Discover the sun-drenched historic charms of Galveston, Texas

Galveston is a sun-soaked island with 32 miles of shoreline that can assist you work in your tan, enhance your browsing abilities and eat a bounty of seafood. However Galveston additionally gives greater than a calming seashore getaway ­– hidden in plain sight are reminders of when town was a bustling port recognized for its bottomless wealth, technological advances and opulent structure.

© Jacob Rhoades / Lonely Planet

Nowhere else in Texas can guests discover such a concentrated set of historic sights. From its position because the birthplace of Juneteenth, to town’s essential chapter within the immigration story of America, to its preserved Victorian neighborhoods, historical past is on show at each flip of a avenue nook.

Opulent iron-front Victorian-era buildings fill the Strand Historic District © Courtesy of Go to Galveston

The Strand Historic District

Within the 1800s, Galveston held the biggest port west of New Orleans and the third busiest port in the USA. Due to the thriving delivery enterprise, by the late Eighteen Eighties Galveston had change into one of many richest cities on the earth per capita. A lot of that wealth made its option to The Strand, a avenue that runs parallel to Galveston Bay. Dubbed “The Wall Road of the South” the road was lined with banks, wholesale homes, grocers, cigar sellers, cotton factories, fee retailers, dry items firms and boarding homes for sailors.

Immediately the Strand District remains to be the island’s middle for commerce. Opulent iron-front Victorian-era buildings home boutiques, vintage outlets, artwork galleries, memento outlets, eating places and bars, and anchor the historic downtown. Head to The Strand to sip craft cocktails whereas taking within the panoramic view of town at The Tremont House’s Rooftop Bar, be taught concerning the metropolis’s historical past by way of a “Ghosts of Galveston” tour and seize a scoop of ice cream at 1920’s throwback La King’s Confectionery and Ice Cream Parlor. The Strand can be a year-round vacation spot for the island’s greatest particular occasions like Mardi Gras, Dickens on the Strand and the Lone Star Rally.

Texas Tidbit: Get a style of Galveston’s native music scene with Music Nite on The Strand. The free month-to-month reside live performance collection at Saengerfest Park runs from April to October.

Get a style of excessive seas journey by exploring the decks of the Tall Ship Elissa © Courtesy of Go to Galveston

Historic Seaport

Along with commerce, Galveston’s port was a serious portal for immigrants searching for entry into the USA. Historians estimate 200,000 immigrants handed by way of Galveston from 1865-1924 giving the island the popularity because the second Ellis Island. Immediately, you’ll be able to observe the footsteps of these early immigrants at Galveston’s Historic Seaport’s Ship to Shore exhibit. The brand new expertise combines hand-on interactive studying with immersive experiences to deliver to life the true human tales of survival and challenges for these immigrating to the USA by way of Galveston.

Whereas on the seaport, get a style of excessive seas journey by exploring the decks of the Tall Ship Elissa. This floating Nationwide Historic Landmark was inbuilt 1877 as a service provider vessel. Immediately it’s one in all solely three of its sort that also sails actively.

Galveston nonetheless stays an lively port in the present day – in reality, it’s the fourth busiest cruise residence port in the USA. The town is a well-liked departure level for cruises and in late 2022, Norwegian and Princes cruise strains will be a part of Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney because the 5 cruise strains departing from Galveston.



Galveston holds a particular place in American historical past because the birthplace of Juneteenth. Two months after the tip of the Civil Warfare, slavery in Texas remained largely unaffected. That modified on June 19, 1865, when Basic Gordon Granger marched by way of Galveston studying Basic Order No. 3, which introduced all enslaved Africans had been free. From that yr ahead, Texans have noticed Emancipation Day (or Juneteenth as it’s now recognized) to rejoice the liberation of all enslaved individuals throughout Texas.

You possibly can retrace the historic footsteps of Basic Granger and his troops with the Freedom Walk Challenge on the Visit Galveston mobile app. The stroll begins at Pier 21 with the Center Passage marker that commemorates the enslaved Africans who handed by way of the port of Galveston. The stroll features a cease on the 5,000-square-foot Absolute Equality mural. The mural overlooks the positioning historians consider marks the spot that Basic Order No. 3 was first issued.

The East Finish Historic District encapsulates the jewels of Galveston’s Gilded Age © Courtesy of Go to Galveston

East Finish Historic District

The East Finish Historic District is a 50-block space east of downtown that encapsulates the jewels of Galveston’s Gilded Age. The quaint island neighborhood is residence to the biggest assortment of well-preserved Victorian structure within the nation. Colourful historic houses that includes Victorian, Greek Revival, Queen Anne and different architectural types date again to the mid-1800s to early 1900s.

The neighborhood’s most notable houses embrace the oldest surviving residence in Galveston, often called the 1838 Menard Home, the absolutely restored Ashton Villa inbuilt 1859 as one of many first brick constructions in Texas and the 31-room Romanesque Moody Mansion inbuilt 1895. You possibly can tour 20 rooms within the Moody Mansion.

Bishop’s Palace inbuilt 1892 could be Galveston’s grandest constructing. The ornate stone palace options intricately carved ornaments, stained-glass home windows, bronze dragons and a silver fire. The American Institute of Architects cited the Victorian fort as one of many 100 most essential buildings in America.

The Bryan Museum options the world’s largest assortment of Southwestern artifacts, and can be tucked away within the East Finish. The gathering contains 70,000 objects spanning 12,000 years – every thing from unique correspondence from the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte to a Accomplice soldier’s violin-shaped shotgun to a Spanish mission bell is on show. The museum is housed within the historic Galveston Orphan’s Residence, based in 1878.

Texas Tidbit: Take a free self-guided tree sculpture tour by way of Galveston’s East Finish. In 2008, the highly effective waters of Hurricane Ike destroyed the majestic Oaks that after lined the streets. Sculpture artists breathed life again into the timber by turning them right into a murals.