30 Awesome Things to do in Galveston – Plus More Tips, Like Where to Stay & What to Expect!

Galveston, TX is one our closest beaches and one of our favorite family road trip destinations! We like to venture down to the coast at least once a year, but we’ve been known to make the drive several times in under a year, too. Traveling to Galveston brings so much joy to my family and this destination holds such a special place in my heart. Growing up, I looked forward to our annual summer vacation to Galveston and I’ve kept the tradition going with my boys! Keep reading to learn more about these 30 awesome things to do in Galveston.

30 Awesome Things to do in Galveston

Be sure to click on each link for more information!

Go to the Beach

You can’t make the trip to Galveston without visiting the beach! We love spending the days splashing in the ocean and lounging under an umbrella while our boys play. There are several different beach areas in Galveston, the most popular seems to be along the Seawall Blvd.

Pleasure Pier

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, head to the Historic Pleasure right on the Seawall. There are restaurants, rollercoasters, rocking bands, and more! We love to go at nighttime when the sun goes down and the rollercoasters are all lit up with bright lights!

Rent Bikes

If you feel like a bike ride along the Seawall with views of the ocean next to you, then check out the four to six seater bike rentals right on the Seawall!

The Strand

The Strand is the downtown area of Galveston and known as the heart of the island. Here, you can find even more restaurants, bars, shopping and entertainment. I love walking along the streets, admiring the ornate buildings dating back to the 1800s.

Build a Sandcastle

For some reason, Galveston is the one place that I can build really good sandcastles! If you’re headed to the beach, bring some sand buckets and shovels for the kiddos! Be sure to check out the sandcastle competition if you’re visiting in August!

Shop at Murdoch’s

Murdoch’s is my favorite souvenir shop in the whole world! And I am being completely honest about this. This was one of my favorite shops to visit as a child and I love taking my boys here, too. They sell everything from beach gear to t-shirts, shoes to toys, and even alcoholic beverages! You may even come home with a hermit crab or two!

Go Crabbing

We have never found crabs at night like the ones we’ve caught here in Galveston! Grab a flashlight and head to the sand, you’ll be sure to find a few. If you wade in the waters, you might even stumble across some really big ones, so keep your eyes open!

Watch Dolphins

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Galveston and not seen at least one dolphin! We’ve watched them from our condo balcony, from the beach, and at dinner! Last weekend we watched them play in the bay right outside of the restaurant we were at (Fisherman’s Wharf).

There are also several different dolphin watching boat tours in the area, as well. Research shows the best time to spot dolphins in Galveston is June-September, but again we saw several in April!

LaKing’s Confectionery

If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, then look no further than LaKing’s Confectionery! From old fashioned sodas, to candy, to ice cream, they have it all. You can even watch salt water taffy being made here or try a new flavor if you’re feeling adventurous!

Fishing Pier

My boys have loved each time we’ve taken them fishing on the Pier! We haven’t been lucky enough to catch anything too big, but it’s always fun to watch the regulars around the pier reel in something!

Deep Sea Fishing

Galveston offers several deep sea fishing charters! It looks like so much fun, however I would be way too seasick to try this one out!

Historic Mansion Tours

I haven’t gone on a mansion tour since I was a kid, but I still remember the time we did this! These mansions are very impressive and well kept. I highly recommend a tour if you’re looking for something historical away from the hustle and bustle of the beach!

Ride a Trolley

For just a dollar (kids free), take a ride around Galveston on a trolley! There are two loops, one around downtown, the other travels from Stewart Beach to Moody Gardens!

Take Photos Around the Island

There are so many fun photo ops around Galveston! We love the Galveston postcard down near the Strand! The link above has several photo op recommendations for the best instagramable spots around the island!  

Pirates Legends of the Gulf Coast

This is a quick and fun activity for anyone that likes pirates! Here, you’ll learn all about the myths and legends of some of the pirates that were once in Galveston!

