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Best Things To Do in Galveston

Soaking up the sun on shorelines like Stewart Beach or taking the free ferry over to Port Bolivar are some of the best ways to take advantage of Galveston's seaside locale. On rainy days, step back in time to the Victorian era along The Strand to window-shop or tour historic properties, such as Bishop's Palace. Throwing up your hands on an amusement park ride at Pleasure Pier is another popular thing to do in Galveston. 

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Galveston

Stewart Beach is one of the most popular strips of sand in Galveston, and with its host of beachside amenities, it's no wonder. There are lifeguards, restrooms, showers, concession stands, chair and umbrella rentals – and even a playground for kids. Recent visitors appreciated this beach's large parking lot and loads of amenities, as well as the beach's proximity to Pleasure Pier
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Stewart Beach
Stewart Beach is one of the most popular strips of sand in Galveston, and with its host of beachside amenities, it's no wonder. There are lifeguards, restrooms, showers, concession stands, chair and umbrella rentals – and even a playground for kids. Recent visitors appreciated this beach's large parking lot and loads of amenities, as well as the beach's proximity to Pleasure Pier
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#2

#2 in Galveston

Free
The Strand is a five-block, National Historic Landmark District featuring shops, galleries, bars and restaurants housed in 19th-century buildings in downtown Galveston. As you walk along its strip, you'll get an idea of what Galveston was like back in its heyday. Look for placards highlighting the district's historical must-sees, such as the Grand 1894 Opera House, which is still an operating theater. 
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
The Strand
The Strand is a five-block, National Historic Landmark District featuring shops, galleries, bars and restaurants housed in 19th-century buildings in downtown Galveston. As you walk along its strip, you'll get an idea of what Galveston was like back in its heyday. Look for placards highlighting the district's historical must-sees, such as the Grand 1894 Opera House, which is still an operating theater. 
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#3

#3 in Galveston

Bishop's Palace – also known as Gresham's Castle – was commissioned by Colonel Walter Gresham, an attorney and entrepreneur, and designed by one of Galveston's famous architects, Nicholas Clayton, at the turn of the 19th century. In 1923, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston bought the building, using it as a bishop's residence until 1963 (hence the name, Bishop's Palace). The Victorian home – a National Historic Landmark – is now open to the public for tours and is filled with architectural treasures, such as an all-silver fireplace, bronze dragons and stained-glass windows. 
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Castles/Palaces Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Bishop's Palace
Bishop's Palace – also known as Gresham's Castle – was commissioned by Colonel Walter Gresham, an attorney and entrepreneur, and designed by one of Galveston's famous architects, Nicholas Clayton, at the turn of the 19th century. In 1923, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston bought the building, using it as a bishop's residence until 1963 (hence the name, Bishop's Palace). The Victorian home – a National Historic Landmark – is now open to the public for tours and is filled with architectural treasures, such as an all-silver fireplace, bronze dragons and stained-glass windows. 
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#4

#4 in Galveston

For a dose of natural beauty, visitors should make some time for Galveston Island State Park. Located about 15-some miles down the coast from The Strand, the park offers plenty of outdoorsy activities, such as swimming, fishing, hiking and bird-watching, among others. Plus, its campsites are also an affordable way to spend the night.
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Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Galveston Island State Park
For a dose of natural beauty, visitors should make some time for Galveston Island State Park. Located about 15-some miles down the coast from The Strand, the park offers plenty of outdoorsy activities, such as swimming, fishing, hiking and bird-watching, among others. Plus, its campsites are also an affordable way to spend the night.
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#5

#5 in Galveston

Free
To travel from Galveston Island to the Port Bolivar peninsula – or to simply see the sights along the way, which is what most visitors seem to do – the ferry is the way to go. One of the greatest things about the ferry, which is operated by the Texas Department of Transportation, is that it's free. 
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry
To travel from Galveston Island to the Port Bolivar peninsula – or to simply see the sights along the way, which is what most visitors seem to do – the ferry is the way to go. One of the greatest things about the ferry, which is operated by the Texas Department of Transportation, is that it's free. 
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#6

#6 in Galveston

Moody Mansion is a 28,000-square-foot estate, which was home to the Moody family, one of the Lone Star State's most eminent entrepreneurs. Visitors can tour 20 rooms across the four-floor home, which are filled with the furniture and curios collected by the family over their 86 years of living there.
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Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Moody Mansion
Moody Mansion is a 28,000-square-foot estate, which was home to the Moody family, one of the Lone Star State's most eminent entrepreneurs. Visitors can tour 20 rooms across the four-floor home, which are filled with the furniture and curios collected by the family over their 86 years of living there.
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#7

#7 in Galveston

Moody Gardens is a 242-acre theme park, complete with nine attractions and a hotel and convention center. The complex also houses a wave pool, a beach and a lazy river, which is open seasonally. The gardens also contain a zip line and ropes course, an aquarium, a rainforest zoo and more. 
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Amusement Parks Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens is a 242-acre theme park, complete with nine attractions and a hotel and convention center. The complex also houses a wave pool, a beach and a lazy river, which is open seasonally. The gardens also contain a zip line and ropes course, an aquarium, a rainforest zoo and more. 
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#8

#8 in Galveston

Pleasure Pier is a wharf that juts out from the Texas Gulf Coast. Here you'll find amusement park rides, shops and eateries. Pleasure Pier is also a study in resilience: It was originally built in the 1940s, but in 1961 Hurricane Carla completely destroyed it; later in 2008, Hurricane Ike severely damaged it too, and just recently in 2017 Hurricane Harvey battered it with wind and waves. Still, it's up and running once again.
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Amusement Parks Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Pleasure Pier
Pleasure Pier is a wharf that juts out from the Texas Gulf Coast. Here you'll find amusement park rides, shops and eateries. Pleasure Pier is also a study in resilience: It was originally built in the 1940s, but in 1961 Hurricane Carla completely destroyed it; later in 2008, Hurricane Ike severely damaged it too, and just recently in 2017 Hurricane Harvey battered it with wind and waves. Still, it's up and running once again.
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