Planning a Trip
Getting There -- The nearest commercial airports are in Houston. Take the Gulf Freeway (I-45 south) from Houston. After crossing over to Galveston Island, the highway becomes a wide boulevard called Broadway.
Orientation -- Broadway, Galveston's main street, doesn't cut directly across the island to the seashore; instead, it slants eastward and arrives at the seashore on the east end of the island, in front of Stewart Beach. Streets crossing Broadway are numbered; those parallel to Broadway have letters or names.
The East End Historic District and the old Strand District are north of Broadway. The Historic District is the old silk-stocking neighborhood that runs from 9th to 19th streets between Broadway and Church Street. It has many lovely houses that have been completely restored. Three large mansions-turned-museums have regular tours (pending posthurricane renovations), and the city's historical preservation society holds tours of several private houses in May (inquire at the visitor center). The Strand District is the restored commercial district that runs between 19th and 25th streets between Church Street and the harbor piers. When cotton was king, Galveston was a booming port and commercial center, and the Strand was dubbed the "Wall Street of the Southwest." What you see now are three- and four-story buildings along 6 blocks of the Strand and along some of the side streets; many of these are Victorian iron-fronts, so called because the facades included structural and decorative ironwork. This was a common building practice before the turn of the 20th century. Nowadays the Strand is a shopping and dining area that offers a wide variety of stores.
Visitor Information -- If you're planning a trip, check the Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau's website at www.galvestoncvb.com or call tel. 888/GAL-ISLE (425-4753). If you're in town already, visit their information center at 2428 Seawall Blvd., close to 25th Street (tel. 409/763-4311). It's open daily from 9am to 5pm.
Getting Around -- Most of Galveston's hotels, motels, and restaurants are located along the sea wall from where Broadway meets the shore all the way west past 60th Street. If you're on the sea wall around 25th Street (near the visitor center), you can take the Galveston Island Rail Trolley (tel. 409/797-3900) to the Strand District. The fare is $1 (in either coins or bills) from the sea wall to the Strand.