Galveston Island is located on the coast of Texas, just 50 miles south of Houston. From the lively historic Strand area on the east end to the recreational complex at Moody Gardens on the west end, Galveston has an assortment of attractions and leisure time activities you would expect in a resort destination. The island is also home to some of the best festivals in the country. And when you’re ready to relax and unwind, pull up a chair and umbrella and enjoy one of Galveston’s best attractions – the beach. With 32 miles of coastline, you always have a front row seat to the best sunrises in Texas!
Discover Galveston Island Life
From seafood to italian, Galveston has a variety of restaurants to suit every palate. There are many options from Seawall Blvd to the downtown Strand area. One of the best ways to sample Galveston’s cuisine is during Restaurant Week in January. Many of our restaurants participate in this culinary celebration with special menus. For all the other days of the year, we’ve put together a list of local Galveston eateries in The Dining Room. After dinner, catch a performance of the Galveston Symphony or a host of other performers at the Grand 1894 Opera House. Or take in a play at the East-End Theater Company, a small theater featuring live stage performances. For movie buffs, Premiere Cinema has several screens with all the latest releases. And for those wanting to check out the local music scene, the Strand area has several bars and nightclubs so you can dance the night away!
In nearly every month of the year, the island plays host to a festival, event, or seasonal celebration. One of the biggest is Mardi Gras, a 12-day celebration featuring parades, parties, and plenty of revelry. Just in time for spring, FeatherFest is a salute to the island’s winged population and popular among birding enthusiasts of all ages. Take a trip to the island’s Victorian-era on the Historical Homes Tour in May. Several times a year, enjoy a glass of wine and a stroll through “Gallery Row” during Artwalk, spotlighting the island’s talented local artists. Summertime brings something for everyone, including the annual Wine Festival, Galveston Island Beach Revue, AIA Sandcastle Competition and more! You’ll want to claim your spot on the Seawall early for the best view of 4th of July fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico. September may be the traditional end of summer, but certainly not the end of fun when the Shrimp Festival arrives downtown. It wouldn’t be autumn without Oktoberfest, ARToberFEST and the Greek Festival. And the cooler temperatures provide the perfect climate for a walk through the Strand area to check out the latest in loft living on the Downtown Lofts Tour. It’s leather and do-rags at the Lone Star Biker Rally, one of the biggest (and loudest) bike rallies in the country. And finally, kick off the holiday season Victorian-style with Dickens on the Strand.
Moody Gardens is one of Galveston’s most popular family attractions, with an aquarium, private beach, IMAX theater, hotel, spa and more. While you’re there, book an afternoon cruise on the Colonel Paddle Wheel Boat. Ready to soar over the Gulf of Mexico? Then you’ll want to check out the rides and amusements at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. There’s nothing like a water park on a hot summer day, so be sure to head out the pools and water slides at Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Magic Carpet Golf offers putt-putt golf, batting cages, video games and other kid-friendly amusements. Seawolf Park, built on a former immigration site, is perfect for picnics and fishing, all next to a retired submarine and destroyer escort. Ocean Star Oil Rig and Museum provides a glimpse into the world of offshore drilling, and while you’re in the area, book a dolphin tour with Galveston Harbor Tours. Check out the Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast for a little history on these elusive characters. Go back in time to the aftermath of the Great Storm of 1900 at Haunted Mayfield Manor and meet some of the ghosts who may still be lurking on the island!
Founded in 1836, Galveston has a rich, colorful past, and there are several historical homes and museums open to the public. Bishop’s Palace, Ashton Villa, and Moody Mansion are just a few of Galveston’s architectural treasures. And don’t miss the Pier 21 Theater, Texas Seaport Museum, home of the tall ship Elissa, and the Railroad Museum located in the Strand area. The Bryan Museum, located in the historic Galveston Orphans Home, houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts, documents, and artwork relating to Texas and the American West.
Galveston Island State Park offers nature trails, bird-watching, kayaking and canoeing. The park also has beach campsites available. Planning to bring your boat along for the trip? You’ll want to check out the Galveston Island Yacht Basin. Fishing enthusiasts have a variety of places to drop a line, and there are plenty of fishing charters available to take you to Galveston Bay or offshore. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try catching a few waves. Need lessons? Ohana Surf and Skate offers private and group sessions. Galveston’s municipal golf course is sure to please with 18 holes nestled among the natural wetlands overlooking beautiful Sydnor Bayou. And if you happen to rise with the sun, beachcombing is best in the morning. You might even be lucky enough to find a whole sanddollar, especially during the winter months.