Galveston Island in Texas has pretty much something for everyone; From its beautiful sandy beaches to the downtown historic shopping district to frequent top-name concerts to fabulous restaurants. Boredom here is not an option.
The beaches are surrounded by high seawalls due to the great Hurricane of 1900, which whipped out the town. Though these walls were expensive to build, they have saved this gorgeous island from further hurricane destruction and the place has bounced back in a big way because of them. You can go down to the Port area and see a very informative film about it for about $2.
Also at the port end of the island is the Texas Seaport Museum. For a nominal fee you can board the tall ship Elissa and look around all you like, then take a stroll through the shipping museum to get a feel for the history of Galveston.
On either side of the museum you will find some of the best seafood on the island. The lobster tails at Fisherman’s Wharf are huge and affordable, while the Catch of the Day is mouth-watering good at Willie G’s. Joe’s Crab Shack sits at the end of this stretch if you are looking for fun with your crab legs.
Across the main street from the Seaport Museum is the historic shopping district just chock-full of inviting boutiques, cafes, and tourist trap shops. Here you can buy everything from artwork by local artists to t-shirts, or take a ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages. The free streetcar will take you back up to the strand when you are done shopping.
At the beach you can surf, body board, or simply lay-out and work on your tan. The sand is clean and fine, and the shark threat is low. If you get over-baked, there are some great shops just across the street where you can pick up some more sunblock, pizza, or a cold beverage.
SCUBA diving is a popular sport on Galveston Island, and any number of Dive Shops can point you to the best spots for it. If you did not bring your own equipment, fear not, for they are more than happy to rent you some, or even provide an affordable guided excursion.
After you get your fill of ocean sports in the gulf, head inland just a bit and have fun at Schlitterbahn Waterpark. This is open year-round so you can enjoy the slides and whirlpools there no matter what time of year you arrive.
Just behind Schlitterbahn is Moody Gardens. This is a set of 3 pyramids that each house different themes. One of the pyramids is where you will find Galveston’s aquarium, which is one of the better aquariums in the country. Another of the pyramids is rainforest-themed, and the third is dedicated to space travel. Inside each are food kiosks and full-service restaurants. Out back is also a nice private beach you can use in the summer months, an ice skating rink during the winter months, and the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat will take you on a tour of Galveston Bay.
As far as hotels go, the Casa Del Mar is a great location with even greater rooms. At about 80 bucks per night you get a suite, which means living room, bedroom, and kitchen. There are even two bunk beds in the hallway. If you are coming down with friends, split the cost for this one. You will save a lot of money having a kitchen handy for snacks. They have two pools and quite a few BBQs available for use.
If you are travelling on a budget, then the Beachcomber Inn might be a better choice. Rooms there will only set you back about $60 per night, but you give up the ocean view balcony and full kitchen. It is just half a block off the beach though, and right next to a shopping center complete with grocery store.
With Houston only about an hour away, getting to Galveston is very easy. In between the island and Houston, but still within Galveston County, is a little place called Kemah. Kemah Pier is worth the side trip. This is a pier with a small amusement park on the end of it, with tons of restaurants and midway games all along the length of it.
If you were thinking about taking a trip to Texas, then Galveston Island is a sure betï¿½â’¬ï¿½ Lots of fun to be had here. Just remember to bring plenty of sunblock.
An edited version of my article appeared in the February 2007 issue of Teen Trend Magazine