So you’re going on a cruise out of Galveston. How would you like to get your vacation started early before you get on the cruise ship?
Most of you are traveling a distance to get to Galveston, or flying into Houston. You’re probably going to stay in a hotel the night before you cruise out of Galveston. So why not start your vacation early?
If you can get to Galveston as early in the day as possible, check into your hotel and the rest of the day and evening are yours to explore Galveston. There are historical mansions, plenty of delicious restaurants, lots of shopping and all kinds of site seeing to do. Oh, did I mention, the beautiful Gulf of Mexico? You can walk miles along the beach, or rent a pedal cart and ride it right on the sidewalk next to the seawall.
Take a look at a video of sites you can see in Galveston, Texas. Enjoy the song ‘If Texas Were A Woman‘ written and sung by Cynthia Jordan and see how much fun you can have even if it’s just for the day before you cruise.
8 Things to Do in Galveston, Texas
(From the Tex-Mex Fandango ebook coming soon!)
From historic homes and modern attractions to beaches that are perfect for weekend getaways, Galveston is a great all-around destination for the lone traveler and the vacationing family alike. What’s there to do in Galveston? Here are some of them—aside from catching the cruise of a lifetime, that is.
It’s a great place to start. The Galveston Island Visitors Center is a treasure trove of information about the island. Brochures aplenty, free maps, and very friendly guides eager to help you get the fun you have in mind are only some of the things you will find after a quick stop at the Center.
2. Step Back in Time.
Where better to go sightseeing than in a romantic island nestled deep in the heart of Texas?
Galveston played a major role in Texas history, and its buildings and landmarks remain proof of this. Not surprisingly, Galveston packs a lot of sightseeing punch—it’s home to no less than six historic districts, after all.
It also has one of the most historically significant—and largest—collections of 19th century buildings, with more than 60 structures made a part of the National Register of Historic Places! So, stroll all you want through Galveston’s many historic districts or explore any of the historic houses which are open for public viewing—you won’t run out of landmark buildings to take photos of! Stepping back in time in Galveston is a treat by itself. Take your time and enjoy.
Don’t miss this in Galveston…..
- Take a ride on the Paddlewheel boat The Colonel. The Captain or his spokesperson gives a great discussion on sights of the area and depending on the weather, you can even schedule in an evening cruise with dinner and live music. Really enjoyable. It’s held from April-Labor Day with cruises at noon, 2p.m., 4p.m., and 7 p.m. From September through March – cruises are at 7:00 p.m. Call Moody Gardens for more information: Cruise Schedule, One-hour cruises across Galveston’s Offatts Bayou: Weekday Cruises: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 1 p.m. Weekend Cruises: Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Due to weather interference and occasional schedule changes, we encourage you to please call 1-800-582-4673 to verify the schedule.
- Visit Ashton Villa. Be sure you check on this tour because Ashton Villa has been undergoing major renovations. It’s an impressive 1859 Italianate brick mansion construction by a New Yorker who later became one of the richest men in Texas. His name was James Moreau Brown. Mr. Brown was a prosperous hardware merchant in Galveston. Ashton Villa is located at 2328 Broadway – Galveston, TX 77550 – Phone: (409)762-3933.
- Learn about the 1900 storm. For a really informative and exceptional documentary account of the great Galveston hurricane of 1900 that took an estimated 8,000 lives, be sure to visit the Pier 21 Theater for a viewing. It’s open Sunday-Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11a.m. to 8p.m. The documentary movie runs every hour on the half hour. Pier 21 Theater is located at Harborside Dr. and 21st Street.
3. Visit Museums.
The Galveston County Historical Museum is located at 2219 Market St. (409/766-2340) and is full of the wonder that makes Galveston is such a great place to visit. For example, there is the building used to house the city bank. This old site was transformed into a fantastic museum full of Texas culture and life. The architecture here is marvelous, and once inside, you are sure to be impressed by the sights and highlights of Galveston that are on display. The exhibits here are great, and if you have any questions, the staff is quite knowledgeable and helpful.
The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is a fantastic museum and can be found at Pier 19 (409/766-STAR, www.oceanstaroec.com). There are three decks full of exhibits and hands-on displays that are outstanding. You are given the chance to see exactly how gas and oil are drilled for off the shores of Galveston. New interactive technology enables you to be linked to drilling sites all over the world, and the result is fascinating.
4. Shop in The Strand.
Long before The Strand became the shopping mecca of the island, it was late 1800 Galveston’s commercial center. Shop ’til you drop at The Strand, where you can buy your fill of upscale, artsy, or trendy finds. Be sure to drop by Col. Bubby’s surplus store. It is a musty place filled with vintage military surplus items.
5. Join Revelers of the Mardi Gras.
Everything is bigger and better in Texas, they say. Well, there’s no doubting that Mardi Gras is bigger and definitely better in Galveston. How big? Texas-sized partying for 11 nights and 12 days before lent—that kind of big! This comes as no surprise, though. Galveston is world-famous for its many festivals—from Epicurean Evening, to Dickens on the Strand, to Mardi Gras!
