Never before has a beach destination been more welcome than this past year.

COVID-19 restrictions have thrust travelers into creative domestic trips, and Galveston, Texas is one of them. Approximately 8 hours by car from Tulsa and 7 from OKC – or a short flight away – you’ll be transported to this island paradise in the Gulf of Mexico.

Imagine the relaxation you’ll feel when you can fly directly into the Galveston airport and bypass all the Houston traffic. Excursions, boutiques, fresh seafood from the wharf and dolphin sightseeing boat cruises will give you a respite from your routine.

The Seawall is the ultimate treat, and the magnetic force attracting you to the sand and waves. Kick off your shoes, stroll in the sand and search for seashells. It sounds so simple, but it’s the ideal therapeutic treatment for the landlocked blues. Just crossing the causeway from Houston into Galveston, you feel a soul-plucking levity as high as the seagulls soar. Your vacation starts as soon as the beach town energy pulses through you.

Pier 21’s dolphin sightseeing cruise is a bargain the whole family can enjoy. Along with viewing these enchanting mammals, the pelicans and seagulls are the true entertainment. The buoyancy of pelicans devouring morsels thrown off the wharf kitchens while the seagulls soar nearby is nature’s ballet. Boat cruisers are mesmerized by the sea wildlife while viewing cruise ships, private yachts and an oil rig all in the same marina.

Galveston has an interesting history of settlement, dating back to 1816. This stunning architecture is preserved in several of the buildings and Victorian landmarks. You can learn about Civil War-era mansions and former pirate dwellings included on bus tours. Bishop’s Palace (also called Gresham’s Palace) is considered one of America’s most significant Victorian mansions. Basement to attic tours are available with a third-floor panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico.

A unique spirit has remained among a proud community of people known as “BOIs” and “IBCs” – standing for those “born on the island” or “islanders by choice.” The latter nickname gives them a distinction from nearby Houston citizens. However, many Houstonians’ affinity for the island draws them there for weekend escapes to their bungalows, beach houses and boats. 

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Island living is truly a state of mind. The minute you arrive on Galveston, you find yourself more relaxed and less stressed. Life is just slower in G-Town.

The Strand

The eclectic district of historic warehouses directly off the pier is utterly charming. Restaurants, coffeehouses and boutiques nestled into picturesque sidewalks are abuzz with live music. Patio bars enhance that beach town essence so you can linger outdoors. The 70+ block district is a National Historic Landmark because of its 19th century architecture. La King’s Confectionery is a must-see stop with delicious candies, chocolates, ice cream and fountain drinks. Reportedly, everything is made on site.

The Wetlands

Don’t miss an opportunity to appreciate the preserved estuarine wetlands of the lower Galveston Bay. Also known as fringing marshes, the mysterious beauty of the thickened vegetation is an excellent example of preservation efforts. It’s hard to believe you’re in Texas when the landscape looks like Costa Rica.

Recommendations

Throughout your trip, enjoy the Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens, amusement park rides, the Railroad and Seaport Museum and the ghost tours. Then, relax and unwind with luxurious spa services (like eucalyptus steam rooms) at Hotel Galvez and Spa. Follow up with an authentic dining extravaganza at the famous Giado’s Seafood restaurant. A weekend itinerary for couples, friends or families is waiting for you.