Galveston, Texas is just one of many beautiful spots to explore in the Lone Star State. Travelers planning a coastal vacation in the United States may think of somewhere other than Texas, but Galveston is known for relaxation and more.
The city has incredible historic buildings, top-notch restaurants, picturesque beaches, and beautiful accommodations. Galveston, an island city off Texas’ Gulf Coast, has it all, from its bustling city center to its idyllic blue waters. Worth a visit whether travelers have a week, a weekend, or just 24 hours to explore.
best time to go
Galveston Island, Texas
One of the first things to consider when planning your trip to Galveston, Texas is the ideal time of year to visit. Timing depends on what visitors want to do and what they consider hot in terms of summer temperatures.
Galveston is best enjoyed between October and November or March and May, when the weather is pleasant and not sweltering. These ‘shoulder seasons’ allow the traveler to avoid the dense crowds of summer and usually allow him to avoid the hottest days of 80°F to 100°F.
Water temperatures are warm in spring and fall, averaging 71.6°F in spring and 77°F in autumn. This creates comfortable conditions for walking and exploring the city while enjoying the waterfront and beach to the fullest.
Winter is a great time for budget travelers to visit Galveston and book a hotel, as demand is low. However, it is generally too cold to enjoy the beach during the winter months when the average water temperature is around 60.8°F.
Travelers who don’t mind missing out on the water-based activities here will find Galveston special during the winter as well, by dining at one of the many highly rated restaurants and visiting the city’s top attractions. You can have a great experience.
best way to get around
Cityscape of Galveston, Texas
For travelers with a valid driver’s license, renting a car is the best way to get around Galveston. This option allows visitors the freedom to explore all stretches of the island at any time of the day.
However, travelers who prefer to use public transportation can use the Island Transit System, which serves Galveston Island.
This public transit system serves an area of about 25 square miles and has been in operation for over 40 years. The transportation system is very affordable and allows travelers to easily access the island.
- Adult fare: $1
- Monthly pass: $37.50
- Under 6 years old (accompanied by an adult): free
where to eat in galveston
Diner in Texas, USA
Galveston has a lot of great food, and because it’s located on the Gulf Coast, it excels at fresh seafood dishes. A must-see Galveston event for foodies is the Wild Texas Galveston Island Shrimp Festival in September.
Travelers visiting during this month can plan their trip around participating in a grand celebration of shrimp and culinary excellence, including a shrimp gumbo cook-off, a parade, a 5km fun run and food samples.
Admission fees vary depending on the choice of events visitors wish to attend.
- festival schedule: September 22-23, 2023
- Hosted by: Entertainment in Yaga
- address: 2302 Strand Street Galveston, Texas 77550
Bars on Galveston Island, Texas
In addition to its fun food festivals, Galveston has plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to explore during your trip to this Texas island city.
From charming downtown breakfast spots to coastal bars to dinner spots serving Southern favorites, Galveston has something for everyone.
- Best restaurants for breakfast: Sunflower Bakery & Cafe, Gumbo Diner, IHOP, Mosquito Cafe, Waffle House #1260
- Popular restaurants for lunch and dinner: Miller’s Seawall Grill, Rudy & Paco Restaurant and Bar, Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, Gaido’s, Saltgrass Steak House
- Best coffee shop: MOD Coffeehouse, Red Light Coffee Roasters, Go Nuts and Beans
- Largest bar: The Poop Deck, Daiquiri Time Out, The Old Cellar Bar, Tiki Bar
Where to stay in Galveston
Downtown Galveston, Texas
The ideal place to stay in Galveston is downtown. This historic district is the island’s town center and boasts beautiful architecture, shops, and more. Coined as the Wall Street of the Southwest, the art galleries and business districts along the famous Strand are ideal for exploring on foot.
Galveston is fairly affordable, with the cost of living 4% below the national average. The city has accommodations for all budgets and travel styles.
