I recently had the pleasure of visiting Galveston, Texas.
I was delighted to discover a city that is steeped in history.
With its Victorian-era heritage and iconic Grand 1894 Opera House, it felt like stepping back in time.
I was also thrilled to find out there were some of the most beautiful beaches in Texas located on the Gulf of Mexico – perfect for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying stunning views.
Galveston is an ideal destination all year round.
There are plenty of activities and attractions catered to any season, whether you prefer outdoor adventure or relaxing indoors; from birdwatching at wildlife preserves to exploring local ghost stories.
The abundance of fresh seafood restaurants serving up locally caught fish and shrimp was definitely a highlight for me!
No matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, Galveston has something for everyone – be it sightseeing, leisurely strolls down beautiful beaches or indulging in some retail therapy at the Strand Historic District.
Things To Do In Galveston
1. The Strand
On my visit to The Strand, the historic five-block area of Galveston, I was immediately enchanted by its beauty.
The 19th-century homes were a sight to behold, with intricate carvings and ornate designs that looked like they had been preserved for centuries.
I then visited boutiques and stores selling souvenirs from Galveston.
Afterwards, I decided to explore some of the local eateries; there were plenty of mom-and-pop diners as well as bars to choose from. I chose one of them and enjoyed a delicious meal while being surrounded by great scenery.
The atmosphere in The Strand was relaxed and peaceful.
It was the perfect place to take a stroll, admire the historical sights and get away from everyday life for a while. Even though it felt like time had stood still here, it’s clear that The Strand has seen its share of modern developments over the years.
There are plenty of shops featuring contemporary fashion items, trendy cafes and restaurants serving international cuisine, new bars and nightclubs offering an exciting nightlife scene – all within walking distance from each other.
2. Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens is a unique and memorable experience.
This 242–acre complex is one of the best tourist attractions in the area and is also popular with locals.
There were so many fun things to do. I was most excited for the animal attractions, including the Public Penguin Encounter and Giant River Otter Encounter.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the Aquarium Pyramid, Reef Rescue Virtual Experience, Rainforest Pyramid, 3D theater, 4D special effects theater, Discovery Museum, ropes course, and zip line.
While it was one of the more expensive things to do in Galveston, I felt the added expense was worth it. I am so glad I had the chance to explore this amazing complex.
3. Galveston Naval Museum
The Galveston Naval Museum and memorial park is a unique and special place, housing two preserved vessels from WWII: the USS Cavalla submarine and the USS Stewart warship.
It was incredible to be able to step foot on these two vessels and explore them, learning about their history and the important roles each of them has played.
The USS Cavalla was an iconic vessel, having sunk the IJN aircraft carrier Shokaku which was involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
It was amazing to stand in the very place where such an important event in history occurred.
The USS Stewart, on the other hand, was originally used as a training ship for young officers and had the honor of escorting three U.S. presidents in its lifetime.
On Saturdays, the museum also has docents on–site to provide additional information, which I found to be extremely helpful and educational.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience and I would highly recommend visiting the Galveston Naval Museum to anyone interested in learning more about the history of WWII.
4. 1892 Bishop’s Palace
As a visitor walking through the majestic doors of the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, I am immediately welcomed by its grandiosity.
The castle-like exterior, with its intricate carved woodwork, is a sight to behold.
Stepping inside, I am amazed by the enormous nine-foot ceilings that stretch up towards the heavens.
My attention is quickly drawn to the majestic stained glass windows that fill the room with light and color.
The detailed craftsmanship of this historic mansion is evident in every corner.
From elaborate fireplaces to fine furnishings from around the world, it’s clear that no expense has been spared in creating this unique American home.
I feel as if I’m taking a step back in time as I examine ancient artifacts such as an ornate silver tea set and antique clockwork toys from Japan.
The Bishop’s Palace is now lovingly maintained as a National Historic Landmark and museum open for regular tours.
For those looking for something extra special, there are also private tours available during which knowledgeable tour guides recount stories of past inhabitants and give exclusive access to areas of the home usually off limits to visitors.
5. Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
I was so excited to visit the Ocean Star Offshore Oil Rig and Museum in Port of Galveston.
Having always been intrigued by the energy business, I knew this would be the perfect chance to learn more about it.
The Ocean Star itself was built in 1969 and had drilled more than 200 wells in its lifetime.
When I arrived, I quickly jumped into the interactive displays that showed the whole process from exploration to extraction.
It was fascinating to learn about the rigs and supply vessels that play an important role in the bustling oil and gas industries of the Gulf of Mexico.
Next, I made my way to the pipe deck to view the larger equipment needed to drill the wells.
It was incredible to see the scale of the machinery and to learn more about the oil drilling process.
I also had the opportunity to explore the area around the rig and to take in the views of the Gulf of Mexico.
6. Texas Seaport Museum and the Elissa
Home to the tall ship Elissa, built in 1877 and considered one of the finest restored historical vessels in the US, it was amazing to see the Elissa still putting to sea regularly.
I was impressed to learn about the Elissa‘s rescue from the scrapyard and all the effort that went into restoring her.
The museum does a great job of telling the story of the Elissa, as well as looking into the history of the Port of Galveston, including the names of migrants who passed through.
To top it all off, I had the chance to drive to Seawolf Park to see the WWII–era US Navy submarine and destroyer.
7. The Bryan Museum
The Bryan Museum in Galveston is an incredible place and I was absolutely blown away by the sheer scale of the collection.
The museum houses over 70,000 unique pieces of Texana and the first items acquired by J.P. Bryan, the collector and museum founder, were a Moore’s Patent Front Loading Revolver and a Sharps Patent Four–Barrel Derringer.
The museum offers a one–of–a–kind look into the ways of the old west and I was mesmerized by the variety of native artifacts, rare documents, and guns.
8. Schlitterbahn Water Park
Going to Schlitterbahn in Galveston is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
As the largest water park in Galveston, it has something for everyone.
I was so excited to try out the world’s tallest water coaster, MASSIV Monster Blaster, and Rohr!
I had the most thrilling ride of my life on those two coasters!
The Wave Lagoon is also a very popular attraction.
There’s so much to do here, from heated pools to a toddler and kids play area, Torrent River, Soaring Eagle ZipLine, Torrent Beach, and Screaming Serpents.
9. Stewart Beach
Stewart Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area and it‘s so family–friendly.
It has lifeguards to keep everyone safe, plus plenty of showers and a playground for the kids.
You can even rent umbrellas and chairs to make your day even more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, alcohol isn‘t allowed due to the presence of children.
But, it‘s conveniently located near Pleasure Pier and although there is a parking fee, it‘s totally worth it!
10. Galveston Island State Park
Galveston Island State Park is a perfect getaway for couples, families, or even a honeymoon destination.
Located only 15 miles away from the Pier, this state park is free to visit and offers a plethora of exciting things for everyone in the crew.
It is divided into four separate sections, so it never gets overcrowded. What’s more, there are also free Galveston attractions available.
We had the opportunity to go camping, as well as enjoy the beaches, beach-related activities, hiking, and other fun activities.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience and I would definitely recommend it to others!