Mardi Gras in Galveston was from February 12 until Fat Tuesday, March 8, 2011.
6. Chase Bad Moods Away at Moody Gardens.
After all, a visit to this lush paradise created by the Moody family is a vacation on its own! A profuse growth of tropical plants, three pyramids that house among others a 10-story rainforest, a 1.5-million-gallon pyramid aquarium, and the educationally-enriching Discovery Museum, a memorial for Vietnam veterans, the 19th century-styled Colonel Paddle wheeler complete with hour-long narrative cruises, a Palm Beach—freshwater lagoons, white sands, and all—and theaters for educational viewing.
Moody Gardens is a pleasurable opportunity to see an unbelievable creation of beauty. A partly synthetic, partly authentic ten-story rainforest was created to showcase the Amazon habitat. Walking around this marvel is a mind-expanding and breathtaking experience. The Aquarium Pyramid is a 100,000 square foot phenomenon and is the largest such exhibit in the world. In addition, there is a bat exhibit that is the largest in the Southwest.
Also, the last time we visited Moody Gardens had a fantastic penguin exhibit. Don’t miss Moody Gardens.
7. Get Wet in the Waterpark.
We haven’t been here yet, but we know if it is a Schlitterbahn, we will like it. Like all the Schlitterbahn parks, Galveston’s Schlitterbahn has innovative and unique rides for everyone. Unlike all other water parks in the world, however, the island’s water park is convertible—it’s perfect for outdoor fun during summers and indoor enjoyment during winters. Enjoy water coasters, whitewater rapids, water slides, hot tubs, wave pools, and more!
8. Wine and Dine.
Hungry? Whether you’re hankering for margaritas and tacos along the bay or oysters by the seawall, you won’t run out of good eats in Galveston. Here are some of your options.
Note: Hours on Galveston’s fine restaurants may be seasonal and subject to change.
- Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant.
Found along Seawall Boulevard, Gaido’s is a dining institution of the island—and with good reason! You can buy their Seafood cookbook containing 100 years’ worth of history and great recipes. Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.
- Shrimp ‘n’ Stuff: For nearly 30 years, this is where locals head for seafood. Favorites include gumbo, fried fish, oysters, and hush puppies. They have one of the best shrimp po-boys on the coast. We had lunch there a day before we sailed on a cruise and it was good. Nothing fancy here, just good basic seafood, gumbo and po-boys. Sunday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. 3901 Ave. O.
- Clary’s Seafood Restaurant: Jackets are required for men here. Yep, it’s that kind of place. It’s one of the pricier and fancier places in Galveston. All kinds of seafood with an emphasis on Cajun inspired dishes. Closed Sunday and Mondays, Open Tuesday – Saturday 4:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. 8509 Teichman Rd.
- Saltwater Grill: Reservations recommended. Very popular and possibly the best seafood in town. Lunch Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and dinner Monday through Saturday 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. 2017 Post Office St.
- Mod Coffee and Tea House: Less expensive than a lot of other places, good food. Open daily 7 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. 2126 Post Office St.
- The Spot Restaurant and Tiki Bar. Waterfront dining featuring hamburgers, seafood, ice cream, arcade, and tiki bar. See and be seen at The Spot. 3204 Seawall Blvd. 11:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.
- Joe’s Seafood. This is where they have seafood, po boys, fried chicken and Chinese favorites in a friendly and casual atmosphere. Open daily 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. 3702 Broadway Blvd.
- Rudy & Paco. Top billed as the most innovative dining experience in Galveston, this restaurant offers a steak and grilled seafood with a Central American twist. It’s located next to the Grand 1894 Galveston Opera House making it a great choice for a pre-show place to eat. 2028 Post Office St. Lunch M-F 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Dinner Monday through Saturday 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Closed Sunday.
The Star Drugstore is a delightful place to visit in downtown Galveston…….
And don’t forget Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s right next to the cruise terminal. No kidding, you can walk outside and see the cruise ships up close and in all their glory. We have dined there many times. It’s always good and right on the water overlooking the Texas Tall ship Elyssa.
Located at Pier 22. Sunday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Galveston is just full of good places to eat and these are just some that we know about. If you have a recommendation, contact us and we’ll see what we can do about adding it to our list. Have fun and explore some on your own.
Here’s one last stop before you head home….
One of our last stops before we go back home is to make a fresh shrimp stop at the pier. As you are facing Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant which is right next to the cruise pier, turn right and follow the train tracks as you head over to the pier where fresh fish and fresh shrimp are sold by the pound.
It’s probably on about 19th street all the way down to the water. It’s about a hundred yards or so over there from Fisherman’s Wharf if you are walking. There are two fish vendors located there and as I remember, one is called Katie’s Fresh Fish. The other is Sampson and Sons. Both are good Galveston shrimp vendors.
We have also stopped in Port Aransas to get shrimp from the good ship Pollyanna. Jumbo shrimp are around $5.99 per pound straight off the ship…..very good.