You will find both excellent weather and fun things to do in Galveston, a coastal resort city on the eastern side of Texas. Known as the Oleander City for its recurrence of these beautiful plants, Galveston features unusual downtown architecture, a vibrant local art scene, and an impressive culinary scene. With a combination of fun in the surf and on land, the wide variety of things to do in Galveston ensures that there is never a dull moment.
Start with a few of these sights, tastes, and activities, and you will get to know Galveston as one of the most popular vacation destinations in the state.
1. Slide Through the Waves at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark
Although it is located on the water, one of the most exciting things to do in Galveston is a visit to Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark. With over 26 acres of water fun, you will find an award-winning system of three rivers called Transportainment, as well as three kids’ areas, a secluded beach, and multiple speed and tube slides. The waterpark also offers a Torrent Tidal Wave River, gondolas that soar over 100 feet in the air, and private cabanas for your own picnics or parties.
Understandably, Schlitterbahn is best visited during the hot summer months when outdoor water fun is the most comfortable. However, the waterpark does transform its Wasserfest area into an indoor park that you can visit year-round for water fun even during the cold winter weather.
Best for: Families
Season: Open daily, but the times vary by day, and some areas of the park may not open at all. It’s best to check the website before visiting.
Address: 2109 Lockheed Road, Galveston, TX 77554
Cost: $50.99 per person for ages 12 years and older or $38.99 for children ages 3-11 years for a one-day admission
2. Explore Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
With nearby Houston as the world’s oil capital, a visit to Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is one of the most unique things to do in Galveston. Run by the Offshore Energy Center, you can roam the three levels of the drilling rig via a self-guided tour, interesting exhibits, and informative videos.
The rig itself was used for many years before being retired, and you will not want to miss the Offshore Drilling: The Promise of Discover program, which allows you to go behind the scenes and see the drilling process.
Best for: Anyone
Season: Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or until 6:00 p.m. during the summer months; the last tickets are sold one hour before closing.
Address: 2002 Wharf Road, Galveston, TX 77550
Cost: $9 for adults, $5 for students ages 7-18 years, and free for children ages 6 and under
3. Relax on Stewart Beach
The best gulf location with things to do in Galveston is Stewart Beach, named by Family Vacation Critic as one of the “10 Best Beaches for Families.” A perfect getaway on a warm, sunny day, you will find concession stands offering hamburgers, hot dogs, and funnel cakes as well as several restaurants with more sit-down fare.
In addition to the impeccable sand and the gentle waves of the gulf, Stewart Beach provides family-friendly amenities, such as restrooms, showers, and chair and umbrella rentals. You will also find lifeguards on duty regularly, offering increased safety for visitors. There is also a pavilion area with benches, a children’s playground, and beach volleyball courts for pick-up games if you tire of sandcastle building and swimming.
Best for: Families
Season: Open year-round in appropriate weather from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends
Address: 201 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77550
Cost: $12 Monday through Friday or $15 Saturday through Sunday during the peak season of Memorial Day to Labor Day
4. Visit Historic Bishop’s Palace
Sometimes called Gresham’s Castle, Bishop’s Palace is an unusual Victorian mansion of more than 19,000 square feet. Featuring rare woods, bronze dragon statues, and delicately carved sculptures, a visit to this 1892 beauty in the East End Historic District should be on your list of things to do in Galveston. With plans created by premier architect Nicholas Clayton, this building is on the American Institute of Architects’ list of the most important buildings in the country for its attention to detail and its preservation of a former time.
Audio tours of the Palace are available daily, or you could book the Bishop’s Palace Basement to Attic Tour, which includes an exclusive third floor view of the Gulf of Mexico. The building also occasionally offers Full Moon Tours that give you a look at the impressive house by moonlight.
Best for: Adults and older children
Season: Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: 1402 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77550
Cost: $12 for adults, $9 for children ages 6-18 years, and free for children 5 years and under
5. Cast a Line from the 61st Street Fishing Pier
The best part of visiting the 61st Street Fishing Pier is that you do not need to bring anything with you for fun things to do in Galveston. For a small fee, you can rent all the fishing equipment, purchase all the bait, and buy all the snacks that you need for a good, old-fashioned day of fishing. In fact, you can extend your casting well into the night because the pier never closes.
Keep in mind that you will need to purchase a Texas fishing license for anyone in your party over the age of 17 years. There is a two-rod limit per person, and you cannot bring alcoholic drinks, glass containers, or pets to the pier.
Best for: Anyone
Season: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from March until December, and hours vary from December through February
Address: 6101 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77550
Cost: $10 for adults, $6 for children ages 10 years and under, $1 for toddlers for a wristband good from time of purchase until 6:00 a.m. A rod rental is $8 with a $20 deposit, and bait prices vary.
6. Help the Conservation Effort at NOAA Fisheries Service Galveston Laboratory
In Galveston, you will find the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) playing host to a fishery and conservation center. This center and its staff work hard to conserve the lives of the currently endangered sea turtles, as well as other marine species facing extinction.
You can book a tour of the sea turtle areas, which are staffed and hosted by volunteers who have extensive backgrounds in marine biology. Learn more about several different marine animals as you observe the heroic efforts to save these species. Because of their popularity and limited space, tours fill up very quickly, and you should plan to call and to book this experience months in advance. Keep in mind that there is a strict age requirement of 6 years to take the tour, and you will not be allowed to touch or to hold the endangered turtles.
Best for: Anyone over the age of 6 years
Season: Every Thursday by appointment reservation only
Address: 4700 Avenue U, Galveston, TX 77551
7. Tour the Grand 1894 Opera House
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a tour of the Grand 1984 Opera House is one of the things to do in Galveston. Although it was originally completed in 1894, local residents tirelessly reconstructed it between 1974 and 1990 following damage caused by a severe storm.
Events at the Grand 1984 Opera House vary throughout the year. Check out the website to find musicals, food and wine festivals, and many different performances that will suit your interests. National and regional tours use this venue, and you will find some sort of performance nearly every night of the week. If you are not in the mood for a performance, tours are available, and you can even rent the opera house for private parties and meetings.
Best for: Anyone
Season: The box office is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the performance times vary
Address: 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston, TX 77550
Cost: Event prices vary
From outdoor water activities to historic tours, you will find many fun things to do in Galveston, Texas. Visit the Oleander City for its beaches and water experiences, and stay longer to explore the mansions and museums. Whatever you enjoy, you will find something for you in Galveston. Since you are in Texas, you should also look into the cool things you can do in Austin!