Anyone visiting will find a whole mess of cool things to do in Galveston, Texas.
Don’t let its small size fool you. This funky city is overflowing with stunning Victorian landmarks and miles of beaches, including the famous Galveston Beach.
So, bring the kids, enjoy a couple’s vacation, or explore with a group of friends. From Galveston water parks to historic museums to chic restaurants— there is literally something for everyone in this Texan city.
We want you to hit the ground running so keep scrolling and check out the top 13 things to do in Galveston. Don’t worry if you don’t cross them all off your list this time around. You’ll just have to come back and explore this charming city all over again!
The Best Sightseeing Attractions in Galveston
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Schlitterbahn Water Park in Galveston
Dubbed the “Disney Land of Water parks” Schlitterbahn water park has everything you could dream of. Spin, loop, and slide your way down on MASSIVE, the world’s tallest water coaster. Free-fall from 81 feet on Cliff Hanger. Or take a ride on the 65 ft tall Master Blaster.
If you’re feeling a little less adventurous why not a tan while relaxing on a floatie in the wave pool. Or grab a drink at the swim up bar and float your way through the park on the Lazy River. You’ll never even have to get out of the water!
For those with kiddos in tow, check out the Tiki Tikes hut— A shallow water pool play area for children equipped with water slides and all sorts of fun! There’s no better way to spend a hot day than cooling off at the largest Galveston water park!
The Strand Galveston
When you’re looking for things to do in Galveston, look no further than The Strand Galveston. The historic district is home to delicious home style restaurants, unique souvenir stores, antique shops, and tons of museums. It’s the nightlife and entertainment hub of all Galveston attractions.
Check out the “Taste of the Strand” Galveston’s most popular food tour. The fresh cuisines may depend on the season but the rich local flavors will hold true every time.
Head to Gracie’s for presents or souvenirs to take home with you. You’ll find everything from home décor to handmade jewelry to locally crafted wooden toys for the kiddos. If antiques are more your thing then check out Somewhere in Time Antiques with pieces from the Midwest, East Coast, and the Deep South.
Get into the true Southern spirit and check out The Buckshot Saloon. A music hall featuring country music and line dancing! There’s also the Bliss Lounge, a dance club with DJ’s and even live music on selected nights. Another perk? Drink specials all night long!
Galveston State Park
Looking for things to do in Galveston away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Drive to Galveston State Park for a day. The Galveston State Park stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to West Bay and is home to the most breathtaking views.
Traverse the beautiful hiking trails, scenic nature walks, while exploring an array of wildlife unique to the area. Visitors can spend all day hiking and getting lost in the panoramic views. Solitude lovers will enjoy the many relaxing spots and calm waters.
Tours of the flora and fauna are also given by volunteers but by appointment only. There is a ton to do so you might even decide to stay for a night or two. If so, grab some camping gear from Benno’s Catering and Rentals and make a mini vacation out of it!
Galveston Pleasure Pier
If you’re still looking for things to do in Galveston look no further than the Galveston Pleasure Pier. Known as the Coney Island of the South, the Pleasure Pier is one of the most popular Galveston attractions.
The boardwalk boasts fifteen rides like the Texas Star Flyer which gives visitors a bird’s eye view of Galveston Island. While you’re there check out the 5D Theater ride which takes guests on a mysterious underworld tour!
Indulge in carnival treats like funnel cake from Carousel Court Sweets. Or try the “Strawberry Cheesecake Delight” with homemade waffle cones from Sweet Scoops. Afterwards wash it all down with a cold beverage from the Brew Station— home to a variety of beers and mouth-watering BBQ.
Must Try Galveston Restaurants
Galveston has many exceptionally delicious restaurants which prepare decadent seafood combined with local flavors. So, when it comes to things to do in Galveston, the restaurants are most definitely worth checking out…
Make reservations at Gaido’s for delightful local fare. Enjoy freshly caught seafood like the American Red Snapper Michael— The signature fish of Galveston. Pair it with the Sauvignon of CakeBread Cellars. The hint of lemon and lime will definitely bring out the sweet nutty flavors of the snapper. Another must try on the menu? Gaido’s Crustless Pecan Pie has been voted the best pecan pie in Texas for years now!
Rudy & Paco’s is the perfect excuse to get dressed up for a night of decadence. Voted one of the most romantic restaurants in 2018, there’s no better place for a date night. Grab a summer cocktail at the bar while you wait for your table. Try classic seafood dishes like the Salmon A La Parrilla. AKA grilled salmon topped with a sweet and spicy mango habanero sauce. Their combination of seared steak and grilled seafood infused with Southern and Latin flavors makes the most unique restaurant in Galveston.
For more amazing restaurants in Galveston check out our round-up of dining options!
Fantastic Galveston Race
If you’re on a time crunch and still trying to figure out what to do in Galveston check out the Fantastic Galveston Race.
