7 Galveston Family Attractions that Are Off the Beach-en Path

In our experience, kids have no shortage of excitement when it comes to splashing through Galveston’s white-capped waves and playing in the sand.

But while the beach may summon you and your family to the island, it doesn’t have to be your exclusive adventure.

pictured: Galveston's family-friendly beaches

By far, Galveston is one of the best family destinations in Texas, mainly because there are so many gems outside of the beach. Whether it’s your first visit to Galveston or it's your favorite getaway, here are seven must-do family attractions to make your time on the island even more memorable:

1. Have a Penguin Encounter at Moody Gardens

Getting to meet a penguin in person is one of the coolest experiences Moody Gardens offers. In this 45-minute program, you can go behind the scenes of the penguin exhibit at the Aquarium Pyramid to interact with these playful birds to see them eat, play, and even create penguin art.

Family Attractions

This massive water coaster at Galveston’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark is rightfully named: MASSIV. The tallest in the world, this ride is 82 feet high with twists, turns, drops and splashes that span 926 feet – or about three football fields.

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3. Take a Dolphin Tour

Yes, there are dolphins in Galveston! And these playful creatures are almost always up for a photo-opp. Thankfully, the folks at Galveston Water Adventures will take you through Galveston Harbor on their 40-foot pontoon boat to see dolphins up close, and you'll learn about the island's historic seaport while you're at it.

The folks at Galveston Water Adventures will take you through Galveston Harbor on their 40-foot pontoon boat to see dolphins up close.

This famed three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship dates to 1877 and is far from a museum piece: it’s a functioning vessel available for tours and seasonal sailings. Located at the Texas Seaport Museum at Pier 21, a ride on the majestic ELISSA will leave an indelible imprint on even the most difficult to please teenagers in the family.

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5. Watch an Old-Fashioned Taffy-Making Demonstration

At La King’s Confectionery. This old-school candy shop is an absolute wonderland for anyone with a sweet tooth. Still, if you happen to be there when the guy who makes the salt water taffy is plying his trade, you'll be in for a real treat. Not only do you get to sample the fruits of his labor thanks to the practice of tossing taffy treats to onlookers, but you'll also get to see how the fascinating old-world method of making taffy actually works.

6. Go Kayaking with Artist Boat

Going on a kayak adventure with Artist Boat is a relaxing and fun way to experience the island’s lush Coastal Heritage Preserve off Galveston Bay. You can do a two-hour traditional kayak tour or a three to four-hour tour where art supplies and a plein-air watercolor paint lesson are provided while you create a souvenir to remember the beauty of your experience.

You'll get to see how the fascinating old-world method of making taffy actually works.

7. Take a Horseback Ride along the Coast (Summer Season)

I know I said Galveston has a lot more to offer than the beach, but that doesn’t mean the sunsets over the beach are any less breathtaking… especially on horseback. Thanks to the guides from Galveston Island Horse & Pony Rides, your family can travel the East Beach shoreline side-by-side to see the beautiful East End Lagoon teeming with wildlife on one end and a serene beachfront on the other.

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Visit Galveston

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