GALVESTON – Galveston is only a hop, skip and a jump down I-45 from Houston. The first thing on your mind: soaking up the sun at the beach.
But what if I told you, there’s so much more to do in Galveston than just the beach?
Let me be real, as writer of this article and frequent Galveston visitor, it took me a while to come up with the best things to do that isn’t the beach. Galveston has everything you need and want to do when you’re taking a break from the busy Houston life.
So buckle up, and let’s look at the 10 things to do at Galveston besides the beach:
Address: 2323 Strand St., Galveston
This should top your list of things to do when you’re out shopping or sightseeing on the Strand. If you’re a huge sweet tooth like myself, you’ll love the retro candy shop-style establishment where you can watch how their candies are made, including a first-hand look at how saltwater taffy is made (and it is quite delicious).
Also, they don’t offer just candy, there’s also root beer floats, banana splits, shakes and malts, and so much more. Save room for dessert after dining.
You can view the menu here. I warn you, though, it will make you drool.
Address: 2618 Broadway Ave. J, (inside Moody Mansion), Galveston
Take your little ones to Galveston Children’s Museum and you’ll thank me later because they have loads of activities that will keep your kids’ minds super occupied. From career play to imaginative play that gives kids the freedom to get creative and express themselves, reserve a few hours for you and your kids to spend time at the museum. They’ll love it.
Admission is $7 for ages 2+. Click here to purchase tickets.
Bring the whole family and your fishing gear! The 61st Street Pier is a popular spot for saltwater fishing, where you can catch from red snapper to bull red. Bring your own fishing rod, or rent one from the shack, and fish to your heart’s content.
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for kids. Rod rentals are $12.
A fishing license from Texas Parks and Wildlife Division is required. To purchase one, click here.
When out and about on the Strand, don’t forget to SHOP LOCAL.
Some of the shops I recommend visiting: The Spice & Tea Exchange (2301 Strand St, Suite 102), National Antiques & Tropical Decor (2202 Ships Mechanic Row), Skinsational (2301 Strand St., Suite 106), Gracie’s (2208 Strand St.) and Blu. (2425 Strand St.)
The Strand also has great eateries and bars to jump into after you’re done sightseeing and shopping. For good pizza, I highly recommend Mama Teresa’s Flying Pizza, southwest of the main Strand. Other popular eateries include Black Pearl Oyster Bar and The Original Mexican Cafe, which is one of the oldest restaurants in all of Galveston.
For a full list of shops, click here.
Learn about Galveston’s rich history of train transportation, with collections and exhibits as old as 1896! You can even ride on an old open-air caboose train that travels up and down Harborside Drive during the weekends. It’s perfect for train enthusiasts and future train engineers.
I highly recommend giving you and your family one hour or more when visiting, because there is so much to learn about the history of these trains. And yes, on some exhibits, you can even step inside to get a look at what life was like more than a century ago.
Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $6 for kids aged 3-12 (click here for tickets). Harborside train rides are $6 per person during weekends and must be purchased with admission.
Moody Gardens consists of three pyramids full of wildlife wonder, from diving deep to the depths of the ocean at the Aquarium Pyramid to immersing yourself in the wild with species alike at the Rainforest Pyramid. You can also check out the latest exhibit at the Discovery Pyramid.
Moody Gardens is also a great vacation spot if you want to get away from the city life. The Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center has all the amenities you would need and want with close proximity to everything. Check the hotel’s website for any packages that includes park and golf course admission.
For tickets and more details, click here.
For the thrill seekers, Pleasure Pier is where it’s at. Ride the “Texas Star Flyer,” a 200-foot tower swing that gives you a stunning panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico, or the “Iron Shark”, a rollercoaster that sends you to a 100-foot vertical drop.
Pleasure Pier is fun for the whole family, even with rides suitable for young thrill-seekers. While you’re there, have dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. and shop at Pelican’s Bag and prove to your friends you braved the “Iron Shark.”
Pleasure Pier is currently operating weekends, but will open seven days a week starting in June. To learn more and to purchase tickets, click here.
Located just north of Galveston’s Historic Strand, visitors will embrace the rich history of the Island’s seaport, from tall ships such as the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa and museums such as the Texas Seaport Museum and the Oceanstar Offshore Rig Museum. The pier is perfect for history buffs young and old who want to learn about Galveston’s history, including its fair share of hurricanes.
While you’re there, catch a boat tour while you’re at it. Dolphins make an appearance during the tour and it is Instagram-worthy.
To learn more about Pier 21, click here.
Galveston is super filled with rich historic architecture as old as the mid-to-late 1800′s. All of them (click here for a list) are offering tours for visitors who want to learn about how these homes came to be, and who lived in them.
Most of the buildings offer self-guided tours, check with each building to see guided tours are offered.
Some of the buildings are also haunted, so enter at your own risk. *wink*
Having dinner by the Gulf should be on your list every time you visit Galveston (unless you had dinner at the Strand, that counts, too). A lot of restaurants offer patio views of the Gulf where the breeze hits just right.
Some popular (and recommended) restaurants and bars include: Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant (628 Seawall, Galveston), The Spot (3204 Seawall, Galveston), Fish Tales (2502 Seawall, across from Pleasure Pier), Salsas (4604 Seawall, Galveston) and Gaido’s (3828 Seawall, Galveston).
What is your favorite thing to do at Galveston that isn’t the beach? Tell us in the comments below.