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Your guide to Galveston
All About Galveston
Galveston Island is home to the port city of Galveston, which is located off the Gulf Coast of Texas only an hour away from Houston. The island is surrounded by Galveston Bay to the north, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and West Bay to the west, and it draws visitors to its amusement parks, historic mansions, and museums dedicated to submarines and railroads. Along the coast, the 17-foot Galveston Seawall stretches for 10 miles and is covered in the world’s longest mural. Beyond the seawall, Galveston has more than 32 miles of sandy beaches surrounded by bright blue waters. Saltwater fishing is a popular activity here, with flounder being a popular catch.
Galveston also has an impressive concentration of Victorian architecture to explore. One standout is the Victorian-style Bishop’s Palace residence — a National Historic Landmark in the city’s historic district — which dates back to 1892. Another historical landmark residence, the 1895 Moody Mansion, is decorated in myriad styles, including French Rococo and Classical Revival, which you can see on tours of the grand home. Dig further into Texas history at the Bryan Museum, which offers a chronological exploration of the state spanning more than 12,000 years.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Galveston?
The most popular time for booking beach rentals in Galveston is during the summer months when the weather is hot and humid, and the beaches are buzzing. Be mindful of the Gulf’s hurricane season — August to October — and keep an eye on the forecast during this time.
During fall, temperatures here are mild, the humidity drops, and you can learn about the city’s Hellenic heritage at the annual Galveston Greek Festival in October — where you’ll find traditional Greek produce, dancing, and pastries. The winter months are warm enough to enjoy with just a light sweater, and birders can spot migratory species at Galveston Island State Park. Visit between February and March for the third-largest Mardi Gras season in the country, which includes parades and a masked ball.
What are the top things to do in Galveston?
The Strand is a five-block historic district in the heart of Galveston with buildings that date back to the 19th century. It’s filled with antique stores, art galleries, Cajun restaurants and oyster bars, and country dance halls. There’s also a life-sized chess board you can play on, parks and green spaces, and a harbor where you can watch the ships come and go. If a historical experience is more your style, check out the Texas Seaport Museum where you can see one of the world’s oldest currently sailing ships, the Elissa.
The Bolivar Peninsula is home to a historic lighthouse, protected bird habitats, restaurants with fresh-caught seafood, and 27 miles of beaches to explore. To get here, take the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry from Galveston Island to the small town of Port Bolivar. Along the way, you’ll have front-row views of the Gulf and may even be able to spot a dolphin or two during your ride.
Galveston Railroad Museum
Take a deep dive into Galveston’s railway history at this art deco structure from 1932. The Galveston Railroad Museum houses one of the largest collections of trains in the country, including freight cars, diesel engines, and steam engines, some of them still running. The old passenger cars are decked out in style, evoking the golden age of train travel, and there’s a museum cafe for drinks and light bites. A mile-long train ride is available all year, and there’s a holiday-themed service available during the winter months.