Texas beaches are among the most popular destinations for family vacations. Yet, while spending hours jumping waves, soaking up the sun from a beach chair and swimming in the ocean are the main attractions, Galveston offers more than just a beach. From rollercoasters to electric bikes, here’s a fun overview of the top family-friendly vacation itinerary.
Do you want to stay on the Galveston Seawall or the famous Strand? If you opt for the seawall, historic Hotel Galvez is a beautiful and convenient option with a great pool. If you would like to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the downtown Strand, opt for The Quarters at Tremont House, an extended stay suite option. What I love about The Quarters is that, as a big family, we had plenty of room with a two-bedroom plus a foldout sofa in the living area. I also loved the full kitchen so that we could cook some meals. Great bedding, room to relax and a helpful valet made the family visit stress-free.
Right next door to The Quarters is Zipp-e Bikes where you can rent electric bikes. (It’s important that kids and adults wear helmets.) Also known as “e-bikes,” you can ride these bikes by pedaling, but to “flatten the hills” go faster or—if you’re just not in for a workout—you can use the throttle that engages the motor. It’s a super fun way to see town or the seawall. It’s only a mile to take the 19th St. bike lane to the seawall and you can even pick up groceries at Kroger and ride back. Join the growing bike culture in Galveston and join in on their E-bike Island Adventure Tour where you can see mansions on Broadway, old forts and the ship channel plus have a treat at the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory.
For some good old-fashioned fun, take your family on a stroll along Galveston’s historic Pleasure Pier. The nostalgically themed oceanside amusement park provides hours of entertainment. Try your hand along the Midway with games like Ring Toss, Lucky Duck and Balloon Pop. Ride the 100-foot tall Galaxy Wheel while colorful LED lights create a spectacular display. For thrill-seekers, the Pirate’s Plunge log ride that drops 40 feet and the 52-miles-per-hour Iron Shark Roller Coaster are not to be missed. Bumper cars, the teacup ride and a carousel are available for younger children.
From penguins to sharks to free-roaming monkeys, Moody Gardens has it all. Enjoy an authentic rainforest with the monkeys plus macaws, sloths and other endangered animals. Touch the underbelly of a stingray at the aquarium or take an hour-long cruise aboard a replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat. And, when it’s hot outside, the 4D movie might be just what you need.
You’re going to get really hungry with all this activity. When you’re at the Pleasure Pier or on the seawall, dine at BLVD Seafood. Start with the crabby crab cake (there’s only one) or share a bowl of seafood gumbo. Then move on to the Gulf Coast flat fish stack (broiled flounder, crab cake, pecans and Mornay sauce next to wild mushroom risotto and crisp green beans). Or, try a Seafood Sampler or a Southern fave, Flagship shrimp and grits. Pair dinner with a Galveston Island Brewing Tiki Wheat or a California wine. And finish off dinner with some chocolate mousse.
If you’re looking for a great dinner closer to The Strand, you’ll love Olympia Grill on Pier 21. At this classy waterside Mediterranean restaurant try the Papau’s Mix to start. For an entree, I recommend the mini combo pitas—gyro, chicken and shrimp. You can also indulge in other Greek favorites like falafel and lamb. All of these pair perfectly with a crisp chardonnay.
Did you know there are more shades of green than any other color? That is one of the fun facts families learn during an outing with Artist Boat. It’s a nonprofit that combines outdoor adventure, art and science to promote environmental awareness and preservation. A three-hour kayak adventure through the Coastal Heritage Preserve includes not only a lesson on coastal prairies, but also a stop for a watercolor lesson and painting time.
Want to improve your sandcastle building game? If so, take some lessons from the professionals. Galveston is hosting free sandcastle building lessons every Saturday morning until August 18th near the Steward Beach Pavilion.
And in Galveston, fireworks are not just for the Fourth of July. Every Sunday through early September the Galveston Island Park Board will provide visitors a magnificent firework display off the Seawall.
Cover photo Pleasure Pier Entrance. Courtesy photo