9 Great Off-Season Things to do With Teens on Galveston Island

Visiting Galveston Island during the shoulder season is a great way to enjoy all there is to offer without the larger summer crowds.

In the off-season, you can take advantage of great events, lower hotel rates, better deals on food and activities, and more.

Once classes resume, traveling with teens can be hard to get away for more than a few days at a time. There are always school schedules and work commitments to contend with - and let's not forget the various extracurricular activities they were involved in. But that's not to say that traveling with teenagers is impossible.

With a bit of planning and flexibility, it can be done and be a richly rewarding experience to share together. The key is to choose your destination wisely and ensure that there is enough to keep everyone occupied. A place with good weather, plenty of activities, and a relaxed atmosphere is ideal. This is why Galveston, Texas is such an excellent choice for a family vacation with teenagers.

Location

Galveston Island is just 50 miles southeast of Houston and offers 32 miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. It's a leisurely road trip destination, and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) is only about 30 minutes away for anyone looking to fly in.

Learn more about traveling to Galveston

Weather

Galveston visitors enjoy high temperatures in the mid-70s and 80s from September to November and low-50s and 60s December to March making it a great spot for a fall break or sunny winter vacation.

Learn more about Galveston's weather

Galveston Island offers a wide variety of activities that will appeal to teens. Here are a few ideas of what to see and do on your next visit:

1. Visit the Strand Historic District

The Strand is a National Historic Landmark District across from Galveston's harbor. It is a pedestrian-friendly area full of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and historic buildings. Teens will enjoy browsing the unique shops, people-watching, and grabbing a bite to eat.

Historic downtown square

The Strand in Historic Downtown Galveston

Beyond The Strand

If you or your family are interested in history, visit the harbor area near Pier 21. Here, you will find The Galveston Historic Seaport and the Tall Ship Elissa. Few people know that Galveston was considered the "Ellis Island of the West" and welcomed more than 133,000 immigrants to the United States. Galveston’s historical immigration story comes alive with a new experience: 'Ship To Shore,' which allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of the early immigrants, from the long sea voyage with its mix of hardships and wonders to the hustle and bustle arriving in the 1880s at Galveston, one of the busiest ports and booming cities in the United States.

The Tall Ship Elissa is a National Historic Landmark and one of only three remaining 19th-century tall ships. Visitors can take a tour of the ship, weather permitting.

The Ocean Star Offshore Rig Museum is also located in the harbor area. This unique museum is built on a retired jack-up drilling rig and tells the story of the drilling industry as well as the men and women who worked on these rigs.

Other notable areas of Downtown Galveston you won't want to miss include the Postoffice District and West Market (WeMa).

Learn more about Downtown Galveston here.

Off-Season Activities

Harbor tours are a great way to see Galveston Island from the water. Teens will love getting an up-close look at dolphins, cruise ships, and the Battleship Texas (docked in the harbor). Several tour companies are offering sightseeing, dolphin watches, sunset cruises, and more. Some of the most popular options include:

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Off-Season Activities

Galveston is known as one of the most haunted cities in America and there are several ghost tours to choose from. Teens interested in the paranormal will love exploring the island's dark history and learning about some of the most haunted places on the island. Just be sure to bring along your camera—you never know what you might capture on film! Some of the most popular ghost tours include:

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Off-Season Activities

This is a fun way to see Galveston Island if you don't want to walk everywhere or take your car. Carriage Haus Rentals offers 5- and 8-person electric golf cart rentals resembling vintage Model T Fords. Take a leisurely ride around the Island to see the sights. They are available to rent by the hour or day. Note: Teens are not allowed to drive but can ride as a passenger.

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5. Discover Each of Moody Gardens' Pyramids

Moody Gardens is a must-see for any visitors to Galveston Island, but it's especially fun for teens. Featuring three individually unique pyramid experiences - Aquarium, Rainforest, and Discovery - you could easily spend the entire day here.

Discovery pyramid moody gardens

The Aquarium Pyramid

Dive into the oceans of the world to visit one of the largest aquariums in the Southwest. This 1.5-million-gallon aquarium is teeming with creatures from tuxedo-clad penguins to seals and sharks, an amazing Jellyfish Gallery and thousands of tropical fish and more, with new and interactive opportunities all along the way.

A fun and awe-inspiring experience is wonderfully complemented with conservation messages that underscore the vital importance of the oceans. New exhibits inspire visitor interest and empathy and connect them to specific ocean habitats. Each ocean exhibit highlights different marine sanctuaries and different aspects of our relationship to the seas.

The Rainforest Pyramid

As you enter through a tree-top canopy entrance, you'll visit the rainforests of Asia, Africa and the Americas in a rare, up-close and interactive adventure with over 1,700 exotic plants and endangered animals that range from Giant Amazon River Otters to an ocelot, Komodo dragons and other reptiles. Saki monkeys, Cotton-top tamarins, and sloths roam freely while an array of birds fly between the trees as you walk the trails through the spacious enclosure!

The Discovery Pyramid

The third pyramid at Moody Gardens is a hands-on museum-like environment perfect for inquisitive minds. Teens can learn about the science of waves, make their own music, and even experiment with robotics. Exhibits rotate seasonally; learn more on the Moody Gardens website.

Learn more about Moody Gardens here.

Off-Season Activities

The Galveston Island Trolley is a great way to get around Galveston and see the sights. The historic rail streetcars have returned to island streets following Hurricane Ike and are just $1 to ride each way. Rubber-wheeled trolleys are also available at various locations around the island.

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7. Reel in a Catch of a Lifetime Fishing in Galveston

Galveston Island is known for its great fishing, so if you and your teens are looking to cast a line, head out to the gulf for a day of fishing. You can go deep sea fishing, try your hand at pier fishing, or even fish from the beach.

Popular Galveston Fishing Locations

8. Attend a Show at The Grand 1894 Opera House

If you are looking for some evening entertainment, The Grand 1894 Opera House is the perfect place to go.

This historic theater has been hosting shows since it opened in 1894 and today offers a variety of performances throughout the year, including music, dance, comedians, and more. Visit our Calendar of Events or check their website to see what might be playing during your visit.

9. Take a Self-Guided Public Art Tour
Off-Season Activities

Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, many mature oak trees were damaged and had to be cut down. Artists were brought in to turn the stumps into works of art. As you stroll around the island at your leisure, see how many different sculptures you can find!

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Off-Season Activities

The second self-guided tour/scavenger hunt is for the dozens of turtle statues found throughout Galveston. These adorable creatures were installed as a part of a community art project founded by Turtle Island Restoration Network and Clay Cup Studios. See how many of them you can find!

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Off-Season Activities

While traveling with teens, you’ll no doubt find yourself on the hunt for some great selfie spots. Galveston has a wealth of fun, eclectic public murals throughout the island, perfect for adding to your photo collection.

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Author

Nicky Omohundro Travel Blogger

Nicky Omohundro is the founder of LittleFamilyAdventure.com, a lifestyle and family travel blog that encourages families to have “No Child Left Inside.” The site focuses on getting families outdoors, family travel destinations, healthy food, and helping readers find their own adventure.

Nicky is based in Oklahoma City with her husband and 2 teenage children. In addition to her website, she works as a freelance writer for digital and print. You can often find her with a large cup of coffee in hand, hiking a trail, or at the local farmer's market.