Keeping busy is never a struggle in Galveston, where beaches, museums, and tours abound. You could spend weeks on this gorgeous island and still only scratch the surface.

The struggle is not in finding fun things to do in Galveston, but rather, in narrowing down that long list of attractions. To help, we’ve highlighted a few of the best things to do in Galveston TX:

1. Moody Gardens

The Moody family is arguably the most influential family in Galveston’s history! They commissioned the Moody Gardens as an interactive and educational center. The program is also committed to preservation of wildlife. Aside from a hotel and small water park, the main event is the 3 large pyramids. The three pyramids are Aquarium, Rainforest, and Discovery. The Aquarium pyramid offers displays of seals, penguins, jellyfish, manta rays, and more. In the Rainforest pyramid you’ll find sloths, various bird species, tropical plant species, and exotic Amazonian fish. The Discovery pyramid offers science or NASA-based exhibits, currently (2021) the exhibit focuses on music and sounds! This is a great family-friendly activity, you can spend hours on end here!

2. Pleasure Pier

Paradise Pier lights up the city at night! As one of the most popular attractions in the city, there is a lot to do on the pier and in the surrounding areas. Your typical fair rides are here; however, there is no ferris wheel due to a recent hurricane that put this ride out of commission. Indulge in a hot dog, popcorn, cotton candy, or the famous fair funnel cake! Even if you don’t go on rides, the pier is a fun place to see in person. Tickets and passes vary.

3. NASA Space Center

The NASA Space Center in Houston is the #1 attraction for International Visitors in Houston! Located about 40 minutes from Galveston by car it’s just a short drive away. This education foundation is a non-profit featuring interactive exhibits. There is an unlimited amount of things to learn about at this center. Additionally, there are tons of authentic space/astronaut items on display. Some experiences inside this center include a Food Lab, Gift Shop, Mission Mars exhibit, and more. At Independence Plaza, you can explore inside a shuttle replica Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. Furthermore, there is a tram that will bring you to see the Saturn V rocket! Pro tip: The NASA Space Center gets pretty busy – if you’d like to take a guided tour you must book this ahead! Tickets for the Space Center are $24.95-29.95/person.

4. Galveston Duck Tours

Pick this tour for a 1 hour water and land excursion! On this tour, your charismatic driver will give you tons of history to unpack plus local tips. As you go down Seawall Blvd, famous spots will be pointed out and many jokes will be made. If you don’t have a lot of time to explore the area, this is an affordable way to pack the most punch. Tickets for this activity are $18-25/person and must be purchased in person at the time of the tour.

5. Naval Museum

Take a walk through history at the Naval Museum. This educational center allows visitors to tour a WWII submarine & a WWII destroyer. Additionally, the museum offers stories, information, and more to try to paint the most accurate picture of what happened here in WWII. You can choose between a self-guided tour or a guided tour and tickets cost $6-13/person. 

6. Schilitterbahn Water Park 

 
Schilitterbahn Water Park is one of the most popular attractions in Galveston! Though they are only open seasonally, this park attracts thousands of families annually. With over 31 rides, rivers, slides, and chutes, there is a lot to do and explore within the park. There are over 10 eateries, a couple different shops, and private cabanas for your enjoyment.  For parents looking for a fun and lengthy activity for the kiddos, this is your best bet! Daily tickets start from around $39.99/person online.
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7. Galveston Island Trolley Tours

The Galveston Island Trolley Tours are one of the most fun and inexpensive things you can do on the island! For just $1/person you can join in on this hop on/hop off trolley. There are three different loops you can choose from: the Seawall Loop, the Downtown Loop, and the Historic Rail Trolley. In addition, these trolleys are very aesthetic and great for taking photos around town. Note that these trolleys don’t carry change so exact change is required for payment.

8. Galveston – Port Bolivar Ferry

The Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry takes travelers on SH 87 between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. The best part about this activity? It’s completely free! Locals will also tell you that this ferry is the best way to see dolphins, often you will even see more dolphins than if you were to take a dolphin sighting tour! Depending on the weather and traffic volumes, there will be multiple ferries running throughout the day. However, there will always be 1 ferry operating 24 hours of the day. To track the ferry and ensure timely arrival, view the website.

9. Rent Bikes by the Beach

 
Seawall Blvd is a long stretch of road and sidewalk along the beach. This is the perfect place to rent some bikes and enjoy the ocean breeze! Multiple rental spots line this boulevard so it won’t be difficult to find bikes or other types of beachside transportation.

