Galveston, a Texas coastal city on an island just southeast of Houston, is an excellent vacation spot for families, history lovers and those looking for a little rest and relaxation on the beach.
This stronghold of education and family fun is a mainstay on any trip to Galveston. Its main attractions are three giant glass pyramids. A towering Aquarium Pyramid with exhibits related to geographic areas like the South Atlantic, which hosts a penguin encounter, and the Caribbean - home to thousands of vibrant tropical fish. Head to the Rainforest Pyramid to see funky-looking free-to-roam saki monkeys and macaws, or see special science exhibits at the Discovery Pyramid.
After you’ve soaked up plenty of knowledge, see a 4-D film at the Special FX Theater, immerse yourself in an interactive film at the Ridefilm Theater, or head outdoors to bask in the sun on the Palm Beach lazy river and water rides.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
The perfectly named Pleasure Pier is Galveston’s boardwalk, complete with rides, games and excellent dining options. Fearless big kids will love the Iron Shark roller coaster and Pirate’s Plunge, tiny tots will love the carousel and everyone can take part in old-fashioned carnival games. Head to Fish Tales or Bubba Gump’s for family-friendly dining.
Galveston Island State Park
This excellent 2000-acre state park is about a 25-minute drive from the city of Galveston. Come here to enjoy the quiet, sandy white beaches. Rare birds are frequent visitors here, because the Galveston Island is a unique, undeveloped barrier island habitat, so keep your eyes peeled for interesting species as you take a walk through on the salt marsh and prairie trails in the northern part of the park.
For the History Buff
Galveston is home to many excellent historical sites, several of which are located in the famous Strand Historic District, which encompasses the area between 20th and 25th streets near the harbor.
Though the inside isn’t open to the public, if you’re an architecture buff, visit the brick mansion, Ashton Villa, located at the corner of 23rd and May Streets in the historic district and built in 1859. Take a tour of the lavish, castle-like Victorian mansion, Bishop’s Palace, built of stone and steel in 1892 and located on Broadway Street. You’ll also want to consider seeing the Samuel May Williams historic house, which was built in 1839 for its namesake and is the second-oldest home in Galveston
Ships, Trains and Planes
Galveston is also abundant in military and transportation history. Visit Sea Wolf Park at the very tip of Pelican Island to see two ships with military history: the Cavalla and USS Stewart. The Cavalla is a decorated WWII submarine that serves as memorial to the USS Seawolf, which sunk during WWII. The USS Stewart also served during WWII and is one of only three destroyer escorts in the world.
For an amazing experience, visit Pier 21 to take a ride on the fully-functioning tall ship Elissa, built in 1877.
You can also visit the Galveston Railroad Museum, located in the historic district at 25th and Strand streets. Kids are bound to love this excellent museum as well. Aside from some pretty cool locomotives, it features some fun statues sitting on old train station benches for a perfect photo opportunity. The Lone Star Flight Museum, adjacent to Galveston’s Scholes International Airport, is another great option with several impressive old planes both indoors and out.