Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss in Oleander City? Our guide to the best things to do in Galveston, Texas is just what you need!
Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences waiting to be explored and a gem of the state of Texas. Whether you’re seeking a dose of history, outdoor adventure, or family fun, Galveston has it all.
In this post, we’re going to dive deep into the island’s delights, from the historic charms of downtown Galveston to the natural beauty of Galveston Island State Park and the educational wonders of Moody Gardens.
So, buckle up and get ready to discover the magic of Galveston!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Galveston, Texas
- Visit The Strand Historic District
- Enjoy Galveston Island State Park
- Explore Moody Gardens
- Visit the Texas Seaport Museum and See the Impressive 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA
- Learn about Texas History at the Bryan Museum
- Visit Seawolf Park
- Take a Guided Tour of Moody Mansion
- Learn About Railroad History at the Galveston Railroad Museum
- Take a Boat Tour or Go Fishing in Galveston Bay
- Explore East End Lagoon Nature Preserve
- Have Fun at Schlitterbahn Waterpark
- Enjoy Amusement Rides and Games on Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
- Stroll Along Galveston Seawall
- Visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum
- Explore Contemporary Art at Galveston Arts Center
- Relax on Galveston’s Beautiful Beaches
- Visit the Galveston Naval Museum
- Tour the Bishop’s Palace
- Enjoy a Beer at Galveston Island Brewing
- Take a Dolphin Tour
- Go on a Haunted History Tour
- Shop For Produce at Galveston’s Own Farmers Market
- Explore Galveston Island East End Historic District
- Enjoy a Show at the Grand 1894 Opera House
- Visit the Galveston Children’s Museum
- Where to Stay in Galveston, Texas
- Wrapping Up
The Best Things to Do in Galveston, Texas
Here are our top recommended things to do in Galveston!
Visit The Strand Historic District
The Strand Historic District, often referred to as simply “The Strand,” is the heart and soul of Galveston’s rich history and vibrant culture. This charming district is a living testament to the city’s past, with its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, cobblestone streets, and a delightful blend of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and museums.
Strolling through The Strand feels like stepping back in time, where you can explore unique boutiques, savor delicious seafood at waterfront eateries, and soak in the maritime heritage of Galveston.
It’s not just a place to shop and dine but also a cultural hub where visitors can immerse themselves in the island’s captivating history and lively atmosphere, making it an essential stop for anyone visiting Galveston, Texas.
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Enjoy Galveston Island State Park
Galveston Island State Park, nestled on the western end of the island, stands as a natural oasis amidst the island’s vibrant urban offerings and is undoubtedly among the top things to do in Galveston for nature enthusiasts.
This 2,000-acre expanse of coastal wilderness boasts a diverse ecosystem, offering opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, picnicking, and camping. Its serene beaches provide a tranquil escape from the bustling city, inviting visitors to swim, fish, or simply relax by the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether you’re exploring the miles of scenic trails or observing the island’s native wildlife, Galveston Island State Park delivers an authentic outdoor experience, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a respite in nature amidst the many things to do in Galveston.
Explore Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens is undeniably one of the standout attractions when it comes to things to do in Galveston. This sprawling complex offers a captivating blend of education, recreation, and natural beauty.
Visitors can explore the enchanting Rainforest Pyramid, which houses exotic flora and fauna from around the world, or dive into the depths of the Aquarium Pyramid, where they’ll encounter marine life from the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
The 3D and 4D theaters provide immersive cinematic experiences, while the Discovery Pyramid offers intriguing exhibits and interactive displays. With its lush gardens, tranquil lagoons, and scenic golf course, Moody Gardens presents a diverse array of activities for travelers seeking both relaxation and exploration on Galveston Island, making it a top destination for those looking for memorable things to do in Galveston.
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Visit the Texas Seaport Museum and See the Impressive 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA
The Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston is an iconic maritime institution that offers a fascinating window into the island’s rich seafaring history. Situated on Galveston’s historic waterfront, the museum is home to the remarkable 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, a beautifully restored three-masted barque that embodies the era of tall ships and seafaring adventure.
Visitors can step aboard the ELISSA and explore its decks, gaining insight into the challenges and triumphs of 19th-century sailors. Inside the museum, engaging exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays further illuminate Galveston’s maritime heritage, showcasing its pivotal role as a bustling port and a gateway to the world.
