- For other places with the same name, see Galveston (disambiguation).
Galveston is a city on Galveston Island, off the Texas Gulf Coast, approximately 45 minutes southeast of Houston. Galveston is a port of entry and a destination for almost all the cruise ships with ports of call in Texas. Many Houstonians have beach houses in Galveston or elsewhere in Galveston County where they sometimes relocate during the summer, or simply drive to Galveston to enjoy the local beach. This article also covers Port Bolivar, which is just to the northeast, an 18-minute ferry ride away.
Galveston is a beach resort town in the Houston area. Every summer and spring break, Houstonians crowd the beaches of Galveston as well as tourists from all over the United States (notably the South). Other than beaches, Galveston also has many attractions such as a pleasure pier, the Schlitterbahn water park, and Moody Gardens (a resort complex). Galveston is home to East Beach which is known for being a "party beach". Many famous artists perform occasionally and special events take place. People looking for a good time crowd East Beach. Galveston also has many nightclubs. For people looking for family fun in the sun, Stewart Beach is the premier family beach in the Houston area. Volleyball tournaments and sandcastle competitions take place on Stewart Beach. Apart from sunbathing and clubbing, Galveston is also home to a wide range of shopping. Seawall Boulevard has many shops for beachgoers such as surf shops, sunglasses, sim wear, sunscreen, and souvenir shops as well as boutiques, clothing stores, and so on. Dining is also a big deal on the island, as Galveston is known for having some of the freshest seafood. There are also many burger shops and restaurants of all kind. Many restaurants are located on the beach.
Named after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez and taken over by privateer Jean Lafitte for a while as his personal-like fiefdom around 1820, Galveston was controlled by the Confederacy but then in a twist of fate became a sort of freedman's refuge after the Civil War, as it prospered in becoming Texas' great cotton port. Then the great hurricane of 1900 hit, obliterating the barrier island and taking much of the city and some 6000 lives with it. A seawall was built along the extent of the city and the city became a mecca for hedonistic activities like gambling, but it never regained its premier port status, in part because of the development of the Houston Ship Channel further inland. However it holds its place among Gulf tourist destinations today and is a major cruise embarkation point.
- Climate - Semi-tropical; averaging 57°F in the winter months and 81°F in the summer months.
- 1 Scholes International Airport (GLS IATA). This is the only airport in Galveston, but only serves private and chartered flights.
- William P. Hobby Airport (HOU IATA) One of two airports in Houston providing scheduled commercial flights into the metro area, and the closest commercial airport to Galveston. It is directly connected to Galveston by Interstate 45; the drive takes about 45 minutes. Hobby Airport is dominated by Southwest Airlines.
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH IATA) Also in Houston, and dominated by United Airlines. Take US Route 59 south into downtown Houston and exit into Interstate 45 south; you will pass by Hobby Airport en route. Allow at least 90 minutes to drive from IAH to Galveston, probably more during rush hour. IAH asks returning passengers to arrive 2 hours before check-in.
- I-45 South is the easiest route from Houston to Galveston Island. The freeway becomes Broadway St. on the island.
- The San Luis Pass-Vacek Toll Bridge offers access to Galveston Island from Surfside Beach along State Highway 87. State Highway 288 connects the Greater Houston area to this route.
- The Bolivar Peninsula - Galveston Island Ferry is a free vehicle ferry that regularly runs between Port Bolivar - located on mainland east of Galveston - and the island. For travel between New Orleans and Galveston, the ferry can save 30-40 minutes by avoiding Houston. The ferry is run on a first-come first-served basis, and there are often moderate waits during rush hour, and very long waits (on the order of 2-3 hours) on major holidays. Weekend evening waits also tend to be long. The trip is normally 18 minutes long, plus 9 minutes for loading. The addresses for the ferry are 123 State Highway 87 in Port Bolivar and 1000 North Ferry Road in Galveston.
The national railroad operator Amtrak provides a Thruway bus service from Longview, connecting with its Texas Eagle. This train runs daily between Chicago and San Antonio, with through cars to and from Los Angeles three times per week. Additionally, the Sunset Limited, running three times per week between New Orleans and Los Angeles calls in nearby Houston. The bus stop is at 123 Rosenberg Street, next to the city's transit center.
