The ultimate Galveston bucket list: These are the must-do activities at this Gulf Coast


Reeling in the catch of a lifetime at one of the island’s countless fishing spots, sipping a mojito while dining al fresco at the island’s oldest operating restaurant, grabbing a lot of beads at Mardi Gras! Galveston . . . and a bunch of other Galveston-centric things.

A brief warning: This list is not for the faint of heart (one-time tourists and occasional beachgoers, we mean you). Completing every item on this list takes years, dare we say a lifetime? So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the things that every islander and Houston-area resident should do in Galveston before they die.

Suggestion: Crank this tasty Texas tune while you peruse the list.

Soak up some sun on Galveston Island’s sandy beaches

Yeah, this particular bucket list item is pretty obvious but it’s a biggie. If you’ve never traversed the island’s sandy coast or sunk your toes in the warm sand, have you truly experienced Galveston? We think not. When you’re ready to soak up some rays, head to the island’s public beach parks Stewart Beach and East Beach (open seasonally) or try one of the Seawall beaches (open year-round).


Tour one of the island’s most opulent abodes

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 14: Bishop Palace, also known as Gresham Castle, an ornate Victorian-style house, located on Broadway and 14th Street in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images) (Getty)

The stunning Victorian-era home known both as the Bishop’s Palace and as the Walter Gresham House is among the best preserved structures from Galveston’s era as the state’s first major boom town. Sitting at 1402 Broadway, it was built for attorney, railroad magnate and Civil War veteran Col. Walter Gresham, who relocated to Galveston from Virginia with his wife following the war, according to Designed by famed Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton between 1887 and 1893, the home is one of the island’s last surviving structures from its great era of mansion building. Constructed of steel and stone, the three-story structure survived the Great Storm of 1900 almost unscathed. The Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston bought the house in 1923, and for many years it served as the seat of the local bishop (hence the name Bishop’s Palace), according to the Texas State Historical Association. The Galveston Historical Foundation bought the mansion in 2013.


Considered one of the country’s finest examples of Victorian architecture, Bishop’s Palace is listed by the U. S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.

The Bishop’s Palace is available for public tours daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1402 Broadway Avenue J, (409) 762-2475;

Catch a live show at The Grand 1894 Opera House

The opera house was built in 1894 at a cost of $100,000. Lovingly dubbed The Grand, the opera house is one of the few remaining theatres of its era in Texas and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As further recognition of its importance, in 1993 the 73rd Texas Legislature proclaimed the theater “The Official Opera House of Texas.” Throughout the years, the opera house survived many threats, including numerous storms (most notably the 1900 storm) and periods of neglect. The Grand underwent an $8,000,000 restoration between 1972 and 1990.


Stay the night in Galveston’s most infamous haunted hotel room

(Original Caption) Galveston, Texas: The Galvez Hotel in which is directly behind the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Getty)

Opened in 1911 as a symbol of Galveston’s resiliency in the wake of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (which killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people and remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history), Hotel Galvez is one of the Gulf Coast’s most luxurious beachfront hotels . . . and it’s got a little extra spirit, if you know what we mean.

Throughout its illustrious history, the Queen of the Gulf has played host to presidents, celebrities and, purportedly, even a few ghosts, including the spirit of a lovelorn woman who supposedly committed suicide in room 501. The tale goes that the young woman, Audra, was waiting for her beloved, a sailor, to return from a voyage when, one day, she received news that her fiancé’s ship had sunk during a powerful storm. Audra held out hope and kept her vigil for days but she ultimately lost hope. Convinced her fiancé was dead, she hanged herself. A few days later, Audra’s fiancé returned to the Galvez in search of the bride he’d never marry. Audra reportedly still inhabits room 501. Guests and employees have noted unexplained phenomena, including flickering lights, doors that open and close, unexplained footsteps and voices on the hotel’s fifth floor. Audra sightings in the hallway have also been reported.


Hotel Galvez is located at 2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, (409) 765-7721,

Hop aboard the Harborside Express

Inside the Galveston Railroad Museum. (Photo provided by Galveston Island)

Hop aboard the Galveston Railroad Museum’s Harborside Express (open only on weekends) for a 15-minute train ride on an open-air caboose. Then take a trip through the museum, housed at the site of the 1932 depot, railyard and headquarters of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad. The museum has five acres of trains, including 40 pieces of locomotives and rolling stock. Highlights include a massive model train exhibit and the world’s largest collection of railroad dining ware.

The Galveston Railroad Museum is located at 2602 Santa Fe Place, Galveston.

Catch a fish you can brag about

Whether you’re a fishing newbie or an expert angler, Galveston Island offers plenty of places to cast your line and reel up a catch you can brag about. From beaches to piers to parks, there are countless fishing spots. Seawolf Park, 61st Street Fishing Pier, Jimmy’s on the Pier, Jamail Bay Park, and the Seawall Jetty Rock are among some of the most popular fishing locations. Want something a bit more remote? A bit more challenging? Charter a boat and try your hand at deep-sea fishing. White and blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, and dorado are all out there, ripe for the taking.


Step aboard one of the oldest ships still sailing the high seas

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: Tall ship Elissa, Galveston, Texas (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images) (Getty)

On an Island jam-packed with artifacts and treasures of the decades past, one particularly large relic is a must-see. The Elissa, an iron-hulled, three-masted barque, is one of the oldest ships still sailing. She launched in 1877 from Aberdeen, Scotland, and for the next 90 odd years, the ship lugged commercial cargo to and from North America, South America, Europe and elsewhere. Through the years, the ship changed hands and names multiple times, sometimes going by Fjeld, Gustaf, Christophoros and Achaios, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Elissa docked in Galveston in 1883 and again in 1886.

In 1978, the Galveston Historical Foundation brought the ship from Greece to Galveston, restored the vessel and converted it into a floating museum. Now berthed at Pier 21 in Galveston, the ship is one of the island’s most-visited attractions (aside from its beaches) and receives some 60,000 visitors each year. Fun fact: In 1978 the ship became the first item outside the United States to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Seaport Museum tours of the 1877 tall ship Elissa daily.


2200 Harborside Dr, Galveston, (409) 763-1877

Amass a small collection of beads at the state’s largest Mardi Gras celebration, Mardi Gras! Galveston

Galveston Mardi Gras Parade, Krewe of Barkus and Meoux

As if we could leave Mardi Gras off this list . . . Come Fat Tuesday, get into the Mardi Gras spirit with a trip to Galveston, the site of the third largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States: Mardi Gras! Galveston. Prepare to amass a budding collection of beads at this parade-packed extravaganza.

Walk the decks of the USS Stewart

The Galveston Naval Museum is located in Galveston’s Seawolf Park on Pelican Island, formerly a welcoming point for immigrants arriving at the turn of the century. The WWII museum offers a look inside the WWII submarine the USS Cavalla and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart. The remains of the WWI tanker S.S. Selma, the largest…


Read More:The ultimate Galveston bucket list: These are the must-do activities at this Gulf Coast

Products You May Like