Take a Tour of Galveston Island’s Ghostly and Grisly History

New True Crime Tour Aimed to Draw Thrill Seekers

The season for thrills and chills is quickly approaching and Galveston Island’s ghostly history makes it one of the top destinations in the country for “haunted” travel. Visitors here can tour a haunted hotel, storied harbor, cemeteries and Victorian mansions. This year, there’s a new tour to add to the spooky mix: Thunder & Blood.

The Galveston Historical Foundation introduced this tour of the Historic Strand District that recounts many of the famous and infamous crimes and murders from Galveston’s past. Taken from newspaper and first-person accounts, Thunder & Blood walking tours along the Strand are led by an authorized representative of the Galveston Historical Foundation and feature researched stories and histories of The Strand National Historic Landmark District.

Galveston also has many sites that are considered haunted, including an 1867 building that served as a morgue after the 1900 Storm – still the deadliest storm in U.S. history having killed an estimated 8,000 Galveston residents. The building now houses Haunted Mayfield Manor – a year-round haunted house attraction in downtown Galveston. The haunted house embraces the spooky history of the building’s past while providing guests with a psychologically thrilling experience.

Also embracing its reported haunting is the island’s 112-year-old Grand Galvez, which has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Stories and on the Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab for its paranormal significance. The hotel, offering year-round ghost tours, is said to be haunted by a “Ghost Bride” who reportedly has been seen in room 501 and in the hotel’s west turret. Legend has it that the bride hanged herself in the west turret during the mid-1900s after hearing reports that her fiancé had died at sea. Tragically, her fiancé eventually returned to the hotel looking forward to a marriage that would never be. Visitors can learn more about her and other haunted happenings when they book a tour at the Galvez with Melissa Hall, the “Ghostess of Galveston.”

The Galveston Historical Foundation, which manages many of the island’s well-preserved historical sites and Victorian mansions, offers ghost tours throughout October. Many of the island’s historic places have ghost stories attached to them as Galveston has been home to epidemics of disease, war, fires, storms and many merciless pirates, including the infamous Jean Laffite whose lavish and lawless den of thieves was the island’s first European settlement. Galveston visitors can enjoy Haunted Harbor Tours in Galveston Bay and Galveston Ghost Stories in the city’s oldest home, the 1838 Menard House.

“Many, many people have lived and died by these waters, and perhaps some of the dead still reside here,” said Dwayne Jones, executive director of the Galveston Historical Foundation. “We invite our guests to listen to the stories and decide for themselves. But you don't have to believe in ghosts to know that the dead are a presence on this island.”

Historic cemeteries are another big draw for visitors seeking the supernatural. Indeed, Galveston has been described as a cemetery with its own beach. Several companies offer tours of the oldest burial places on the island.

Island ghost tour operators include:

Ghost Tours of Galveston

Discover the dark side of Galveston on one of these ghost tours. Guests can opt for a Ghost Tour on the Strand, Galveston Cemetery Ghost Tour or a Restless Spirits Tour. www.ghosttoursofgalvestonisland.com

Haunted Mayfield Ghost Tours

Guides take visitors on a walk through dark alleys and around hidden corners during these downtown Galveston ghost tours. Expect to hear stories of ghostly residents believed to continue to haunt the area. www.galvestonhauntedhouse.com

Ghost Walks and Cemetery Tours

Author and historian Kathleen Maca takes visitors through Galveston’s historic cemeteries introducing them to colorful characters from Galveston’s past, including murder victims, movie stars, military men and women and more. www.kathleenmaca.com

Historic Galveston Ghost Tours

Historic Galveston Ghost Tours are led by members of academia and are designed to educate, entertain and scare participants. An added bonus is a tour of Galveston’s fabled Red Light District illuminating the area’s scandalous history. www.historicgalvestonghosttours.com

For a listing of Halloween-themed events, go to www.visitgalveston.com and search “haunted.”

About Galveston Island

Galveston Island is a historic beach town located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles from Houston. The island is best known as a vacation destination, offering 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family attractions, Texas’ premier cruise port and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, including several National Historic Landmarks. Galveston Island is the birthplace of Juneteenth and home to popular amusements such as, Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, as well as a variety of museums and recreational activities from surfing to birding. For more information on Galveston Island visit www.visitgalveston.com or call 1-888-GAL-ISLE.