‘Brother Vs. Brother’: Getting Around Galveston
In the latest installment of their lifelong, footloose game of one-upsmanship, Jonathan and Drew Scott are battling each other via beach-house renovations on the Gulf coast of Texas. Here’s a sneak peek of what they found when they went out on the town in Galveston—and what you shouldn’t miss in The Oleander City.
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Sea Shell Beach
Nine miles west of town, storms and winter waves scatter the beach with murex, zebra periwinkles, shark’s eyes, scallops and more. This “pocket park” is an ideal place to lose yourself in your thoughts (and find a pailful of souvenirs).
The pyramids at Moody Gardens, Galveston’s gargantuan nonprofit theme park, would turn the pharaohs green with envy: One contains a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium, another is home to endangered plants and animals from rainforests all over the world, and the third will soon feature more than 60 life-size inventions designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Tall Ship Elissa
This three-masted beauty is one of the oldest ships still sailing today. Built in 1877 and moored at the Texas Seaport Museum, Elissa is a floating National Historic Landmark.
Architecture buffs swoon over the 70-plus blocks of historical buildings built along Galveston’s waterfront. (Those who swoon on the long walk can hail a horse-drawn carriage.)
Once called “the Wall Street of the Southwest,” Galveston became one of the busiest ports in the country in the 19th century—and stately Victorians sprang up to accommodate the merchants who came to town.
Galveston Island’s Historic Pleasure Pier was built as a recreational site for the U.S. military during World War II—and in peacetime, it became the largest pleasure pier in the country. It’s now home to 16 rides, carnival games, shops, and restaurants.
Ghosts of Galveston
Galveston is considered one of the most haunted places in America, due in part to its tragic past (in 1900, a cataclysmic storm put the city nearly 8 feet underwater and killed 8,000 people). If you’re in the mood for an eerie stroll, tour operators are more than happy to point the way to Galveston’s spookiest sites.
Beloved by locals and visitors alike for its natural beauty and family-friendly amenities, Stewart Beach is one of the coziest places on Galveston Island to spend an afternoon in the sun and surf.
The most famous home in Galveston was built between 1887 and 1892 for Colonel Walter Gresham, a Civil war veteran, railroad man and Texas legislature. It now attracts both history buffs (who come for tours) and ghost hunters (who believe Gresham and his wife never really left the building).
Port Bolivar Lighthouse
Shutterbugs can take a ferry from Galveston to Bolivar Peninsula, where 27 miles of beach culminate in a picture-perfect view of the 145-year-old lighthouse.
Between 1900 and 1986, this 28,000-square-foot edifice was home to a legendary local family. Today, Moody Mansion offers visitors a 20-room tour of that family’s life—and an intimate look at nearly a century of the city’s history.
Proletariat Gallery and Public House
Craft beer fans and local art lovers rub shoulders at The Proletariat Gallery and Public House, an elegant local event space that came together as Galveston rebuilt itself after Hurricane Ike in 2008.
A Glimpse of Bygone Galveston
Galveston Historic Tour offers daily, guided trips around town, as well as an ever-changing slate of weekend tours. “Sin City of the South” and Prohibition-focused tours will run all summer long, and a Great Hurricane of 1900 tour will begin in September.
Artist Boat Kayaking Adventures
Since 2003, the folks at Artist Boat have worked to protect the Gulf Coast through land conservation and offering “inspiring adventures.” Two- and four-hour paddling tours offer intimate views of Galveston Island’s natural history.
Just a block from the beach, Galveston Island Brewing’s tap room gives visitors a taste of how Texans wet their whistles. Kids and dogs are just as welcome as beer fans, and the brewery opens its doors for free tours (no reservations necessary) at 1 p.m. every Saturday.
Known as the “Queen of the Gulf,” the showstopping Hotel Galvez once served as FDR’s temporary White House, played host to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and has a ghost (of course). The hotel’s free smartphone app features both a 25-minute audio tour and a 20-minute ghost tour.
Tremont House Rooftop Bar
High above Ship Mechanic Row Street, The Tremont House boasts the only rooftop bar in town. It’s open every day, weather permitting, and serves up signature cocktails like the Red Lightning Martini (made with blood orange sorbet, moonshine, homemade rosemary simple syrup and club soda, served in a chili-sugar-rimmed glass).
Star Drug Store
Lunch crowds have lined up at the horseshoe-shaped counter at “The Oldest Drug Store in Texas” since 1917. Soup and a sandwich cost a bit more now than they did then, but the welcome is just as warm.
The Bryan Museum
The relics J.P. Bryan began to collect as a 10-year-old grew into a collection that now tells the story of the west at The Bryan Museum, a 20,000-square-foot space that welcomes more than five million visitors every year.
Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe
Around the corner from the Grand 1894 Opera House, the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe has drawn singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Lightnin’ Hopkins (and the audiences who love them) for decades. Check out the elegant honky tonk’s upcoming shows here.