Moody Gardens

This is the perfect place to visit if there’s a rainy day at the beach or you’re recovering from a sunburn! Here you’ll find an aquarium, a rainforest, dining options, and more! We especially enjoyed the sharks, stingrays, and the jellyfish!

Eat Fresh Seafood

My favorite activity anywhere on the coast is eating fresh seafood! There are so many dining options in Galveston! Our favorite is Fisherman’s Wharf! We love to come here for dinner and take in the sunset and watch dolphins play in the bay!

Watch the Sunrise or Sunset

There is nothing better than a Texas sunrise or sunset! The link above has the best spots around Galveston to take one in!

5D Shark Attack Experience

My boys really enjoyed this a few years ago! I sat it out because I get super motion sick, but they had a blast. It also makes a fun photo op at the beach! This is located across the street from the Pleasure Pier and this is also where we purchased the tickets!

Watch a Cruise Ship Depart

Several cruise ships depart from the port in Galveston. Sunday is a popular day to watch the cruise ships depart. Head to the port area or grab an outdoor dinner and watch one set sail!

Go Surfing

We haven’t surfed in Galveston ourselves, but we’ve watched several try it out! We prefer to boogie board. Whether you surf or prefer to chill on a boogie board, the waves here in Galveston are excellent to ride!

Hunt for Seashells

If you visit Galveston, you’re sure to find some shells on the shore! The photo above is what we found on a February visit to the coast!

Magic Carpet Mini Golf

Mini golf at the beach is one of our absolute favorites! This course is so much fun and we love all of the fun beach themes. Plus, the views of the ocean while you’re playing can’t be beat!

Get a Massage

I love being pampered on vacation. If you’ve spent the day at the beach, treat yourself to an evening massage or spa treatment!

Schlitterbahn Water Park

Waterparks are some of the best summertime entertainment options, especially in the Texas heat. Rent a cabana and have a blast on the many waterpark rides while beating the heat!

Galveston Historic Seaport

Take a walk around the historic seaport and tour the 1877 Elissa. My boys loved exploring the tall ship! If you like history, you’ll love this stop. The Texas Seaport Museum is very educational, too!

Seawolf Park

You can find Seawolf Park on Pelican Island. This park has a fishing pier, picnic areas, and a playground. You can also see a WWII submarine, the USS Cavalla!

Galveston Helicopters

If you want to see Galveston from above, check out the Galveston Helicopters Tours! They fly right over the ocean on their seven mile tour!

Ferry to Bolivar Peninsula

The ferry to Bolivar Peninsula takes about 18 minutes and is completely free! It’s a very peaceful ride and you might even spot dolphins on the journey! You can hit the beach in Bolivar, hunt for shark teeth, and even shop or enjoy the local restaurants!

Galveston Naval Museum

Tour a submarine and destroyer from WWII right at the Galveston Naval Museum! Tickets are $13.00 for adults, $8.00 for kids.

Where to Stay

We love to stay at Seascape Condos when we visit! We’ve been staying here for over ten years and I can’t imagine visiting Galveston and staying anywhere else. These condos sit right on the beach side and are so spacious and well kept.

Click here for my latest review on Seascape Condos for more information and photos!

What to Expect

It’s very true that Galveston Island is not known for white sand beaches and clear blue waters. It’s often pretty hot and humid here in the summers, it is Texas after all. But, it is still a fun family destination! We’ve taken our boys to beaches all across the US and even in the Caribbean. They will tell anyone that asks that Galveston is their number one favorite beach destination! It can get really crowded in the summertime, especially around the holidays (Memorial Weekend, July 4th, and Labor Day Weekend). I prefer visiting in April, when the humidity is lower and the crowds are smaller. My boys like the summer better because the water is warmer! This is a place that is fairly close to us, so we keep going back year after year. I have forty years of cherished memories here and hope to make many more! If you haven’t been, you should give it a chance. Just lower those expectations, Texas doesn’t have beaches like Florida does.