Whether you’re a maritime enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking a unique and educational experience in Galveston, the Texas Seaport Museum promises a memorable journey through time and the sea.
Learn about Texas History at the Bryan Museum
The Bryan Museum is a cultural gem in Galveston, Texas, and a must-visit destination for history and art enthusiasts. Housed in a stately historic building, this museum offers a captivating journey through the rich history of Texas and the American West.
Its extensive collection includes over 70,000 artifacts, featuring rare documents, artworks, and artifacts that span centuries of history. Visitors can explore exhibits that showcase the cowboy culture, Native American heritage, and the exploration of the American frontier.
The Bryan Museum not only preserves the past but also provides a valuable educational experience that deepens one’s understanding of the region’s history and cultural heritage, making it an essential stop for those looking to enrich their knowledge of Galveston and the American West.
Visit Seawolf Park
Seawolf Park, a hidden gem among the many things to do in Galveston, is a haven for history buffs and maritime enthusiasts. Situated on Pelican Island, this park offers a unique opportunity to explore the island’s military heritage.
The park features the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine, and the USS Stewart, a destroyer escort ship, both of which can be toured. Visitors can gain insights into naval history and the experiences of those who served aboard these vessels during wartime.
Beyond the maritime attractions, Seawolf Park offers scenic fishing piers, picnic areas, and stunning views of Galveston Harbor, making it a versatile destination for those looking to combine history and outdoor recreation.
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Take a Guided Tour of Moody Mansion
Moody Mansion, a true architectural masterpiece nestled in Galveston, offers a captivating glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the past. This 28,000-square-foot mansion, built in 1895, is a testament to the wealth and taste of the Moody family, one of the most prominent families in Texas history.
As visitors step through its ornate doors, they are transported back in time, exploring lavishly furnished rooms, stained glass windows, and intricately carved woodwork. Guided tours provide a wealth of historical insights, shedding light on the family’s legacy and the historical context of the era.
Moody Mansion is not only a stunning showcase of Victorian architecture but also a window into Galveston’s past, making it an essential stop for history buffs and architecture aficionados visiting this charming coastal city.
Learn About Railroad History at the Galveston Railroad Museum
The Galveston Railroad Museum is an enthralling destination for both train enthusiasts and history buffs among the plethora of things to do in Galveston.
Housed in a historic railroad depot, this museum showcases the pivotal role that railroads played in the development of Galveston and the entire Gulf Coast region. Visitors can explore an extensive collection of vintage locomotives, rolling stock, and model train exhibits that illustrate the evolution of rail travel.
Interactive displays and informative exhibits provide insights into the rich history of railroading in Galveston, making it an educational and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
A visit to the Galveston Railroad Museum is not only a journey through time but also a fascinating way to understand the city’s past, solidifying its place as a must-see attraction among the things to do in Galveston.
Related: Consider visiting Galveston as a day trip from Houston!
Take a Boat Tour or Go Fishing in Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay, a defining natural feature of the region, offers a wealth of recreational opportunities and is a key highlight among things to do in Galveston.
This expansive bay is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, providing a picturesque backdrop for activities such as boating, fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching. Whether you’re an angler seeking a catch of speckled trout or redfish, a kayaker exploring tranquil estuaries, or simply looking to enjoy the serene beauty of the Gulf Coast, Galveston Bay delivers.
It’s not only a haven for water-based adventures but also a vital ecosystem teeming with marine life and bird species, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those in search of diverse experiences among the many things to do in Galveston.
Explore East End Lagoon Nature Preserve
The East End Lagoon Nature Preserve is a tranquil oasis nestled amidst the vibrant tapestry of things to do in Galveston. This natural gem provides a serene escape for travelers seeking respite in the heart of the island’s lush landscapes.
At the East End Lagoon, visitors can immerse themselves in the splendor of local wildlife, from colorful birdwatching to spotting native fauna amid the pristine marshes and waterways. The preserve’s peaceful trails offer a chance to reconnect with nature, making it an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts and photographers eager to capture the island’s natural beauty.
With its tranquil ambiance and abundant ecological wonders, the East End Lagoon Nature Preserve is a hidden treasure awaiting discovery in the midst of Galveston’s myriad attractions.
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Have Fun at Schlitterbahn Waterpark
Schlitterbahn Waterpark is a refreshing oasis of aquatic fun and excitement, making it one of the top things to do in Galveston, especially for families and thrill-seekers. Located on Galveston Island’s West End, this sprawling waterpark offers a wide range of attractions, from thrilling water slides and lazy rivers to wave pools and water play areas for the little ones.
