15 Historic Galveston Island Sites Everyone Should See

Incorporated in 1839, Galveston Island quickly became the most active port west of New Orleans and the state's largest city.

The city’s economy thrived so much that The Strand was known as the "Wall Street of the South." Galveston stands today as living history – a place where remnants of the past come to life through our architecture, museums, churches and more!

pictured: Bishop's Palace

15 Island Heritage Sites Everyone Needs to See

1. Bishop’s Palace

Galveston's grandest and best-known building, the Bishop's Palace, is an ornate delight of colored stone, intricately carved ornaments, rare woods, stained-glass windows, bronze dragons and other sculptures, luxury materials and furnishings, and impressive fireplaces from around the world (including one lined with pure silver!).

2. Moody Mansion

Restored to its turn of the century splendor, the 28,000 square-foot, four-story Moody Mansion was completed in 1895. Today, guests of the home visit 20 rooms on a tour that depicts a powerful Texas family's home life. The Moodys established one of the great American financial empires.

Heritage Sites

Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark, which has also been designated one of America's Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Walk along ELISSA’s decks and imagine the days when daring sailors challenged the world’s oceans.

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4. The Bryan Museum

Pay a visit to The Bryan Museum, formerly the Galveston Orphans Home, to browse the most extensive collection of southwestern artifacts in the world (including the sword used to capture Santa Anna). The 20,000 square foot property features exhibit spaces and lush, manicured grounds and has become a favorite Texas destination to many.

Juneteenth Marker

Not only was it the first house to ever be built on Broadway Boulevard, but it was also the first mansion to be built on the island and one of the first private brick residences in Galveston. In the front yard of the home, you can find a statue of U.S. Major General Gordon Granger, which commemorates his reading of the emancipation proclamation from the balcony of Ashton Villa on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth).

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6. Broadway Cemeteries

Broadway Cemeteries is composed of seven separate cemeteries. The site occupies six city blocks and has a vast collection of monuments, vaults, and stone markers that punctuate the cemetery's overall landscape. During the spring, be sure to stop by and admire the beautiful yellow wildflowers that take over!

7. East End Historic District

Designated a National Historic Landmark, this 50-block district's architecture features a variety of styles and periods, including Greek Revival style homes built in the 1850s. Rent a bike, golf cart or carriage ride and explore this fantastic area full of impressive dwellings. Do not forget to keep your eye out for the Tree Sculptures, most of which are on the properties of these homes!

You can explore thousands of rare and fascinating objects from around the world as part of Rosenberg Library's artifact collection.

8. The Grand 1894 Opera House

This landmark serves as the "Official Opera House of the State of Texas." The site of several world premiere theatre productions, The Grand is a historical treasure of the Gulf Coast. It has an extraordinary place in the history of our community and many of our residents' lives.

Heritage Sites

This beautiful library located near Downtown Galveston is the oldest public library in continuous operation in Texas. Here you can explore thousands of rare and fascinating objects from around the world as part of their artifact collection. Each month they display a "Treasure of the Month."

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10. Galveston Naval Museum + SS Selma

Gain a unique memory at the Galveston Naval Museum of being on the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine that sank a Japanese aircraft carrier involved in the Pearl Harbor attacks, or the USS Stewart, the only Edsall-class destroyer escort preserved in the United States. Take a glance off the Houston Ship Channel, and you'll also see the SS Selma: the only permanent and prominent shipwreck along the channel.

11. Star Drug Store

Called “the Oldest Drug Store in Texas,” Star Drug features Deli fare and an old-fashioned soda fountain, and food is served at a U-shaped counter in a vintage setting.

Heritage Sites

St. Mary Cathedral was dedicated on Nov. 26, 1848. St. Mary Cathedral was named a Texas state historic landmark in 1968 and a national historic landmark in 1973. In 1979, in recognition of the Cathedral’s importance to the community, as well as the historical impact it had on Catholicism in the state of Texas, Pope St. John Paul II elevated St. Mary Cathedral to the status of a minor basilica.

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13. Michel B. Menard House

One of the founders of the City of Galveston, Michel B. Menard, arrived in Texas in 1829. The house, built in 1838 and the oldest on the island, is in the Greek revival style. The furniture and furnishings, with few exceptions, all date from the first half of the 19th century.

14. Texas Heroes Monument

This towering monument along the city’s main thoroughfare was chosen by Henry Rosenberg to honor the memory of those who served in the 1836 Texas Revolution. It measures 72 feet in height and has a granite base. The bronze figures were cast in Rome, Italy.

Heritage Sites

Built in 1911 for the then-exorbitant cost of $1 million, the hotel located at 2024 Seawall Blvd. has been intertwined in the island’s history for generations. The “Queen of The Gulf” was added to the list of Historic Hotels of America in 1994 and remains an elegant, vibrant destination for travelers from around the world.

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The Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (GICVB) is the official destination marketing organization for Galveston Island, Texas.