Here are the things to do in Galveston, with kids! It includes a beach guide... and a lot more that does not include the sand!
I moved to Houston from San Diego, where I lived right at Ocean Beach. Each day I would walk along the water, go for a run, grab lunch from the local cafe or just sit and watch the people.
Now I’m in Houston, where some people love to not love Galveston beaches… but I really do like having it so close. It's a sunny and sandy getaway that is only about 45 minutes from downtown!
Whether we are looking for a beach, museum, park or restaurant, the small Galveston Island has them... and they are easy to get to! Below are the places we've visited with kids (and not just a laundry list of things to do). If you can personally recommend another spot... let us know and we'll add it!
Here's an overview of the beaches... from east to west.
- East Beach: Not far from the Seawall is East Beach on the tip of the island. It has a pavilion, playground, restrooms, showers, concessions… and alcohol is permitted and it is known for the festivals and live concerts.
- Stewart Beach: Located right after I45 turns into Broadway… and where Broadway meets the Seawall, the beach is very easy to find. This beach has a pavilion, concessions, restrooms, showers, playground, volleyball courts and more. No alcohol is allowed on this family beach.
- Seawall Beach: This busy beach is what you see when you drive by the hotels and restaraunts. Street parking is metered but beach access is free.
- West Beach: Before moving to Texas, I had never seen cars on the beach… and that first time a friend told me to drive on the sand, I thought she was insane. But now I think that cars on the beach are not beautiful, but it sure is easy. Just drive on to the packed sand, back up to the water and have everything you need without hauling bags and chairs and coolers and kids. And West Beach is free!
- Galveston Island State Park: The cool thing about Galveston Island State Park is that there are not many people, but there are showers, changing rooms, a nature center, miles of trails, camp sites, places for kayaking and more.
- Jamaica Beach: Like West Beach, this little section of beach has drive-on-the-beach access. The public beach is the area of sand from the vegetation line to the water’s edge.
If you were to keep driving west, you would eventually get to Surfside Beach, which is a small beach community.
Find the official beach guide HERE.
- Galveston Children's Museum: Small, not crazy busy, housed in the Moody Mansion and has lots of fun things to do. My big kids loved the Lego car ramps and the little woodworking station. My little kids love just about everything.
- Galveston Railroad Museum: Trains! The museum is quite big with the old depot, lots and lots of restored trains, a model train building, concessions and more.
- Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum: The Ocean Star Museum is housed in a retired jackup drilling rig. There are three floors of models and interactive displays that show the history of offshore oil and gas. There are movies, scale models, actual drill bits, vehicles and more. There is also a third floor skywalk to the drill floor of the rig!
Parks and Amusement Parks
- Moody Gardens and Palm Beach Waterpark: Visit the pyramids, 4D movies, small water park, ropes course or holiday events at Moody Gardens.
- Schlitterbahn Galveston: Big slides, lazy rivers, kids pools and lots of fun! It's open during the summer and winter!
- Seawolf Park: Located on the water, with an amazing playground, a Navy submarine and destroyer escort, is Seawolf Park!
- Flagship Park: This is an AMAZING Space City playground. You have to see this giant space shuttle play structure!
- Lasker Park: Thanks to a tip from Nicole, we found this pool with slides and fun for all ages. Non-residents can swim for a fee.
- Menard Park: When you are on the beach, you may not notice it because there is a rec center building on the street. Just behind this there is a splashpad, skate park, dog park and playground.
Here are some family friendly restaurants to get you started. Just know that many of the restaurants are closed on Mondays, even during busy season, so check before you go!
- Shrimp N Stuff: The original location is super casual and has customers lined up out the door. We like this location best!!
- Shrimp N Stuff Downtown: This is a family friendly restaurant with several locations in Galveston. It is a nice place that is kid friendly and has many options (in addition to shrimp!) that are under $10.
- The Spot: I asked where to eat in Galveston, with kids… and approximately one million people told me to go to The Spot. Sit on the deck and enjoy the view.
- LA Kings Confectionery: Go back in time to this old candy story... and catch the taffy as it's made and thrown out to the crowd!
- Mosquito Cafe: Fresh homemade food with a lot of gluten free choices! Locals eat here!
- Maceo Spice & Import Company in Galveston: This place is known for the best muffaletta, which is also a specialty Italian grocery. Pick up some spices and a few jars of tomato gravy (like spaghetti sauce)!
Also, here are the places recommended by Nicole B, a Galveston local... they are on our list to try soon!
More to Do
- Dolphin Tours: Watch the dolphins swim by the boat on this hour long tour!
- Galveston Island Port Bolivar Ferry: Drive right on to this free ferry! The only catch is the wait times... so check the website to know the latest times before you go.
- Tree Sculpture Tour: Hurricane Ike uprooted thousands of trees in Galveston and destroyed much of the tree canopy. Artists then turned many of these trees into whimsical art around the island. Take a tour!
- The Strand: Just take some time to walk down this popular street, shop in the local stores and people watch!
And here are recommendations from locals that we will try soon!
- Rosenberg Library It has a fantastic children’s area, with a bank of touch screen computers loaded up with fun games, story times and art project sessions - and the library has a wonderful free museum on the 4th floor all about the history of Galveston.
- Haunted Mayfield Manor For older kids/teens, this is fun and historical.