Fill your summer with fun for the whole family on Galveston Island

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Moody Gardens | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

Discover a ton of family-friendly fun this summer at museums, attractions, and events on Galveston Island. 

If you’re looking to fill your summer calendar with places to please the whole family, then Galveston Island has plenty on offer to keep family members of all ages delighted, with indoor and outdoor activities.

Scroll down to see some of our favorite family-friendly attractions, museums, and events taking place on Galveston Island and, when you’re ready to go, click here to find the perfect accommodations on the island.

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Stewart Beach | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

Sand, Shore & Surf

Whether you’re looking to take a dip in the waves or stay dry along the shoreside, Galveston Island has plenty to do that will keep you close to the water.

  • Stewart Beach – Located where historic Broadway Avenue meets the Seawall, Galveston’s premier family beach park offers plenty of amenities and special events throughout the summer. Every Saturday through August, beachgoers can learn from professional sand sculptors how to craft their own sandcastle masterpieces, and on select days in July, August, and September, families can go head-to-head with other families in beachside competitions for fantastic prizes at the Galveston Beach Challenge.
  • Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier – Jutting into the Gulf waters, this long-time staple of Galveston tourism was re-opened in 2012 as a throwback amusement park, complete with rides, shops, midway games, and dining options from pizza to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
  • 180th City of Galveston Independence Day Parade and Fireworks on Seawall Boulevard | Thursday, July 4 | FREE – Celebrate the stars and bars with Galveston Island’s annual parade that sends floats and performers down Seawall Boulevard between 59th and 25th Streets. Following the parade, a fireworks display dazzles over the Gulf of Mexico near 37th Street. 7pm.
  • Galveston Island State Park – Located west of the bustling Downtown area, more than 2,000 acres of Gulf Coast barrier island ecosystem are available to explore, with special programming and Saturday morning guides along the beach and around the bay, helping visitors uncover coastal critters in their natural environments.
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1877 Tall Ship Elissa | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB
  • Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 ELISSA – Discover how the Port of Galveston shaped the city and larger Texas region through industry, trade, and immigration. Then, climb aboard the decks of the adjacent 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, one of the oldest ships still sailing the world today.
  • Galveston Naval Museum – Located in Seawolf Park, the Galveston Naval Museum allows guests to tour through the cramped quarters and deep history of two World War II-era watercrafts, the USS Cavalla submarine and the USS Stewart destroyer escort.
  • Seawolf Park – Poking out from Pelican Island, Seawolf Park is home to the vessel tours of the Galveston Naval Museum, as well as one of the island’s most popular fishing piers, picnic sites, and a sprawling playground.
  • Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum – Moored just off Pier 21, this now-retired offshore drilling rig invites visitors to explore life aboard an actual rig with interactive displays and models. Swing by on select summer days for Family Day events at the Ocean Star, with reduced admission and special programming.
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AIA Sandcastle Competition | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB
  • Sand Crab 5K/10K Night Run at East Beach | Saturday, August 17 – Enjoy a rare nighttime run along the shore with 5K, 10K, and Kid’s Mile events that send runners west from East Beach and back again. 8pm to 10:30pm.
  • AIA Sandcastle Competition at East Beach | Saturday, August 24 | FREE – More than sixty teams of talented sand sculptors dig out masterpieces along East Beach at this summer highlight on Galveston Island. This event is free and open to the public for spectating, though parking at East Beach is $15, cash only. 10am to 4:30pm.
  • Baywatch Dolphin Tours – Leaving every hour on the hour, these affordable tours head into the surrounding Gulf waters for closeup views of leaping dolphins in their natural habitat.
  • Galveston Water Adventures – Head into the waters of Galveston’s harbor for dolphin sightseeing tours, head-spinning thrill rides on a jet boat, or relaxing two-hour sunset cruises.
  • Rainforest Cafe – Located along Seawall Boulevard near 53rd Street, this transportive eatery experience allows guests to dine among a vibrant jungle atmosphere, complete with gorilla and elephant animatronics, cloudy mists, the sounds of the rainforest, and a massive aquarium brimming with colorful tropical fish.

Check out a full calendar of events and attractions across Galveston Island.

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The Aquarium Pyramid at Moody Gardens | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

The Strand & Streets

Stray away from the beaches and shoreline and you’ll find a bustling Downtown Galveston with outstanding museums, shopping, and family events to keep your family busy this summer.

  • Moody Gardens – One of the premier Galveston attractions, Moody Gardens boasts an extensive campus highlighted by three looming pyramids of exploration and education, including an aquarium, rainforest exhibits, and a special exhibition hall. Guests can also check out film screenings in 3D and 4D theaters, or take to the waves, lazy river, and slides in Moody Gardens’ own waterpark, Palm Beach.
  • Schlitterbahn Waterpark – Whether you’re atop the slippery, spiraling slides, floating the endless river, or enjoying the cooler environs of the 70,000 square-foot indoor area, Schlitterbahn has plenty of attractions on offer for guests seeking thrills or chill in a splash-filled day of fun.
  • The Historic Strand District – Located in Galveston’s Downtown area, The Strand District is filled with beautiful century-old architecture, some of which survived the catastrophic 1900 Storm. Stroll the streets of The Strand, ducking into unique shops, tantalizing restaurants, or take home delectable sweets from the ever-popular La King’s Confectionary.
  • Galveston Island Trolley – Hop aboard one of these classically designed trolleys to move about the island quickly, from Downtown to Moody Gardens or Stewart Beach via one of the loop routes. Rides are $1 per person.
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Galveston Island Trolley | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB
  • Galveston Railroad Museum – Tour one of the largest restored railroad collections in the southwest, featuring more than forty pieces of locomotives and rolling stock. Plus, on Saturdays from 11am to 1:30pm, guests can hop aboard a real caboose for a mile-long train ride.
  • Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast – Partnered with Haunted Mayfield Manor, guests can hop aboard the deck of a pirate ship, peek into the captain’s cabin, and get up close and personal with actors portraying the notorious pirates Jean Lafitte and his brother, Pierre, who made Galveston their place of operations in the early 1800s.
  • Galveston Children’s Museum – Let the little ones flex their creative muscles at this highly interactive museum complete with a builder’s workshop, painting studios, LEGO zones, puppet theaters, and more.
  • Galveston Arts Center – Home to exhibitions from artists of the region, including some of the island’s own, Galveston Arts Center also has classes on offer each Friday morning through the summer, where kids can explore different artistic mediums and bring something home for the fridge.
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Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

Check out a full calendar of events and attractions across Galveston Island.

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Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

See More & Save with Galveston Island Pass

While you’re on the island, consider taking advantage of Galveston Island Pass to explore Galveston’s charm, history, character, and fun, while saving 40% off admission to local attractions.

When you buy a Galveston Island Pass, you get to pick four or more participating attractions and save 40% off retail price. Passes are valid 30 days after purchase.

Participating Attractions include the 61st Street Fishing Pier, the American Undersea Warfare Center at SeaWolf Park, Bryan Museum, Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid, and more. Click here to see all participating attractions.

Click here to order a Galveston Island Pass or for more information. One pass per person.

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The Strand District | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

This story was sponsored by Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Per our advertising policy, we only accept sponsored content from businesses that meet our editorial standards and truly present a valuable activity, resource, or destination for Houstonians and Houston visitors. Click here to learn about promoting your event, product or business.