It’s a fantastic place to beat the Texas heat while enjoying a variety of heart-pounding rides like the Master Blaster, which propels riders uphill, or the Torrent River, a continuous-wave river adventure.
With its tropical-themed atmosphere and ample opportunities for relaxation, Schlitterbahn Waterpark provides an ideal setting for a day of aquatic adventures and family fun, ensuring it’s a must-visit destination among the many things to do in Galveston.
Enjoy Amusement Rides and Games on Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is one of the most iconic and entertaining things to do in Galveston, offering a delightful blend of nostalgic charm and thrilling amusements.
This historic pier stretches out into the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s a must-visit for travelers seeking a mix of classic boardwalk fun and modern attractions. From exhilarating rides like the Iron Shark roller coaster to classic carnival games, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
As the sun sets, the pier transforms into a magical place with colorful lights illuminating the night sky, creating a picturesque backdrop for romantic strolls or family adventures.
For those seeking quintessential seaside entertainment, the Pleasure Pier ranks high among the top things to do in Galveston, promising an unforgettable experience by the sea.
Stroll Along Galveston Seawall
The Galveston Seawall, a legendary landmark and symbol of resilience, is a must-see among things to do in Galveston. Stretching for over 10 miles along the Gulf of Mexico, this iconic concrete barrier serves not only as protection against storm surges but also as a wonderful recreational promenade.
Visitors can take leisurely strolls, bike rides, or enjoy picnics while relishing breathtaking views of the Gulf. The Seawall’s sandy beaches provide a perfect backdrop for sunbathing, beachcombing, and family-friendly play.
Plus, the Seawall is home to numerous restaurants, shops, and attractions, making it a central hub of activity on the island. Whether you’re in the mood for outdoor adventure, a scenic jog, or simply relaxing with the sound of the waves, the Galveston Seawall offers a diverse range of experiences that are quintessential to Galveston.
Visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum
The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum is a unique and educational attraction that offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the world of offshore drilling and the energy industry. Located on Galveston’s Pier 19, this retired jack-up drilling rig has been transformed into an interactive museum.
Guests can explore the various aspects of offshore drilling, from the mechanics of drilling platforms to the geology of the Gulf of Mexico’s seabed. The museum’s exhibits include models, videos, and hands-on displays, providing a comprehensive and engaging learning experience for all ages.
It’s an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the critical role offshore drilling plays in energy production and the exploration of the ocean’s depths, making it an enriching addition to the list of things to do in Galveston for those interested in science, technology, and industry.
Explore Contemporary Art at Galveston Arts Center
The Galveston Arts Center is a vibrant and essential cultural institution, enriching the island’s creative landscape and offering a haven for both artists and art enthusiasts alike. Located in the heart of Galveston, this center serves as a dynamic platform for contemporary art, showcasing a diverse range of visual expressions from local, regional, and national artists.
Its ever-evolving exhibitions, featuring paintings, sculptures, mixed-media works, and more, offer visitors a chance to explore the cutting-edge and thought-provoking side of the art world. Beyond exhibitions, the Galveston Arts Center hosts workshops, lectures, and educational programs, fostering a sense of community and providing opportunities for artistic growth.
Whether you’re a seasoned art connoisseur or simply curious about the creative scene in Galveston, a visit to the Galveston Arts Center promises inspiration, cultural enrichment, and a connection to the vibrant artistry thriving within the island’s boundaries.
Relax on Galveston’s Beautiful Beaches
Galveston’s beaches are among the most alluring and quintessential things to do in Galveston, attracting sun-seekers, beachcombers, and water enthusiasts year-round. Whether you choose to relax on the sun-drenched shores of Stewart Beach, indulge in family-friendly fun at East Beach, or seek a more secluded escape on the West End, Galveston’s beaches offer a variety of experiences.
You can soak up the sun, build sandcastles, swim in the Gulf of Mexico’s inviting waters, or try your hand at surfing, paddleboarding, or beach volleyball. The Galveston coastline is not just a place for leisure but also a natural wonder, home to an array of coastal wildlife and opportunities for beachcombing, shelling, and birdwatching.
With its warm Gulf breezes and stunning sunsets, a day at Galveston’s beaches is an essential part of the island experience, epitomizing the laid-back coastal lifestyle that defines things to do in Galveston.
