10 Reasons Galveston is the Perfect Summer Vacation Destination

From new experiences, thrilling attractions and special events, Galveston offers some enticing reasons to visit for your next summer getaway.

In the Texas summer, the heat is grounds enough to head south and hit the beach in Galveston. But this year, this popular pastime will come with plenty of perks beyond feeling the island’s cool breezes and sand between your toes.

1. Galveston Beach Parks are Open

While Galveston's beaches are open to visit year-round, the island’s largest public beach parks – Stewart Beach and East Beach – offer beach amenities during the summer months. Visitors to the beach parks can take advantage of restrooms, showers, beach chair rentals, volleyball courts, snack bars and other concessions.

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Stewart Beach is Galveston’s premier family-friendly beach park, named as one of the “10 Best Beaches for Families” by the Family Vacation Critic.

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If you’re looking for a good time, East Beach in Galveston, TX is your ultimate beach destination!

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Outdoor Recreation
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2. Expanded Galveston Cruise Adventures

With Galveston sporting a brand new cruise terminal at Pier 10, the island is offering more cruise options for those looking to set sail. The opening of the new state-of-the-art Royal Caribbean cruise terminal now allows for the cruise line to bring its largest ship - the Oasis class - to Galveston Island. Click here to learn more about this new cruise terminal.

Currently, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian and Disney offer cruises from Galveston.

New Royal Caribbean cruise terminal at Pier 10

Extend Your Cruise Vacation in Galveston

With amenities and attractions minutes from the harbor (and most cruises departing between 4 and 5 p.m.), you can easily add some Galveston fun to your cruise vacation – whether you have a half-day, full day or longer. Arriving a day or two early has its advantages, though.

Many of the island’s hotels offer port shuttle services and free parking during your cruise when you book at least a one-night stay. For a stay near the port, check out The Tremont House or Harbor House Hotel.

On the beachfront, try the San Luis Resort or Grand Galvez. For a stay on the West End, visit the Moody Gardens Hotel. (For a longer stay, check out Galveston’s many beachfront homes and vacation rentals).

3. Enjoy Galveston's Popular Attractions

Whether you’re a frequent visitor or making your first trip to the island, you’ll find Galveston has a great variety of attractions – from the thrills of the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park to the rich history of The Bryan Museum.

If you’re looking for a new experience, be sure to check out the recently opened Ship to Shore attraction at Galveston’s Historic Seaport.

At Moody Gardens family resort, enjoy a visit to its popular Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid or the Discovery Pyramid with new exhibits: Sharks in Depth and Planet Earth: Deep Sea Adventures. Or, visit Dinos Alive, which is open at Moody Gardens through Labor Day, featuring 12 giant animatronic dinosaurs that allow visitors to take an unforgettable journey through a Jurassic jungle.

For outdoors enthusiasts, the 2,000-acre Galveston Island State Park recently reopened after a three-year renovation that brought new campsites, a beach hiking trail and boardwalk, and a remodeled Nature Center to the park, among other amenities.

Popular Attractions

At Moody Gardens, visitors can experience a living rainforest with free-roaming animals at the Rainforest Pyramid, and one of the largest aquariums in the state at the Aquarium Pyramid, and a golf course are among numerous other attractions.

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Popular Attractions

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is one of the few spots in the world that has this many rides over water! You'll be flying over guests on the Pier, soaring over the Gulf of Mexico and anticipating your next ride!

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Popular Attractions

Schlitterbahn Galveston Waterpark features the most exciting collection of water rides in Texas and the Houston Area. Every member of your family will be thrilled by the large collection of water slides, lazy rivers, and water coasters

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Popular Attractions

The island’s many historic mansions and museums, such as The Bryan Museum and Bishop’s Palace, are also open throughout the season.

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4. Book The Beach: Resorts and Vacation Rentals

When it comes to planning your perfect getaway to Galveston, Texas, choosing where to stay can be a tough decision. While resorts offer a wide range of amenities and services, vacation rentals provide privacy and flexibility. Each option has its own unique benefits, making it important to weigh your options carefully.

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Galveston's collection of hotels and resorts are as diverse as they are plenty.

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Learn about local rental companies, tips for booking your stay, and search available homes before choosing a vacation rental in Galveston, TX.

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Galveston's Newest Beachfront Hotel is Coming

Sure to be a lively choice for a summer stay, Hotel Lucine is scheduled to open its doors this summer as Galveston’s newest beachfront hotel. Set to be a refined, modern revamp of a midcentury structure, Hotel Lucine will be a fully revitalized 61-room boutique hotel featuring a pool, rooftop bar with 180-degree Gulf views, and a restaurant anchored by James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Yu and celebrated restaurateur Bobby Heugel. The hotel’s low-slung, two-story layout and classic U-shaped courtyard will underscore the hotel’s intimate atmosphere and create a spirited environment for relaxing by the pool or sipping a cocktail.

