Most Popular Things to Do in Galveston, Texas

Looking for something fun to do in Texas? Fill your itinerary with all the best things to do in Galveston, Texas. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities or something a little more adventurous, Galveston is one of the Lone Star State’s most surprising travel destinations.

Located on the Texas Gulf Coast, the beautiful seaside city of Galveston often goes overlooked. It’s home to eight miles of beautiful beaches, fascinating historic architecture, and great restaurants. From exploring the ocean to visiting historical sites, there’s something for everyone in Galveston.

Need ideas on what to do in Galveston? Keep reading to learn more about the best places to visit in Galveston, TX.

Must-see places to visit in Galveston, TX

Moody Gardens

Want to rejoice in your inner child? Venture over to Moody Gardens to enjoy its wide array of fun activities & attractions. At the Aquarium Pyramid, you’ll learn all about the ocean and see penguins, sharks, and other animals. The Jungle Pyramid offers you a true rainforest trip. Here, you’ll have close interactions with free-roaming monkeys, macaws, and other endangered species and flora.

Moody Gardens

At the Discovery Museum, you can learn about science mysteries. At the same time, the Moody Gardens 3D and 4D Theater will transport you to another world.

Enjoy a Colonel Paddlewheel Boat trip and other summer activities at Palm Beach, Galveston’s only white sand beach. At the lovely Moody Gardens Hotel, unwind and indulge in some island time.

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

Longing to have a fun-filled evening in Texas? The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier will take you high above the people and over the Gulf of Mexico. You can check out the pier’s rides and food options, including funnel cakes, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and more. Adults can unwind with a beer, margarita, or glass of wine. 

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

Even if you don’t care about the rides or activities, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is recommended for its Gulf Coast views.

Visit Seawall Boulevard and enjoy the rollercoaster and Ferris wheel. The promenade also stretches along the island’s Gulf Coast coastline, close to the city’s central areas. Seawall Boulevard is the perfect place for a long and peaceful walk, biking, rollerblading, or relaxing and taking in the ocean views.

Galveston Island State Park

Love beaches? Visit Galveston Island State Park to go for a walk on the beach or take a swim in the sea. Alternatively, you can visit the state park to fish or observe coastal birds. You can go swimming, fishing, picnicking, bird watching, paddle boarding, studying nature, or relaxing! Galveston Island State Park has activities for everyone who enjoys the beach and the bay.

Walk around Galveston Island State Park to enjoy over two miles of beach frontage on the Gulf of Mexico and over five miles of bayous and tidal flats. The park also has hiking trails, a nature center, and a butterfly garden that would be perfect for your Instagram feed.

Want to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline? The state park also offers several campsites for overnight stays.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston

Need to cool down from the hot Texas summer sun? Splash around at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston, offering the most thrilling water rides in the Houston area.

The vast assortment of water slides, wave rivers, and the world’s tallest water coasters at this popular water park will delight you. Also, you’d be able to spend a day at raft rides and water coasters, great picnic shelters, and the Tiki Tikes Kids Area, ideal for your children.

At Schlitterbahn Galveston, three unique park areas connect rivers for a mile of enjoyment. If you’re an adult, a wave pool called Shipwreck Harbor and a swim-up bar is calling. Enjoy the 33 acres of heated pools, tube chutes, and wave pools.

Galveston Seawall

No visit to Galveston would be complete without Galveston Seawall. Along with its beaches, the seawall may be the island’s distinguishing feature. Following the disastrous Hurricane of 1900, the city of Galveston began construction on the Seawall, and it’s stood intact to this day.

Galveston Seawall

To experience Galveston’s attractiveness, the Seawall and Seawall Boulevard are the perfect picnic spots. The sidewalk atop the Seawall is perhaps Galveston’s most famous sunset point and is ideal for all kinds of activities.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll, a long bike ride, an early morning jog, or access to public beaches, you’ll find it at the Galveston Seawall.

Galveston Railroad Museum

Fascinated by trains? At Galveston Railroad Museum, you can spend an entire day discovering artifacts from Texas’s historic railroads. At the museum, you can enjoy a tour of several rail cars, ride a caboose, and eat lunch in a historic dining car.

Train buffs will love exploring the historic railroad cars displayed at the Galveston Railroad Museum. Some are equipped on the inside of the freight cars, as was the custom in the United States when railroad travel was more prevalent.

The woodwork, upholstery, and other details in some of the luxury train cars are fascinating. The Galveston Railroad Museum also has bed & breakfast reservations available if you decide to stay overnight.

Moody Mansion

If you want to learn about the Galveston’s rich history, then a visit to Moody Mansion is a must. The mansion was built in 1895 by William Lewis Moody Jr., who made his fortune in cotton, banking, insurance, and railways. Today, the villa is a museum furnished with family heirlooms and antiques. You can take a guided tour of the mansion to learn about the Moody family and see how they lived.

Moody Mansion

Six members of the Moody family recount stories about their ancestors on the Moody Family Tour. Guests will put themselves in the shoes of the Moodys and see the mansion through their eyes.

On top of all of these beautiful features, the Moody Mansion hosts various events throughout the year. Check out their website to see what events are taking on during your next visit to Galveston Island.

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum

Keen to learn about the oil and gas industry? The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum manages the Ocean Star plant less than an hour from downtown Houston. This one-of-a-kind museum and learning center in Galveston lies between Harborside Drive and 20th Street, only one block from The Strand.

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum

At the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, you can have an incredible tour of the retired Ocean Star jack-up rig, now functioning as a museum and educational facility. You’d find offshore drilling equipment, exhibits, and videos ranging from geological exploration.

