- Nancy Webb
Galveston Part 4: What to do and See on the Island
Updated: Aug 6, 2022
Things to Do and See in Galveston
As there is such a diversity of things to do in Galveston, I suggest making a list of your must-dos, but leave some time for spontaneity. I have two lists. The first is the unique one-of-a-kind experiences that are my particular favorites and can only be found in Galveston. The second list contains other offerings that most likely are the attractions that draw most people to visit the Island in the first place.
Seawall Boulevard. Built to protect the island after the Great Storm of 1900, it is more than 10 miles long and 17 feet high – framing the beaches – which are all free. The Seawall has two personalities. Beach Weather – it is the backdrop for beachgoers, shops, and restaurants. It is a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds and best of all – people-watching. During the off-season – it is a quiet reflective walkway where you can feel, see, touch, and hear the ocean, air, birds, and the sky.
The Ferry. The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry is the bridge between Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula. This free ferry service trip is 2.7 miles long with a crossing of 18 minutes. It is a car as well as a walk-on ferry. I like to park my car in the provided lot and take a round trip on foot. The views are fabulous as the Ferry crosses Bolivar Roads which is the entry to the Port of Galveston as well as the Port of Houston. The Ferry usually has an escort of bottle-nosed dolphins along with the local Pelicans, Seagulls, and Cormorants.
The Bryan Museum. 1315 21st Street. The Bryan Museum is housed in the Galveston Orphans Home on a tree-lined street surrounded by peaceful and immaculate grounds. The Museum houses one of the largest collections of historical artifacts, documents, and artwork relating to Texas and the American West. The 70,000-item collection spans 12,000 years, from ancient Native American cultural artifacts to modern twenty-first-century objects. Spurs, saddles, antique firearms, fine art, religious art, folk art, portraits, and rare maps. Some of my favorite items include the Sombrero Collection and the sword that captured Santa Anna. This Museum is a Jewel and not to be missed.
Galveston County Museum. Located in the Galveston County Courthouse at 722 21st Street. After Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused horrific damage to the original location on Market Street – the museum was moved to the County Courthouse. Free Admission, and parking right outside the building. The museum has over 20,000 artifacts relating to the 1900 Storm, Galveston Military History, Corner stores, and Historical Architecture. Be sure to call to get the operating hours – 409 766 2340.
Moody Mansion. 2618 Broadway. During my travels, I always add home tours to my list, as they are truly living museums. (On a side note: If you are into houses, like me, the Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney, AU is a must!) The Moody Mansion is a 28,000 sf, 4-story home completed in 1895 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The style of the house, Richardsonian Romanesque, a style that found its inspiration in medieval Europe. Access to 20 rooms on the tour that depicts the home life of a powerful Texas Family – the Moody’s. The Moody’s fortune began with cotton - and grew to include banking, ranching, insurance, newspapers, railroads, and hotels.
1877 Tall Ship Elissa. Pier 22. The Galveston Historical Foundation brought ELISSA, and 1877 square-rigged iron barque, from a scrapyard in Greece in 1978. By 1982, GHF staff and volunteers completed restoration and transformed this rare, historic vessel into a floating museum. Today, the Elissa is one of only three ships of her kind in the world to still sail actively.
19 Other Must-Do Experiences in Galveston
1. Be or bring a kid and play on the Historic Galveston Island Pleasure Pier.
2. Visit Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid and Rainforest Pyramid.
3. Take the self-guided Freedom Walk tour to learn about Galveston’s rich African American history and the birthplace of Juneteenth.
4. Rent chairs and umbrellas and lounge on Stewart Beach and East Beach.
5. Swim and Splash into Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark.
6. Eat at the world-famous old school Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant.
7. Take a walking/biking tour of the East End Historic Districts’ historic home and the Galveston Tree Sculptures.
8. Take a dolphin tour from Pier 21.
9. Visit Pier 21’s museums, including the Ocean Star Drilling Rig Museum and the Galveston Historic Seaport.
10. Learn about locomotive history at the Galveston Railroad Museum.
11. Go on a historic cemetery or ghost tour.
12. Take a kayak tour with Artist Boat.
13. Visit the Galveston Naval Museum at Seawolf Park for a tour of a WW II submarine and Navy destroyer.
14. Go birdwatching to see some of the 300 species found in Galveston.
15. Attend one of the many year-round festivals, including Lone Star Motorcycle Rally, and Mardi Gras! Galveston and Dickens on the Strand.
16. Galveston Duck Tours. A unique way to see Galveston Island – from land and the water. The tour takes you along the Seawall, the Strand Historic District, and a different perspective as it enters the water at Offats Bayou.
17. Tour or watch a live show at The Grand 1894 Opera House. 2020 Post Office.
18. Go Fishing – from a pier, the surf, or by wade fishing. Or considering chartering a Bay or Gulf trip. Galveston Bay and The Gulf of Mexico are some of the most productive Estuaries in the United States.
19. Play Golf at Moody Gardens Public Golf Course.