Within Walking Distance
Climb aboard the tall ship Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum, in the harbor near where cruises from Galveston depart. This 1877 vessel remains seaworthy and in great condition, and photos and videos recount the boat’s salvation and restoration. Next door is the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, housed in a floating jack-up rig, with displays and exhibits on the science and history of offshore oil drilling.
Take in the 19th-century elegance of the East End Historic District, filled with gracious Greek Revival homes with ornate railings and balconies. Tour the turreted, castle-like Bishop’s Palace, a home built of mahogany and rosewood, with multiple fireplaces and stained glass framing the giant staircase as a testament to the life of luxury. Another atmospheric island neighborhood is the Strand District, Galveston’s old business center of preserved iron-front Victorians. Admire the graceful buildings and homes on a slow-paced horse and carriage ride through the neighborhood. Art galleries and antique shops line the historic streets of the Strand District. On the Gulf of Mexico side, the 100-year-old grand Hotel Galvez harks back to Galveston’s genteel days. In the airy lobby, turn your gaze up to the stenciled ceiling in the loggia, before indulging in a luxurious spa treatment.
Beyond the Port Area
Perched right by the Galveston, Texas airport are two theme parks. The Schlitterbahn Galveston Water Park has twisting tunnel tubes and free-falling tower slides that splash into the water below. Come down from the adrenaline high with some time relaxing on a tropical-style beach or in the sprawling hot tub. At neighboring Moody Gardens, roam through a recreated tropical rainforest, get up close with sharks and penguins, board a paddlewheeler or play a round of golf at a waterside course. For a one-of-a-kind thrill before your Carnival cruise from Galveston sails, ride in a real WWII B-17 bomber or an open-cockpit biplane at the Lone Star Flight Museum, after admiring the prop planes, fighter craft, and aviation memorabilia on the ground.
Beaches in Galveston
Spread out on East Beach’s wide strip of sand, the biggest in Texas and a perfect spot for a game of beach volleyball. Close by is Stewart Beach, a popular family destination. For a waterfront walk, wander along the gulf for a portion of the 10-mile Seawall, built as a hurricane bulwark after the devastation wrought by a 1900 storm.
Dining & Nightlife in Galveston
The Texas Gulf Coast cuisine is all about seafood—and lots of it. Dig into snapper, pompano, shrimp, oysters, and more at local favorites like Gaido’s and Saltwater Grill, or opt for straightforward fried fare at Shrimp’n’Stuff. Come nightfall, catch a musical performance on the lavish stage of the Grand 1894 Opera House, the star attraction of the Strand District.