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I visited Galveston, Texas when my first child was young. One of my school friends lived there and we had a great time exploring this fun beach city together.
Now that we are living in the Midwest and my family is older, we are plotting our next trip to Galveston! We love cruises, and Galveston is a busy Caribbean cruise port. Galveston Island is also a fun family vacation destination on its own.
I love that many activities in Galveston are inexpensive or moderately priced. This makes it easy for me to keep costs under control for my family of six.
Here are the fun activities that we are most excited about on our next trip to Galveston, Texas.
Go to the beach
With 32 miles of beaches, Galveston Island is an outstanding family beach destination. Each of Galveston’s seven beach parks has a different personality. Whether you want a festive beach with lots of services and amenities or an uncrowded natural beach, Galveston has it.
Seawall Urban Park is home to the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier (see below) and the longest continuous sidewalk in the U.S., which makes it great for biking, running or walking. Stewart Beach was named one of the 10 Best Beaches for Families by Family Vacation Critic in 2013.
Have an adventure
That baby I took to Galveston is now fifteen years old! On our next trip, he is sure to have his eye on some of the adventurous activities
on Galveston beaches. Parasailing, jet boating, wave running, paddle boarding, surfing and flyboarding are a few of the fun rentals, lessons and tours we can try.
Galveston Island State Park
Galveston Island State Park was named one of the top 5 “Best Gulf Coast Beaches” by Travel Channel in 2013. It’s your best option if you enjoy a more natural, and perhaps less crowded beach experience. Hiking, biking, fishing, paddling and camping are popular here. Birdwatchers flock (pun intended) to Galveston for its outstanding bird watching opportunities.
Check the website or ask when you arrive about ranger programs, which include nature talks, star parties, paddle tours and art programs. Galveston Island State Park has a nature center where you can learn more about the park’s unique ecology. Kids can participate in a Junior Ranger program!
Moody Gardens is an aquarium, museum, theater and water park and adventure park in one! BONUS: it’s educational! All exhibits have an emphasis on education and conservation.
Buy a 1- or 2-day pass that gets you unlimited access to nine fun activities or purchase activities a la carte. My kids will love the zip line, ropes course and water park (open seasonally). The aquarium, rainforest and museum will be great low key activities for the whole family.
The aquarium will be closed from late August through November 2016 for renovations. Look for a new and improved aquarium with new exhibits and surprises (like penguins!) soon.
Pleasure Pier is a classic seaside amusement park, complete with roller coaster, ferris wheel, carousel and other fun attractions. Try your skill at one of the Midway games or sample your favorite amusement park foods.
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island
Schlitterbahn has earned its reputation for being one of the most exciting water parks anywhere, and you’ll find it in Galveston. Water slides, pools and play zones have been designed for all ages and interests. Whether your family loves big thrills or a lazy day by the pool, Schlitterbahn has it
Take a tour
Galveston has a long list of fun tours on land and sea for families. On land, check out an art tour, ghost tour, bike tour or an Amazing Race-style tour. On sea, choose from a dolphin tour, fishing tour, kayak tour, paddle wheel tour and others. If you can’t choose, get both land and sea on a Duck Tour!
Visit a museum
Galveston has great museums to fit a variety of interests. Here are a few of the top rated museums for families in Galveston.
Tall Ship ELISSA is a restored, three-masted ship that still sails! It is part of the Texas Seaport Museum, a short walk from the cruise dock and Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum. It’s is a good place to learn about local maritime history and get a first-hand experience on a beautiful ship. Website: www.galvestonhistory.org/attractions/maritime-heritage/1877-tall-ship-elissa
Lone Star Flight Museum is a top rated museum that houses an award winning collection of vintage airplanes. Depending on your interest in historic planes dating back to the 1930’s, you could spend an hour or all day. If you REALLY love planes, consider booking a ride in one of the planes. Airplane rides are available for teens and adults for an additional cost. Website: www.lonestarflight.org
Galveston Railroad Museum and Terminal is a must for train lovers. It houses full-size engines and cars, an elaborate model train, plus related historical exhibits. Website: www.galvestonrrmuseum.com
Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum looks especially interesting! Offshore oil is a huge local industry, and there aren’t many other places where you can explore a real oil rig. Ocean Star is a retired rig, within walking distance of shore via pedestrian bridge. Tours are self-guided, with lots of family-friendly exhibits. Website: www.oceanstaroec.com
Galveston Children’s Museum is a slam dunk for families with preschool and elementary age kids. It is loaded with hands-on science and art activities in an air-conditioned building near the Strand historic district. Website: www.galvestoncm.org
Bishop’s Palace is a beautifully preserved Victorian mansion, and one of the most popular activities in Galveston. The American Institute of Architects has named it one of the 100 Most Important Buildings in America. Both guided and self-guided tours are available, so you can spend as much or as little time here as you would like.
Bishop’s Palace is not the only historic mansion tour in Galveston. It is one of eight historic buildings open for tours.
Explore Downtown and The Strand
The Strand is the historic section of Galveston that survived the 1901 hurricane that destroyed much of the city. Today it is a family-friendly shopping district full of local shopping and dining. It’s a great place to get an ice cream cone and soak up the spirit of Galveston!
Get your Galveston Island Pass
If you’re exploring multiple attractions, get your Galveston Island Pass and save up to 40% off retail price when select four or more venues. For a list of attractions, visit www.galvestonislandpass.com.
How else can we help?
Need a place to stay? Check rates and read reviews at TripAdvisor.com.
Love cruises? Galveston is the starting point for many Caribbean cruise itineraries. What a fun place to spend an extra couple of days before or after your cruise!
Check cruise dates and rates at GetAwayToday.com. Call 877-510-2929 to talk to an agent. Get $25 onboard credit when you tell them Tips for Family Trips referred you!