While Houstonians definitely love their cars, there are nooks and crannies of the city that are best explored by foot. In our Walkable Houston series, we traverse those districts to find the prettiest parks, hottest restaurants and bars, coolest local art and shops, and most visit-worthy hidden gems.
At the heart of Galveston Island is its Historic Strand District, also known as the Strand. The entertainment-filled area is the perfect jumping off point if you plan on getting in the water, from dolphin sightseeing tours to jet boat thrill rides and sunset cruises. But it’s totally worth exploring by foot, as well, offering a plethora of Island-style food and drink, quaint boutiques and souvenir shops, art galleries, nightlife, and fun attractions.
Note: For the purposes of this list, The Strand District covers the area surrounding the blocks of 20th to 25th and Strand, running from the bayside of Harborside to Post Office (Avenue E). Nearby but just outside the perimeters, you’ll find attractions including Bishop’s Palace, Ashton Villa, and Moody Mansion.
Play & Explore
- The Strand – Stroll this lively strip (mainly between 20th and 25th) and you’ll find a smorgasbord of shops, restaurants, and beautiful Victoria-era buildings, many of which survived the nation’s greatest natural disaster, the 1900 Storm. The district plays home to a lineup of annual events, including its popular Mardi Gras celebration and a Victorian-style Christmas festival, Dickens on the Strand.
- Post Office Street Arts & Entertainment District – On the outskirts of the Strand, this unique area is home to over 25 restored, historic buildings, unique art galleries and antique shops, with its main attraction being The Grand 1894 Opera House, a majestic theater that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Check out its calendar for a lineup of performances, featuring everything from the orchestra and kids chorus pops to concerts from national musicians.
- Pier 21 – This waterfront dining and entertainment district is located right on Galveston’s harbor, home to three museums. Located at 21st and Harborside on the second floor above Willie G’s, the family-friendly Pier 21 Theater offers showings of three documentary films, including The Great Storm, Pirate Island, and Galveston – Gateway on the Gulf. Visitors can explore a retired jack-up drilling rig at the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, which houses three floors of models and interactive displays. Or check out the Texas Seaport Museum, home to the celebrated 1877 Tall Ship Elissa (with tours available). The museum tells the story of sea-born commerce and immigration, and visitors can search its computer database for ancestors who may have entered the United States through Galveston, known as “’The Ellis Island of the West.”
- Hendley Green – This public park sits on the corner of 21st and Strand, offering a central lawn, oak tree grove, and urban green space perfect for picnics and community events.
- Saengerfest Park – Located on the corner of 23rd and Strand, Saengerfest Park is known for its giant chess set and old-fashioned London photo booth. Lookout for a lineup of events, from movies nights and concerts to holiday celebrations.
- Galveston Railroad Museum – Just west of 25th on Santa Fe, this family-friendly museum sits at the site of the 1932 Santa Fe depot and railyard, 40 pieces of rolling stock, the largest dining car china collection in the Southwest, and two model railroad layouts. Caboose rides run on Saturdays between 11am to 2pm.
- Haunted Mayfield Manor – You’ll find 12 rooms of terror that will leave you terrified and screaming at this year-round haunted house, located at 23rd and Strand. $10 general admission for ages 11 and up.
- Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast – Next door to Haunted Mayfield Manor at this sister attraction, visitors can meet resident pirates, browse the gift shop, and have fun learning the legends, myths, and stories of the Gulf Coast’s last of the Buccaneers. $10 admission, $6.75 for kids age 5 to 13 (free for under 5). Discounted combo tickets to both Haunted Mayfield Manor and Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast are available for $13.95.
- Galveston Art Walk – Hosted on select Saturday nights throughout the year (around every six weeks), the Galveston Art Walk takes place in the heart of the historic district, strolling through the district’s commercial galleries, non-profit arts spaces and more. Visitors can also check out the Galveston Art Center, offering a lineup of rotating exhibitions and educational programming.
