The Playground of the South, and the Ellis Island of the West, Galveston Island is truly a vacation destination for everyone. It’s a charming Southern retreat and just 50 miles from Houston.
When you think of Galveston, you might think of the beach, but it offers so much more. Today, Galveston has been named one of the best beach towns in the country. It has amazing architecture, a rich history, first-rate accommodations and restaurants, and unique attractions. This Texas island offers an endless number of ways to enjoy your next Gulf Coast getaway.
Literally built over the Gulf of Mexico’s rolling waves, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is truly a one-of-a-kind attraction on the Gulf. We loved this iconic place that features waterfront fun and entertainment. The pier showcases family-oriented rides, midway games, a wide selection of food, heart-pounding thrill rides, an old-fashioned midway illuminated by vibrant neon lights, and the aroma of pizza, hamburgers, and funnel cake… all this on a giant pier over the Gulf. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is a must—there’s no other destination like it on the entire Gulf Coast.
Monthly, this creative and festive community comes together in celebration. Sunny days and mild nights make Galveston Island the perfect place to enjoy festivals all year long. The Tall Ships Festival is just one of many annual festivals and celebrations, and we were lucky enough to see the epic 2023 Tall Ships Galveston Festival. This is where they host tours of participating historic ships, special events, excursions, music, food, and family fun.
The festival was kicked off with the grand entrance of the Tall Ships in an impressive “Parade of Sail.” This was a surreal sight, seeing these historic vessels cruising near the shoreline in the Gulf of Mexico. It was proudly led by the 1877 ELISSA, one of only three ships of her kind in the world to still sail actively. Elissa serves as the Official Tall Ship of Texas, a National Historic Landmark.
If you love historical hotels, as I do – you will swoon over The Grand Galvez, known as “The Queen of the Gulf.” I certainly felt like a queen staying here. It was established in 1911 and is the only grand historic beachfront hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast. A multi-million-dollar renovation was just completed at the 112-year-old Galveston beachfront hotel. The 220-room resort hotel is a historic landmark and is stunning! And, in my opinion, it has one of the best Sunday Brunch’s in the state of Texas. The Grand Galvez’s new owners have introduced a feeling of luxury and sophistication with its exceptionally elegant designs. The property is soon to be part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. This magnificent hotel is worthy of its own article.
While the 32 miles of beaches are not to be missed, Galveston is so much more…it’s full of art, fun attractions, historic architecture, chic boutiques, fresh seafood, and festivals galore—all tucked within a quaint Texas Gulf Coast barrier island.