Amtrak operates a daily shuttle between the Transit Station at 902 Washington Ave, but it only allows passengers who have arrived by their trains.
Several connections from IAH and HOU airports, through Galveston Express, Galveston Shuttle and Galveston Limousine.
The island is small enough that walking can take you most places, although it is not recommended in all neighborhoods, particularly outside the historic district, the Strand, and the Harborside district.
Seawall Blvd. is one of the busiest parts of Galveston, especially during the summer. Since Galveston streets are in a grid it is easy to find a less-busy parallel street to travel on, but watch out for unexpected one-way streets.
Metered street parking is available throughout the city, so bring change. The city operates a replica streetcar service, which operates in the historic district and parts of Seawall Blvd. Pedal cars are also available to rent from various vendors for use along the Seawall and the Strand. Island Transit offers limited bus service for the city.
Get taxi information or order a cab through Jeff's Cab & Shuttle Service at +1 409-621-5333.
- 1 African-American Museum, 3427 Sealy Ave.
- 2 Bishop's Palace (Gresham House), 1402 Broadway Street, Galveston, Texas 77550.
- 3 The Bryan Museum, 1315 21st St, ☏ . W-Su 10AM-5PM, except Th 10AM-7PM. Adults $14, Seniors (65+) & Military $12, Students $10, Children (6-12) $5, Children under 5 free.
- 4 Moody Mansion, 2618 Broadway Avenue J, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. A Romanesque-style estate that is a Galveston landmark, once home to cotton financier and Galveston magnate William Lewis Moody, Jr. $15 adults, $7 (ages 6-17).
- 5 Elissa Barque Sailing Ship (Texas Seaport Museum), 2200 Harborside Drive, Galveston, Texas 77550.
- 6 Galveston Railroad Museum, 2602 Santa Fe Plaza (near the Strand at 25th St.), ☏ , fax: . All sorts of railway things to see. It's in the old Galveston Railway Station, and the lobby is a huge period display. A large model train layout is also located in the museum. $6.
- 7 Moody Gardens, One Hope Blvd (off 81st St.), toll-free: . Botanical garden, indoor rainforest, aquarium, 3D movie theater, 4D special FX theater, water park, hotel, and golf course in one complex. The complex is made up of several large pyramids. Great place to take the kids for a whole day. Additionally, they have the Colonel Paddleboat for those wishing to take tours on the channel. $39.95 day pass.
- 8 Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, ☏ . 10:00 - 17:00 (varies by season). Housed in a retired oil platform. Interesting exhibit for someone unfamiliar with the drilling process. $8 (seniors and students are $5).
- 9 SS Selma (1919), Galveston Bay. This concrete ship, built in 1919, is the only permanent, and prominent, wreck along the Houston Ship Channel.
- 10 Strand National Historic Landmark District (East of Broadway, along the east side of the island). The historic Downtown features all sorts of old buildings and historical markers.
- Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 21, Number 8 (Off the Strand), ☏ , email@example.com. Also home to several historic ships, including the 1877 tall ship Elissa.
- Statues are part of the Galveston landscape. Look out for ones such as the Texas Heroes Monument at 25th and Broadway and the 1900 hurricane Place of Remembrance and Pink Dolphin tribute to minority people statues along the Seawall.
- Bolivar Ferry. Free ferry for automobiles and pedestrians between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry ride is about 25 minutes, but waiting times for the ferry can be considerably longer, especially on busy weekends. If the vehicle line is long, a good option is to stay in the right lane on Ferry Road, park your car, and walk on the ferry to ride it across and back. Good views of the bay, ship traffic, and sometimes wildlife. Children will have much fun feeding anything edible to sea gulls at the stern of the ferry.
- Cruise line travel. Carnival and Princess cruise lines (perhaps others) have regular cruises which depart from Galveston.
- 1 Fort Travis Seashore Park, 800 Anderson Avenue, Port Bolivar, Texas.
- 2 Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, 2501 Seawall Boulevard, ☏ , toll-free: . Rides, games, gift shops, ice cream and other treats available on this nostalgic pier, rebuilt after Hurricane Ike which not only trounced the pier but the famous Flagship Hotel too. Admission $10 adults/$8 children/$7 seniors; All Day Ride Pass $27 adults, $20 children (Jan 2022).
