Downtown Galveston

A vibrant mix of past and present.

1. Due in part to a mandate that requires homeowners to renovate instead of rebuild, Galveston harbors the most spectacular collection of historic Victorian buildings in Texas. For a sampling, start at the Landes-McDonough House and stroll down Postoffice Street , keeping an eye out for plaques commemorating Great Storm survivors. Postoffice and Sixteenth

2. It comes as no surprise that locals have always taken great pride in the Grand 1894 Opera House : The magnificent three-story architecture and lush interior details (chandeliers, wall sconces, a beautiful drop curtain) have few rivals in the nation. Learn about the theater’s stunning artistry and haunting history on a self-guided tour. 2020 Postoffice, 800-821-1894

3. Get reenergized at Mod, Galveston’s little beacon of hipster culture, with your caffeinated drink of choice and friendly conversation with passersby on the outside patio. Opened by a Converse-clad couple from Denver, the coffee shop features tables decorated with kitschy collages and a cozy loft with couches for lounging. 2126 Postoffice, 409-765-5659

4. Built in 1886, Star Drug Store made history by becoming the first integrated lunch counter on the Island. Newly refurbished, its soda fountain and horseshoe-shaped bar practically beg you to sit and share a malt with your sweetheart. Or try one of the lunch offerings—in particular, any sandwich on the homemade rye. 510 Twenty-third, 409-766-7719

5. Palms M&M offers victuals—a ceviche sampler, the famous Pineapple Vodka Infusion—almost as delicious as the historical gossip provided by the restaurant’s bartender. (To wit: Once part of the red-light district, the bar had a no-female policy that didn’t officially end until 1982.) A storm survivor, the building still has many of its original furnishings. 2401 Church, 409-766-7170

6. Gloria’s La Estacion is open only for breakfast and lunch, but Islanders head to this charming hole-in-the-wall as often as they can. In overwhelming demand is the Surprise Burrito, a devilishly good concoction of beans, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and bacon in a huge tortilla. Lightweights, beware: Cut this bad boy in half or risk a severely stretched stomach. 2428 Ball, 409-762-4262

7. It’s not uncommon, say the owners of Footsies, for a new customer to declare in wonder, “I’m in shoe heaven—and it’s in Galveston!” Indeed, the store brims with more than fifty brands, from hand-stitched Tsongas to hip Jeffrey Campbells. With a slogan of “adorable and affordable,” this is a bastion no shoe lover can resist. 206 Twenty-fourth, 409-762-2727

8. Known as one of the most haunted buildings in Galveston and famous for such guests as Sam Houston and Buffalo Bill, the Tremont House , founded in 1839, is as gorgeous a hotel as ever. But it’s the sweeping views from the rooftop terrace you shouldn’t miss. Order a drink at the bar and toast the sunset. 2300 Mechanic, 409-763-0300

9. Forget Barnes & Noble. Midsummer Books , with its Book Sense Bestseller List and intoxicating scent of paper and ink, is everything an independent bookstore should be. Here you’ll find titles ranging from the classic Goodnight Moon to the graphic novel Persepolis—plus comfortable armchairs to satisfy that must-read-now itch. 2309 Mechanic, 409-765-5930

10. When guitarist Rex “Wrecks” Bell founded Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe , in 1996, it was Townes Van Zandt who played opening night. Ever since, this dive bar has hosted acts as varied as Jesse Dayton and Ray Wylie Hubbard—and won fame for Bell’s ongoing trademark fight against Starbucks over his Star Bock beer. Order a cold one for solidarity. 413 Twentieth, 409-762-9199

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