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Years ago, a trip to Galveston Island Beaches, with little kids, seemed like too much trouble. The drive and the beach just seemed like a lot of WORK.
Then a Houston mom told me about West Beach, parking on the sand, having all the gear you need (without hauling anything) and being home by early afternoon... and the beach trip suddenly seemed like a lot MORE FUN. And we have been going weekly for the last several summers!
To help with your beach trips, here is a simplified guide to Galveston Island Beaches and lots of details on West Beach.
To get to Galveston, just drive down I45, stop at our favorite Buc-ee’s, and let the highway turn into Broadway. Broadway will dead-end at the water and you can easily find any of these beaches:
Galveston Island Beaches
- When Broadway ends, turn left and go to the end of the island.
- East Beach has bathrooms, showers and concessions and alcohol is allowed.
- There is a fee to park in the parking lot.
- Back where Broadway ended, Stewart Beach is right in front of you.
- This is the family beach and there are bathrooms, showers and concessions and no alcohol is allowed.
- There is a fee to park in the lot.
- Just west of Stewart is the Seawall.
- This is a long strip of beach with lots of hotels and restaurants.
- Street parking is metered but beach access is free.
- There are some restrooms along the Seawall.
- West of the Seawall (on the same road) is West Beach.
- Here you can drive onto the beach and it is free.
- Cars on the beach are not beautiful, but it sure is easy. Just drive on to the packed sand, back up to the water and have everything you need without hauling bags and chairs and coolers and kids.
- The one issue... there are no restrooms (and *maybe* you will find a port a potty).
- Just west of West Beach is Galveston State Park.
- Here there are not many people... but there are showers, changing rooms, a nature center, miles of trails, camp sites, places for kayaking and more.
- There is a small fee to enter the park.
If you kept driving west, you would hit Jamaica Beach and then, eventually, Surfside.
More about West Beach
Before moving to Texas, I had never seen cars on the beach… and that first time a friend told me to drive onto West Beach, I thought she was insane.
But I did, and it was so EASY. Cars on the beach is not beautiful, but you just drive on to the packed sand, back up to the water and have everything you need without hauling bags and chairs and coolers and kids.
Also, note that at beach entrance 10, the cars drive behind the parked cars… away from the kids playing in the wet sand. (At Surfside, we saw cars driving on the wet sand, way too close to kids playing.)
On our last trip, we drove the Chevy Traverse, but the sand is so packed that cars can drive on it as well. The one problem with West Beach is that there are no restrooms, just porta-potties.
So, we spend a few hours at the beach and then head to one of the many other Galveston attractions (with real restrooms!). Find lots of things to do in Galveston HERE.
Chevy loaned us the Traverse for the roadtrip and it was surprisingly easy to drive. It is bigger than my minivan, but with all the sensors and cameras, it was actually easier to drive. This car had the standard rear camera, a forward-looking camera in the front grille and two side-looking cameras under each side mirror, all displaying a 360 degree, bird’s eye view of the entire perimeter.
We all give the Chevy Traverse two thumbs up... and the short roadtrip to Galveston another two thumbs up (for a total of 24 thumbs up). And if you are looking for a very EASY trip to the beach, check out West Beach!