- Taste of the Strand Food & Mystery Tour – Not sure where to eat? This three-hour, guided walking tour hits up 11 diverse local food destination, covering everything from Italian, Mexican, and Greek to seafood, barbecue, and candy, and including some of Galveston’ unique stops and shops along the way.
Eat & Drink
Restaurants & Cafes
- Black Pearl Oyster Bar – Slurp oysters alongside po’boys, fish tacos, bbq shrimp and more at this 23rd and Market seafood haunt.
- Eatcetera – Fill up on Black Angus roast beef and bleu cheese sandwiches and smoked chicken and sundried tomato panini at this 25th Street sandwich shop.
- El Jardin – Get breakfast burritos and fajita burritos, plus Mexican specialties like chilaquiles and menudo, at this breakfast-and-lunch spot.
- El Pinoy Restaurante & Groceries – This 21st Street spot offers Filipino home-style dishes and fresh ingredients.
- Fisherman’s Wharf – Located on Pier 21, this family-friendly seafood spot offers everything from fresh Gulf red snapper and stuffed whole flounder to fried shrimp dinners and surf n’ turf.
- Hearsay on the Strand – Downtown Houston’s Hearsay has opened a located on the Strand between 24th and 25th. Dine on crab cakes, French dips, Ahi tuna tacos, and mushroom-crusted NY strip, or stop by for weekend brunch to indulge in eggs benny, lemon-ricotta pancakes, and shrimp & grits.
- Hubcap Grill – Get a taste of one of the biggest, baddest, best burgers in Houston at this Galveston outpost. And don’t forget the fresh-cut fries.
- Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar – Hit this gumbo bar and seafood shack to dig into steam kettle shrimp, seafood platters, burgers, salads, and gumbos filled with seafood, prime rib, and chicken and sausage.
- Mama Teresa’s Flying Pizza – This 21st Street Italian spot slings pizza, pasta, parm dinners and more.
- Mod Coffee House – Over on Post Office, you’ll find pastries, brownies, breakfast and lunch eats, and caffeinated drinks at this coffee shop.
- Old Moon Deli & Pies – Head to this deli and pie shop to get old-fashioned sandwiches, from pastrami to tuna melts, alongside pies by the slice and whole.
- Olympia Grill at Pier 21 – Get at this family-friendly gyro, flaming saganaki, and Santorini seafood pasta at this family-friendly Greek kitchen, with a kids menu featuring mini gyros, chicken strips, and burgers.
- Riondo’s Ristorante – Located in the heart of historic downtown on 23rd and Strand, head here for upscale Italian eats bone-in osso bucco with saffron risotto to housemade spinach gnocchi.
- Rudy and Paco Restaurant & Bar – Treat yourself to plantain-crusted Gulf snapper, prime filet, and sea scallops granada at Latin American fine dining spot, located on Post Office.
- Shrimp ‘N Stuff – You’ll find fried and hot boiled shrimp, po’boys, burgers, seafood platters, and weekend breakfast at this local favorite, located on 23rd and Mechanic.
- Saltwater Grill – This Post Office seafood house dishes out blackened Texas Redfish Pontchartrain, oysters-on-the-half-shell, kettle gumbo and cioppino and more.
- Stranded Corner Galley – You’ll find breakfast tacos and burritos, burgers, dogs, and sandwiches at this quirky Strand stop.
- Taquilo’s Tex-Mex Cantina – Located off Post Office, this Tex-Mex cantina rocks everything from queso and loaded nachos to enchiladas, burritos, and fajitas.
- Trattoria La Vigna – Dine on linguini and clam sauce, seafood risotto, veal scaloppini, and tiramisu at this quaint trattoria off 20th between Market and Post Office.
- Willie G’s Seafood and Steaks – Head to Pier 21 to dine at this waterfront seafood and steakhouse, boasting a patio perfect for admiring ships coming into the harbor or a sunset over the water.
Bars & Nightlife
- Brews Brothers – On 24th and Strand, this brewpub offers craft beers, select wines, fine cigars, and pub grub.
