Little Pail Escape: City Meets Beach in Houston and Galveston

This post is a little different because it is about 2 cities. Since Houston and Galveston are just a short ferry ride apart, it makes sense to count them as one destination. You will want to catch the highlights of both.

Fun tidbits about Galveston and Houston:

  1. Galveston Island is a barrier reef island with 32 miles of beaches.
  2. Galveston the city spans two islands – Galveston Island and Pelican Island.
  3. The Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and his crew were shipwrecked on Galveston Island or one in the area (it is unclear exactly which one) in November 1528. He called the island “Isla de Malhado” or “Isle of Bad Fate.”
  4. The residents of Houston eat out more than those in any other city in the US. I can see why. There are so many great restaurants to choose from there.
  5. Houston may be hot but it is not dry. It gets more rain than Seattle.
  6. Houston is big . . . really big. In true Texas fashion, the Houston metro area is larger than the nine US states and even larger than Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut combined.

Don’t miss:

  1. The beaches in Galveston. They opened on May 1, and there are 32 miles of public shorelines to choose from, so you should be able to find one that is not so crowded that you can’t practice social distancing. The Galveston Police Department is actively enforcing safe practices, and ask that you keep at least six feet from others not in your family and do not gather in large groups. You will need to buy a parking pass to enter. You can pay the daily fee or purchase an annual pass for $25 for the seawall, or $50 for the beach parks.  Thanks

  1. Moody Gardens in Galveston reopened May 23. There is so much here that I have to say it is one of the best value attractions in the area. I spent an entire rainy day there when my kids were elementary school-age. There is an outdoor water park, but it is not open yet. There is still a lot to do. As it was raining when I went several years ago, we skipped the water park anyway and still filled an entire day. There is a large indoor aquarium, a huge indoor rainforest with birds, reptiles and rainforest animals. My kids loved the rainforest and spent a few hours just in there. The 3D theatre is currently playing 4 different shows with runtimes varying between 23 and 45 minutes each with 7 showtimes daily. The 4D theatre currently has 2 shows, Sharks and Aquaman, each running 12 minutes with 3 showtimes each daily. Don’t miss the hour-long cruise on the replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat. The museum, ropes course, and zip line are still closed for distancing reasons. You can purchase individual tickets for the attractions you want to see, a daily pass for all attractions, or a season pass. The daily pass is a great value at $60 for adults and $50 for children 4-12 or seniors 65+. The pass includes the 1-hour cruise, both theaters, aquarium, and rainforest. Keep hold of your tickets. If you decide you want to visit a second time you can apply your ticket towards an annual membership. The annual membership is only $100 per person, so you save on just your second visit. Rainy spring days will never ruin your vacation when you have Moody Gardens to look forward to.

  1. Play a relaxing 9 or 18 holes at the Moody Gardens Golf Course, the public course on Galveston Island with an ocean view! Visitors can play 9 holes for $23 or 18 for $30-69 depending on the day and time.
  2. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has reopened. You will need to wear a face mask, get a temperature check, and observe social distancing. Admission is $19 for adults, $16 for seniors 65+, $12 for students 13-18 and 19+ with student ID, and free for 12 and under. It is also available on the Houston CityPass which I would normally recommend as a great money-saver, but cannot at the moment as many of the attractions remain closed.
  3. The best eats in Galveston are at Shykatz Deli & Bakery. They have truly amazing homemade bread and pastries, the friendliest staff, a great atmosphere (that goes a long way with me), great prices, and they serve breakfast all day! Stop in once or twice or daily while you’re there.
  4. If you are planning your trip for later in the summer, then you have to visit Space Center Houston. It is scheduled to reopen on July 1. Learn about the history of space exploration hands-on at this great museum at the very location NASA history was made.

Things to do for free:

  1. The 155-acre Houston Arboretum & Nature center is free to visit. Parking is free on Thursdays but $5 the rest of the week. Walk any of the 13 trails through this coastal wildlife habitat (map here). Bring along your picnic to the neighboring Memorial Park and make a day of it. Check their website for daily programs.
  2. The Menil Collection is a free art museum housing just under 15,000 works spanning centuries. I took my aspiring artist here one summer in middle school and now she is a junior studying illustration at a prestigious art school. I won’t say the Menil Collection is entirely responsible for her success, but trips like this fostered her love of art over the years. This museum was one of her favorites that we visited.
  3. If you still need more art, a visit to Rice University’s newest outdoor installation is sure to satisfy. The Twilight Epiphany frames the night sky with a color-changing, LED-lit frame. Since my last trip was just before this was installed, I can’t wait to go back and see it.


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