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New Attractions, Festivals and More to Boost Your Next Visit to the Beach
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.
From new hotels, attractions and plenty of festivals, Galveston offers some enticing reasons to visit the island for a quick summer getaway or longer vacation.
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. www.hotellucine.com
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 family resort Moody Gardens, complement a visit to its popular Aquarium Pyramid or Rainforest Pyramid with the Discovery Pyramid’s 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.
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 May 12-13 at Moody Gardens. 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. (While in town, be sure to visit the new exhibit And Still We Rise…Galveston’s Juneteenth Story at Ashton Villa or take the Freedom Walk Tour). Other major events not to miss include the Moody Gardens Air, Car & Boat Show
Aug. 11-13 and the 36th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition Aug. 12-13.
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 summer time 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. 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. Meanwhile, 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.
With Galveston sporting a brand new cruise terminal at Pier 10, the island is offering more cruise options for those looking to set sail. Currently, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian and Disney offer cruises from 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, try The Tremont 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).