Galveston, So Much More than the Beach, An Architecture-Lover’s Dream

Learn about Galveston Island's architecture and more from an avid traveler from Austin, Texas.

The author of this article, Stella, is a mom, wife, therapist, passionate Austinite, obsessive old-house lover, and the owner of @CharmingAustinTexas, an Instagram account dedicated to all things architecture. Read on to hear about her recent visit to Galveston Island.

Galveston Island really stole our hearts this past month! While it is a lovely beach town filled with amazing seafood and beautiful ocean views, it is SO MUCH MORE! Specifically, it’s an architecture lover's DREAM.

When I started my Instagram account, @CharmingAustinTexas, over a year ago, I wanted to focus on unique, charming homes in the Austin area, but I always knew that if I could get down to Galveston, I’d be able to showcase one of the largest concentrations of historic, Victorian architecture in the United States. That was a little dream of mine and last month, we made that happen.

We started our adventure by arriving in Galveston on a Friday afternoon and heading straight to Seawall Blvd for some much-anticipated seafood - bring on alllll the fresh fish and fried hush puppies for this Central Texas family of four! A late lunch with drinks overlooking the ocean was the perfect start to our trip.

Bonus - I immediately spotted the cutest little beachside bungalow with octopuses painted all over it. Who doesn’t dream of the beach house life surrounded by delicious restaurants and cute shops? Sign me up now, please!

We then strolled across the street to explore the beach with our kiddos in tow and they absolutely loved playing in the sand, running alongside the ocean while gathering seashells, and exploring the gorgeous rock piers.

We could have stayed for hours galavanting along the beach with Pleasure Pier as our backdrop, but we soon headed to the Strand District, to check-in to our hotel, The Tremont House.

The Tremont House - WOW. I had read about this hotel prior to staying there and as a history/architecture buff, I was more than thrilled that we were getting the opportunity to stay in such a gorgeous piece of Galveston history.

The original Tremont House was built the same year that Galveston was founded (1839) but was destroyed by a fire in 1865.

After rebuilding the second Tremont House in 1872, the 1900 Storm left the area in ruins and the hotel was soon demolished.

Finally, in 1981, the current Tremont House (a former dry-goods mercantile, built in 1879) was transformed into the newest version of this classic hotel and WOW, does she impress!

Beyond the breathtaking beauty and history of the hotel, the location is perfect for any Galveston trip, but specifically a trip with two small children.

We were able to easily walk (and stroller-ride!) to restaurants and shops - Mom and Dad even felt like we were out on the town with all the live music and cute patios.

We took the girls to La King’s (a MUST for adults and children alike) and ate our weight in taffy and ice cream. The area is filled with unique, family-owned businesses showcasing the sweetest treasures - the perfect place for Christmas shopping!

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Another must-do when traveling with kiddos (and for adults too!) is Pleasure Pier, where we won the girls their first carnival prizes. (Thank you Pleasure Pier for not making that feat impossible, dare I even say easy?) We all remember the sheer joy of winning a carnival prize and I must say, I felt it all over again as an adult!

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We also visited the Rainforest Exhibit at Moody Gardens where we were able to hang with monkeys and tropical birds in a jungle fit for the Amazon! This was a favorite for both parents and babes alike.

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Oh and I can’t forget the simple, yet childhood magic of a (FREE) ferry ride along the harbor where we saw TONS of dolphins - another childhood dream fulfilled!

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Throughout our little getaway, we explored the stunning architecture and various historic districts within Galveston. There is a multitude of historically significant homes in the city, from Bishop’s Palace to Ashton Villa (the first brick home in Texas) and many, many more.

I can’t fully express my love for ALL things Galveston architecture - it’s a treasure trove of loveliness. I spent my mornings strolling the streets of the East End, the Silk Stocking District, and the Strand District. Coffee and camera in hand, with every single structure offering up unique beauty and a story all its own.

Among Texas’ “firsts” (there are over 100 in Galveston), the city boasts Texas’ first bank and post office. This lover of old houses and history truly found a little piece of heaven in Galveston, Texas. With this charming destination only 3 hours away from our Austin home, we already can’t wait till next time!


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Stella @CharmingAustinTexas

Stella is a mom, wife, therapist, passionate Austinite, obsessive old-house lover, and the owner of @CharmingAustinTexas, an account dedicated to all things architecture.

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