A picture is worth a thousand words so they say.
When I think of Galveston, I think of horse-drawn carriages, spring break, The Strand, the Seawall and 4 wheel bicycles. We had 24 hours to see all we could see in Galveston before boarding a cruise to sail the Caribbean. What to do? It was the first time visiting Galveston for all of us. We chose a hotel located right on the famous Seawall, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort. We had ocean view from our room, a much different ocean than what we are used to in Hawaii.
The weather on the Gulf is very unpredictable. In fact, ships are delayed coming into port and pulling out due to heavy fog at times. The ocean is less blue and more gray than Hawaii. Needless to say, we were not there for the ocean. We were off to sight see! Situated right on the seawall, we grabbed a 4 wheel bike and peddled on down Seawall Blvd. The 4-wheel bike was a first for all of us. Tip: ride in the back seat to take frequent breaks from peddling and the front passengers are unaware. Bike rentals are available all along Seawall Blvd. I can’t remember how much we paid but it was fairly inexpensive and by the hour.
First stop, The Strand historic district. The Strand is 5 blocks spanning from 20th to 25th street fronting the wharf. It is lined with Victorian style buildings full of restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops. I love seeing the massive cruise ships all in port visible from all streets. The Strand hosts all kinds of festivals throughout the year and is a major tourist spot. The actual street, created in 1830, is called Avenue B but has been referred to as “The Strand” named by a German jewelry store owner who thought it sounded better. The Strand is named after a street in London and means shore or riverbank. Galveston is known for it’s horse and carriage rides, trolleys, county museum, factory outlets, galleries, beef jerky shops, and confectionaries.
The Strand suffered catastrophic damage after the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Many buildings and businesses first floors were entirely wiped out.
Best part about La Kings Confectionary, a throwback from the 1920’s, their products are available for order on line!!! So, no need to hand carry or shove all of their yumminess in your luggage. Tourists are drawn into the shop by the sweet aroma filling the air outside. It smells like waffle cones and homemade caramel sauce. La Kings uses 19th century methods of making candy, using traditional equipment. Our kids loved the 1920’s soda fountain that serves malts, shakes, ice cream sodas, sundaes, splits, and floats (pictured above). La Kings also makes Purity ice cream founded in 1889 on Galveston Island. Some of the award winning treats are: fruit slices, salt water taffy, handmade chocolates, pecan logs, divinity, and pecan pralines.
As we rode bikes along Seawall Blvd., a pier in the distance became larger and larger as we approached. It was Pleasure Pier! Since we rented the bike by the hour, we chose not to explore the pier, observing from the road instead, listening to all the screams coming from the roller coasters. In addition, you can’t walk on without a $10 per person walk-on pass. We didn’t want to pay $40 to take a look around. $26.99 per person will get you unlimited rides. Family packages are also available for $89.99 2 adults/2kids, $94.99 3 adults/1 child or $99.99 4 adults.
Strolling around the Strand we ended up at Galveston’s Pier 19, where we noticed a huge offshore oil driller, the Ocean Star. The jack-up rig is now a museum which visitors can take a self-guided tour. The oil drilling equipment is on display and visitors can learn about oil to gas production. Admission is $9 for adults.
When in Rome….we smelled the wharf and instantly craved oysters on the half shell. After asking around town, several locals mentioned the Black Pearl Oyster Bar located at 327 23rd Street. Yelp rates the restaurant 4 stars- another good sign. When we saw people waiting in a long line outside the door, we knew it had to be great! Oysters are severed as Oysters Rockafeller with spinach cream cheese; Oysters Haelen topped with crab meat, cheddar, and bacon; or Oysters Diablo with spicy diablo sauce, shrimp, and cheddar. Other menu items include Po-boys, sandwiches and fresh salads for lunch. Choose specialties such as, barbecue shrimp, crab cakes, fish tacos, crawfish etouffee, ribeyes or grilled pork chops. For seafood options, try the hand-battered fresh fish and choose from flounder, snapper, salmon, ahi tuna, talapia, or catfish. Yum!!!
Dining in Galveston~ there are a ton of restaurants located up and down Seawall blvd. After returning our 4-wheel bike, we popped into The Rainforest Café. Not exactly unique to Galveston or Texas for that matter, but we always love a great chain restaurant that we don’t have back home.