When Hurricane Ike pummeled the city of Galveston in 2008, it was unrelenting and unforgiving as it took lives and caused billions of dollars of damage in infrastructure, housing and public utilities. But no calamity could dampen the spirit of the people nor diminish the beauty of this romantic city nestled in the heart of south Texas just 40 minutes from Houston. While recovery was slow at first, it was sure and steady and now Galveston is all the more better to visit because of this life-changing experience.
Begin your tour of Galveston at Moody Gardens in One Hope Boulevard where a variety of experiences make for a fun day out, including the Aquarium Pyramid with its penguins and sharks. Also, the Rainforest Pyramid and the Discovery Pyramid are definitely must-sees. And you can even enjoy a leisurely cruise onboard the 19th century sternwheeler The Colonel, which is docked at Moody Gardens. The whole family will surely enjoy a day at the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island with its rides, water coasters, slides, playground and its heated indoor water park. You can also try riding on the Galveston Island Ferry that runs from the island to Port Bolivar every 20 minutes -- it offers another view of the island and it's free! And don't forget to include The Great Storm in Pier 21, the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, and Seawolf Park on your itinerary. Or you can always just head for the beach. Galveston boasts a 32-mile stretch of beaches.
There are over a hundred restaurants in Galveston and a variety of cuisines to suit every taste. Whether you're craving seafood, Tuscan or Cajun, you can head to any of the restaurants along Postoffice Street in the Historic Downtown Strand District. There are also good eats along The Seawall and Market Street. If you fancy a drink, bars and pubs can be found in these areas as well.
Quaint shops selling antiques, souvenirs, jewelry and other decor can be found in the Historic Downtown Strand District with its charming and well-preserved Victorian-era buildings. If you need beachwear or gear for your ocean escapades, visit any of the shops along The Seawall, the 10-mile, 17-foot tall wall that protects the island from storms. There are also boutiques, souvenir shops and bike rental shops here.