Galveston Island is a historic beach town located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles from Houston. The island is best known as a vacation destination, offering 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family attractions, Texas's premier cruise port and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, including several National Historic Landmarks. Galveston Island is home to popular amusements such as, Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, as well as a variety of museums and recreational activities from surfing to birding.
And one of the most wonderful things about visiting Galveston Island is the incredible number of wonderful things to do that are either completely free of charge, or extremely affordable! Take a look at few below!
Galveston Island Pass
Get your passport to adventure and savings with the new Galveston Island Pass. Load your pass with four or more participating attractions and save 40% off regular admission prices. This is a great deal as the pass is good for 30 days after purchase. Galveston Island Pass is available online at www.galvestonislandpass.com.
Stay Mid-Week and Save!
If you're looking for a way to save on accommodations, consider staying mid-week. Rates in Galveston are significantly lower for those choosing to book their overnight stays Sunday through Thursday.
Galveston Tree Sculpture Tour
After Hurricane Ike, optimistic island residents worked with area sculptors to transform damaged oak trees into breathtaking tree sculptures that are now the focus of the Galveston Tree Sculptures Tour. The 30-plus sculptures are tucked into gardens and nestled in side yards throughout the island's East End Historic District for the public to enjoy and find. Click here for an interactive tour and downloadable map.
Movie & Music Nights on The Strand
Grab your chairs, blankets and pillows and head to Saengerfest Park in downtown Galveston for a free family-friendly movie or concert under the stars. Films are held the first Saturday of each month beginning at dusk. Concerts are held every second and fourth Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. Both events run March through October. For more information, visit the Galveston.com calendar.
Ferry Ride + Dolphin Watch
Galveston's Bolivar Ferry is well known across the Lone Star State. This free and roughly 20-minute ride each way between Port Bolivar and Galveston is an entertaining diversion from the beaches and historic districts that are the biggest Galveston tourist draw. During this voyage, you can also get a close look at graceful dolphins as they swim by. For details, click here.
Stroll the Strand
The downtown area offers an intriguing selection of shops, restaurants, galleries and museums within a perfect radius for self-guided tours. The Victorian architecture of Strand Street, widely known as The Strand, makes for a charming stroll. Saegnerfest Park at 23rd and Strand is a free family park home to a life-size chessboard and is often home to live entertainment. Be sure to also check out the art galleries and shops found on Postoffice Street. Check out current downtown events by clicking here.
Held every six weeks, ArtWalk is a free event where Galveston's downtown art galleries open their doors to the public for an evening of art viewing, live entertainment and refreshments from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. The Galveston Arts Center hosts this event March through November. For a schedule, vist our interactive ArtWalk section.
Enjoy Seawall Beach
Galveston has the longest continuous sidewalk in America on its beachfront Seawall Boulevard, making room for a wide variety of free outdoor activities. Enjoy the beach by swimming or playing beach volleyball or hit the pavement for biking or running. Watching a breath-taking sunrise or sunset on the Seawall is priceless. Take a look at a few Galveston beach scenes provided by Galveston visitors in our Instagram section. Share your own beach Instagrams by tagging your photos with #GalvestonBeach.
Old-Fashioned Taffy-Making at La King's Confectionery
La King's Confectionery in downtown Galveston is sure to make your trip to the island that much sweeter. Not only can you delight in homemade old-fashioned candies and ice cream, you can watch it being made. The shop hosts free salt water taffy-making demonstrations daily during peak tourism season. For more information, click here.
Galveston is one of the top locations for birding in the United States with more than 300 species of birds that migrate through the island during spring and fall migrations. This free birding brochure will guide you to the island's nature hotspots. Moody Gardens and the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council host a series of free "Birding 101" classes to educate and excite people about the bird life on the island. For more information, visit www.moodygardens.org.
Galveston Island State Park
The Galveston Island State Park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities that are free to participate in. While each person must pay a $5 parking charge to get into the park, families can enjoy kayak tours, beach and surf explorations, bird walks, nature field trips and fishing clinics at no cost. Many activities require advance sign-up. The park's Nature Center is open on Saturdays and Sundays March through November showing nature displays and videos pertaining to the park's plant and marine life. For more information, visit www.fogisp.org.
Fishing in Galveston
In Galveston, anyone with a Texas fishing license can fish for free! From beachfront fishing to offshore overnight fishing, you can enjoy a variety of fishing on this island. Don't forget to bring your catch to local restaurants. Many will turn your fresh catch to an unforgettable dinner. For more information, please click here.
Visit Galveston Museums
Galveston is home to many affordable museums that highlight science as well as Galveston's unique history. A new pirate museum, Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast, recently opened on the Strand. Downtown is also home to the Galveston Railroad Museum, Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, Pier 21 Theater, Texas Seaport Museum and the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA. These museums range in price from $2 to $8. The nearby Rosenberg Library Museum on Sealy Street is free!
Free Parking at Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Waterpark
At any tourist destination, parking can be a pain. But Galveston is an exception! Adventure resort Moody Gardens and family fun paradise Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark both offer visitors free parking. For more information on these attractions, visit www.moodygardens.org and http://schlitterbahn.com/gal.