48 Hours in Galveston, Texas’ Curious Tropical Island

Is there a Bubba Gump shrimp in Galveston, Texas? You betcha there is. A Joe’s Crab Shack too.

This slender strip of land is a beachfront tourist hub after all, and it shows, in parts, but there’s more than mile upon mile of sandy gulf coast shoreline and the requisite chain eateries on this island.

You’ll certainly spend some time on the beach and at the Historic Pleasure Pier during your 48 Hours in Galveston

Over the years, storms have ravaged these 38 miles dangling off of southeast Texas, about an hour as the crow flies and also as the traffic on I-45 allows, from Houston. As such, the only consistent feature of Galveston is its spirit to never be washed out to shore. Not even after 1900 and the storm that didn’t have a proper noun for a name (it predates such naming convention) yet remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Galveston too, remains.

The architecture in Galveston varies from street to street, so much so that if you were blindfolded as if set before a piñata, spun around and then made to guess where you were, answers might range from South Beach to the French Quarter. Oh yeah that’s the other constant in Galveston: the heat. Save for that rando Xmas Eve snowfall a decade ago, Galveston Island sizzles like an everything’s-bigger-in-Texas T-Bone in a 500-degree broiler.

A typical street corner in Galveston

You’re bound to see Charleston and Savannah’s plantation era splendor here too, as well as placeless 1960’s American suburbia, blocks of downtown Detroit abandonment, and brutalist communist concrete office towers of the dreadful 70s because growth has come in waves pre and post hurricanes. It’s as charming as it is unsettling. There is no discernible sense of place which flies in the face of the fact that, unlike Houston, a burgeoning transplant-filled metropolis, people are actually from Galveston. And they are, en masse, rather fond of their island.

Beauty abound during your 48 Hours in Galveston

It’s easy to see why natives love their place, this place. There are miles of beach, sure and that’s not nothing, but there are even more miles of interesting stuff extending a mile, from seawall to harbor: old money legacy, new money innovation, Texas and American history, nature, museums, creative food, youthful fun, and an independent spirit connective tissue binding it all together.

Galveston is also a place where you can expect to see the third largest Mardi Gras parade in the country as well as a decorative golf cart competition of unknowable size. It’s cute here, cute and weird. I spent a few days in Galveston and here’s what I think you should do when you come. And you should come to Galveston, Texas before or after a Carnival cruise or simply on its own — a standalone warm weather getaway. There’s more than enough on this tropical American island to cover a long, lovely weekend.

48 Hours In Galveston


Eat at Hearsay during your 48 Hours in Galveston

Hearsay will take your breath away immediately thanks to teardrop lights hung at various lengths from the 2nd floor ceiling. Try anything and everything from the stand alone vegetarian menu—including the sublime mushroom and asparagus ravioli—or from the robust full menu.

Walk to breakfast at Star Drug Store. Order the goat cheese omelet and a malt. You’re welcome.

The primo destination for a tasty, affordable breakfast while spending 48 Hours in Galveston

Mikey’s Ice Cream shoves free samples into your mouth like Santa doles out gifts. I suffered through coffee and bananas foster on wooden spoons gladhanded to me overtop the glass counter, not wanting to be rude, before ordering a combo Oreo with praline & cream. Deliciously creamy with a texture resembling gelato within 60 seconds of walking outside.

Delicious ice cream to cut the Galveston heat

*If you venture up to Houston (and you should), consider eating at Marché and or Postino…or both.


The Bryan Museum is breathtaking, inside and out

The Bryan Museum is set inside an old orphanage and is easily one of the most beautifully organized, designed and presented museum I’ve seen in the world. IN THE WORLD. The lighting, alignment of artifacts from Texas’ wild past, and rich wood furniture that decorates the Bryan Museum are as inviting as the warm gulf water itself. Plan to spend a couple of hours looking, learning and loving this museum and the structure in which it exists.

Also breathtaking during 48 Hours in Galveston is Bishop’s Palace

Bishop’s Palace is as advertised, a former mansion of a Texas bishop. Walking around this splendid living history museum provides a rare glimpse and physical manifestation of a bygone era.

The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is a unique place, and worth a visit whether you drive a Chevy Silverado or eschew gasoline altogether in your Chevy Volt.

See dolphins (and a cool rusted old intentionally-sunken ship) in the harbor via a tour on the Seagull 2, departing multiple times daily.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark offers a respite from the Texas heat and from picking gulf coast sand out of your baby’s bum.

Walk into and out of the glass pyramids that make up Moody’s Garden rainforest and aquarium. There’s an ocelot in the rainforest and IT. IS. GORGEOUS.

Bike the Galveston seawall with a free bicycle borrowed from Hotel Galvez during your stay!

Have a drink at the adults-only Rooftop bar atop Tremont House!


The Tremont House is an ideal place to stay while spending 48 Hours in Galveston

The Tremont House is within a short easy walk from the Galveston cruise port as well as the shops and eateries on The Strand.

Hotel Galvez is on the other side, steps from the gulf and the Historic Pleasure Pier. Free shuttle service will take you back and forth between Tremont and Galvez, so pick one and enjoy both historic properties!

I was flown down to Houston and Galveston to develop this story and experience both cities. All opinions above are honest and 100% my own.

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