From roller coasters to nature adventures, here’s an overview of a top family-friendly vacation itinerary.


Pleasure Pier Galveston Island

By Jennifer Simonson & Marika Flatt Originally published in Texas Standard

The first question to ask yourself when planning a trip to Galveston: Do you want to stay on the seawall or the famous Strand?

If you opt for the seawall, historic Hotel Galvez is a beautiful and convenient option with a great pool. If you’d rather be in the middle of the hustle & bustle of the downtown Strand, opt for The Quarters. For a big family, it offers plenty of room with a 2-bedroom plus a fold-out sofa and a full kitchen.

Right next door to The Quarters is Zipp E-Bikes where you can rent electric bikes. It’s a super fun way to see the town. It’s only a mile to take the 19th Street bike lane to the seawall or join in on their Ebike Island Adventure Tour where you can see mansions on Broadway, old forts, and the Galveston ship channel.

For some good old-fashioned fun, take your family on a stroll along the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. The nostalgically-themed oceanside amusement park provides hours of entertainment. Try your hand along the Midway with games like Ring Toss, Lucky Duck and Balloon Pop. Ride the 100-foot tall Galaxy Wheel while colorful LED lights create a spectacular display. For thrill-seekers, the Pirate’s Plunge log ride that drops 40 feet and the 52 miles-per-hour Iron Shark Roller Coaster are not to be missed. Bumper cars, the teacup ride, and a carousel are available for younger children.

From penguins to sharks to free-roaming monkeys, Moody Gardens has it all. Enjoy an authentic rainforest with macaws, sloths, and other endangered animals. Touch the belly of a stingray at the aquarium or take an hour-long cruise aboard a replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat. And, when it’s hot outside, the 4D movie might be just what you need.

You’re going to get really hungry with all this activity. When you’re at Pleasure Pier or on the seawall, dine at BLVD Seafood. Start with the crabby crab cake or share a bowl of seafood gumbo. Then move on to the Gulf Coast flat fish stack or try a Seafood Sampler or the Flagship shrimp & grits.

If you’re looking for a great dinner closer to The Strand, you’ll love Olympia Grill on Pier 21. This classy waterside restaurant blends a fusion of Mediterranean and seafood. For an entree, try the mini combo pitas- gyro, chicken, and shrimp. You can also indulge in other Greek faves like falafel and lamb.

Did you know there are more shades of green than any other color? That is one of the fun facts families learn during an outing with Artist Boat. It’s a nonprofit that combines outdoor adventure, art, and science to promote environmental awareness and preservation. A three-hour long kayak adventure through the Coastal Heritage Preserve includes not only a lesson on coastal prairies, but also a stop for a watercolor lesson, and painting time.

Want to improve your sandcastle building game? If so, take some lessons from the professionals. Galveston is hosting free sandcastle building lessons every Saturday morning until August 18th near the Steward Beach Pavillion.

And, in Galveston, fireworks are not just for the Fourth of July. Every Sunday through early September, the Galveston Island Park Board will provide a magnificent firework display off the Seawall for visitors.

You can learn more about these and other Texas destinations in the travel issue of Texas Lifestyle magazine.