- 3 Galveston Island State Park, 14901 FM 3005, ☏ . Just a short drive west of Galveston's business district. While the Gulf shore campground and visitors center were destroyed by Ike, the park has reopened on a limited basis for day visitors. Adult $5/day, Children 12 and under free.
- Haak Vineyards and Winery, 6310 Ave T, Santa Fe, Texas, ☏ . Noon to 18:00 (varies by season). Galveston County's only winery. Tours complimentary.
- San Luis Pass (San Luis Pass County Park). Offers fishing, bird watching and boating. Amenities are offered at the San Luis Pass County Park, across the toll bridge, on the Brazoria County side. Tide levels here seem more prominent and can vary by almost 2 feet in height. Wading or swimming may not be allowed here due to dangers.
- 4 Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston, 2109 Gene Lucas Blvd, ☏ , fax: . Hours vary by season. Next to Moody Garden and Scholes International Airport, this extension of the Schlitterbahn brand is an indoor/ outdoor water park for year-round entertainment. The indoor Wasserfest section is open year-round, while 2 outdoor sections are open during the summer. Most rides start from a river that runs from the highest point in the park to the lowest, with a conveyer belt to take tubers back to the top. Costs about $40 for entry.
- 5 Seawolf Park (Take 51st St. north over the causeway to the other side of Pelican Island.). Sunrise to sunset, Friday and Saturday nights for fishing.. Home of USS Cavalla and USS Stewart are berthed on Pelican Island.
The University of Texas Medical Branch is the island's major university. There is a significant "college town" feel to the section of the Strand nearest the university. It provides mostly postgraduate medical education.
Texas A&M University at Galveston, located on Pelican Island, is a branch campus of Texas A&M University. Its main fields of study include Marine Sciences, Marine Engineering, and Maritime Transportation. It is home to the Texas Maritime Academy.
The two largest employers on the island are UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch) and ANICO (American National Insurance Company)
The Strand is an historic district near the docks with a variety of unique shops.
- Old Galveston Square, 2211 The Strand, ☏ . Su-Th 10:30AM-6PM, F-Sa 10:30AM-8PM. Occupies about a block of the Strand with olde candy shoppes and other type tourist draws.
- Casey's Seafood Restaurant, 3828 Seawall Blvd, ☏ . Casey's shares the same kitchen with Gaido's. Casey's offers the same dishes more inexpensively in a more casual atmosphere. $12-$25.
- La Estacion, 2428 Ball St, ☏ . Arguably one of the best Mexican restaurants in town, serves breakfast and lunch only.
- Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 22 (NE Corner of Ave A and 22nd St.), ☏ . Great seafood restaurant located right next to the 1877 tall ship Elissa. Try the shrimp kisses.
- Fishtales, 2502 Seawall Blvd, ☏ .
- Mosquito Cafe, 628 14th St, ☏ . Fresh Homemade American Fusion
- Original Mexican Cafe, 1401 Market St, ☏ .
- Olympia Grill, 4908 Seawall Blvd, ☏ . Awesome Greek food.
- Rudy & PACO Restaurant, 2028 Post Office St, ☏ . Quality Italian food
- Salsas Mexican & Seafood Restaurant, 4604 Seawall Blvd, ☏ .
- Yaga's Tropical Cafe Club, 2314 Strand St, ☏ . American food
- 1 Gaido's Seafood Restaurant, 3828 Seawall Blvd, ☏ . $20-$40.
- Riondo's Ristorante, 2328 The Strand, ☏ . Italian cuisine and wine. Happy hours and sidewalk seating.
- 2 Saltwater Grill, 2017 Post Office St, ☏ . Fresh, original seafood dishes.
- 3 Sky Bar Steak & Sushi, 2107 Post Office St, ☏ . Sushi bar & grill.
- O'Malley's Stage Door Pub, 2022 Postoffice, ☏ .
- The Press Box, 2401 Postoffice, ☏ .
- Yaga's Cafe and Bar, 2314 Strand, ☏ .
- Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe, 413 20th St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. All shows start at 21:00, closed Sunday - Tuesday. Come try Galveston's own Star Bock beer.
- Beachcomber Inn.
