By AJ Williams
It may be difficult not to break into that old Glen Campbell song while you’re there, but Galveston is well worth a visit in spite of that melody getting stuck in your head!
This little island on Texas’ gulf coast is a great spot to beach comb, check out some amazing history, and visit unique attractions. We stayed at the Tremont House, in the historic Strand area of town. This part of Galveston is currently undergoing a revitalization, with older, industrial buildings being transformed into loft condos.
The Tremont House was lovingly restored after Hurricane Ike in 2008, and it’s cool, hipster vibe is evidenced by the exposed brick, marble floors, lobby lounge, and fantastic rooftop bar. Our room was exceptional, with high ceilings, lovely vintage decor and a cloud-like bed. Guests of the Tremont House can also enjoy the amenities at The Hotel Galvez, a sister property – the two are linked by a shuttle.
Across the island, you’ll find the SeaWall area with a huge beach that runs for miles, lots of restaurants & ocean-front bars, and many other hotels, as well as Pleasure Pier, an amusement area that juts out over the ocean on a giant pier. If you’re feeling brave enough, try out the roller coaster.
Restaurants here feature The fresh, local, Gulf seafood here. We dined at Nick’s, and weren’t disappointed.
Galveston Island is also home to Moody Gardens, another large family-destination, featuring an indoor rain forest, hotel, and death-defying waterslides for the ‘not-so-faint-of-heart’ family. There are lots of fun tours, and even a jet boat ride if you want to get out onto the water.
If you’re up for a daytrip, Galveston is only a 30 minute drive from the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, and it’s a must for any history buff or space-nerd in your life. I brought my husband, who fits firmly into the latter category. The Level 9 tour will give you a ‘behind the scenes’ VIP experience (you’ll be one of only 12 participants), including lunch in the astronauts cafeteria, and up-close and personal opportunities to see everything from the enormous Neutral Gravity pool, with a replica of the International Space Station underwater (it’s as close to weightlessness as possible for training), to Mission Control, where they control the ISS, the original Mission Control that was used for the Apollo missions and later the Shuttle flights. The memorabilia alone is worth the trip. I confess I made my husband promise not to utter that famous phrase, “Houston, we have a problem” while we were there!
After you’ve returned to ‘earth’, head back to Galveston for a late night drink at a roof top bar, or a stroll the never-ending boardwalk, then enjoy yet another incredible shrimp cocktail or seafood dinner.
Many cruises depart from Galveston, so plan to take a few extra days before or after your ocean adventure.
Galveston is a city of resilience. Locals have survived many hurricanes and always recover with determination, a friendly smile, and a sincere request that y’all come back & visit again soon. Whether you’re a snowbird, seafood lover or space-geek, this area of South Texas has something for everyone, and it’s worth including in your next trip south. Now where did I put my Glen Campbell cassette tape?