Crowning attraction of Galveston is the 10-mile beachfront along Seawall Avenue. It's pretty much what you'd expect with inland side lined with hotels/condos, restaurants, shops, and any other tourist trap-line of nonsense. Across the Avenue is the seawall which also includes parallel parking and promenade/sidewalk the entire length.
In many spots tides are pounding at the base, but closer to the center are where public beach spots are found. They've lifeguards and vendors renting chairs/umbrellas along with obvious beach hawkers. There were quite a few already out for the morning, but we agreed our secluded spot in the National Park was better.
When coming to the large intersection where 21st Street intersects the Avenue, take a left for heading towards the historic downtown area. Once you get to Broadway, grand old homes begin lining the side streets; a detour definitely in order! Off 21st St., you'll find more if turning right on any of the streets. Once closer to the downtown area, this entire quadrant is traceable through the historical markers on street signs.
There was currently a major restoration effort underway for this entire neighborhood with mansions taking on a Victorian look combined with that indefinable style of the deep-south that languishes the grand life.
Streets were lined with shade trees providing a canopy to drive under while marveling the intricate details that had withstood countless tropical storms and hurricanes. Well-manicured lawns were hugging expansive front porches; verandas above also lined with baskets of ferns all but quivering from drinking in the dank sea air. Surprisingly, the area was ethnically diverse, but the big kicker was finding "For Sale" signs in yards of so many restored homes; a whole new set of tantalizing opportunities for dreaming.
Finding your way back to 21st Street, continue heading in your original direction and the downtown area is just a few blocks ahead. There was metered parking easily found for exploring. Strand is the Hot Spot with its old west look housing some fairly upscale shops as well as junk marts. I was surprised at the reasonable prices on varied selections of original art, handicrafts, specialty items and collectibles; of course all with tempting beach-related theme.
Remembering the original budget plan, I browsed without looking too close...eventually finding myself outside waiting for those which couldn't restrain. Tucked away in deep shade of an elevated porch, it's nostalgic to hear clopping of tires on nearby brick streets. Here, even more appreciable with random passing carriages or historical trolley that runs the downtown area and out to the Seawall.
Many cruise ships now depart from Galveston; the port two blocks off Strand. If you're looking for restaurants, the majority were located dockside including Joe's Crab Shack.
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Royal Center, Indiana
April 5, 2005
The first thing I learned is that Galveston is located on an island not on the mainland of Texas. The island was nearly wiped out by a hurricane in the early 1900s and much of the commercial area devastated by fire in about the same period. We are fortunate that many of the structures in the commercial area were built of stone and brick and survived the devastation.
Galveston has numerous examples of elegant and beautiful Victorian homes and commercial structures, most of which are listed on either the State or Federal Register of Historic Buildings. Don’t set out to Galveston without your camera and plenty of film!
If you drive to Galveston, find a place, park your car and walk. The Historic District, the museums, and the theatre are all within an easy walking distance from each other as are many interesting food establishments. Most of the commercial buildings are located in an area near the harbor along a street called The Strand and are currently used as retail or office space. Many of them have the second floor balconies and extremely high first floor ceilings reminiscent of New Orleans or Savannah.
The Victorian homes are located along and a few blocks on either side of Broadway Avenue, the main street you will use to enter Galveston from the North. Many are restored to their former grandeur and others are waiting for the touch of a hammer and nails and a paint brush. All are worth a closer look.
Moored in the harbor is the ship "Elissa". Built in Scotland in 1877, the Elissa is an iron-hulled sailing ship measuring 205 feet long. Unlike many tall ships today the "Elissa" is a survivor not a reproduction. In the Texas Seaport Museum are video presentations and numerous photographs depicting the restoration of this great old ship. The "Elissa" is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Along with a really great dinner, diners at the "The Fisherman’s Wharf" restaurant get a view of the "Elissa" from the either the inside or outside dining rooms.
Shops along The Strand feature the usual T-shirt/cap/coffee cup-type souvenirs, and one shop, "Mo Betta Stuff", offers many unique items made from shells at very affordable prices. It is well worth a stop.
From the north side of Houston, plan 1-1.5 hours of driving time, depending upon the volume of traffic. Interstate 45 ends in Galveston on Broadway Avenue and the most visited areas are on the east side (a right turn) and well-marked. Keep traveling into Galveston until you see a monument to the liberation of Texas in the center of the intersection. A right turn at any street from there on south will get you to the harbor and historical areas of town.
From journal By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea
by Jose Kevo
July 7, 2004
From journal ROADTRIP - Celebrating Independence a Week Early
by Julie Hood
Galveston, Texas, Texas
July 17, 2000
From journal FAMILY FUN AT GALVESTON ISLAND