Galveston, population 50,000, is a barrier island one-hour’s drive from downtown Houston; just head southeast on I-45 (a.k.a. the Gulf Freeway). Popular before Houston’s founding, Galveston is filled with streets and structures affording a look at the Gulf Coast’s nineteenth-century past. In recent decades, the city endured many a hurricane and tropical storm, but now it is back and an important link to the area’s settlement and natural environs.
Popular Galveston attractions include the following:
The Strand Historic District: downtown area filled with shops and restaurants near where cruise ships dock; has a New Orleans flavor; centered on Strand St., but also see the art galleries and local stores along Post Office St.
Tours of Historic Homes: Bishop’s Palace (1402 Broadway Ave. J) and the Moody Mansion (2618 Broadway Ave. J) are among the large, historic homes turned museums worth visiting for architecture and antique lovers
Beach: along the southern and eastern ends of the island (opposite the Strand Historic District); metered parking along Seawall Blvd.; restaurant and bars offering good views include The Spot (3204 Seawall Blvd), and see the LGBT-friendly bar The Sandbox (3102 Seawall Blvd.)
Pleasure Pier: (2501 Seawall Blvd.): Galveston’s newest attraction, featuring a roller-coaster and carnival rides
Moody Gardens: (1 Hope Blvd.): linked pyramids containing an aquarium, a mini-rainforest, 3-D and 4-D theaters, traveling exhibits, and more; great for children