17 Best Things to Do in Galveston, Texas: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Galveston Island is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Texas. This beautiful barrier island from the Gulf coast has everything: Miles of magnificent white beaches, a cruise port, a restored historic old town, and a characteristic southern charm.
Elegant Victorian architecture, endless festivals, and fantastic outdoor adventures will have to come back. Here are the best places to do in Galveston, TX.
1. Seawall Urban Park
With ten miles of the longest continuous sidewalk in the country, plenty of beachside entertainment, and an abundance of beachside restaurants, resorts, and attractions, Seawall Urban Park is one of Galveston’s top attractions and guaranteed fun. For the entire family.
Whether visitors like to splash in the water, sunbathe, go for a walk or jog, or people watch, a sunny beach is the best place to do so.
From the water, visitors can shop for souvenirs at the beachside shops or enjoy a fresh seafood meal.
Galveston Island’s Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park is packed with roller coasters soaring over the Gulf of Mexico, carousels to take the little ones on a ride, and other thrilling rides.
2. Ferry Galveston – Puerto Bolívar
Until 1929, the only link between Galveston Island and the mainland was the boat, The Tarpon, and later, two barges. When it began to transport people from one place to another in 1929, the ferry was free, but it was so popular that a fee had to be imposed.
Again free, the Galveston-Puerto Bolívar ferry carries more than eight million travelers between Galveston Island and the Bolívar Peninsula each year.
While one vessel operates 24 hours a day, six ferries can be added if required. The ferry links two parts of State Highway 87, the only highway around Galveston Bay. The ferry is the only way for motorists to cross the water between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.
Address: 502 Ferry Road, Galveston, Galveston Island, TX, United States
3. 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA
Elissa, the third sailboat, is one of the oldest sailing hulls still working and one of the best attractions in Galveston in Texas. Elissa has a rich history as a commercial ship launched in 1877 from Aberdeen in Scotland; He also sailed under Norwegian, Finnish, Greek, and Swedish.
Visitors can visit the plates of this now floating national historical landmark and imagine themselves as fearless seafarers who were once onboard the world’s oceans. Visitors are a museum and theater for visitors to understand better the history of Elissa and its saving from the shipyard and its restoration.
Address: 2200 Harborside Drive, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
4. Bishop’s Palace, Galveston, Texas
Not to be missed: Bishop’s Palace, aka Gresham Castle, is a riot of colored stones, rare woods, exquisitely carved decorations, bronze dragons, and stained glass – and that’s just on the outside. Inside, it’s 19,082 square feet of Victorian opulence, with immense fireplaces, luxurious furnishings, sculptures of all kinds, and beautiful textiles.
The Victorian beauty, completed in 1892, is located in the East End of the Galveston Historic District and is considered one of the city’s most beloved treasures. Galveston’s chief architect, Nicholas Clayton, designed the palace, and it was built for the city’s prominent attorney, Colonel Walter Gresham.
The American Institute of Architects considers this spectacular Victorian building one of the most important buildings in the United States.
Address: 1402 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
5. Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Water Park
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Water Park is 26 acres of fun. Featuring dozens of spectacular adventures, it provides year-round entertainment for kids of all ages and those who are kids at heart.
It has more than 30 innovative high-adrenaline attractions, including the award-winning three-river system called Transportainment®. While many adventures are seasonal, the water park’s Wasserfest area transforms into an indoor park in the winter to stay open year-round.
There are three-speed slides, four tube slides, three children’s activity areas, a heated pool, a secluded beach, a surf wave, and the famous Torrent River Tidal Wave. Soaring Eagle Gondolas will let you fly 100 feet in the air, offering the best way to see all of Galveston.
With fun private cabanas to create your picnic or party and several diverse restaurants, Schlitterbahn will keep you happy for days.
Address: 2026 Lockheed Rd, Galveston, TX 77554, United States
6. The Strand Historic District
The Strand Historic District, or the Strand, is located in downtown Galveston, Texas, and is registered as a National Historic District. It consists of a series of beautiful Victorian buildings that today house boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and antique shops.
Begin your self-guided tour at the Galveston Railroad Museum at the corner of 25th and Strand. Give this popular museum at least half an hour.
Check out the shops on the Strand and remember that many of them survived the 1900 storm when a hurricane killed more than 6,000 in Galveston. Don’t miss Galveston’s famous restaurants on the boardwalk – the seafood is spectacular.
