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Home > Texas Cities > Galveston > Galveston Attractions

Galveston Means Sun, Surf and History
 
Galveston Overview
Spend the day at a sun-filled beach, venture into a tropical rainforest, experience life on an offshore rig or explore a World War II naval display. Do all this and much more on Galveston Island. Galveston Island offers a wide variety of activities for every age and is a great place to spend a day or a vacation.

Here is a rundown of some of the top attractions on Galveston Island:

• Aerial Tours are offered at Scholes International Airport, located at 2115 Terminal Drive. Tours last 30 minutes to one hour and include a run down the beach over the ship channel and on to Bolivar peninsula. The return trip flies over UTMB and Pelican Island as well as the Bishop's Palace, Sacred Heart Church, downtown Galveston, Galveston Bay and the causeway bridge. As the pilot circles to land at the airport, passengers get a fantastic view of Moody Gardens. For more information call 409-744-0089 or call Evergreen Aviation at 409-740-0231.

• Carnival Cruise Lines offers year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from Galveston on the 1,486-passenger "Celebration." Four-day cruises call at Playa del Carmen/Cozumel, Mexico while the five-day cruises feature two ports of call: Cozumel and Calica/Cancun, Mexico. The four-day cruises operate Thursday to Monday and the five-day cruises depart on alternate Mondays and Saturdays. Both offer "Fun Days" at sea. Galveston is Carnival's first Texas port. For information, visit www.carnival.com.

• The Colonel Paddlewheeler, docked at Moody Gardens, is an 800 passenger authentic reproduction of an 1800s paddlewheeler offering day and evening cruises on Offatt's Bayou. The captain narrates the day cruises and the evening dinner cruises feature a band. Day cruises are at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Dinner cruises board at 7 p.m. and cruise from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. For information, call 409-740-7797, 888-740-7797, www.moodygardens.com.

• Galveston Island Duck Tours provides a fun family tour lasting about 90 minutes from a pickup location at 21st & Seawall Blvd. The company's special vehicle travels on land and in water throughout Galveston, including Offatt's Bayou (in the water) and The Strand National Historic District. During the Duck ride, riders will enjoy a humorous, informative tour given by their experienced captains. For information call 409-621-4771.

• Galveston Island Ferry, located on Hwy 87 (Ferry Road), continues to be one of Galveston's most popular attractions. Riders can park and ride the ferry or drive their vehicle aboard the ferry. Ferries run approximately every fifteen to twenty minutes and are free. After midnight, they run once each hour until 5:30 a.m. For information call 409-763-2386.

• Fixed rail trolley cars can be boarded at the Galveston Island Trolley stops located at 2100 Seawall or 2016 Strand. Built in a turn-of-the-century style similar to those used in Galveston from the late 1800s to 1938, the trolleys provide a unique mode of transportation from Galveston's Seawall to The Strand Landmark Historic District, Postoffice Street Arts & Entertainment District and Pier 21. The trolley operates from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during October to March. During April to September, it operates from 8:50 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 8:50 a.m. to 8:20 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information call 409-797-3900, www.islandtransit.net.

Did You Know ...
  • Galveston Island is located on the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles South of Houston.
  • Galveston Island is a barrier reef island that averages 2 miles in width, offering 32 miles of Gulf Coast beaches.
  • Galveston Island offers temperate weather year-round, averaging 57°F in the winter months and 81°F in summer months.
  • Galveston Island has four historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places, which include The Strand National Historic Landmark District, East End Historic District, Silk Stocking District and Central Business District.
  • Galveston Island is home to three National Historic Landmarks including the Tall Ship Elissa, East End and The Strand and has approximately 1,500 historic buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Galveston Island has 14 museums and historic homes open to the public for tours.
  • Galveston Island’s Strand National Historic Landmark District/Downtown area offers more than 100 shops, restaurants and art galleries conveniently located within 36 square blocks.
  • Galveston Island has more than 20 art galleries on the Strand, Pier 21, and in the Postoffice Street Entertainment District.
  • Galveston Island was second only to Ellis Island as an immigration station.
  • Galveston has the second largest historic preservation group in the nation. The Galveston Historical Foundation celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1996.
Source: Information in this report is courtesy of the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (888-425-4753 or www.galvestoncvb.com). In Galveston, visit the GICVB at 2428 Seawall Blvd.
• The Great Storm in Pier 21 Theater (Pier 21 and Harborside Drive), gives visitors a glimpse of the devastating 1900 Storm through a multi-image documentary experience. The 27-minute story gives actual accounts from diaries and letters of survivors during and after the storm. “The Great Storm” alternates with “The Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte. The theater is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 409-763-8808.

