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Things To Do In Galveston

Galveston is an island destination like no other. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, this city has a heritage reaching back to the early European settlements in Texas. It was once one of the largest ports in the U.S. Today, Galveston acts as Texas’s number one resort town, full of luxurious tourist attractions and historical memorials.

Galveston is also known at “Oleander City,” named after the evergreen shrub filling the city with bursts of color that thrive in the subtropical climate. Hit the beach and take a journey through time with these fun things to do in Galveston.

One of the top things to do in Galveston is to explore the Strand, a major road running through the Historic Downtown, Strand, and Seaport districts. Once considered the “Wall Street of the South,” many of Galveston’s museums, shops, and restaurants rest along the strand, making it the city’s premier tourist destination.

Here are a few of the best things to do in Galveston:

  • Visit the year round waterpark at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island
  • Ride the thrill rides at Moody Gardens Theme Park
  • Look for coastal birds at Galveston Island State Park
  • Visit the Texas Seaport Museum onboard the sailing ship Elissa
  • Bring the family for a sun filled day at Stewart Beach

With 32 miles of shoreline, this island city has plenty of coastline for everyone. East Beach is the city’s choice spot for festivals, Stewart Beach is a family favorite, and Pocket Parks 1 and 2 are ideal spots for tanning and swimming.

Here’s a list of things to do in Galveston for free:

  • Checking out books and movies at the Rosenberg LIbrary
  • Riding the Galveston Island Ferry to the Bolivar Peninsula
  • Searching for shells at R.A. Apffel East Bench Beach shelling
  • Seeing award winning candy and antique equipment at La King’s Confectionery
  • Watching the boats and ships from Pier 21

Extending over the Gulf of Mexico on 25th Street and Seawall Boulevard, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is the city’s most entertaining blast from the past. The pier contains 16 different rides, midway games, shops, and Texas’s first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. location.

Some more popular attractions in Galveston are:

  • A Self guided audio tour at the Galveston Railroad Museum
  • Pictures in front of Bishop’s Palace in the Historic District of Galveston
  • A picnic near the Point Bolivar Lighthouse
  • The Moody family items and furnishings on display at the historic Moody Mansion
  • A visit to the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum

Galveston’s is home to the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, located on a retired jackup drilling rig just off of Pier 19. The museum aims to teach visitors all about the energy resources available in the ocean and the history of the offshore drilling industry.

Below are a few fun things to do in Galveston:

  • Tour a submarine at the American Undersea Warfare Center
  • Catch a film at Premiere Cinemas on West Beach
  • Ride your bike around the Seawall Urban Park
  • View the rotating exhibitions at the Galveston Arts Center
  • Try local favorite Katie’s Seafood Market on Pier 19

Galveston hosts free firework shows every Sunday night through the summer. Families are encouraged to take long weekends while in town to watch the display over the Gulf of Mexico from Seawall Boulevard.

Some of the best things to do in Galveston at night are:

  • Having drinks at the The Rooftop Bar at The Tremont House
  • Watching a touring comedian at The Grand 1984 Opera House
  • Taking a haunted history tour at the Broadway Cemetery
  • Busting a move at Bliss Lounge on the Strand
  • Swimming at the fabulous parties at Float Pool & Patio Bar

Galveston holds festivals throughout the year, including the Grand Kids Festival in the spring, Island Oktoberfest and Martini Blue Falls Wine and Jazz Festival in the fall, and Restaurant Week during winter. It’s hard to run out of things to do in Galveston this weekend.

Check out these top weekend activities near Galveston:

  • Watch a movie at MG 3D Theater
  • Meet the reptiles in Gator Country in Beaumont
  • Attend the annual Featherfest, a birdwatching event held during migration season
  • See a concert or go to a party on East Beach
  • Float down the lazy river at Palm Beach

The Moody Gardens crown jewels are the three main pyramids containing different unique attractions that are perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Galveston with kids. The Aquarium Pyramid is home to sharks and penguins, the Rainforest Pyramid has free roaming monkeys, and the Discovery Pyramid teaches visitors all about biology.

Some other things to do with kids in Galveston include:

  • Racing at Galveston Go Kart and Fun Center
  • Riding the Ferris Wheel at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
  • Learning how to skateboard at Romano Skate Park
  • Swimming at Seawolf Park or play on playground
  • Interacting with the hands on exhibits in the Galveston Children’s Museum

This island town has date ideas for foodies covered – make reservations for one of the many delectable seafood restaurants in Galveston. This includes Number 13 Prime Steak and Seafood, Gaido's Seafood Restaurant, and Grotto Ristorante.

Below are more date night ideas near Galveston:

  • A round of putt putt Magic Carpet Golf
  • Snuggle up for a blockbuster at Studio Movie Grill
  • Take a leisurely stroll through East End Historic District tree lined streets
  • See the natural beauty of the islands with Artist Boat Eco-Art Kayak tour
  • A glass of cabernet at The Wine Next Door

Every year, the City of Galveston hosts the AIA Sandcastle Competition, a fundraising group competition with of different award categories. Not sure if you can beat the competition? Sign up for free sandcastle building lessons on Stewart Beach during “Sandcastle Days” during the summer.

Here are the top things to do with your friends near Galveston:

  • Tour and try the taproom at Galveston Island Brewing
  • Fly through the air with Skydive Galveston
  • Take an hour-long cruise on the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat
  • Buy tickets to see the Houston Astros
  • Hit it big on the Jacks or Better Casino Cruise

Many of Galveston’s treasured homes have been restored and repurposed into museums. The Bryan Museum displays documents and artifacts from Western and Texas history. Recently renovated Ashton Villa is rented out as a meeting space. And Moody Mansion allows visitors to see behind the curtains of the lives of the Moodys, one of the most powerful Texas families.

The best indoor activities in Galveston include:

  • Pampering yourself at the Hotel Galvez & Spa
  • Shopping for new artwork at Vacation on Canvas
  • Browsing exhibits and vendors at The Marketplace at the Peanut Butter Warehouse
  • Taking a cooking class at Kitchen Chick
  • Creating masterpieces at Clay Cup Studio

Seawolf Park, located on Galveston’s Pelican Island, is one of the city’s favorite fishing piers and a family-friendly hotspot just across the Pelican Island Causeway. While you’re there, be sure to check out the American Undersea Warfare Center.

Other things to see in Galveston include:

  • Dolphin tours with BayWatch Dolphin Tours
  • The Moody Gardens Golf Course
  • The local favorite 61st Street Fishing Pier
  • Community events at Hendley Green urban park
  • The Jet Boat Thrill Ride at Galveston Water Adventures

Pirates! Legend of the Gulf Coast is a family attraction focusing on teaching visitors about buccaneers. Visitors also have the chance to interact with resident pirates, see pirate artifacts, and learn about pirates who once roamed the coast near Galveston.

Here are the top must-see attractions near Galveston:

  • Tree Sculptures made from hurricane devastated oaks can be found city wide
  • A year round haunted house experience is available at Haunted Mayfield Manor
  • Dash Beardsley Ghost Tours of Galveston Texas offers haunted tours of the historic sites
  • Seeding Galveston is a public market stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Turtles About Town is a colorful art installation of sea turtle statues around the city