- Quality Inn & Suites Beachfront, 5924 Seawall Blvd, ☏ . Outdoor pool and breakfast. $48 (Jan 2022).
- Mariner Inn.
- Gaido's Seaside Inn.
- Clarion Pointe Galveston, 2300 Seawall Blvd.
- Sandpiper Motel, 201 Seawall Blvd, ☏ . A motel along the beach consisting mostly of private rooms. A couple of rooms have been converted into dorm rooms under the Hostelling International brand. Private rooms can be booked online, but call the motel directly to book a hostel bed.
- Red Roof PLUS+ Galveston - Beachfront, 3924 Avenue U, ☏ . Outdoor pool. $47 (Jan 2022).
- Avenue O Bed and Breakfast, 2323 Ave O, ☏ . Check-in: 3:00, check-out: 11:00. Avenue O offers uniquely themed rooms with double jacuzzis, private decks, TV/DVD players, refrigerators and microwaves. A full breakfast is served daily $99 - $169.
- Best Western.
- Commodore on the Beach.
- Seascape, ABSeaII@aol.com. $90-$220.
- By the Sea Condos, 7310 Seawall Blvd, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. 24-hour security desk. All condos feature a balcony with a "million dollar" view of the Gulf of Mexico. $122-$177.
- 1 The Tremont House, 2300 Mechanic St (Located in the Strand District.), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A historic Galveston hotel with modern amenities and rooms with marble baths, towel warmers, and elegant furnishings. $110-$199.
- 2 Hotel Galvez And Spa, 2024 Seawall Blvd (Located along the Gulf of Mexico.), ☏ , email@example.com. A renowned AAA 4 diamond historical hotel featuring a brand new full service spa. $100-$199.
- 3 Victorian Condo Hotel Resort, 6300 Seawall Blvd, ☏ . $85-$135.
- 4 San Luis Resort, 5222 Seawall Blvd, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Huge hotel on the gulf, very popular for weddings. $150-$250.
- 5 Moody Gardens Hotel, 7 Hope Blvd (Off 81st St.), ☏ , email@example.com. $180-$220.
- Sand 'n Sea Pirates Beach, toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. A great selection of vacation rental accommodations on beautiful West Galveston Island
- 3 Beach Houses, 17407 Termini-San Luis Pass Rd (16 Mile Road and FM-3005), ☏ , email@example.com. Unbelievably reasonable accommodations with an ocean view!
RV parks and campgrounds
- Galveston RV Resort and Marina, 6310 Heards Ln, ☏ . 20.
- Dellanera RV Park, 10901 San Luis Pass Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. $40.
- Galveston Island KOA Holiday, 23700 San Luis Pass Rd, ☏ . With a lazy river and hot tub. Pet friendly.
- Galveston Island State Park, 14901 FM 3005 (Take Seawall west down the island, it's on the left (gulf) side.), ☏ . There are 66 camp sites in the park, with fees from $15 to $35 per night for the site, plus a $2 per-person activity fee, and applicable taxes.
- Maravilla Resort Condominiums, 9520 Seawall Blvd, ☏ , ABSeaII@aol.com. Office hours 10:00 to 17:00. $95 to $209.
- San Luis Pass County Park, 14001 CR 257, (Bluewater Highway) Freeport, TX 77541, toll-free: . Across the San Luis Pass Bridge from Galveston Island, in Brazoria County.
- 6 Stella Mare RV Resort, 3418 Stella Mare Ln, ☏ , toll-free: , Stay@StellaMareRVResort.com. Stella Mare RV Resort is the premiere Galveston RV park!
Like any other tourist city, it is safe, but petty crime does happen. Use common sense, locking your car is a must. Bums will often hang out in the middle of the intersections.
Water currents can be a danger along any part of the island. Swimming near lifeguard stations and obeying safety signs may offer some assurance.
Straits have treacherous waters, largely due to murky water and fast moving currents: many drownings occur in the vicinity of the San Luis Pass compared to other areas off of nearby beaches. Water current dangers are more prominent up to about one mile away from island straits not protected by a jetty. Entering the water is not allowed in many of these areas.
|Routes through Galveston|
|Houston ← Texas City ← Jct NW ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||SW NE||→ ferry → Port Arthur via and → Orange|