409family.com insider's guide to galveston

An Insider’s Guide to Galveston

Get a local’s best tips and secrets to make your family’s next Galveston trip the best one yet! From history to eats, this list has it all…

Hey there!

I’m Bekah, firefighter wife, toddler mama, and SETX local for life. The only place I’ve lived outside of this area is the summer staple, fan favorite, equally happening and historic Galveston Island!

My husband and I lived on the island for the first two years of our marriage before returning to our SETX community after the birth of our daughter. Although we love being back home around family, we miss “Galvie” and all of its hidden treasures that we discovered and enjoyed during our time there.

Keep reading as I share some of my favorite local secrets as well as the popular musts, and be sure to comment below with your recommendations!

FOOD

We’ve gotta start off with the best category… the FOOD! And boy, does Galveston have a lot of it. Most visitors tend to get drawn into the larger than life restaurants that border the Seawall, but there are some great eats waiting for you downtown!

If you’re walking the Strand with young kids, I recommend giving Shark Shack a try. Their kids menu is delicious and they have affordable lunch specials, just be sure to call ahead if you need a family table as the waits can be a bit long during busy season. Just a few blocks down on Post Office and Market, you’ll find the delicious Taquilo’s Tex-Mex Cantina, as well as Mama Teresa’s Flying Pizza, where your kiddos can watch pizza dough get tossed while you wait on your classic Italian meal. Another great spot is Maceo’s Spice & Import Co, an island landmark with a great lunch and brunch menu. Where they really shine is their selection of fresh ingredients and authentic imports available for purchase – seriously, it’s foodie heaven in there. Kid bonus: you get to sign the walls and become an honorary member of the Maceo family!

Shark Shack

Now, if you’re on an adult trip, consider Brews Brothers on the Strand. Their burgers are INSANE and feature housemade ingredients, but they taste even better when paired with their great local beers. Take it up a notch by visiting Daiquiri Time Out on Market Street, and enjoy one of their artisan cocktails or signature strawberry daiquiris!

This list wouldn’t be complete without listing a few spots on the Seawall. The Gumbo Diner is always a crowdpleaser, and the comfort food at Miller’s Seawall Grill has me drooling as I type (you HAVE to get their peach cobbler. I’d drive all the way there just to get a bite!). My foodie husband always recommends Viet Cajun on the west side of Seawall, specifically their Banh Mi. I’ve saved the very best for last though… Fish. Company. Taco. It’s seriously the island’s best kept secret! Nestled on 23rd just a few blocks from the seawall, it’s easy to drive by and never know that they’ve actually been called by Coastal Living Magazine, “One of the Best Seafood Dives in America”! Try classically trained Chef Daya’s Gulf to Table daily specials, or order a taco flight (yes, you read that right) to share. Just be sure to get there early, because they can sell out by 1pm. What can I say except, you’re welcome ;)

FUN

Did you know that Galveston is home to nearly a dozen museums? There is SO MUCH HISTORY in such a small place. When I lived on the island, I worked for the Galveston Historical Foundation, so I could geek out on island tales forever, but I’ll give you the basics. GHF owns two main museums, Bishop’s Palace & the Galveston Historic Seaport, as well as many other historic homes, venues, and properties across the island, and coordinates both a Victorian Christmas Fair called Dickens on The Strand, the Historic Homes Tour, and vintage lovers’ Beach Revue in the Spring.

Although I love everything they have to offer, my biggest family-centered recommendation would be visiting the Galveston Historic Seaport: Home of the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA. This is such a fun and informative experience, from the immersive indoor experience that takes you through an interactive journey as one of the ELISSA’s passengers “From Ship to Shore”, to the unique opportunity to explore a fully functioning historic tall ship. If you have a ship enthusiast this is a must, but there’s something for everyone at this site, including a historic boat tour of the port (where you may get an up close look at dolphins, while learning history!).

