There is something about an island that allows us to really relax. Whether it is the physical distance from the real world, the laid-back atmosphere, or the powers of the sun, an island escape is one of the best types of vacations. You don’t need to go far to achieve this type of bliss — just head to Galveston Island off the coast of Texas. With 32 miles of beaches, there will be plenty of opportunities for sunbathing. To complete the picture, find your dream beachfront villa on VacationRentals.com.
The Great Outdoors
It is important for a Galveston travel guide to tell potential visitors that this island offers great weather all year long. If it’s freezing in the north, you can still plan a trip to Galveston and enjoy the great outdoors. Popular activities here include fishing, sailing, water skiing, playing beach volleyball, and surfing.
Galveston Island is also a great place to learn something new. If the above list of activities sounds interesting to you but you’ve never given them a try, go ahead and take lessons during your vacation. There are designated beaches for surfers where you can take a lesson, first on the beach, and then in the water.
A Day on the Boat
A trip to Galveston Island can be full of trying new things, including fishing. There is no better place to cast your first line; in fact there are more sports fishermen here than on any other part of the Texas coastline. This is because more than 100 species of fish are caught along this coast on a regular basis including trout, flounder, mackerel, red snapper, and more. Many experienced fishermen plan an entire trip to Galveston just to try their luck. There are many fishing charters available here, whether you want to give it a shot in the bay or in the Gulf of Mexico. When you’re out on the boat, keep your eyes peeled for birds. Galveston is a birding paradise; there are an incredible range of species here.
More Activities in Galveston
There is so much to do here that it would be easy for a Galveston travel guide to omit something. Families will have a great time at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark or getting competitive playing a game of volleyball on one of the courts at East Beach or Stewart Beach. Don’t miss out on the killer sunsets in Galveston; one of the best places to watch them is from the seawall lining the Gulf of Mexico.
Adults will also find plenty of activities just for them in Galveston. Golf enthusiasts will be able to work on their game at one of two courses on the island: the Moody Gardens Golf Course and the Galveston Country Club. After a day on the golf course, it is possible to hit the spa for a relaxing massage or treatment. Art galleries, theaters, and even a symphony orchestra provide sophisticated entertainment in the evenings for adults.
Part of what makes Galveston so special is its great combination of attractions and festivals. This adds a little spice to a more typical beach vacation. One of the biggest attractions on the island is the Galveston Island Ferry. These free ferries depart every 15 to 20 minutes and provide incredible views. If you’re interested in local history, be sure to check out "The Great Storm," a multimedia presentation on the devastating storm that passed through here in 1900.
There is also plenty to do on a rainy day in Galveston. At the Aquarium Pyramid you can learn about the oceans of the world and in the Rainforest Pyramid, you will see countless tropical plants and exotic species of birds and fish. The Discovery Pyramid tackles the mysteries of science and Ridefilm Theater provides a new perspective on the Universe. Kids might also want to explore the Colonel, a 750-passenger nineteenth century ship. There are also many historic homes and museums to visit too.
If you can tear yourself away from the glorious beaches for an afternoon or two, there is a great deal of shopping that could do some serious damage to your credit card. Whether you love antiques, art, interesting gifts, or clothing you will find a shop full of temptations.
There are a few popular places where you could start your shopping day. The Historic Downtown Strand District is known for its quaint shops while Seawall Boulevard is known for its more contemporary offerings. For antiques check out Big House Antiques or Collectors Gallery. If you’re searching for women’s clothing, Back Bay Boutique 2 is the place to go. For a little bit of everything (be prepared to search!) check out Hendley Market.
Dining in Style in Galveston
You’ve already read about the incredible fishing waters around the island. Any good Galveston travel guide will drive home exactly what that means for dining: the freshest seafood around. While some island specialize in one specific type of seafood, part of the allure of Galveston is the sheer choice. Some restaurants will have a Cajun flair while others use Italian methods of cooking. With over 100 restaurants to choose from, you’ll never go hungry!
If you’re looking for a restaurant with a view, choose Benno’s on the Beach. Head to the Black Pearl to indulge in their oyster bar or to Clary’s for another amazing waterfront location. If you’re in the mood for a splurge, some of the fine-dining options in Galveston include 901 Postoffice, Bernardo’s, and Willie G’s.
Galveston is lucky to enjoy mild temperatures all year long. A good Galveston travel guide will specify that the island doesn’t endure the extremes like other parts of Texas. However, temperatures still are warm and the humidity is high, so if you struggle during these types of weather conditions, you will want to avoid the months of July and August even though it is a popular time to visit.
Many repeat visitors would say that the best time to plan a trip to Galveston Island is during the spring months of April, May, and June, or in the autumn months of October and November. During both of these time periods, temperatures are mild and you can enjoy the great outdoors. Crowds during these months aren’t bad either. Whenever possible, be sure to book your vacation rental as far in advance as you can.
Galveston is all about taking things a little slower. Visitors quickly adjust to the laid back pace of the island. To match this atmosphere, all you will need is casual clothes and a bathing suit. Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, a floppy hat, and sunglasses. There’s no need to bring along anything too fancy, but if you plan on enjoying the local fine dining, bring a nicer outfit or two. Those travelers that are planning a family vacation will want to bring some entertainment for the kids, both for the beach and for free time back in the vacation rental.
Galveston has been welcoming visitors on a getaway from nearby Houston and from every other part of the country for a long time now. Over those years, the island has learned what visitors want. Expect to be impressed with the high level of services from fine dining restaurants to grocery stores to pharmacies. All of your basic necessities will be taken care of including ATMs and convenience stores. In most cases, local services will also include a little bit of that famous Southern hospitality.
A Galveston travel guide wouldn’t be complete without talking about the local festivals. Mardi Gras is celebrated here in late February and early March. If you want to see the nightlife side of the island, this is the best time of year to visit. To attend a more educational event, check out the Dickens on the Strand event presented by the Galveston Historical Foundation. Parades, musicians, Victorian-era inspired crafts, and culinary treats all make this annual event special.
Galveston Island is located a one-hour drive along the coast from Houston. For this reason, it has been a very popular getaway destination for people from Houston, but as its reputation developed over the decades, is now a major attraction for people from around the country. It is best to rent a car from the Houston airport (if you aren’t driving from within Texas). The independence of a rental car will allow you to explore at your leisure.
If you’re planning a trip to Galveston, you are probably planning the ultimate beach getaway. Don’t short change yourself by staying in a hotel; plan the best vacation possible by choosing vacation rentals. The extra space, convenience of a kitchen, and lack of noisy neighbors will all come in handy during your precious relaxation time. When you wake up in the morning and gaze out at the Gulf of Mexico from your private balcony, you will be thankful you chose vacation rentals.