5. Juneteenth Birthplace Celebrations and Other Festivals & Events

Galveston is known for its year-round festivals, and summertime brings some exciting events to enhance your time on the island. With one of the largest collections of Victorian architecture in the country, Galveston’s Historic Homes Tour offers the rare opportunity to tour several privately owned historic homes built throughout the 1800s and beyond. The event takes place the first two weekends in May (May 6-7 and May 13-14) and is hosted by the Galveston Historical Foundation. Meanwhile, foodies will love the Yaga’s Wild Game & BBQ Cookoff on May 12-13 at Moody Gardens. Other major events not to miss include the Moody Gardens Air, Car & Boat Show from Aug 11-13 and the 36th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition from Aug. 12-13.

Juneteenth

Heading into June, there is no better place to celebrate Juneteenth than in the birthplace of the holiday. Galveston was the location of the first Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 1865 when union soldiers rode through the island to announce freedom to one of the last groups of slaves in the United States. Galveston’s Juneteenth celebrations include various events throughout the days leading up to the holiday, including a Juneteenth festival, parade and picnic on June 17.

2217 Strand Suite 101
Galveston, Texas 77550

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59th St. & Ave. T 1/2
Galveston, Texas 77550

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2627 Avenue M
Galveston, Texas 77550

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There are future dates for this event.

2627 Avenue M
Galveston, Texas 77550

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2328 Broadway
Galveston, Texas 77550

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6300 Seawall Blvd
Galveston, Texas 77550

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5600 Seawall Blvd
Galveston, Texas 77551

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2222 28th St
Galveston, Texas 77550

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2601 Avenue H
Galveston, Texas 77550

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6. Historic Charm

While Galveston is known for its 32 miles of beaches, many parts of the island are reminiscent of a bygone era. Strolling or bicycling through one of Galveston’s four nationally recognized historic districts is a summertime pleasure off the beaten path. Within the island’s quaint neighborhoods, such as the East End Historical District and Silk Stocking District, colorful historic homes line the streets, featuring Victorian, Greek Revival, Queen Anne and other architectural styles dating back to the mid-1800s to early 1900s.

East End Historical District Homes

Cant-Miss Historic Sites

Galveston is home to several magnificent structures, such as the 1838 Menard House, 1859 Ashton Villa, 1880 Garten Verein, 1895 Moody Mansion and the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most important buildings in America. Click the corresponding block below to learn more about each of these historic sites.

Historic Downtown Galveston

The island’s historic downtown district is marked by its majestic iron-front Victorian buildings that house coastal-inspired shops, restaurants with outdoor patios, museums and other attractions.

a trolley in downtown Galveston

"The Strand" in Historic Downtown Galveston

The Victorian architecture of Strand Street, widely known as The Strand, makes for a charming stroll as you shop for unique finds or grab sweets at LaKing’s Confectionery. Saengerfest Park at 23rd and Strand is a free family park home to a life-size chessboard, Insta-worthy selfies in front of an iconic Galveston mural and regular live entertainment.

Be sure to also check out the district’s 20-plus art galleries, displaying fine art, sculpture and photography in beautifully restored historic buildings. Many can be found on Postoffice Street.

7. Reel in a Catch of a Lifetime

Whether you’re looking for a top-rated deep-water sportfishing experience or you simply want to enjoy a family-friendly fishing trip and teach your kids how to fish, Galveston has what you need for your fishing vacation.

Fishing Charters

With a variety of waterways to choose from, over 100 different species of fish, and an incredible selection of fishing charter companies, Galveston offers something for all levels of fishing experience. Fishing charters allow you to get out on the water and make the most of your time. Although fishing charter companies do vary, they usually provide local fishing experience, fishing equipment, and often other services such as lessons and photography. This means you don’t have to worry about logistics and can focus on having fun!

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Take a guided fishing trip in Galveston, TX.

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8. Endless Dining Options

Make sure to bring your appetite to Galveston Island. Our local chefs and restauranteurs are cooking up inspired dishes that will tempt any palette. From waterfront restaurants preparing the freshest seafood caught just off our coast to mouth-watering burgers and confections that will delight your sweet tooth, Galveston's restaurant scene will leave you craving more.

Dining & Nightlife

Posted 9/12/2023
by Visit Galveston

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Dining & Nightlife

Posted 3/1/2023
by Mellanie Perez

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Dining & Nightlife
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Dining & Nightlife

Posted 10/8/2023
by Visit Galveston

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9. Plenty of Free and Budget-Friendly Activities

There’s no need to spend an arm and a leg when you visit Galveston Island. There are plenty of free and inexpensive things to do both on and off the beach.

Activities

Posted 1/29/2024
by Visit Galveston

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Activities

Posted 7/1/2022
by Visit Galveston

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10) Save Up to 40% on Attractions

Galveston Island provides visitors with a special passport to adventure and savings with the Galveston Island Pass. The pass allows visitors to experience multiple Galveston attractions on one ticket and save 40% off regular admission prices.

Claim Your Galveston Island Pass

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Visit Galveston

Visit Galveston is the official destination marketing organization for Galveston Island, Texas.