Ghosts, candy and more: 12 unique ways to have fun in Galveston


HOUSTON – Whether you're not a fan of sand in your toes (and everywhere else) or just want to enjoy another side of the island, Galveston is much more than just the beach.

There are museums, boat tours, ghosts, candy and many other activities perfect for a day of family fun.

Here are just a few things to enjoy in Galveston other than the beach:


Galveston Harbor Tours

Go sightseeing in the Galveston Harbor and learn about the wide variety or wildlife with a 60-minute tour aboard the Seagull II. According to the website, you can either take the sights in from the shaded main deck, or enjoy a full 360 panoramic view from the open upper deck. More information: Galveston.com/harbortours/


Whether you want to visit the Bolivar Peninsula or just hitch a ride in hopes of catching a glimpse of dolphins, the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry is a fun, free way to enjoy the water without getting in. For those who do want to refresh themselves, sometimes you can stand at the front of the ferry and get splashed as the vessel moves through the water. Parking is available for those who want to ride the ferry without having to board with their vehicles. More information: Galveston.com/galvestonferry/

Moody Gardens/Schlitterbahn

If saltwater just isn’t your thing, but you still want to enjoy some time by the beach, head to Moody Gardens. There you can visit Palm Beach and enjoy some time in the wave pool, floating in the lazy river or just sitting poolside in white sand. If you want something a little bit more active, Schlitterbahn Waterpark is walking distance from the Moody Gardens hotel. If you are just too pruny and want to enjoy some time outside the water, you can visit one of the many exhibits inside the pyramids, spend time on the ropes and zipline course or watch a film in one of the theaters. More information: Moodygardens.com/attractions/ and Schlitterbahn.com/galveston


Seawolf Park

Built on Pelican Island’s former immigration station site, visitors can enjoy a picnic, play or the playground or enjoy some time fishing off the pier. The park is also home to the Galveston Naval Museum (https://www.galveston.com/galvestonnavalmuseum/), where people can explore a WWII submarine and the USS Stewart, one of three destroyer escorts in the world. More Information: Galveston.com/seawolfpark/


The three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship is located at the Texas Seaport Museum, and unlike most tall ships today, the ELISSA that is docked in Galveston is not a replica, but the same fully functional ship that was built in 1877. Visitors can walk the deck and learn about the ship’s rich history. People at the Texas Seaport Museum can also look for ancestors in a database that contains the names of over 133,00 people who emigrated to Galveston. More Information: Galveston.com/texasseaportmuseum/

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center

Learn about the ins and outs of drilling, geological exploration and oil and gas production at the retired Ocean Star facility. There you can take a self-guided tour of the exhibits and offshore drilling equipment. More Information: Galveston.com/oceanstar/


Railroad Museum

Located at the head of the strand, this museum has one of the biggest collections of railroad memorabilia in the southwest. Much of the collection was lost or damaged in Hurricane Ike in 2008, but after three years of restoration, the museum reopened in 2011 and now has everything from dining china to model railroad layouts. More information: Galvestonrrmuseum.org/

Moody Mansion

The Moody family is one of Galveston’s greatest philanthropic legacies. The family name is branded across the island from places like Moody Gardens to organizations like the Moody Foundation. The family bought the Moody Mansion after the 1900 storm and now people can take a tour through the 28,000-square-foot home to see how the family lived. More information: Moodymansion.org/

Bryan Museum

Inside the historic Galveston Orphans Home, the Bryan Museum is home to one of the world’s biggest collections of artwork, artifacts and documents relating to Texas and the American West that spans over 12,000 years. Visitors can dive into Texas’ past and learn about how the Lone Star State came to be what it is today. More Information: Thebryanmuseum.org/


La King’s Confectionery

Satisfy your sweet tooth by making a stop at this candy shop. The store is a “throwback to the 1920’s when folks came out to enjoy a treat and visit,” according to the website. People can take a break from the heat and enjoy anything from hard candy to chocolate and ice cream. There are even taffy demonstrations where people can watch a taffy being pulled and packaged. More Information: Lakingsconfectionery.com/

Haunted Mayfield Manor

If you are looking for more of a thrill, head to the haunted Mayfield Manor. It was once the home of Dr. Horace Mayfield, who was a respected doctor in the community. However, his curiosity and love for the mental capacity and mental illnesses of people led him to begin experimenting on his patients. His focus was the impact of fearful situation on people. However, during the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, Mayfield lost both his parents, his bride-to-be and his research, which - coupled with the general destruction of the storm - may have driven him to insanity. More information: Hauntedmayfieldmanor.com/

Pier 21 Theater

Take a moment to sit down and watch pieces of Galveston history unfold before your eyes. Visitors can enjoy one of three films: “The Great Storm,” about the 1900 hurricane that leveled the island; “The Pirate Island of Jean Laffite,” which talks about the legend of Laffite, his contradictory reputation and his buried treasure; and “Galveston – Gateway on the Gulf,” which is about the stories of the immigrants who helped shape the island’s culture and business. More Information: Galveston.com/pier21theatre/

About the Author: