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21 Best Things to Do in Galveston

No summer in Texas is complete without a trip to the beach, and Galveston is one of the most popular beach destinations in the state, in no small part due to the huge variety of things to do in Galveston!

Galveston is an island city located near the Gulf of Mexico, only about an hour from Houston (traffic allowing). It is an extremely popular tourist destination and one of the most-visited beach towns in Texas.

Whether you’d rather relax and soak in the sun and fresh air on the calm beach or visit an amusement park with your family, Galveston has something for you.

Seagulls sitting on wooden beams on the beach in Galveston texas

Museums + Historic Places to Visit in Galveston TX

Go shopping on The Strand.

A historic landmark that was once known as the “Wall Street of the southwest”, The Strand is a popular district in the city of Galveston.

The Strand is lined with plenty of restaurants, gift shops, antique stores, bars, and more, and a visit here is a must when looking for the best things to do in Galveston.

intricate building on the strand, one of the best attractions in galveston tx

Visit Bishop’s Palace.

Also known as Gresham’s Castle, the stunning Bishop’s Palace dates to the late 19th century and stands at a whopping 19,000 square feet!

It was sturdy enough to survive the infamous Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and was opened as a temporary shelter by its owners to help people who were affected by the devastating hurricane. 

Today, Bishop’s Palace is open to visitors, and touring the home belongs on any list of what to do in Galveston.

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Stroll through the East End Historic District.

This historic district is populated with gorgeous Victorian homes dating to the late 19th century, and it is incredibly fun to wander aimlessly through.

Victorian homes in Galveston things to do

Visit the Galveston Railroad Museum.

Located in what used to be the Santa Fe Railroad Station, the Galveston Railroad Museum is dedicated to the History of the railroad in Texas and has many pieces of railroad history, two amazing model railroad stations, and features a mile-long caboose ride.

Explore Moody Mansion.

While you’re enjoying the beautiful beach city make sure you take some time to visit one of the most popular historic homes in Texas. The Moody Mansion is a huge four-story house that has 31 bathrooms and sits on almost two acres. This beautiful mansion that has been turned into a museum has an estimated worth of $2.5 million.

The Moody Mansion is also home to a bit of a mystery: the mansion is rumored to be haunted by the original owner, Narcissa Willis. 

Moody Mansion in Galveston TX, with a wrought iron fence in the foreground. Visiting the haunted moody mansion is one of the best things to do in galveston tx

Tour the Bryan Museum.

The Bryan Museum is a historical museum with a special emphasis on Texas history and the history of the American West. This museum was opened in 2015 in a building that used to house an old orphanage.

It is home to over 70,000 unique pieces of Texas and US history, dating back more than 12,000 years. Some of the artifacts you can find here include books, art, portraits, western wear, saddles, and historic documents.

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Visit St. Mary Cathedral Basilica.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is known as the Mother Church of the Catholic religion in Texas. St. Mary’s Cathedral was the first cathedral built in Texas and was also one of the few buildings that only sustained minor damage from the historic Hurricane of 1900.

The cathedral was completed and opened in 1848, it can fit over 400 people in its pews and sits on about an acre of land.

… and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Established in 1884, Sacred Heart may not be the oldest church in Galveston, but it certainly boasts some of the most remarkable architecture and is well worth a quick look when visiting Galveston.

Sacred Heart Church with its distinctive white architecture, one of the best places to visit in Galveston tx

Take your kids to the Galveston Children’s Museum.

If you’re traveling with kids, Galveston’s Children’s Museum is a must-visit. This museum is uniquely made for children to learn, play, and explore freely. The museum is filled with all kinds of exhibits that will teach your kids some of life’s most important aspects and values.

The museum was built with all kids in mind and is handicap friendly. The Museum also welcomes low-income families as it offers $1 admission. 

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Family Attractions in Galveston TX

Spend the day at Schlitterbahn.

One thing that screams family fun is visiting the water park! Schlitterbahn Galveston is an exciting water park for the whole family to enjoy.

Schlitterbahn features over 30 rides and always has free parking. Some of the park’s main attractions are water slides, water coasters, pools, and lazy rivers.

Young boy splashing water at the camera at a water park

Explore the beautiful Moody Gardens.

Moody Gardens, with its unmissable glass pyramids, is a great attraction that every family should put on their list of things to do in Gavelston at least once.

Moody Gardens primarily consists of three separate pyramids, each exploring a different subject with the interest of teaching kids about natural ecosystems and conservation.

The Aquarium Pyramid is one of the most impressive aquariums in the region. The Rainforest Pyramid contains birds, plants, and animals that live in tropical regions. The Discovery Pyramid focuses on science and technology.

monarch butterfly on a pink flower at moody gardens, one of the most fun things to do in galveston tx

Visit Palm Beach.

Palm Beach is a private beach/mini-water park located at Moody Gardens, where in addition to relaxing on a white-sand beach, your family can enjoy going zip-lining, floating a lazy river, and swimming in a freshwater lagoon.

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Check out the famous Galveston Pleasure Pier.

The Galveston Pleasure Pier is the most famous boardwalk in Galveston, Texas. This boardwalk is filled with carnival games and a roller coaster.

The pier was originally opened in 1943 and stopped its operations in 1961 after it was destroyed by Hurricane Carla. After over 50 years of being shut down, the Pier was given some much needed TLC and was reopened to the public in 2012, and still maintains its classic Americana vibes.

Galveston Pier with beach in the foreground where people are swimming. Galveston is one of the best houston day trips

Hangout At Saengerfest Park.

Saengerfest Park is a small park located by The Strand. This beautiful park features a giant chess set, an old compass that doubles as a chair, and an old-style English phone booth. The park has a stage that any performer or band can take.

Saegerfest Park is also a popular spot for street vendors to gather and sell Galveston souvenirs and is within walking distance of many restaurants and stores.

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Explore Seawolf Park.

Seawolf Park was established as a memorial for the USS Seawolf, an American Submarine that was accidentally sunk during World War II. The park-like museum is home to military ships, submarines, and other military aquatic vehicles. The park includes a picnic area and plenty of places for anglers to fish from.

Seawolf Park, one of the best attractions in Galveston TX, as seen from the water

The Best Things to Do in Galveston in the Great Outdoors

Visit the beach.

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Galveston is to visit the beach!

No trip to Galveston Texas is complete if you don’t visit the beach. There are plenty of choices when it comes to beaches in Galveston. Enjoying the ocean water and the sun’s rays can be the perfect activity for you and your family. A beautiful sandy beach is a great place for you to relax and enjoy the rest of your evening while your kids burn out any energy that they might have left.

beach chairs with corresponding colorful umbrellas set up on the sand at one of the beaches in galveston texas

Go deep-sea fishing.

Take your family on a deep-sea fishing adventure by booking a boat to take y’all on a fishing charter. These fishing trips can last anywhere from a couple of hours to days depending on how far out you want to go.

Your family will be amazed at the abundance of sea creatures they will encounter while on this wild adventure. Doing this will give your kids some memories they will never be able to forget.

Deep sea fishing rod set up overlooking the ocean

Visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum.

This unique museum is made from an old oil rig. The museum is an interactive museum for all the family where you can learn more about oil rigs, seismic activity, and other things. You can go inside the rig and see how it all works from the inside.

Plan to set aside a few hours to be able to fully take in everything the museum has to offer.

Ride bikes along the seawall.

One way you can tour the beautiful Galveston Beaches is by getting on a bicycle and going on a self-guided tour with your friends or family. You have nothing to worry about if you forgot your bicycle at home since there are plenty of locations that rent out bikes along the beach. 

view along the seawall. when deciding what to do in galveston tx, consider riding bikes along the seawall

Hit the sea in search of dolphins.

Another way you can enjoy all of nature and wildlife that Galveston Island has to offer is by going on a dolphin watch tour to spot wild dolphins in their natural habitat.

Although dolphin watching is the main attraction you are sure to spot other aquatic creatures. Some of the creatures that have been spotted by lucky tour groups in the past include whales, stingrays, and enormous sea turtles.

3 wild dolphins as seen from a boat in texas

Go skydiving!

If you’re a thrill-seeker one of the many popular attractions in Galveston is skydiving over the beach.

There are many reasons people decide to go skydiving whether it be for adventure, to chase adrenaline, to cross off something from your bucket list, or one of the many other reasons people have to skydive, doing it at a Galveston beach will be a choice you won’t regret.

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Visit the East End Lagoon Nature Preserve.

Another one of the best things to do in Galveston is to visit the East End Nature Preserve. This preserve is filled with wildlife and plants for your entire family to enjoy. There are plenty of hiking trails and over 700 acres of beautiful natural views to enjoy.

Marsh in Galveston Island National Park with a white bird resting on the water

Drop a line at the Galveston Fishing Pier.

The Galveston Fishing Pier on 61st street is the longest pier in Galveston. It includes over 1,000 feet of the pier to fish from. The pier is also in a great location and it is surrounded by bait shops, restaurants, and many other stores.

The Galveston Fishing Pier is open 24 hours a day and is family-friendly.

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Learn how to build epic sandcastles.

Although building sandcastles can seem childish, many artists have made professional careers of building sandcastles. The truth is that building sandcastles is a form of art that takes lots of time and patience to master.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are several places you can take sandcastle building lessons at the beach. Just make sure you come prepared as these classes typically last over 2 hours.

2 photos of Galveston, one of a Victorian home and the second of the beach. Black and red text on a white background reads "21 fun things to do in galveston"

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