Get your copy of the official “Ocean Star Self-Guiding Souvenir Journey Guide Book” to make the most of your self-guided tour.

Pier 21

Want to spend a day engaging in all sorts of seaside activities? Get going to Pier 21. Pier 21 is a waterfront entertainment and dining area in The Strand, a National Historic Landmark District on Galveston Island.

Pier 21

A high-speed jet boat trip through the harbor will give you the thrill of a lifetime. Galveston Water Adventures offers 20 minutes of adrenaline-pumping excitement and photo packages to capture your expression when the boat reaches top speeds. 

You can also take one of the Baywatch Dolphin Tours and get up and personal with dolphins in their natural habitat.

Galveston has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. And there’s no better way to enjoy them than on the patio of one of Pier 21’s restaurants or on a sunset cruise.

Seawolf Park

Interested in Galveston’s military history? Seawolf Park is one of the most exceptional places to see Galveston. The WWII tourism attractions included in the park’s boundaries make Seawolf Park particularly unique. Spend time exploring the park’s fishing piers, picnic areas, and playground. 

Witnessing the WWII submarine USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart, one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, will give you chills. You can find the wreckage of the S.S. Selma, the world’s largest concrete ship, northwest of the park’s fishing pier.

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The exhibits at Seawolf Park are part of The American Undersea Warfare Center, giving instructional information about how these ships were used in war.

Rainforest Pyramid

Traveling to Galveston with your kids? The Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens is a fantastic attraction to kick off your Galveston itinerary if you’re traveling with little ones.

Among the attractions at Rainforest Pyramid are one of the state’s largest aquariums, a tropical rainforest with free-roaming sloths and monkeys, a curiosity museum, a kids’ splash park, and the Moody Gardens Hotel.

At nearby Stewart Beach, you can take free sandcastle building lessons and Family Beach Challenge activities for a day on the sand throughout the summer.

Kids built up an appetite? Stop by Rainforest Pyramid for family-friendly fare like juicy burgers, massive shrimps, fresh fish tacos, and various other dishes.

Galveston Naval Museum

Yearning to learn about US naval history? The Galveston Naval Museum is the go-to place for history buffs. On a self-guided tour or with one of the museum’s tour guides, take your time studying these iconic WWII boats. Capture the thrill of patrolling underwater in the Pacific or protecting Allied forces in the North Atlantic as a predator.

Get a once-in-a-lifetime experience aboard the USS Cavalla. This submarine sank a Japanese aircraft carrier, the sole Edsall-class destroyer escort maintained in the US. You can learn about the history, mystery, and sacrifices of the crews who stood watch on these WWII battleships.

Grand 1894 Opera House

Want to enjoy a Broadway blockbuster on your Galveston visit? Try to catch a performance at the Grand 1894 Opera House, located in the Postoffice Street Arts & Entertainment District within the city’s historic district. The performing arts venue hosts a year-round calendar of performances spanning Broadway blockbusters, dance, music, and comedy. 

A historic Gulf Coast treasure, the Grand 1894 Opera House is also the “Official Opera House of Texas,” making it a unique rental facility for private celebrations, meetings, and corporate events. Whether for attending a function or breathtaking stage performances, it’s one of the coolest tourist attractions in Galveston.

Stewart Beach

Want to turn your Galveston trip into a beach vacation? Stewart Beach is Galveston Island’s top family beach park. Named one of the “10 Best Beaches for Families” by Family Vacation Critic in 2013, the stretch of sand is located where historic Broadway Avenue meets the Seawall.

At Stewart Beach, you can enjoy a variety of amenities for a day at the beach and frequent lifeguard monitoring. You can enjoy a pavilion, chairs, umbrella rentals, beach volleyball courts, a children’s playground, etc at the beach.

Although Stewart Beach does not allow the consumption of alcoholic beverages, you can imbibe at the bars located nearby. Instead, you can spend your day sunbathing and drinking lemonade.

Bishop’s Palace

Like exploring Victorian architecture classics? The Bishop’s Palace, Galveston’s most well-known structure, is an ornate wonderland of colored stone. You can witness intricately carved ornaments, rare woods, stained-glass windows, luxury materials and furnishings, and impressive fireplaces worldwide—including one lined with pure silver!

Bishop's Palace

If you only have time to see one of Galveston’s architectural wonders, make it the Bishop’s Palace. This Victorian castle in the East End Historic District was named one of the top 100 buildings in America.

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Want to carry a piece of the palace with you? Pick some souvenirs from one of the shops to help you remember your day witnessing royalty.

Texas Seaport Museum

Obsessed with Texas’s rich history? The Texas Seaport Museum is home to the celebrated 1877 tall ship ELISSA, where you can join the high-seas adventure. Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark, one of America’s Treasures.

Imagine the days when daring sailors braved the world’s oceans as you walked the decks of the ELISSA at the Galveston Harbor. Witness the heroic rescue of ELISSA from the scrap yard and her thorough restoration in the nearby museum and theater. You can spend a day amidst this historic beauty and flaunt its aesthetics all over your social media wall.

East Beach

Searching for more seaside charms close to the historic downtown? Grab a towel to relax on the sands of East Beach. The beach is known for its soft sand, spectacular festivals, and live music during the summer months. With several restaurants and hotels along the shore, you can easily spend a few fun-filled days around East Beach.

East Beach

Spend time at the children’s playground in the beach park and eat refreshments. Unlike the majority of Galveston’s most popular beaches, East Beach allows alcohol consumption. Sit with a glass of wine by the sea, and enjoy the scenery at one of the most beautiful Texas beaches.

Each summer, thousands of people also head to East Beach for the annual Sandcastle Competition.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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