- Bubba’s on the Strand – Catch live music and sip brews at this sports bar on the Strand.
- Buckshot Saloon – This dance hall offers the best of country music and island nightlife. Drunken Monkey’s – On the corner of Strand and 20th, this sports bar is equal parts laidback and fun.
- Fill’er Up – Stop by this Post Office nightclub to dance the night away and fill up on boozy drinks.
- Jack’s Pub on Post Office – With flat screens, billiards, backyard horseshoes, pub-grub and a full-service bar, this pub is the kind of place you can settle into.
- Murphy’s Pub – Just off the Strand on 22nd you’ll find this friendly pub, offering an array of beers, wines, and bar food.
- Old Cellar Bar – Hit this antique bar on Post Office to indulge in fine brandies, scotches, wines, and cigars.
- Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe – Listen to live blues, jazz, and acoustic bands at this local music venue and bar.
- Patrick’s Bar – This easy-going Strand bar is known for fun, games, drinks, and live music.
- The Proletariat Gallery & Public House – You won’t just find a place to unwind with a drink at this gallery and public house, the venue offers a collaborative exhibition and learning space for an array of performing and visual artists.
- Shark Shack Beach Bar & Grill – Ease into the island lifestyle at this beach bar and grill, located on 24th and Strand.
- Sound Bar – The only full karaoke bar in Galveston, Sound Bar hosts karaoke shows every night at 9pm.
- Stuttegarden Tavern – Get schnitzels and craft flights at this 23rd Street German beer garden and pub.
- The Tremont House – This gorgeous, historic hotel rocks a historic lobby bar, chic rooftop bar, and American bistro. Set in the lush palms of the atrium lobby, the iconic Toujouse Bar has been in business since 1888. The stunning Rooftop Bar is the perfect place to unwind with a drink in the open-air, getting even more magical by night when its illuminated by an 8-foot, lightened Manzanita tree. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Tremont Café features Starbucks coffee, pastries, a pizza oven, gourmet sandwiches and entrees, salads, soups, and desserts.
- Yaga’s Café – Stop by this popular patio bar and cafe for eats, drinks, and dancing.
- Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream – Get sundaes, cones, splits, shakes, and ices at this family-owned and operated ice cream shop, located on Post Office.
- La King’s Confectionery – This Strand confectionery is a bucket list hit for those with a sweet tooth. Get old-fashioned ice cream sodas, peanut brittle, saltwater taffy, hand-dipped chocolates, and pecan pralines.
- Old Strand Emporium – Get homemade fudge and candies at this old-timey food emporium.
- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – This sugar-coated franchise offers clusters, caramels, creams, truffles, caramel and candy apples, fudge and more.
Shop & Support Local
- The Strand Shopping – Peruse the bevy of shops located between 20th and 25th. Spend time perusing antiques and treasures at Hendley Market; check out surf wear and beach goods at C-Level and Tola Mo’ Bettah Market; look for antique jewelry, candles, vintage and kitsch at Eighteen Seventy One and Somewhere in Time; or find trendy women’s and men’s clothing and home decor at Emboldened Elegance Boutique. And that’s just the beginning of the unique stores you’ll find lining the Strand.
- Post Office District Shopping – Shop for antiques, jewelry, and art at spots like St. John Antiques, Fullen Jewelry and Affaire d’Art International Fine Art Gallery, get trendy clothes at ha.ba’s Clothing Store and Style Co., and peruse unique finds at Old Galveston Trading Company.
- WEMA Shopping – Just west of the Strand district in an area known as WEMA (West of Market), you’ll find plenty of antiques, arts, shops, and boutiques. Shop for antiques and vintage decor at Antique Warehouse, Flea by the Sea and Twice Around Treasures. Or stop by Maceo Spice and Import Company, a spice shop and café that has been in business since 1944. Step back into time and shop for gourmet grocery items, from fine meats and cheeses to imported spices, oils and vinegar, pasta and more. While you’re there, enjoy a café menu featuring muffalettas, Italian po’boys, and Caprese salads.