Family Fun in Galveston
1Even if you've never been to Galveston, you probably have heard of The Strand Historic District, and it's a great place to kick off a weekend trip. Located along Avenue B between 20th and 25th streets, The Strand is filled with shops for all ages. Some favorites include Hendley Market, a quirky trinket, gift, and souvenir shop; The Old Strand Emporium, which features hard-to-find, locally sourced food items; and Conversation Pieces, a little girl's dream store stocked with items such as tutus and hair bows.
2When your stomach starts rumbling, head to Yaga's Café, a laidback spot featuring beach-inspired favorites like roasted jerk chicken, coconut shrimp, and seafood flautas. Afterwards, top it off with a sweet treat at La King's Confectionery, where the long candy cases and numerous ice cream flavors are sure to delight.
3If you're traveling with older kids, they may just be up for an evening out at the The Grand 1894 Opera House, which is a lot less formal than it sounds. The Galveston landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, regularly courts touring musicians. Everyone from Smokey Robinson to the B52s have played here.
1Kids and adults alike will appreciate the fare at Mosquito Café, a local institution that serves up dishes such as homemade corned beef hash tacos, crust-less quiche, and eggy breakfast bowls stuffed with ingredients like potatoes, spinach, bacon, and cheese.
2Rent a beach cruiser from Island Bicycle Co. and soak in the sights and the sounds of the Seawall, which is lively with activity on an average Saturday morning.
3Pedal over to Stewart Beach, arguably the most family-friendly beach on the island. Amenities include a children's playground, umbrella and chair rentals, a bathhouse, a souvenir shop, and a snack bar.
4If you've got restless kids who don't want to hang out on the beach, here's another option: head out with Galveston Duck Tours, a ride in an amphibious vehicle that gives riders an up-close view of the Strand shopping district, historic mansions, and the scenery along Offatt's Bayou.
5Whatever activity you've chosen, you're sure to have worked up an appetite by now. Grab lunch at Nick's Kitchen, little brother to the upscale (and very popular) Gaido's. The sprawling outdoor patio is where to dine on deep-fried zucchini, lobster tacos, and the famous Cardiac Arrest Burger. There's also a full selection of cocktails, wine, and beer.
6Take a break from all that sun at the Texas Seaport Museum. The highlight here is the Elissa, a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 that holds the title of "the Official Tall Ship of Texas." Afterwards, walk next door to the Pier 21 Theater, which shows a variety of films about historical events that have affected Galveston.
7If you're seeking something hearty, have dinner at Mario's Ristorante, which was founded in 1967. The motto here is, "We speak very little English, but we make the best pizza," and that's pretty apt. The portions are gigantic — think soup bowls as big as buckets.
8Once the sun dips down, one of the hottest places on the island — particularly for families — is the Pleasure Pier. This entertainment complex stretches 1,130 feet over the Gulf of Mexico and features attractions such as roller coaster, Ferris wheel, and carnival games.
1They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day out right with the champagne brunch at the Hotel Galvez, an island favorite that includes a variety of options including a prime rib carving station, Belgian waffles, pastries, eggs Benedicts, and unlimited champagne (a special treat for you deserving parents!).
2After you've fueled up, get ready for some family fun at Moody Gardens, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. And for good reason: there's enough here to keep kids of all ages busy for hours. Highlights include the penguin encounter program in the Aquarium Pyramid (watch penguins eat, swim, and hang out — all from behind the scenes), the freshwater lagoons and waterfalls at Palm Beach, and the Colonial Paddlewheel Boat.
3Before you head home, don't miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Galveston's historical homes. One can't-miss home is Bishop's Palace, a gorgeous mansion that was built in 1892 and is noted as one of the most "significant Victorian residences in the country." Another must-see is Moody Mansion, a four-story, 28,000-square-foot home that once belonged to Galveston's influential Moody family.