Perched on picturesque Galveston Island, Moody Gardens possesses a storied history that complements its scenic surroundings. Its horticultural and animal-therapy programs—which began in the mid-1980s—pair visitors living with physical and emotional disabilities with horses and multihued flora, helping them learn coping skills and build confidence. Next to the sprawling grounds, the Moody Gardens Golf Course boasts multiple holes that run alongside the rippling waters of the Gulf and its intervening waterways, forming intimidating hazards and housing a thriving civilization of merpeople who use golf balls for currency. The tourist destination also thrills families with water attractions, including a wave pool and a lazy river. The restored 10-story Rainforest Pyramid holds more than 1,700 exotic plants and animals from Asian, African, and American rainforests, while the Aquarium Pyramid features a diverse range of ocean inhabitants including sharks and penguins.
Dark wood and glowing lamps create an inviting atmosphere inside The M&M Restaurant & Bar, maintaining the building's place as a local institution in three centuries. Built for $500 in 1844, the restaurant has served generations of diners and even withstood the deadly hurricane of 1900. Changing hands and identities across the years, The M&M served as a saloon at the turn of the century, a grocer through Prohibition, and a boarding house during community productions of Oliver!. Today, chefs put together a menu that focuses on fresh seafood and juicy cuts of seared meats complemented by a rousing selection of libations. Families gather around tables topped with white linens or booths lined with green and brown fabrics, and summer months coax guests out onto the spacious patio.
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
Yaga’s Entertainment Inc. was created to produce events that would be beneficial to the entire Galveston Island by drawing traffic to downtown during historically poor weekends. Local businesses have benefited from each event organized by Yaga’s Entertainment Inc. due to innovated marketing opportunities.
Although Rosmond Duzich Thormahlen and Ryanne Duzich aren’t natives, their family, who has helmed popular local enterprises such as Fisherman’s Wharf and The Spot, has been contributing to Galveston’s small-business community for more than two decades. Today, the sisters continue that legacy at Farley Girls Cafe, where they whip up a made-from-scratch spread that, according to their motto, features "a little bit of everything." On weekday afternoons, diners can dig into salads, specialty pizzas, or sandwiches, such as the Mile High meatloaf—a thick slice of homemade meatloaf served on Texas toast. During weekend brunches, guests can create their own omelets or savor a slice of breakfast pizza topped with bacon, eggs, and cheese.
Charcoal-tiled floors and cream-colored walls help cultivate a relaxing ambiance in the dining room, and stained-glassed windows and lofty ceilings emanate an airy, elegant vibe in the indoor patio at the rear of the restaurant.
From their table at Jimmy's on the Pier, people can take in unobstructed views of the gulf, watching as waves bob gently toward the shore. On chillier days, the warmth from the fireplace radiates throughout the space, almost as welcome as the scent of fresh-baked breads coming from the kitchen. Those breads are used to sandwich everything from po' boys to burgers, both of which pair perfectly with hand-cut fries seasoned with sea salt. There's fresh seafood as well—the fish tacos are quite popular—and gluten-free pumpkin pancakes Jimmy's swears rival their traditionally prepared desserts. In the morning, a full espresso bar churns out coffee and lattes, and in the evening, bartenders serve up one of 100 beers and wines.