Road tripping on island time really only requires one destination: Galveston. The cool breezes, sparkling Gulf waters, and massive dose of “vitamin sea” are all the justification you need to head to the coast, but here are a few more reasons that Galveston Island is the place to be.
With 32 miles of coastline, Galveston Island has a beach for every mood.
Start with the Seawall. At more than 10 miles long, it’s the longest continuous sidewalk in the United States and it's perfect for a stroll or bike ride while stopping off at beaches, unique shops, restaurants, and attractions along the way.
The expansive, scenic East Beach is home to special events (like the AIA Sandcastle Competition) and concerts throughout the summer, but you’ll also love it for the beachcombing, volleyball, and horseback riding.
Stewart Beach is the family-friendly beach park that has activities like volleyball, cornhole, giant Jenga, a playground, and more.
Nature lovers will gravitate to Galveston Island State Park; it’s the region's go-to destination for swimming, fishing, bird watching, hiking, paddling, and more.
And for more serene surroundings, head to one of the West End Pocket Parks for a dip in the sea, a picnic, and watching the sunset.
On your must list should be Moody Gardens, a destination in its own right with a 4-diamond hotel, spa, convention center, and an 18-hole, seaside-links golf course.
That’s in addition to its world-class aquarium, living rainforest, and Discovery Museum — each recognizable by their respective glass pyramid structures. They even have a ropes course and zipline onsite along with a 3-D theater, 4-D Special FX theater, and the 20,000 Leagues Interactive Adventure.
Satisfy your seafood craving
If seafood’s your favorite thing on the menu, Galveston has your order covered. Savor an island-fresh meal overlooking the beach or head to a local seafood market and cook a meal at your home away from home.
Pro tip: Dine at the iconic Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant, which was founded in 1911 and is located right along the Seawall — and don’t leave there without trying the grilled shrimp and blue cheese grits and their famous pecan pie.
Get an A-plus in history
Galveston's early days are peppered with characters such as explorer Cabeza de Vaca and infamous pirate Jean Lafitte, along with a robust history of immigration from Germany, Italy, Greece, and more. Galveston was once the second-largest immigration station in the country behind Ellis Island!
Before the 1900 hurricane, the barrier island was even considered the second richest city per capita in the U.S. and was even dubbed the “Wall Street of the South.”
Learn about the fascinating immigrant experience in Galveston through an immersive experience at Ship to Shore, which features hands-on and interactive exhibits based on authentic and documented personal stories of immigrants landing in Galveston.
At the Bryan Museum, you’ll find one of the world's largest collections of historical artifacts, documents, and artwork relating to the American West.
And go back to a time when the world traveled by rail at the Galveston Railroad Museum, which shows off steam engines, locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, and more.
The museum also features a re-creation of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe depots with 31 plaster statues in early-1930s dress, each telling a story of railroading history.
Celebrate Juneteenth all year long
Perhaps the island’s most profound historic claim is being the birthplace of the Juneteenth holiday. To learn more, you can take a self-guided Freedom Walk to see five historic sites and their importance to Juneteenth.
You’ll also want to swing by the5,000-square-foot Absolute Equality mural, which was unveiled in 2021 and illustrates the journey of Black Americans out of slavery into freedom and the present day.
Created by Houston-based Reginald C. Adams, it’s located on the side of the Old Galveston Square building downtown and was an initiative of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, an organization that raises awareness and contributed to a growing push to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
Learn more and plan your island time at Visit Galveston.