Galveston Attractions Guide
Galveston, situated along the Gulf Coast region in Texas, is the second largest city and seat of the Galveston County. This magnificent city is well known for its historic neighborhoods and a 10 mile (16.09 km) long seawall, which was designed to prevent the destruction caused by floods and hurricane storm surge. Today, Galveston is a popular holiday destination, with a number of tourist attractions. The main places of tourist interest in the city include the Lone Star Flight Museum, Moody Gardens, and the Galveston Schlitterbahn water-park.
Stunning Island Views
The 32-mile long, historic island of Galveston borders the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, the stunning beach and charming historic community offers visitors access to miles of pristine beaches, access to historic attractions and Galveston’s lively culture. The fantastic beach escape boasts a huge number of stunning beach houses, condos located near the ocean, and waterfront homes. In addition to the offering spectacular ocean views, the fantastic oceanfront homes in Galveston may also feature an array of amenities such as cable TV, Wi-Fi internet access, and family-friendly living.
Attractions & Events
The city’s historic downtown and spectacular beaches attracts thousands of tourists every year. Another major attraction in the city is ‘The Strand’, a downtown neighborhood of historic buildings. The neighborhood is home to a number of historical museums and mansions, and features miles of beach front. The Strand also hosts several annual cultural events such as the Mardi Gras Festival, the Lone Star Bike Rally, the Galveston Island Jazz & Blues Festival, the Texas Beach Fest, and a Victorian-themed Christmas festival called “Dickens on the Strand”. The Balinese Room, a historic nightclub situated on a 600 ft (182.88 m) pier extending into the Gulf of Mexico, is yet another attraction in the city. Other important landmarks in the city include the Galveston Railroad Museum, the University of Texas Medical Branch, the restored Grand 1894 Opera House, Ashton Villa, Bishop’s Palace, the Hotel Galvez, and the official Tall Ship of Texas, Elissa, at the Texas Seaport Museum.
Several buildings in the city are noted for their extraordinary architecture. Some of the tallest buildings in Galveston include the American National Insurance Company Tower, San Luis Resort South Tower, One Moody Plaza, John Sealy Hospital Towers at UTMB, and the Medical Arts Building. The Port of Galveston, popularly known as Galveston Wharves, is also well worth visiting. Located on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Port of Galveston serves as a passenger cruise ship terminal for cruise ships operating in Caribbean.
- Website: www.galveston.com
Galveston operates numerous public beaches and beach access points throughout the island. Popular island beaches and beach parks include:
- The Galveston Island State Park
- The East Beach
- The pocket park on San Luis Pass Road at the seventh mile
- The pocket park at located at 11745 FM 3005
- The pocket park at San Luis Pass Road at the eleventh mile
- Stewart Beach
- The Seawall Urban Park
Galveston is full to the brim with a diverse array of restaurants and delectable menu options. The Waterfront and Strand areas along the historic island offer many of Galveston’s most delicious dining options. From Texas steak, Italian and Greek to Mexican and seafood, Galveston is sure to accommodate a wide variety of tastes.
In recent years, Galveston has become an attractive community for young culinary talent to settle. Inventive young chefs have made their way to the unique island in the hopes of serving up exciting new dishes in some of Galveston’s best restaurants. The names of Galveston chefs such as Paco Vargas, Robbin Murphy, Chris Loftis, Ross Warhol, and Phil Bouzo are garnering national attention and cementing the island’s reputation as a popular fine dining destination. The top restaurants of Galveston are:
- Rudy & Paco
- Number 13
- The Steakhouse
Arts And Culture
The island’s expansive historic downtown is the main hub of Galveston’s arts and entertainment. The historic buildings of downtown Galveston are filled with cultural institutions, including a number of theaters, galleries, and museums.
ArtWalk is an event enjoyed by many. Every six weeks, the downtown district hosts an ArtWalk event that draws thousands to the island. The exciting cultural event boats well-known national artists, gallery openings, and a multitude of vendors. Additionally the dazzling street celebration serves up a delicious array of food truck fare as the sounds of music reverberate through the streets.
Family Friendly Attractions
There are many enticing options for families seeking fun on Galveston. From taffy-making at the La King’s Confectionery to the Galveston Turtle Tour, there are many wonderful opportunities for families looking for something fun to do. Family-friendly attractions on Galveston include the following:
- The Schlitterbahn Waterpark
- The Galveston Railroad Museum
- The Lone Star Flight Museum
- The Texas Seaport Museum
Galveston, an island located just off of Texas’ Gulf Coast, enjoys moderate year-round temperatures. Most visitors arrive to the island in the spring and summer seasons. Average summer high temperatures are in the high 80s while winter lows hover around a comfortable 51 degrees.
How To get There
Galveston is easy to get to by cruise, private boat, or car. The closest airport to Galveston is in Houston: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Therefore, those who are traveling into Texas by way of plane will need to travel an additional 45 minutes to get to the island. Whether you take your own private car or rent a car, the easiest way to cross into Galveston is by taking Interstate 45 southward all the way to the island.
Ashton Villa, situated along Broadway in Galveston, Texas, was established by James Moreau Brown in 1859. Brown was a banker, a wholesale hardware merchant, railroad corporation president, and the richest man in Texas. This Italianate home was the grandest mansion in the state at the time it was built. It was the first brick house to be built in Texas. Wonderfully renovated in 1971, Ashton Villa has been now listed on the National register of Historic Places and is also designated as a Recorded Texas Historic landmark. Today, Ashton Villa is full of antiques, original art, and family heirlooms. It offers a close glimpse into the life of a well-known Victorian family.
Ashton Villa was one of the very few homes that survived the Great Storm of 1900. After the Brown family left the mansion, it became home to the El Mina Shrine Temple. However, the Shriners moved out by the 1970s and the villa was in line for annihilation. Fortunately, the property was bought from the federal government by the city of Galveston, for use as a museum. Ashton Villa is the greatest treasure of the Galveston Island and is open to the public since 1974.
Ashton Villa is also considered to be the “most haunted building in America”. The ceiling fans in the Villa have been known to turn themselves on; a chest of drawers in Bettie Brown’s dayroom reportedly locks and unlocks without a key; one bed refuses to stay made; and the ghost of Bettie has been also seen a number of times in the Gold Room. People on tours have also reported feeling a presence around them. The main attractions in the campus include the Heritage Visitors Center, a gift shop, and an information center.
At present, Ashton Villa is the center of the social life of the Island. Enchanting settings for receptions and weddings, parties, meetings, and luncheons are offered by the elegant ballroom of the Villa. Other features of this extraordinarily beautiful villa include a Caterer’s prep room, convenient parking, and rest room facilities. This opulent Mansion had set the standard for all he magnificent homes that followed. It is a great place to visit or to celebrate your next function.
- Address: 1859 Ashton Villa, 2328 Broadway, Galveston, TX 77550
- Telephone: (409) 762-3933
- Hours of Operation: Summer: Mon – Sat, 10 AM – 4 PM; Sun, Noon – 4 PM; Winter: Noon – 4 PM daily
- Tours: Noon – 4 PM daily, on the hour
- Website: www.galvestonhistory.org/