Whether you’re a history buff or just curious about maritime history, the Galveston Naval Museum offers an enriching and educational experience that’s a highlight among the things to do in Galveston.
The Galveston Naval Museum is a captivating and historically significant destination, especially for history and military enthusiasts. Located within Seawolf Park, this museum offers a remarkable collection of naval artifacts, memorabilia, and well-preserved naval vessels.
Visitors can explore the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine, and the USS Stewart, a destroyer escort ship, both of which played pivotal roles in naval history. Touring these vessels provides a firsthand glimpse into the lives of sailors and submariners during wartime.
Beyond the vessels, the museum features informative exhibits and displays that shed light on the nation’s naval heritage and the important role Galveston played in naval history.
Tour the Bishop’s Palace
Bishop’s Palace, also known as the Gresham House, is a magnificent architectural gem that stands as one of Galveston’s most iconic historical landmarks. Completed in 1893, this Victorian-style mansion is a testament to the island’s rich history and architectural heritage.
Designed by prominent architect Nicholas J. Clayton, the Bishop’s Palace boasts intricate details, stunning stained glass windows, ornate woodwork, and a remarkable blend of architectural styles. Visitors can take guided tours of the interior, where they’ll be transported back in time to the opulent lifestyle of the late 19th century.
As one of the city’s most cherished treasures, Bishop’s Palace offers a captivating glimpse into Galveston’s past and is an essential stop for history buffs and anyone interested in the island’s architectural wonders.
Enjoy a Beer at Galveston Island Brewing
Galveston Island Brewing is a delightful addition to the island’s list of things to do, offering a taste of local craftsmanship and community spirit. Located in the heart of Galveston, this craft brewery is known for its inventive and flavorful brews inspired by the coastal environment.
Visitors can relax in the welcoming taproom, where they can enjoy a rotating selection of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, and seasonal releases. The brewery often hosts events, live music, and food trucks, creating a vibrant and convivial atmosphere.
Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or simply looking for a laid-back place to unwind with friends, the Galveston Island Brewing Company provides a unique and local experience that’s worth exploring.
Take a Dolphin Tour
Galveston Bay offers a variety of tours and boat excursions, and one of the most enchanting among them is the Baywatch Dolphin Tours. These tours provide a thrilling opportunity to witness the grace and playfulness of dolphins in their natural habitat.
Departing from Galveston’s harbor, the Baywatch tour guides take visitors on a scenic journey through the bay, offering insights into the region’s wildlife and coastal ecosystem. Along the way, you’ll likely encounter pods of dolphins leaping and frolicking in the bay’s waters.
It’s an exhilarating and educational experience for all ages, and the chance to observe these majestic creatures up close is a highlight in Galveston, making it a memorable addition to your visit to the island.
Go on a Haunted History Tour
Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer in the supernatural, the Haunted History Tours promise an unforgettable evening, uncovering the hidden, and often eerie, side of Galveston’s history, making it a must-try activity for those seeking an immersive and spine-tingling adventure.
Galveston’s Haunted History Tours offer an intriguing and spine-tingling way to delve into the island’s rich past. These guided tours are a thrilling exploration of Galveston’s haunted and eerie tales, blending history and supernatural legends to create a captivating experience.
Led by knowledgeable guides, participants roam through the island’s historic districts, where the streets come alive with chilling stories of ghostly encounters, haunted buildings, and the city’s dark and mysterious past.
Shop For Produce at Galveston’s Own Farmers Market
Galveston’s Own Farmers Market is a vibrant and bustling hub of local culture, culinary delights, and community spirit. Located in the heart of the city, this farmers market is not only a place to shop for fresh, seasonal produce, but it’s also a celebration of Galveston’s agricultural heritage and the Gulf Coast’s bounty.
Visitors can browse through stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables, artisanal bread, handcrafted goods, and more, all while engaging with the friendly vendors and enjoying the lively atmosphere.
Whether you’re a foodie looking for farm-to-table ingredients or simply seeking a taste of local life, a visit to Galveston’s Own Farmers Market is a delightful experience that offers a true sense of the island’s flavors and community, making it an essential stop among things to do in Galveston.
