Seven fresh reasons to visit Galveston.
by Karen Derr
For most Houstonians, a visit to Galveston is a summer tradition. But since we probably don’t keep up with what’s new in Galveston, here are some fresh reasons to make the trip and maybe even stay a night or two.
See also: Grand Stars at The Grand
A New Take on the Bishop’s Palace
New research and new technology are two reasons you’ll want to revisit the 1892 Bishop’s Palace this summer. Powered by Acoustiguide, the new Bishop’s Palace audio tour allows visitors to see new historical images on a handheld, high-resolution screen. “This audio tour not only gives visitors a new and exciting tour experience, it also features a newly researched tour,” says Denise Alexander, Director of Museums and Museum Programs. “There’s more information about the Gresham Family and the 1900 Storm, and visitors now get to experience the house at their own pace.” Restoration efforts after Ike uncovered long-forgotten murals painted by Mrs. Gresham. Learn more at galvestonhistory.org/1892_bishops_palace.asp.
The Pleasure Pier
After much anticipation, the Pleasure Pier at 23rd and Seawall Boulevard is finally open. Named after the historic amusement venue that stood on the same site from the 1940s until Hurricane Carla closed it in 1961, the new Pleasure Pier offers family amusement and the first Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. in Texas. While you may enjoy great food at any of the other Landry’s-owned establishments on the island, it’s the view of the Gulf that is phenomenal at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. Crowded with kids of all ages, including a huge staff of local teens, the pier does cater to adults with adult beverages for sale. It’s worth a visit to the fairway to see the stunning vintage decorations on the rides and carousel animals. Even if you choose not to spring for the $10 ticket just to stroll the pier, the beautifully lit rides are lovely to view against the night sky on the Seawall. Find out all about it at pleasurepier.com.
More Antique Shops
Galveston has always offered first-class antiquing opportunities, including nautical antiques. In the past year, even more shops have opened. Bacon Farm Antiques and Oddities ignores the universal antique-store tradition of closing on Mondays, and is open for our browsing pleasure seven days a week. At the same location as the wildly popular Sunflower Bakery at 512 14th Street, together they make a great day trip in and of themselves. The Bacon Farm is a collective of vendors offering all kinds of vintage accessories and furniture, spilling out onto Postoffice Street and into the lobby of the restaurant. Get a comprehensive map to plan your antiquing trip at piecesofship.com/map.htm.
Who hasn’t been to La King’s Confectionary on the Strand for old-fashioned candy, chocolates, and ice cream? For a large group of kids, it can’t be beat. There’s something for everyone and a history lesson to boot, since La King’s still makes saltwater taffy and they are housed in a 150-year-old building at 2323 The Strand. However, if you’re craving baked goods and maybe some items for a beachside picnic, Patty Cakes Bakery is now open at 704 14th Street. Opened last year by the owners of the Mosquito Café, they offer a creative array of sweet treats, breads, and a refrigerated case of salads and drinks. Show your good judgment by choosing a freshly made Greek salad, then splurge on a beautiful petit four that absolutely melts in your mouth. Keep Patty Cakes in mind for Mardi Gras next year too, as their filled King’s Cakes are really something special.
A Yoga Facelift
Kathleen DiNatale has created a lovely studio for yoga classes, and last year she added classes that promise to positively transform your face through yoga. Focusing on techniques for isolation and exercising the muscles of the face, yogis learn postures and breathing practices that promote circulation and detoxify wrinkles. When you’re done with your class, you can stroll around the corner to the Oasis Juice Bar and Market (also DiNatale’s brainchild) for a healthy juice or cup of tea. To check the schedule for the next Yoga Facelift series, go to theyogahaven.net.
New “Old” Places to Stay
Besides a wide array of hotels, Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula offer beach and bayside homes to rent for vacationers. However, historic homes are becoming more and more popular as a choice for island visitors. Galveston’s historic districts offer exquisite homes dating from as early as the mid-1800s. Historic homes can be rented for as little as two days and offer easy access to dining, shopping, and local attractions, with the beach still only blocks away. To find historic vacation rentals, contact The House Company at galvestonislandvacation.com.
Mojitos, Moonlight, and Sandy Feet
Okay, you may still end up at 3rd Coast—but Galveston does have some new bars to try before you retire to your old favorites. The Rum Shack at 3204 Seawall offers frozen mojitos in exotic flavors, along with excellent happy-hour specials on munchies like shrimp kisses and crab-stuffed jalapenos. The same folks who own The Spot and Drip bring Rum Shack to you. The Rooftop Bar at the historic Tremont House Hotel has recently been redone and offers views of the city and the harbor from four stories high. It’s located at 2300 Ships Mechanic Row. Another new hot spot is The Beach Hut, which is Galveston’s only bar on the beach. Located at 8th and Seawall, it offers bar fare and drink specials right on the beach!
Karen Derr is a Houston-area Realtor and founder of Boulevard Realty. She also writes and speaks about home and small-business topics.