10. Explore the Strand

 
The Strand is part of Galveston’s Historic District. The few blocks that make up the Strand are filled with beautiful historic buildings. This is the prime place to be for nightlife, bars, boutiques, and restaurants! Some notable establishments include Rudy and Paco, Hearsay, and La King’s Confectionery.

11. Historical Homes

It’s no secret that Galveston has a very rich history and the homes here tell the stories. Though many homes have been damaged over the decades by hurricanes, there are many still standing. Taking a tour of the historic homes or even just strolling by them is a fun activity! Children may not enjoy this activity quite as much as the Water Park, but there is a lot to see and learn. Some notable homes are the Moody Mansion, the Menard House, Bishop’s Palace, and Ashton Villa.

12. Kemah Boardwalk

Just a 35 minute drive from Galveston is a city called Kemah. Kemah is home to a boardwalk and lighthouse district filled with restaurants, shops, rides, and photo spots! Think Paradise Pier – only on a larger scale. This place is worth the trip! 

13. Galveston Island State Park

Spend a relaxing beach day at Galveston Island State Park, which offers some of the best views of the bay. The sunrises are nothing short of spectacular. As such, a romantic stroll along the beach is arguably one of the best things to do in Galveston for couples — or, at least, couples who don’t mind an early start to the day. This local gem is a true paradise for avid birders, who enjoy observing the many species that gather here during the spring and fall migrations. Campers also love spending time here, as the park has dozens of campsites that face the beach. Other favorite activities include hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

14. Galveston County Historical Museum

Arguably the most underrated museum in Galveston, this free attraction can be found within the Galveston County Courthouse. One of many educational Galveston indoor activities, this attraction is the perfect addition to a jam-packed day in which you require something a bit low-key. The museum is part of the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Passport Program, as it houses the lens from the Galveston South Jetty Lighthouse. 

15. Galveston Arts Center

Galveston has a thriving art scene, as you’ll quickly discover while browsing the thought-provoking works on display at the Galveston Arts Center. Contemporary styles dominate here, as do local works. Rotating exhibitions mean that there is always something new to see.

Surprisingly, this location provides some of the best things to do in Galveston with kids, as it regularly hosts classes and workshops for children. The weekly art club is especially popular among preteens, while adolescents enjoy expressing themselves during immersive art courses. While many classes require commitments spanning several weeks, several one-off workshops are available, such as block printing and working with red clay. 

The Galveston Arts Center also participates in the popular ArtWalk, which is presented at least once every two months. Showcasing unique works and fun activities, this enjoyable event exposes residents and vacationers of all ages to Galveston’s remarkable artistic community.

16. Galveston Railroad Museum

Situated in a former Santa Fe Railroad station, the Galveston Railroad Museum encourages you to step back in time as you explore a variety of transportation artifacts. A favorite among toddlers and seniors alike, this charming museum is home to a variety of locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars.

Indoor exhibits largely focus on photography and oral histories, although there are some intriguing plaster statutes dressed in period garb. These tell the story of railroad life in Galveston nearly a century ago. 

If you get the chance, take a ride in the open-air caboose known as the Harborside Express. This short, yet enjoyable journey lasts a mere fifteen minutes — but every moment is delightful. 

 

17. Take Surf Lessons

If you’re eager for a thrill, look no further than Galveston’s top surfing instructors. No matter your age, physical fitness, or surfing experience, you can discover the joy of hitting the waves. There are multiple surfing schools conveniently located in Galveston, such as Good Vibes Surf Lessons and the cleverly named C-Sick Surfin’.

If you’re already an experienced surfer, don’t hesitate to grab a board and head for Pleasure Pier. While surf conditions can be inconsistent, you’ll have a great time if you hit the water on the right day. The views are always incredible, as is the camaraderie. 

 

18. Embrace Beach Fashion

After a successful surfing expedition, reward yourself with a trip to one of Galveston’s wonderful surf shops. There, you’ll find not only high-end gear for hitting the waves but also, the best styles to show off as you explore the Seawall sidewalk.

Custom surfboards and wetsuits dominate at Strictly Hardcore Surf Specialties, while Southern Spears Surf Shop sells eye-catching garb from both local and global designers. 

There are plenty of other shops that sell beachwear, so keep your eyes open as you meander along Seawall and the Strand. From discount shops to high-end boutiques, there’s something for every style and every budget. 

 

 

Galveston is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. Whether your idea of the perfect day out involves gorgeous architecture, a shopping extravaganza, or water-based recreation, you will be amazed by the wealth of opportunities that Galveston provides. Set aside time to do and see it all — you won’t regret embracing this gem of an island.

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