Players get a rare and interesting perspective of The Strand Galveston and it only takes four hours!
Inspired by the Amazing Race the Galveston Race is a fun and easy way to see the historic district. It’s a sight-seeing tour and scavenger hunt all rolled into one! Players receive clues and solving puzzles while roaming against the backdrop of pastel buildings and Victorian architecture.
Unlike the Amazing Race, it isn’t physically challenging making it perfect for all ages. So, whether you’re with your family, friends, or significant other, you’ll have a blast!
Although there are a ton of things to do in Galveston the beaches are a must-see. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico Galveston Beach is at the top of the list. Stretches of sandy dunes mixed with the salty gulf air makes this a not-to-be-missed spot on our list.
The boardwalk is lined with mom-and-pop shops selling trinkets and beach toys. While the restaurants and food stands have everything crave worthy.
Try Jimmy’s on The Pier for savory dishes and handcrafted cocktails. Walk along the seawall for great people watching while collecting seashells. Or rent an electric bike and zig-zag your way through Seawall Boulevard.
Local tip: Head to the beach to watch the sunrise rather than sunset— It’s less crowded and the colors are more vibrant. You’ll have the entire beach to yourself before the crowds start coming in!
Read our roundup for more about beaches in Galveston!
Stewart Beach is the perfect spot for families. There are a ton of amenities so you won’t have to wander far if the kids need anything. Children can also sign up for sandcastle building lessons and then compete to see who gets first place.
As for the adults? Join in on a volleyball game or start your own game with friends! If you feel like lounging, grab a drink from one of the stands on the boardwalk and bask under the Texas sun.
Rated the #1 beach for families, Stewart Beach comes with a playground and pavilion. There are also other family-oriented activities so there’s no shortage of fun!
Free Galveston Ferry
Ditch your car and take the Galveston Ferry to explore the Gulf. Hop on for the 2.7-mile leisurely trip and relax while someone else does the work!
Take the ferry to Crystal Beach and watch playful dolphins jump out of the water. While you’re at it, be sure to admire the seagulls and keep an eye out for pelican sightings!
According to locals, it’s easier to leave your car parked elsewhere and just walk onto the boat. Especially since wait times can be longer during the busy summer months.
1877 Tall Ship ELISSA
ELISSA was brought to Galveston from Greece in 1978 and was transformed into a floating museum by 1982. It’s one of three ships of her kind in the world today and the only ship that still sails. Over 40,000 visitors flock to see ELISSA annually.
The ship has a very rich history as a merchant sailing vessel. It originally launched from Aberdeen in 1877 but also sailed under many European countries.
Guests are transported back in time as they walk along the wooden decks of this floating museum. Children can imagine themselves as fearless sailors conquering unknown places during a time of exploration.
There is even a theater where visitors can watch the history of ELISSA’s long journey throughout history.
Bishop’s Palace AKA Gresham’s Castle was built from granite, opaque white limestone, and bright red sandstone. The intricate wood carvings combined with bronze statues and stained glass makes this a must-see destination.
Designed by Nicholas Clayton, a Victorian era architect Bishop’s Palace is the essence of true Victorian Grandeur. Wander around the interior and admire the colossal fireplaces from all around the world. Get lost taking in the extravagant furniture, sculptures, and artwork.
Declared as one of the most important buildings by American Institute of Architects this Victorian masterpiece should be on everyone’s list when thinking what to do in Galveston.
East End Historic District
Travel back in time to the 19th century while wandering the famous streets of the East End Historic District. Take a stroll and enjoy the elegance of the baroque style architecture. Keep an eye out for the radiant stained-glass windows scattered throughout the town.
The district which was Galveston’s first residential neighborhood is also known for its lively block parties. The themed parties also always feature live music and a ton of scrumptious local eats.
So, when you’re thinking of things to do in Galveston make sure to check out the East End Historic District. It’s fantastic for a leisurely walk through the streets while admiring all the grandiose mansions. While you’re at it stop into the Sunflower Bakery and Café and grab a lemon bar or eclair to go. Their pastries are made fresh daily and locals rave about their lemon bars.
The Grand 1894 Opera House
Known as “The Official Opera House of Texas” the Grand is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The Grand withstood many storms and hurricanes throughout history. It is now seen as a testament to the resilience of Texans.
The events hosted by The Grand change depending on the season. During the cooler winter months locals and tourists alike can enjoy the Holiday Market. It’s a place where vendors host their own pop up shops showcasing their handmade crafts. There’s even free cookie decorating for the kids!
Looking for things to do in Galveston on a date night? Couples can experience a ton of different events throughout the year from food and wine tastings to art shows. Make a night out of it by checking out a timeless symphony. The opera house is also available for private parties, meetings, and receptions.
Well there you have it! We’ve completed our list of the top 13 things to do in Galveston.
We hope you enjoy your time in this historically beautiful city.
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