At Harborside at Pier 19, visit the Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center and Museum, see what’s on display at the Pier 21 Theater, and take in the beauty of the tall ship Elissa at the Texas Harbor Museum.
Address: 2228 Mechanic St, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
7. Ocean Star Offshore Museum and Drilling Rig
If you’ve always been curious about life on one of the drilling rigs, then visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, a real-life, tried-and-tested connection drilling rig.
Located approximately one hour from downtown Houston, the world’s oil capital, the museum is operated by the Center for Offshore Energy. It is located on Galveston’s Pier 19, just one block from The Strand.
You can freely wander the rig, take a self-guided tour of its three levels, and see the rig and some fascinating exhibits and videos. One of the most interesting exhibits is Offshore Drilling: The Promise of Discover, which takes you behind the scenes and shows the actual process of offshore oil and gas drilling.
Address: 2002 Wharf Rd, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
8. Galveston Island Railroad Museum and Terminal
The Galveston Island Railroad Museum and Terminal have been a part of the Galveston community for over 30 years and were created to represent the history of rail transportation. By amassing the largest collection of railway artifacts, memorabilia, and railway rolling stock, the museum achieved exactly that.
Visitors can enjoy permanent exhibits such as The Depot, an active passenger depot for over 30 years, and the “Ghosts of the Past Traveler” exhibit, where plaster casts represent the people who passed through the area.
The museum hosts events throughout the year: train shows, parades, and Mardi Gras celebrations, all fun for the whole family.
Address: 2602 Santa Fe Place, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
9. East End Historic District
The East End Historic District has been designated a National Historic Landmark and covers 50 city blocks. The district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will take visitors back in time; Horse-drawn carriages, architectural details in homes and buildings, ornate sculptures found throughout, and brightly colored stained glass windows give visitors a glimpse of what Galveston’s “Gilded Age” looked like.
Preserved by the East End Historic District Association (EEHDA), visitors are encouraged to attend and enjoy a host of events such as block parties, neighborhood clean-ups, and holiday lighting contests.
Address: 1501 Post Office St, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
10. The Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston, TX
The Grand 1894 Opera House is listed on the national historical registry and has been part of Galveston’s history since 1894.
The community, carried out by Henry Greenwall, was built great in 1894. Thousands of residents rebuilt him between 1974 and 1990 after the storm caused serious destruction. If you are looking for attractions in Galveston on a romantic date, take part in the Grand 1894 opera event.
Now visitors can enjoy events throughout the year, from musicals to food and wine festivals and everything between. The Theater Hosts Art Shows and other memorable events; Visitors can create memories, renting an Opera for Social Meetings, Party and Events.
Address: 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
11. Galveston 61st Street Fishing Pier
A cold beer, fresh bait, and a fishing pole are all you need to have a great time at Galveston’s 61st Xvest Street Fishing Pier – the best part is that visitors don’t need to bring any of that with you anymore. That is all available at the dock.
Family fun continues all night on the pier, and for a small fee, visitors can rent equipment, purchase bait, and enjoy delicious snacks and food alongside the pier. The pier is open for fishing all night and offers a great way to spend the day under the sun or stars.
12. Moody Mansion Museum
The former home of WL Moody Jr., one of Time Magazine’s 10 Richest Americans in 1950, the Moody Mansion Museum is filled with antiques, furniture, and personal effects from the Moody family.
Visitors are invited to tour the four-story, 28,000-square-foot structure that was the home of the Moody family for more than 80 years.
Tours include an overview of the history of the Moody family, which began in the cotton industry and spread to banking, insurance, ranching, and hotels. Each room is decorated in a different style and portrays the architecture and taste of the ’80s.
Address: 2618 Broadway – Galveston, TX 77550, United States
13. Stewart Beach
Stewart Beach is Galveston’s premier family beach park, and visitors are lucky as the beach offers a perfect getaway on a fine day. It’s home to numerous food stalls filled with beach favorites like hot dogs, burgers, and funnel cake and has many restaurants nearby.
Services such as a pavilion, restrooms, showers, beach volleyball courts, and chair and umbrella rentals are available, and lifeguards regularly monitor the area, ensuring the safety of visitors. Family Vacation Critic voted Stewart Beach as one of the “Best 10 Family Beaches” in 2013.
