You don’t need to buy a pricey plane ticket — or even had a passport — to visit an island paradise. Galveston Island, Texas is home to 32 miles of beautiful beaches, rich 19th-century history, world-class attractions, and refreshing ocean waters. The barrier island, surrounded by Texas’ West Bay and the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, is one of America’s best kept secrets, and it’s only 50 miles southeast of Houston.
This family-, foodie-, and fisherman-friendly island offers far more than sun and sand. From historic homes to flyboarding, surfing, and soaring down the tallest water coaster in the world, these seven reasons to visit Galveston Island will make you wonder why you’ve never been to the barrier island before.
1. It’s Super Family Friendly
Galveston Island is overflowing with family-friendly attractions, from the famous Iron Shark Rollercoaster on historic Pleasure Pier to the world’s tallest water coaster at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and the penguins at Moody Gardens’ Aquarium Pyramid. When the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico just aren’t enough, Galveston helps you make lasting memories at dozens of family-friendly attractions.
2. You Can Get Your Adrenaline Pumping
It may seem difficult to peel yourself away from the comfort of your beach chair, but you don’t want to miss out on Galveston Island’s long list of water-based adventures. However, you may have a hard time squeezing deep-sea fishing, surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, flyboarding, bird-watching, jetskiing, and dolphin watching into a single getaway.
3. You Can Travel Back in Time
Galveston is one of few beach towns in the country that offers historic attractions minutes from the sand and sea. Discover the island’s hundreds of years of history, which includes 18th-century Spanish explorers, pirates, a devastating hurricane, a Civil War battle, and years of restoration. Visitors can explore the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, the USS Stewart WWII destroyer escort, the famed 1895 Moody Mansion, the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, and other historic attractions that bring the island’s colorful history to life.
4. You Can Eat Your Fill of Fresh Seafood
Galveston Island is known for serving up some of the best seafood on the American gulf coast. Whether you’re seeking a down-to-earth oyster shack like the Black Pearl Oyster Bar and Grill or sophisticated seafood dishes overlooking the harbor at Olympia the Grill at Pier 21, you’ll find fresh catches nearly everywhere you dine.
5. You Can Sink Your Toes into the Sand
You’re probably headed on an island getaway to spend time with your toes in the sand. You’ll understand why they say, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” when you see Galveston Island’s 32 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. The island’s temperate climate and warm ocean waters (above 70-degrees Fahrenheit from April to October) mean that in Galveston it’s a good day for the beach pretty much 365 days per year.
6. You Can Learn Something New
You may not intend to turn your Galveston getaway into an educational trip, but you’ll learn something anyway. Galveston is home to some of the most well-preserved Victorian architecture in the U.S., several must-visit museums (don’t miss the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum), the fun and factual Cool Tours, water-based boat tours, and countless other natural, cultural, and educational attractions that will make you say, “I didn’t know that!”
7. You Can Stay in Style
Galveston’s historic downtown district, orange sunsets, world-class eateries, and lavish seaside resorts make the Texas barrier island an ideal destination for a romantic escape. Stay in the Caribbean-style atmosphere of the San Luis Resort and opt for an exquisite villa with a private jacuzzi or watch the sunset from the sophisticated rooftop lounge at the historic Tremont House. You don’t have to travel halfway around the world for a luxuriant tropical escape.
Regardless of your travel style or budget, there are few beach getaways in the world — let alone the United States — that can match the value and convenience for North American vacationers.
If you are thinking of visiting, the best way to plan is to start by spending some time on the Visit Galveston website, which provides great overview of your options.