Thanks to Galveston.com for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are our own.
When we were recently asked about ideas for planning a family multi-generational vacation we remembered Galveston. Even though our visit a few years ago was an empty nest getaway, we recalled that it might just be the perfect place to accomplish the kid’s version of combining business with pleasure. A great way to merge a little history in with all of the water-soaked fun they can stand.
The wild and windblown story of Galveston began as a haven for pirates, just the kind of past that catches the attention of any kid. After helping Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans in The War of 1812, the pirate Jean Lafitte set up shop on Galveston Island and proclaimed himself the head of the government of his new pirate kingdom, Campeche. Arrrgh mateys, I declare me-self king!
But in 1821, the United States Navy ran Lafitte off and the Port of Galveston grew into one of America’s busiest ports. In fact it has become America’s forth most popular place to set out on a cruise with ships headed throughout the Caribbean and Central America.
A booming town sprouted up around the harbor, and the area known as The Strand became the city’s main business center. This National Historic Landmark District filled with Victorian era buildings is home to all of the restaurants and shops that any kid, parent, or grandparent could ever want.
We loved the nearby East End Historic District on our trip to the island, as we leisurely rode our bikes through row after row of incredibly ornate turn of the century homes.
Returning with kids in tow might require reducing that to a quick pass to see the Bishop’s Palace and the Moody Mansion on the way to the beach, unless the kids get enthralled by the Galveston Children’s Museum in the basement of the Moody house.
Still, the island really is all about the beach, thirty-two miles of it to be exact, and part of that sandy shore is lined by a Seawall that forms the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. Even if the wall’s real job is to protect the island from the fierce storms that sometimes blow ashore, the result is a gorgeous promenade along the Gulf of Mexico. Hey, there’s another example of combining function with fun.
Speaking of fun, the Historic Galveston Pleasure Pier has reopened after being damaged by a couple of those storms. What began as a recreational facility for the United States military during World War II has become a spot for waterfront fun and entertainment like no other along the Gulf Coast.
If the rides at the pier aren’t quite exciting enough, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark has just opened the tallest watercoaster in the world. That alone is enough to inspire the fearless kids in our GypsyNester hearts.
If we want to sneak a little more learning in with the fun, Moody Gardens is right next door with a fantastic aquarium and the Rainforest Pyramid. Both feature exotic wildlife from around the world with a focus on education, conservation, and possibly future breeding rare and endangered animals.
Never fear though, it is certainly not all work and no play at the gardens, they also feature a five level Sky Trail Ropes Course towering over eighty feet high, and a five-hundred foot zip line.
So even though the younger generations won’t know they are learning, or have any idea what the Glen Campbell song we keep singing is, they will always remember Galveston.