Destination: Galveston Island

Galveston Island beach combing

By Rebecca Hadley

Situated less than 50 miles southeast of Houston, Galveston Island occupies a prime  spot on Texas’ coastal real estate. It’s near enough to a major metropolis to offer all the creature comforts you could want, but far enough removed that, once you cross the bridge from the mainland, you feel like you’re a world away. 

In fact, locals like to tout our magical “Causeway Cure”—the notion that by simply traversing the Galveston Causeway, you can bring an end to whatever big-city malady might be plaguing you at the time. Stress, exhaustion, irritability—they all vanish the instant you cross over to the island. I can personally attest to its effectiveness.

Despite the island’s relatively small size, there is no shortage of attractions and events to entertain our more than seven million visitors per year. The Pleasure Pier features rides and games built on a long pier jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico; the historic Strand District offers shopping, dining and special events like Dickens on the Strand and Mardi Gras all set amidst beautiful century-old buildings; and crowds of cruisers board the ships that leave from and arrive at our harbor on most days of the week. And, of course, Galveston offers beaches—miles and miles of them. 

Although Galveston Island is only 27 miles long, almost all of those 27 miles boast public beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico—so there’s plenty of room to wander and explore. And each stretch of beach offers its own unique set of charms and treasures waiting to be found. Since moving here more than five years ago, I’ve trekked just about every nook and cranny of this wonderful place, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite spots with you.

beachcombing galveston island

East Beach/East End Lagoon

At the furthest eastern end of the island sits the East Beach and East End Lagoon area, and it’s one of my favorite places to visit on the island. East Beach is a popular tourist beach in the summer months, but in the winter it can be practically deserted. I like to follow the beach where it takes a westward jog and find myself looking toward the ship channel as the massive tankers glide past on their way up toward Houston. I’ve found all sorts of interesting beach treasures along this lightly trafficked stretch of beach. The East Beach/East End Lagoon area is also a prime destination for birdwatchers who come from all over the country to see the many sea and shorebirds that call the island home.

galveston island state park

Galveston Island State Park 

Located on the west side of the island, far from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area and Seawall beaches, sits the 2,031-acre Galveston Island State Park. The park encompasses both the beach and the bay side, offering several different ecosystems to explore, convenient parking and facilities, more than four miles of trails, abundant campsites, and plenty of RV spots. Not only is the park a great place to enjoy the beach, but it’s one of my favorite places to watch the sun set over Galveston Bay. I’ve also spent many peaceful and happy hours kayaking the miles of paddling trails throughout the park’s bay side. It truly has something for everyone.

downtown galveston texas

Postoffice Street, Downtown Galveston

Even the most ardent beachgoers need a break from the sun and sand for a bit, and Galveston’s downtown area is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, find some souvenirs, or just window shop and stroll. Although Strand Street is our best-known shopping street, I happen to think that Postoffice Street (just three blocks south of Strand) is a more relaxing and enjoyable destination. You can grab a latte and listen to live music at MOD Coffeehouse, get a psychic reading at The Witchery, browse local art at the Rene Wiley Gallery, or enjoy a scoop of Hey Mikey’s homemade Dulce De Leche ice cream. 

There are so many more interesting things to do and see in Galveston that I could spend all day telling you about them. But, more than anything, I hope you come spend some time on our little island just off the coast of Texas so you can see all its charms for yourself. 

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This article appeared in the Glassing Magazine November/December 2018 issue

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