Situated just an hour outside of Houston, Galveston Island has long held sway as a premier summer destination for urban Texans. The area’s rich beaches and wetlands, historic harbor, and other highlights attract people from around the state and the nation, with some staying a few weeks while others spend just a day before they sail off on a Galveston cruise to the Caribbean.
Galveston Island appeals to all ages and interests. Whether you’re trying to engage tweens, looking for culinary delights, or simply want to feel the sand between your toes, a summer vacation in Galveston has what you need.
Just take a peek at this sample travel itinerary and start planning your Galveston summer vacation today:
Day 1: Sun and Sand
We recommend that all first-arrivals head to East Beach and let the summer vacation begin. Here, you and your travel compadres can strip down to your bathing suits and let the cool water welcome you to the island. Once you’ve had your share of sand and surf, take a stroll along the East Beach boardwalk. This bustling beachfront hosts a variety of events that range from live music to sandcastle competitions.
Seafood aficionados will want to grab lunch at the nearby Shrimp-n-Stuff. This local restaurant has been an island favorite since it first opened its doors in 1976. Enjoy affordable and mouth-watering seafood fare from steaming gumbos to stuffed shrimp po-boys.
After lunch, take a break from the beach crowds and book a more nature-oriented tour of the island with Artist Boat kayaks. You’ll witness the beauty of the wetlands. While there are several local tour groups to choose from, the Artist Boat group uniquely works on the preservation side in addition to the tourism side, and they are currently in the process of acquiring even more ecologically-significant acreage along the Gulf Coast that will be set aside for future generations to enjoy.
After a busy day of swimming and paddling, relax and let others entertain you at The Grand 1894 Opera House. This world class theater has been hosting a diverse array of talent for more than 100 years. Check their calendar to see their upcoming performances.
Day 2: Step into the City and Explore the Attractions
Start the day with the wonder of Moody Gardens. You might even find this to be an all-day affair, even deserving of multiple returns, as this non-profit theme park is teeming with attractions. A few of the highlights include a 1.5 million gallon aquarium swarming with creatures from penguins to sharks, a ropes course and zip line to challenge your physical skills, a lazy river wrapping around the park, a rainforest exhibit full of screeching Saki Monkeys and intimidating alligators, and so much more. This is a destination not to be missed!
If you do spend just a half-day there, then head over to Jimmy’s on the Pier for a late lunch. This full-service restaurant boasts an expansive wrap-around porch for panoramic views of the island and the Gulf waters. And with mouth-watering food, it’s the ideal place to relax, enjoy the sights, and prep yourselves for the rest of your summer vacation in Galveston.
Work off that Jimmy’s meal by renting a beach cruiser from the local Island Bicycle Co. and explore the boardwalk and afternoon at your own pace, with maybe a dip in the surf now and then. We recommend finishing the night up at the historic Pleasure Pier. This exciting entertainment complex stretches 1,130 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico and features every type of carnival attraction you’d expect, from roller coasters to funnel cakes and margarita vendors.
Day 3: History and Harbors
Spend the final day of your vacation with a more relaxed tour into Galveston’s history and sightseeing at the working harbors. Begin by meandering and shopping along the Historic Downtown Strand District, and don’t forget to nab a postcard or two to send home.
Appease the taste buds of your entire crew with brunch at Farley Girls Cafe. Their culinary tagline is “a little bit of everything,” and they follow up that boast by providing an eclectic menu of all types of house favorites.
Post-brunch, head over to the nearby Texas Seaport Museum for insights into the important role Galveston and the greater Houston area have as a harbor. The biggest highlight here is the towering Elissa, a three-masted, iron-hulled barque that bears the title of “the Official Tall Ship of Texas.” Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the neighboring Pier 21 and the Strand Seaport – Galveston’s historic and still working harbor with its own mix of entertainment, restaurants, and attractions.
Mitchell Historic Properties
Of course, this is just one of the many itineraries you might enjoy when you book a summer vacation in Galveston. At Mitchell Historic Properties, we have been engaged in the preservation and promotion of the city’s attractions for two generations.