Things to do in Galveston, TX

Your Galveston travel guide for the best vacation.
aerial view of galveston, tx coastline

It’s time to get away from it all in Galveston, Texas. Located on Galveston Island along the Texas Gulf Coast, and just an hour’s drive from Houston, it’s not hard to enjoy life on island time—the warm Gulf of Mexico waves lapping by the shore, fresh seafood, and thrilling water parks to rev up adventure. The city is known for its coastal appeal, but there’s more to this beach town than meets the eye. Between a history of sailing, natural art, protected seaside habitats, and eye-catching 1890s historic architecture, there’s plenty of fun to be had on and off the water.

We asked our team at Vacasa for their must-see spots when vacationing in Galveston. Here are our recommendations for where to eat and stay, what to see, budget-friendly activities, and even fun things to do with kids. Book your stay, pack your bags, and get ready to relax—we’ve got your Galveston travel plans on lock.

Places to eat

Start your day under the wide Texas skies with a stop at Pearland Coffee Roasters for a cozy atmosphere, in-house roasted coffee, and tasty seasonal favorites. As you’re vacationing by the coast, it only makes sense to soak up as much sunshine and ocean views as you can. Hit up happy hour at The Spot—which is famed for its five different venues all at one beachfront location, as well as its refreshing drinks. For dinner, grab a seat with a view at Miller’s Seawall Grill and dig into some fresh seafood.

What to see

It’s not a trip to Galveston without spending some time at the ocean. For wide, sandy shorelines and family fun, head to Stewart Beach, but if you’re up for a unique and relaxing view of the ocean, settle into the sound of waves crashing against the seawall at Babe’s Beach. If you’re looking for a little more activity in the water, Galveston Water Adventures offers dolphin cruises and adrenaline-pumping Jet Boat Thrill Rides. Downtown Galveston is home to a variety of shops and restaurants located along the Strand District, as well as a collection of stand-out museums including Moody Mansion Museum, the Bryan Museum, and Bishop’s Palace for a glimpse into stunning historic architecture and artifacts.

Activities for kids

If you’re traveling with kids, you’re in luck—the fun has just begun. Galveston Island’s Historic Pleasure Pier is one of the city’s most iconic attractions, and you can enjoy it firsthand through the water coasters, aerial high swings, and carnival games throughout the amusement park. Kids will also love Moody Gardens, which features a Discovery Museum, Rainforest Pyramid, and Aquarium Pyramid (with an incredible underwater tunnel). Stop by the Texas Seaport Museum and let your little ones explore 1877 Tall Ship Elissa—one of the oldest ships that still sets sail today.

Activities on a budget

Make your trip worry-free by enjoying the city on a budget. Time your trip to Galveston just right and catch a free live music event or movie night at Saengerfest Park. The park features a giant chessboard and benches, and hosts a flurry of free activities throughout the year, where all you need to do is bring a seat. For something a little unusual, take a free, self-guided tour through the Tree Sculpture Tour, a collection of wooden masterpieces made from trees destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Ike. Relax in the coastal breeze at Galveston Island State Park. The fee for admission is a budget-friendly $5 per person and the parks and hiking trails make an excellent place to spend the day amongst the island’s natural habitats.

bedroom in Galveston Texas with glass windows and a sunny beach in the background

Where to stay

Leave your troubles in the sand with Galveston vacation rentals. Search by amenities like ocean views, direct beach access, or pools and hot tubs. Whether it’s a home in downtown Galveston or oceanfront condo by the Gulf Coast, this stunning landscape is best enjoyed with loved ones and all the comforts of home.

Unwind on island time with a Galveston vacation rental

Galveston travel guide FAQ

Galveston Beach rests just an hour’s drive from the bustling city of Houston—making it the perfect beach day trip to add to your vacation or an ideal weekend getaway for local Texans.

While the most popular beach on the island may be its namesake, Galveston Beach, other local favorites include Stewart Beach and Babe’s Beach. Looking for a quieter shoreline for your trip? Pull up a chair at Jamaica Beach, located along the interior West Bay, or Pirate Beach, for cute coastal neighborhoods and beautiful beaches—without the crowds.

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