- The Tremont House, Galveston, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel
- Address: 2300 Ships Mechanic Row, Galveston, TX 77550
- Amenities: fitness center, bar/lounge, free toiletries
- Hilton Galveston Island Resort
- Address: 5400 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77551
- Amenities: outdoor pool, beachfront, restaurant
Top things to do and see in the city
Galveston is a mix of beach relaxation spots, historic shopping precincts and a vibrant downtown core. Whether visiting the Moody Gardens Amusement Park, visiting the Bishop’s Palace or relaxing on one of the many beaches, there is something here to entertain and intrigue all types of travelers.
These are some of the best attractions and activities on Galveston Island.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
Pleasure Pier in Galveston, Texas
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is a fun spot to spend time in Galveston. Just a few bucks to buy a walk-on pass to the pier (required for everyone ages 3 and up).
Once at the pier, travelers have access to a plethora of fun rides to keep all ages entertained.
- address: 2501 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
- Admission fee: From $5 per person
- time: Saturday noon to 9pm, Sunday 12pm to 7pm
The Moody Mansion is a 28,000 square foot fun attraction in Galveston. Completed in 1895, his four-story building is open to the public.
A guided tour of the mansion takes guests through 20 rooms that give a sense of what life was like for an influential Texas family.
- address: 2618 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77550, USA
- Admission fee: from $34
- time: Daily from 10am to 5pm
Beach in Galveston, Texas
Galveston is known for its stunning beaches and prime Gulf Coast locations. Travelers to the city have much more to explore than just lounging on the beach, but it’s not a must-see on any trip to Galveston.
- babes beach
- Porlet Beach
- Stewart Beach
The Bishop’s Palace is an impressive Texas architectural work spanning 19,082 square feet. The Victorian building is also known as Gresham Castle. Last tour tickets go on sale at 4pm daily.
- address: 1402 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77550, United States
- Admission fee: from $28
- time: Daily from 10am to 5pm
Galveston Railroad Museum
Abandoned train in Galveston, Texas
History buffs and locomotive enthusiasts will appreciate the rich history of Galveston Island’s abandoned rail cars and related artifacts. The Galveston Railroad Museum is located on his 25th and Strand streets and is accessible from the most popular areas of the city.
Founded in 1983, the museum is dedicated to restoring, reusing and appreciating historic facilities and railroad equipment. Parking is free once visitors pay the entrance fee.
- address: 2602 Santa Fe Place, Galveston, TX 77550
- Admission fee: Adults from $12
- time: Daily from 10am to 5pm
How to spend the perfect day in Galveston
Waves crashing on the beach in Galveston, Texas
A perfect day in Galveston begins with waking up in the heart of historic downtown and sipping coffee at MOD Coffeehouse or Red Light Coffee Roasters. Sit back, have a sip and watch the city come to life.
Then, start your day with a tour of Bishop’s Palace or Moody’s Mansion to see some of the city’s most beautiful historic buildings.
This time of year is also a great time to see unique scrap cars at the Galveston Railway Museum.
Have lunch at Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar or Gaido’s before heading to one of the region’s stunning beaches in the afternoon. For travelers looking to spend time on a beach in Galveston, the top three choices are usually Porretto, Babes, or Stewart Beaches.
Soak up the sun, swim, or get out on the water for fun activities like stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
In the evening, make reservations at the Saltgrass Steak House for the finest Texas cuisine. End your evening at one of Galveston’s many popular cocktail bars before heading back to your hotel for the night.
If cocktail bars aren’t your thing, you can also visit the pier after dinner and take part in the many fun activities along the Strip, including rides and games. Couples can enjoy a fun date night here, but families with young children will find this a good way to end the night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is Galveston so popular?
Most people visit Galveston for a relaxing vacation on the water. As well as being a popular tourist destination, it boasts impressive architecture and a rich history that intrigues travelers from all over the world.
Q: How big is Galveston?
The city of Galveston is located on an island about 32 miles long. It is approximately 2 miles off the coast of mainland Texas and 50 miles southeast of Houston, Texas. Galveston Island has a population of approximately 53,695 as of 2022.
Q: Is Galveston, Texas worth visiting?
Galveston is a great place to visit, even if travelers can only stay for a day or a week (or longer). Visiting the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is a highlight, but Galveston has so much more to do, including spending time on its various beaches.