• Gulf Greyhound Park is located off I-45 at exit 15 in LaMarque. The world's top greyhound racing facility is just fifteen minutes from Galveston. See the country's top greyhounds race at up to 45 miles per hour with races every 12 to 15 minutes. The track offers four levels of air-conditioned comfort and Texas' largest restaurant. The track is open year-round. Call 1-800-ASK-2WIN.

• Another popular attraction on the Island is Galveston Harbour Tours, at Pier 22, providing a 45-minute narrated boat tour of the oldest seaport in Texas. Guests get a close up view of the sugar, banana, cotton and sulfur docks; the Grain Elevator; and the "Mosquito Fleet" shrimp boats along the Wharf. Harbour Tours also offer a special Dolphin Watch Tour and birding excursions. For reservations call 409-765-1700.

• Visit the endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtle head start facility at Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Research Center, near 4700 Avenue U. The facility is operated through the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service. The Center is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. For an appointment call 409-766-3670.

• One of Galveston's most popular attractions is Moody Gardens (One Hope Blvd.). Moody Gardens features a 10-story, 40,000 square-foot Rainforest Pyramid, housing thousands of exotic plants, birds, butterflies and fish, offering an incredible tropical environment complete with waterfalls, cliffs, caverns, wetlands and forests. The IMAX 3D Theater will keep you jumping out of your seat and the experience is so real you'll reach out to touch what seems to be just inches away.

Palm Beach offers a white sand beach with a blue lagoon featuring a 30-foot Yellow Submarine with octopus tentacle slides, a periscope and water guns for the kids. The Bat Cave, located in the Rainforest Pryamid, is the largest bat exhibit in the Southwest.

Moody Gardens's Discovery Pyramid opened in June 1997. The museum hosts spectacular traveling exhibits from around the country on a rotating basis. Guests can satisfy their hunger for knowledge with live interactive demonstrations of remarkable science experiments. The lower level of the Discovery Museum houses The Ridefilm Theater, taking guests on a fascinating adventure ride that combines state-of-the-art graphics and computer animation.

Also at Moody Gardens is the Aquarium Pyramid. It features 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and nearly two million gallons of water. The 1.5-million gallon Aquarium showcases the waters of the North Pacific, Edge of the Antarctic, the tropical Pacific's Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, and the colorful Caribbean. The Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world. For information, call 800-582-4673, www.moodygardens.com.

• The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is located at Pier 19. Visitors can step aboard an offshore rig and experience how oil and gas is produced offshore. Videos, interactive displays and models take patrons to offshore locations all over the world. The Center includes a ten-minute video on the history of offshore drilling. Summer hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and winter hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For information call 409-766-STAR, www.oceanstaroec.com.

• Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy, opened in 1904 and is recognized as Texas' first public library. The library offers historical exhibits, artwork and archives relating to early Texas history and a complete library collection and services. The Library is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Galveston & Texas History Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information call 409-763-8854.

• Seawolf Park, on Pelican Island via Seawolf Parkway (51st Street), was built on an immigration station site and offers a three-story pavilion with a view of Galveston harbor, picnic sites, a playground area and a lighted fishing pier. A World War II submarine (the USS Cavalla), a destroyer escort (the USS Stewart), and other military hardware are open for tours. Seawolf Park is available for company picnics, school field trips and private parties. The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk. For information call 409-744-5738.

• The See-Wall Mural spans from 27th Street to 61st Street and Seawall Blvd. The mural is 14,760 feet long and was created by 14,000 volunteers and 8,500 area school children. The scenes depict real marine life, birds and native scenes around Galveston and were designed by local artists Peter Davis, Mike Janota and Jane Young.

• The Treasure Isle Tour Train offers visitors a 90-minute tour of the Island, highlighting attractions and unique sites. The train operates daily, weather permitting. For a schedule call 409-765-9564.

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