Can’t squeeze in a summer trip to the island? Visit the first weekend in December and attend Dickens on The Strand. I can’t wait to bring my little family this year and start that tradition. Bonus tip: come in Victorian clothing for discounted tickets; it makes the experience more fun, too! There is so much more history to explore on the island, such as at the Galveston Railroad Museum where you get to walk through a real railway car, and the Bryan Museum, which has a fun Texas battle diorama reminiscent of the Night at the Museum movies. Give your littles a break from the heat by visiting the Galveston Children’s Museum in the basement of the beautiful Moody Mansion.

No budget for museums? Visit the Galveston Arts Center on the Strand – there’s free admission! Check out Galveston.com for more museum recommendations, and don’t forget to stop by the Visitor’s Center in Ashton Villa before visiting any of these museums, because they often have brochures with coupons for discounted admission inside!

BEACH

Now we’re getting to the part that everyone thinks of when think of a day in Galveston – let’s talk about the beach! Now, although I was an islander, I didn’t spend much time in the sand. I will tell you my favorite spot, though. About once a week during my lunch break, I would drive down to Seawall, park in the free two hour parking on 22nd Street, and walk down to Murdoch’s. They have the most amazing back porch lined with rocking chairs and benches, where I would sit and enjoy my packed lunch as well as a bit of people watching, if I’m being honest ;) Then I would stroll down the Seawall stairs and enjoy the shade provided by Murdoch’s pier and beam foundation and get my feet wet for a bit before heading back to the office. To this day, this is the spot I return to when I want to let my toddler run and enjoy the beach without getting scorched or having to lug a giant umbrella or tent of my own. So there’s my big secret, no gatekeeping here!

If that spot is a bit crowded and you want a more private feel, I recommend driving down Seawall just a bit past the movie theatre. There’s not usually many people down there, so you’ll have plenty of parking and sand all to yourself, as well as a Sonic just a few minutes away in case a cold drink is calling your name.

TREATS

Speaking of treating yourself after a long hot day on the beach, here are my best snack recommendations! If you’re on Strand, you can’t go wrong with LaKing’s Confectonary. Their sweets selection is all delicious and the taffy pull is a fun experience if you can catch one! But for the BEST ice cream on the island, move up a few blocks to Post Office Street and try local family owned Hey Mikey’s. They always have the most creative and mouth watering flavors (again with the drool, I miss this place!), they offer ice cream flights with five scoops (great for a family), and their waffle cone, sprinkle, and sunshine murals make for really cute pics! Did I mention the whole place smells like freshly baked waffle cones?? Oh and there’s a bomb coffee shop on the same block. So yeah, it’s a must.

But wait, I have a healthy option, too! Just off of Post Office on 23rd is Lolo Kai Smoothies and Wraps. Their smoothie bowls are IG worthy and equally delicious, but I always get their Southwest wrap on a spinach tortilla. *Chef’s Kiss*

SHOPPING

If you want a few souvenirs to remember your trip, here are some suggestions! Museum gift shops are always fun, and of course there’s the standard “tourist trap” shops where you can get a beach themed snow globe with the year on it, nothing wrong with that. But for a bit higher quality of a souvenir, I’d take you back to Murdoch’s. I love their beautiful shells, and they have some pretty cute Galveston garb.

If you’re looking for an even more unique shopping experience, drive down to the west side and visit the hidden oasis of Evia, home of the adorable sherbet colored Sugar Cubes! These little shops are open only Fri-Sun, and host a new set of vendors each week. They were created by the owners of Sugar Bean Coffee and Cream, yet another great place for a quick heat beating treat. The views in this private community are so serene, it hardly feels like you’re “at the beach” anymore!

Those are my favorite spots, but for the avid shopper a trek up and down The Strand is the way to go. Some Strand jewels: Skinsational, The Beef Jerky Outlet, and Christmas on the Strand. Happy shopping!

I could go on and on, especially in the food category, but I think this is plenty of info to get you started! If you’re planning a Galveston trip soon or just want to know more about what it has to offer, I hope this list helped you out and opened your eyes to the wealth of experiences there are in this Texas treasure of a town! Remember: whenever possible, shop – eat – support LOCAL! This will help our beloved island thrive for years to come.

Thanks for reading, now go plan the best Galvie trip EVER!

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