An hour from Houston, the biggest city in Texas, Galveston island has long been the vacation playground of the Texas Gulf Coast. Since Hurricane Ike, the island has seen a revitalization in it’s tourism bringing great developments to the area. In addition to “what’s new”, Galveston has a rich history and amazing locals.
Originally, Galveston was a part of the Austin Colony in the old Republic of Texas. In 1839, the city was incorporated and enjoyed a prosperous 19th century due to mercantile firms, cotton plantations and a variety of other industries. As a port town located on a barrier island just off the Texas coast, Galveston has always benefited from a rich fishing industry and trade. In fact, Congress made Galveston an official port of entry in 1837, and the city has since welcomed so many immigrants that people now refer to the city as the “Little Ellis Island.”
Today, Galveston remains an important port town, although now the people pouring in are tourists who want to see Galveston’s historic districts, which can boast of over 400 historic homes from the Victorian Age. Another big lure for tourists is Galveston’s 32-mile stretch of beaches, which range from family-friendly and isolated to party-at-your-will. Those wanting fresh seafood will appreciate the large fishing industry’s contributions to area restaurants, or they can step on to one of the piers or charter boats to catch their meal. The nightlife varies from typical sports bars and clubs to more upscale, trendy destinations. Some of the major attractions include Elissa, a landmark tall ship, and Moody Gardens, which offers visitors a Gulf Coast paradise to explore.
Galveston’s architecture dates back to the late 1800’s and reflects the prosperity of this port town as well as the devistation of catastrophic hurricanes. Historians of all ages will enjoy the ornate homes, Victorian store fronts and military hardware available for touring.
Children of all ages will love what the island has to offer with year round water fun at Sclitterbahn Galvestion Island, the only indoor, heated water park in Texas; Moody Gardens brings fun and education with its rainforest pyramid, aquarium, and Palm Beach attractions; The Pleasure Pier with 16 rides, concessions, music and an amazing view and much more.
Of course there are always vacation activities and events on the beach, Galveston Mardi Gras, numerous musical events, Artwalk, kayak tours, Christmas on The Strand, plays, operas, performances and more. With mild winters, the calendar stays full! If you are just visiting the area and aren’t used to the heat, chances are, anywhere you go will have air conditioning. Just make sure you pack your sunscreen and stay hydrated.