Explore Galveston Island East End Historic District
The Galveston Island East End Historic District is a hidden gem among the many treasures of Galveston, Texas, offering a charming and nostalgic escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Situated on the eastern end of the island, this district is a testament to Galveston’s rich architectural heritage and historical significance. Strolling through its picturesque streets, visitors are transported to a bygone era, surrounded by well-preserved 19th-century homes adorned with Victorian, Queen Anne, and Greek Revival architectural details.
The district’s enchanting ambiance is further enhanced by tree-lined avenues, cozy bed-and-breakfast inns, boutique shops, and inviting cafes.
Exploring the Galveston Island East End Historic District is like stepping back in time, offering a serene and nostalgic experience that’s essential among the many things to do in Galveston for those seeking a glimpse of the island’s architectural and historical past.
Enjoy a Show at the Grand 1894 Opera House
The Grand 1894 Opera House stands as a cultural gem in Galveston, offering a unique and enchanting experience for both locals and visitors alike. Renowned for its grandeur and historical significance, this beautifully restored theater transports patrons to a bygone era of entertainment.
Attending a performance at the Grand 1894 Opera House is not just a night out; it’s a journey into the world of live theater and music, with a diverse lineup of shows that encompass everything from Broadway hits and classic concerts to comedy acts and dance performances.
The ornate architecture and intricate detailing of the venue itself add to the allure, making each visit a memorable occasion. If you’re a theater enthusiast or simply seeking a night of sophisticated entertainment, the Grand 1894 Opera House promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of Galveston’s cultural scene.
Visit the Galveston Children’s Museum
The Galveston Children’s Museum is a dynamic and engaging destination tailored to curious young minds and families. Situated in the heart of the historic district, this interactive museum offers a hands-on learning experience that sparks creativity and exploration.
Children can immerse themselves in a variety of interactive exhibits covering topics such as science, technology, art, and culture, all designed to make learning fun. From conducting science experiments to role-playing in imaginative settings, the museum encourages kids to discover, question, and experiment.
The Galveston Children’s Museum is not only a place of entertainment but also a valuable educational resource that fosters curiosity and a love for learning, making it an essential stop for families seeking enriching activities.
Where to Stay in Galveston, Texas
These are our top recommended places to stay in Galveston!
High-End Luxury Hotel: The Tremont House
The Tremont House, a Wyndham Grand Hotel, is an elegant and historic luxury hotel located in Galveston’s historic district. It boasts Victorian-style architecture and offers well-appointed rooms and suites with modern amenities.
Guests can enjoy fine dining at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, enjoy rooftop views from the Rooftop Bar, and unwind in the historic Toujouse Bar. The Tremont House’s prime location provides easy access to attractions like The Strand Historic District and Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.
Mid-Range Family Accommodation: Holiday Inn Resort Galveston – On the Beach
The Holiday Inn Resort is a family-friendly mid-range hotel located directly on the beach. It offers comfortable rooms and suites with ocean views and modern amenities. Families can take advantage of the outdoor pool, kid’s playground, and on-site dining options.
The hotel’s beachfront location provides easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and nearby attractions like the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.
Budget Hostel/Hotel: Super 8 by Wyndham Galveston
Super 8 is a budget hotel situated on Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard, offering easy access to the beach and nearby attractions. The hotel provides affordable rooms with practical amenities such as free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and outdoor swimming pools. It’s a suitable choice for travelers seeking a wallet-friendly stay on the island.
As our Galveston adventure comes to a close, it’s evident that this Gulf Coast gem has a little something for every traveler. Historic Downtown Galveston, with its timeless charm, offers a glimpse into the island’s storied past.
It’s a place where history echoes in every cobblestone street and where local hospitality shines in every mom-and-pop shop. Whether you’re sipping on a coffee at a sidewalk café or exploring the rich maritime heritage, this historic district is a must-visit.
But our journey didn’t stop there. We ventured into the natural wonders of Galveston Island State Park, where the serene landscapes and outdoor activities provided a perfect escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.
From birdwatching to beachcombing, this park offers a slice of paradise for nature enthusiasts. And last but certainly not least, Moody Gardens proved to be an educational and entertaining haven, blending science, nature, and fun in one captivating package.
Whether you’re marveling at exotic wildlife or immersing yourself in an underwater adventure, Moody Gardens leaves an indelible mark on your Galveston memories. So, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a relaxing beachside retreat, Galveston’s got you covered.
It’s a place where history, beauty, and exploration converge, creating unforgettable experiences that keep travelers coming back for more.
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