Galveston is a laid-back city with over 25 miles of beaches and is a premier second-home location along the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a treasure trove of Victorian architecture and Gulf Coast history. Today, Galveston has more than 60 19th-century structures documented in the National Register of Historic places.
Galveston began as a prosperous port town in the 1820s, the only deepwater port between New Orleans and Tampico. In the late 1800s, Galveston gained a reputation as the “Playground of the South.” However, in 1900 the Great Galveston Hurricane devastated the area. In the early 1980s, oilman George Mitchell helped Galveston experience a revival of development and tourism that would continue through today.
Galveston is home to many educational firsts. Students are served by Galveston Independent School District, which opened the first public elementary school and the first public high school in Texas. In addition, Galveston was home to the first medical college in Texas, now known as the University of Texas Medical Branch. Ball High School in GISD has more than a dozen notable NFL alumni.
For fun shopping for the whole family, look no further than the antique stores, gift shops, and art galleries on the historic Strand. After a leisurely walk, stop by La King’s Confectionery for house-made treats and a peek into a bygone era of soda fountains and master candy makers.
Though Galveston has a population of just 50,000 people, there is no shortage of quality dining. Shearn’s Seafood and Prime Steaks is one of only ten Greater Houston-area restaurants that can boast AAA’s Four Diamond Award of Excellence. Located at the top of Moody Gardens Hotel, Shearn’s offers fantastic sunset views. In Pelican Rest Marina, Number 13 Prime Steak and Seafood provides casual elegance with luxurious details. Their two-story terrace is a welcome getaway with an unobstructed view of the marina.
Galveston has been fiercely dedicated to preserving the island’s culture and history. Patrons interested in discovering a piece of the past can visit a large number of museums peppered around the island. Highlights include Bishop’s Palace, a Victorian residence heralded by architectural historians as one of the most significant in the country; Galveston Railroad Museum, one of the five largest railroad collections in the country; and 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, a beautifully restored iron-hull sailing ship with 19 sails that could cover over a quarter-acre.
As a sign of the island’s resilience, Galveston residents partnered with local sculptors after Hurricane Ike to transform destroyed oak trees into works of art. You can now find these whimsical sculptures in yards and gardens all over Galveston Island. The highest concentration of them is in the East End Historical district.