Trip Guide: Galveston

Plan a kid-friendly weekend through this historic city by the sea using this guide with tips on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.

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Few places in Texas capture a child’s imagination quite like Galveston. Maybe it’s because of the Island’s rich history. For many years, the heavily tattooed native Karankawa tribe fished there, greasing their bodies with alligator oil as an insect repellent. Spanish explorers had begun charting the coast by the early 1500’s, pirates hauled their booty onshore in the 1800’s, and in 1900 a devastating hurricane killed more than six thousand. Afterward, in a major engineering feat, the entire city was raised off the ground (in some areas by as much as seventeen feet). Read the rest of Katy Vine’s account of her carefully designed, kid-friendly romp through a historic city by the sea from the May 2014 issue.

Take the kiddos to Pleasure Pier to ride the Iron Shark roller coaster and Pirate's Plume log flume.
Take the kiddos to Pleasure Pier to ride the Iron Shark roller coaster and Pirate’s Plume log flume.

SEE + DO

La King’s Confectionary // A just reward for good behavior, the store re-creates a 1920’s-era candy store, complete with salt-water taffy, a soda fountain, and a zillion chocolate creations. 2323 Strand (409-762-6100)

Texas Seaport Museum // Built in 1877 the Elissa Ship, which is one of the oldest still-sailing merchant vessels, will forever be remembered by my children as a “pirate ship.” Visitors can wind down the staircase under the deck and poke their heads into the cabins, where the crew once slept. Pier 21, Number 8 (409-763-1877)

Moody Gardens // Hit the aquarium pyramid early to get a glimpse of the seal feeding then wander through the rainforest pyramid and gawk at the strange scarlet ibis and the cotton-top tamarin before taking a break in the 4D Special FX Theater, where you can get sprayed, snowed on, wind-blown, and poked in the back. Then hop aboard the 1800s paddlewheel boat. 1 Hope Blvd (409-744-4673)

EAT + DRINK

Benno’s on the Beach // This laid-back spot on the seawall offers a view of the gulf, seating for large and small groups, and—key to my family’s happiness—fast service. 1200 Seawall Blvd (409-762-4621)

Di Bella’s Italian Restaurant // Tall wood booths at this classic local eatery prevent wandering toddlers from escaping while Sinatra and other classic tunes soothe them into submission. 1902 31st (409-763-9036)

Opened in 1911, the Hotel Galvez is the Texas coast's the coast’s premier beachfront hotel.
Opened in 1911, the Hotel Galvez is the Texas coast’s the coast’s premier beachfront hotel.

STAY

Hotel Galvez & Spa // This 102-year-old hotel located right on the seawall includes a heated outdoor pool and swim-up bar—a winning combination after a long day with the kids. 2024 Seawall Blvd (409-765-7721)

BEFORE YOU GO

Read Gary Cartwright’s Galveston; show your kids photos of the 1900 hurricane devastation, and notify them that the island is eroding at an alarming pace; pack binoculars for bird-watching on the beach.

SOUVENIRS

In the Gaido’s gift shop, my son, Nick, bought a tiny jar of shark teeth and my daughter, Mia, bought a gigantic sand dollar.

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