Drive in from Texas, or better yet, float over the gulf to one of the most popular cruise-accessible port cities in the nation: Galveston. Located several hours from Houston, this city is hopping with fun places to go with the family, and it provides beautiful seaside views of the gulf and Galveston's most famous blooming, colorful plant, the Oleander. Let's hit the highlights of this tourist destination.
Storms and Industry: History of Galveston
History buffs unite! This city caters to your hunger for the past. Take a stroll along The Strand, an incredible downtown area on the eastern part of the island that combines some of the top art, museums and galleries in the nation. Some of the exhibits are more centralized around the coast, but all are worth a peek.
The Grand 1894 Opera House
This opera house features an incredible history of renovation and survival after taking hits from the category 4 Hurricane of 1900 and hurricanes Carla and Alicia. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the legislature of Texas has added to its fame by naming it "The Official Opera House of Texas"  Year after year, it continues to feature legendary artists, from the Beach Boys to "up-and-coming" artists like The Priests.
Galveston Island Railroad Museum
All aboard the Harborside Express, the museum's restored train that carries passengers on Saturdays. If you can't be there on the weekend, you can still observe the train industry at its peak, with over 40 locomotive and rolling stock parts. This museum contains one of the five biggest railroad collections in the entire United States, and it offers self-guided tours.
Texas Seaport Museum
Witness Elissa, an 19th century vessel built to conquer the gulf and ocean beyond. Now fully restored and in pristine condition, you can learn about the incredible rescue crews made to this ship measuring almost 100 feet tall. For a more immersive experience, check out the film, Passage to Galveston: The Story of ELISSA. In addition to this historic vessel, visitors can also learn more about the growth of the shrimp industry with a visually captivating exhibit featuring Santa Maria, a shrimp boat built in 1937.
Seafood and Sweets: Restaurants of Galveston
Fresh fish, crab, shrimp and all kinds of other delectables are part of the Galveston culture. If you're not a seafood aficianado, Galveston still has you covered (sandwiches, soups, steaks, you name it). There's all kinds of options for tourists - especially along the outer rim. And since everything's bigger in Texas, prepare to be stuffed.
La King's Confectionary
If you have kids, you won't want to miss taking them to this old time, mom-and-pop shop. Originally starting in 1927, Jack King took his father's trade and started La King's in 1976, contributing to the family's beautiful legacy. Crowds "Ooo" and "Aah" as the restaurant's amazing candymaker, Ernest Torres, twists Salt Water Taffy and mixes Peanut Brittle, just a few of the 50+ recipes he makes.
Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar
Change it up for a night out with that special someone at this classy, special venue. Try their house specialities like Vuelva a La Vida (seafood combo) or the hearty Lomo De Costilla (New York Strip steak). Lunch and dinner are both featured with some of the finest dining you can find in Galveston. The restaurant also accepts reservations and provides special event options like wine tasting.
Rita's Italian Ice
Cool off with a fruity and sweet beverage from Rita's, and learn the difference between "Ice Cream" and "Cream Ice". Combine creamy custard and crisp italian ice into one with the Gelati. If you're kids are having a birthday, Rita's makes a special event just for you. They also have sundaes and shakes for those not feeling adventurous.
Wondrous and Watery: Attractions of Galveston
Islands have advantages over the inland, and one of those advantages is their incredible tropical climate. The variety of theme parks, inclusive gardens and portside views make Galveston one of the most attractive cities to families in Texas. Morning or evening, you can find entertainment that goes above your expectations for both your money and time. The most Don't miss these top attractions.
Moody Gardens is an all-encompassing experience, including hotels, fun rides (water and land), and golf. One of the coolest attractions include the Rainforest Pyramid, a glass enclosure allowing you to peer into murky rainforests like the Amazon. Touch, hear and feel as if you're there! The Rainforest Pyramid's sister, Aquarium Pyramid, is also must-see. Accompanying these attractions include 3D and 4D theaters, engaging the family with excitement and maybe a few scares!
Pleasure-seekers have found their niche, with incredible rides like the Iron Shark, lifting roller coaster riders up on a 100-foot vertical lift. Parents can play bumper cars with their kids on the Pier Pileup, featuring cars from the 50's and 60's. If you're looking to cool off, the Pirate's Plunge will do the trick: Hop into a log flume and slide down almost 50 feet into a river of water! And one of the most famous ferris wheels in the nation exists here: Galaxy Wheel, measuring over 100 feet tall. As with all major attractions, you'll have plenty of options for eating within the pier.
Although not unique to Galveston, Schlitterbahn Waterpark is the icing on the cake for families looking for an attraction for all ages. Open all year-around with fast-paced waterslides like Faust und Furious and easy-going floats like Torrent River, you won't go home without experiencing attractions to your liking. During the summer, you can race your buddy on the F5: Twin Twisters, with not one but two slides winding around each other.
A Vacation City Worth Experiencing
Galveston ranks among the best cities for visitors longing for an engaging and relaxing vacation. Many tourists only experience the coasts if they've just landed from a cruiseline, but as you can see, the whole island is full of amazing food to experience and places to go. And although summer is prime time for vacationers, many of these attractions and museums open their doors to visitors in the winter as well!
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