Popular Galveston Shore Excursions
Schlitterbahn Waterpark features 33 water attractions, including numerous waterslides, whitewater rapids, hot tubs, a wave pool and the Boogie Bahn surf ride. The heated indoor facility is generally open weekends from late September through December and early March through mid-April. The entire facility is open daily for the summer season from mid-April through September. Hours and admission prices vary. (2026 Lockheed St.)
On the National Register of Historic Places' list of buildings of national significance is Bishop's Palace, named for the Galveston-Houston Catholic diocese that was housed there from 1923 to 1950. Designed by Nicholas Clayton as a residence for Colonel Walter Gresham, it took seven years to build and was completed in 1893. Wait'll you see the hand-carved staircase that took three years to construct. Guided tours take place every hour Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (1402 Broadway)
In the East End, visit the Moody Mansion Museum to see the treasures of one of the city's founding families. Memorial Day through Labor Day, guided tours start on the hour and run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Labor Day through Memorial Day, guided tours are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (2618 Broadway)
Texas Seaport Museum is home to the 430-ton square-rigger Elissa, which was built in Scotland in 1877 and still sails the Gulf coast and beyond. The museum's computer database lets visitors look for information on more than 133,000 immigrants who passed through the Port of Galveston, much like Ellis Island in New York. Information includes their countries of origin, dates of arrival and planned destinations. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Harborside Drive at Pier 21)
You'll find most of the city's art galleries in the Postoffice Street Arts & Entertainment District and the Strand District. Top spots include the Buchanan Gallery for contemporary works and the E Street Gallery, a co-op that offers oil paintings, acrylics and sculptures from Galveston and Houston artists. There's also an Artwalk, put on by the city on Saturday nights every six weeks or so.
Visit the Galveston Railroad Museum to see an old waiting room -- now called the People's Gallery -- with 39 life-sized "passengers" whose actual conversations you can listen in on. Renovations are continuing on post-Hurricane Ike damage, but the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for self-guided tours. Harborside Express train rides on a vintage caboose are conducted Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (25th and Strand Streets)
Nearly 250 acres of sun, fun and -- believe it or not -- education are what you'll find inside Moody Gardens. There's a 10-story Rainforest Pyramid, which recently went through a $25 million renovation, with a canopy-level walkway that looks down on lush tropical plants, butterflies, birds, monkeys, bats and turtles; three theaters, including a 400-seat IMAX 3D Theater, a 4D Special Effects Theater and an IMAX Ridefilm Theater; Discovery Pyramid, housing interactive exhibits such as "Bones: An Exhibit Inside You"; and Aquarium Pyramid, a 10-story facility with 10,000 marine animals, including penguins and otters. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m (until 8 p.m. during the summer months; special hours for exhibits such as Festival of Lights). Admission varies by attraction. (One Hope Blvd.)
If it has anything to do with Texans and aviation, you'll find it at the Lone Star Flight Museum. Take a look at more than 40 aircraft, the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame and a great gift shop. Flights on four World War II-era bombers and trainers are also offered. It's open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (2002 Terminal Dr.)
If beauty rising from destruction sounds inspiring, take a self-guided tour via car or foot of the more than 20 sculptures carved by local artists out of some of the 40,000 trees that perished in Hurricane Ike. The still-rooted art includes carvings of dolphins, birds, dogs and even an alligator, and it's concentrated on the island's east end. For a free tour map, go to www.galveston.com/treesculptures.
The island's newest major attraction is the Pleasure Pier, which is about 20 blocks from the cruise terminal -- a quick taxi ride. The pier, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, offers rides, midway games, live entertainment, shops and restaurants, including the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Consider a ride on a paddlewheeler, day or night. The captain of The Colonel gives a great overview of the sights, and the evening cruises include dinner and live music. The cruise schedule varies, with at least one departure offered Tuesday through Friday and two on Saturdays and Sundays. Dinner cruises are also held the second Saturday of each month. (Moody Gardens, One Hope Blvd.)
Some say it is the oldest library in continuous operation in Texas, so do take time to visit the Rosenberg Library. The library houses a Texas history center and several art galleries that feature everything from Art Deco glass to Native American pottery. It's open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. (2310 Sealy St.)
If you'd like to see an exceptional documentary on the hurricane of 1900 or a film about the life and times of pirate Jean Lafitte, stop in at the Pier 21 Theater. Movies are shown Wednesday through Monday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in winter and until 6 p.m. in summer. The two films alternate every half hour. (Harborside Drive and 21st Street.)
The only winery in Galveston County, the Haak Vineyards and Winery makes premium wines (try the award-winning Semi-Sweet Blanc du Bois) from grapes grown locally and in other areas of Texas. It's down the road a piece (about 20 miles) in Santa Fe, Texas, but it's worth the trip for tours and tastings. It's open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (6310 Ave. T, Santa Fe)
East Beach: It's party central! You can find everything from umbrellas and water sports equipment rentals to bars, concerts, the Big Reef Nature Park (a birding hotspot) and a gift shop. Drinking on the beach is legal there. Swimming there can be a bit risky, since there are lots of fishermen around, which translates to getting "hooked!" It's closed from October to February. (Boddeker Drive)
Galveston Island State Park: The beach there was severely damaged during Hurricane Ike, but most areas have reopened, including campgrounds and the beachside day-use area, which offers tables, grills and rinse-off showers. There are no lifeguards. This is a good option if you want to mix it up by hiking the four miles of trails and doing a bit of bird-watching. No alcohol is permitted. (On the west end of Galveston Island)
Stewart Beach: This is a nice choice for families. There are plenty of amenities, such as umbrella/chair rentals, snack bars, changing rooms, volleyball courts, a waterslide and even a mini-golf course and a huge human maze. No alcohol is allowed. It's closed November through February. (6th Street & Seawall Boulevard).