Address: 201 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
14. NOAA Fisheries Service Galveston Laboratory
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, manages fish species and characterizes their habitats. Visitors flock there primarily for the incredible work that conserves endangered sea turtles and other marine species.
There is a popular weekly tour of the sea turtles; visitors must reserve it in advance. Tours are a great way to learn about sea turtles and are led by volunteers with extensive backgrounds in marine biology.
The lab has an annual Ocean Discovery Day, where visitors can tour the facility, interact with scientists, and check out the technology used. NOAA is a fun way for the whole family to learn about different marine species.
Address: 4700 Avenue U, Galveston, TX 77551, United States
15. Hotel Galvez Spa, Galveston, Texas
Located in the majestic 100’s Hotel Galvez, on the Gulf of Mexico coast, the Hotel Galvez Spa is a 10,000-square-foot oasis of tranquility.
Opulent and luxurious, the spa is designed to pamper both your body and mind. This relaxing space and highly-trained staff will improve your circulation, relieve muscle pain, and reduce stress through a series of personalized services.
Enjoy rejuvenating massages, refreshing facials, and a variety of body treatments using spa ingredients. The spa has nine wonderful and equipped with a living room, a professional living room, and a well-equipped gym. A walk around the meditative spa garden and stop the boutique from completing the delivery of cosmetic products.
Address: 2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
16. Great Tours
Cool Tours will make your Galveston Island exploration an absolute pleasure. In cooperation with Baywatch Dolphin Tours, they offer a very popular land and sea tour to cover everything that makes the island and the city unique.
Starting at Galveston’s Historic Pleasure Pier, a comfortable, air-conditioned coach will take you around the island. At the same time, your charming and knowledgeable guide will share with you facts and fables about Galveston, its history, and its most colorful characters.
You’ll spend about half an hour touring the East End Historic District and its fabulous 19th-century Victorian mansions, as well as one of the city’s landmarks – the famous tree sculptures.
At Pier 21, you’ll board a special jet-powered Baywatch Dolphin Tour to explore Galveston Harbor and feast on the pods of dolphins that permanently live in the harbor.
Your two-and-a-half-hour tour ends in the historic Strand district with colorful shops and great restaurants.
Address: 2500 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77551, United States
17. The Bryan Museum
It all started when eight-year-old JP Bryan purchased a .22-caliber 1859 four-barreled Derringer with the money he earned mowing lawns and handing out papers. It was the first item in his lifelong collection of historic artifacts from the American West.
The collection now numbers over 70,000 and includes such curiosities as a Mexican silver chair and a Walker Colt, a revolver used in the war with the Comanches. JP Bryan’s collection is now part of the museum that made its home in Galveston’s old and rebuilt historic orphanage.
It is the world’s largest collection of its kind. The different galleries of the museum contain historically relevant documents, superbly crafted mounts, antique firearms, spurs, rare maps, books, fine arts, folk and religious art, excellent portraits, and much more. Read more about the Bryan Museum.
Address: 1315 21st St, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things to Do in Galveston
What is Galveston most known for?
Today, Galveston is known as one of the most charming beach towns in the country (according to Country Living). Full of fascinating historic architecture, sandy shores, first-rate restaurants, and unique places to stay, the island offers an endless number of ways to enjoy your next Texas Gulf Coast getaway.
Why is Galveston so popular?
During the mid-19th century, Galveston emerged as an international city with immigration and trade from around the U.S. and the world. The city became one of the nation’s busiest ports and the world’s leading port for cotton exports.
Can you swim in Galveston beach?
Is it safe to swim in Galveston beaches? Yes, the water is safe to swim in. Water quality is tested monthly by the Galveston Bay Foundation to ensure bacteria levels are safe for swimmers.
Why is Galveston so dirty?
Originally Answered: Why is Galveston water dirty? It is caused by the silt washing down the Mississippi that gets pushed by Gulf currents along the shoreline to Galveston. You see the same phenomenon along the Western shoreline of Long Island Sound.
Is Crystal beach better than Galveston?
The area is so much less busy than Galveston. It’s more family-friendly, too! Of course you can ride the free ferry across the bay to Galveston. The kids loved the 20 minute ride, watching the seagulls and dolphins.
Is Galveston beach pretty?
The city of Galveston is home to some of Texas’ most incredible beaches. This popular beach area features 30 miles of beautiful shoreline that attracts both locals and visitors from all over. One of the best things about the beaches within the Galveston area is that they’re all a little different.
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