Guide to Galveston: New attractions and old favorites offer lots to do on the island
With historic roots and a renewed energy, Galveston remains a weekend favorite for many Houstonians, less than an hour’s drive south of the city, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, it may not be as exotic or luxurious as Belize or Cabo, but it’s a lot more affordable.
For starters, Galveston is home to 32 miles of beaches open year-round for recreation, so no matter how many times you’ve been, you probably haven’t even seen half of it. And 15 blocks of brand new beaches located on a stretch of the Seawall west of 61st Street, named Babe’s Beach after former Texas Rep. A.R. “Babe” Schwartz, were recently unveiled.
But there's so much more to do than lounge on the beach.
Aside from the obvious “play time” beaches are known for, new attractions are popping up around the island. The latest is the world’s tallest water coaster, aptly named MASSIVE, at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark. According to the website, “unlike a waterslide, a water coaster is designed to send riders on both downhill and uphill experiences.” Sounds fun to me.
If you’ve got kids (or are trying to relive your youth), another popular attraction along the beachfront is the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, which stands over the Gulf of Mexico complete with 16 thrill and amusement rides, live entertainment, games, food and even a full-service restaurant.
Moody Gardens is one of those family-friendly attractions everyone has heard of, but there are new dimensions being added to the destination all the time. This family adventure resort is one of the most visited attractions and truly is a piece of paradise. And what kind of paradise would it be without a links-style, par-72 golf course with scenic views of the Bay?
Moody Gardens also features a Discovery Museum, 3-D and 4-D theaters, water park, a ropes course and zip line, historic paddlewheel boat and the famed Moody Gardens Hotel.
The island’s newest green space and a spot that’s quickly becoming Instagram-famous is Hendley Green Park, which provides visitors a place to relax after taking in the shops and various attractions in historic downtown Galveston. The mini-park built by the Galveston Historical Foundation, includes a central lawn for outdoor recreation and seating, perfect for picnicking, thanks to the grove of 30 newly planted oak trees. The area also has accompanying tables and umbrellas, helping keep you (and your picnic) in the shade.
If you’re a beach-lover more interested in water activities, Galveston has definitely stepped up their water adventure games lately. Galveston Helicopters offered at Stewart Beach offers five exciting tour options, showcasing different views of the island from the beach to the bay. Thanks to Extreme Water Sports the island now offers fly boarding (think futuristic movies water activities), where flyers strap on a jet-pack device and hover up to 35 feet above Offatts Bayou with rides lasting 20-60 minutes.
New to East Beach, Galveston Island Horse & Pony Rides offers horseback riding along the shore for a romantic experience and Galveston Water Adventures on Pier 21 is offering a new sunset cruise, a perfect way to escape responsibilities on land for a evening. Another new adventure is Sea Scout Base Galveston, which offers sailing adventures on Sundays.
If you consider yourself a foodie, check out Harborside Mercantile, a quaint new restaurant brought to you by highly celebrated Houston restaurateurs Ricky Craig and Joshua Martinez. The eatery located in a historic building on The Strand features Southern coastal food including home-style po'boys, muffuletta sandwiches, seafood platters, and more, offering only the freshest local seafood.
When it comes to finding a spot to lay your head after a long day at the beach, Galveston has plenty of options, of all price ranges. For a nicer, luxury stay, check out Hotel Galvez and Spa, the only historic beachfront hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast. The pool and swim-up bar make this popular amongst travelers, not to mention the complimentary shuttle and courtesy bikes for guests to explore the island.
The San Luis Resort Spa & Conference Center is a 32-acre beachfront hotel and spa that is another favorite. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, grab a refreshing cocktail at H20 Ultra Lounge for people watching and fun summer vibes complete with fire pits and a drink menu full of tropical martinis.
The Tremont House is an island boutique-style hotel located in the heart of downtown, with a unique rooftop bar, thrilling guests since 2011. Guests should also take advantage of the Jazz Group Trio du Jour Friday and Saturday nights from 6 - 10, whether you’re a hotel guest or just there for dinner and drinks.
The sprawling island also boasts a number of charming bed and breakfasts and family-friendly houses and condos. You’ll find lodging accommodations fit for you and the entire family (should you choose).
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go, TO GALVESTON