Among the closest beaches in reach of Austin, Houston and San Antonio, Galveston is ready to accommodate that summertime itch to watch the sun go down in the land of sand. With 32 miles of shoreline and a variety of parks, Galveston Island offers something for all beachgoers.

Unparalleled luxury can be found at The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, a 32-acre, beachfront hotel and spa resort right on the island. Recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award® since 1999, The San Luis Resort offers a hotel and resort experience you won’t soon forget. With lavish accommodations, breathtaking Gulf views and personalized service, San Luis has an all-inclusive feel.

Dine at their award-winning restaurants, sip a refreshing cocktail in the fabulous The Cove pool, enjoy luxurious resort amenities and then step into the excitement of historic Galveston Island, which offers a wide array of activities on land and sea with sun-drenched beaches, historic sites and famed shopping. Relax and unwind in Gulf-view guest rooms after a “hard” day at the beach.

An educational tourist destination, with a golf course and hotel in Galveston, Texas, Moody Gardens opened in 1986. The non-profit destination uses nature to educate and excite visitors about conservation and wildlife.

The multi-million dollar investment is a contribution to the city on the part of Moody Gardens and the culmination of the vision to provide a first-class public golf course for local residents and visitors to the Island. The course features Paspalum turf, designed for seaside golf courses and providing an outstanding playing surface.

To keep playing surfaces in top condition, a new water treatment plant and irrigation system were included in a renovation project. This improvement in water quality optimizes playing surfaces and also provides water for landscaped areas around the clubhouse and on the golf course. The course highlights its unique seaside tropical feel with 18 holes meandering through upland and lowland native areas, natural wetlands habitat of beautiful Sydnor Bayou and over 500 palm trees.

Featuring three main pyramid attractions: the Aquarium Pyramid, which is one of the largest in the region and holds many species of fish and other marine animals; the Rainforest Pyramid, which contains tropical plants, animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, and a variety of other rainforest animals including free-roaming monkeys and two-toed sloths; and the Discovery Pyramid, which focuses on science-oriented exhibits and activities.

Another major attraction at Moody Gardens is Palm Beach, a landscaped white sand beach mainly open in the summer, with a small water park for children, freshwater lagoons, a lazy river, tower slides, a hot tub, ziplines, and a splash pad play area for children. Moody Gardens also has a RideFilm Theater with motion-based pod seating, the MG 3D Theater features the largest screen in the state of Texas, 4D Special FX Theater, paddlewheel cruise boat, a hotel, golf course and a convention center.

With waterfront fun and entertainment like no other Gulf Coast destination, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier features family-oriented attractions will have you busy for a day, maybe two with rides, midway games, a wide selection of food venues and retail shops.

Many of the rides at Pleasure Pier are over the water. You’ll be flying over guests on the Pier, soaring over the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying the ride all at the same time. If mystery is your thing, there’s an 8-minute adventure of a lifetime to be had in a 5D theater Mysterious Underworld ride.

Rivers connect for a mile of fun through three distinct park sections at Schlitterbahn Galveston. The water park is home to four high thrill speed slides including Rohr!, Cliffhanger, and the immersive Screaming Serpents body slide. Surfenburg has raft rides and water coasters with great picnic pavilions and the Tiki Tikes Kids Area for kids of all ages. The world’s tallest water coaster MASSIV Monster Blaster can be found in Blastenhoff with a wave pool – Shipwreck Harbor, and a swim-up bar. If you are looking for a way to cool off on Galveston Island and entertain your family, this is it.

Aaron Martinez of Schlitterbahn said, “Schlitterbahn is the iconic Texas summertime tradition for Texas and non-Texans alike. Schlitterbahn Galveston attracts visitors of all ages from all around the world. From mild to wild, there is something for everyone at Schlitterbahn. Thrill-seekers can challenge the World’s Tallest Water Coaster, MASSIV or take on the galactic experience, Infinity Racers. Kiddos can play in Wasserfest kids area or the Whitewater river. And folks just looking to relax can do so in one of two heated pools and swim-up bars, in a private cabana or in the Kristal River. Schlitterbahn truly is the hottest, coolest time in Texas!”

If you’re ready for the thrill of a lifetime and what Skydive Galveston’s owner calls an “air bath”, book your skydiving experience. After an individualized training program one on one with the instructor you’re going to jump with, you’ll be harnessed and ready to jump.

In the air you will get to enjoy some amazing views of Galveston Island, the Gulf Of Mexico and the sandy beaches. While all this is happening, your tandem skydive instructors are doing their best to keep you calm. At the same time, they are double-checking all their jump procedures.

You’ll be hooked to your tandem jump instructor. They will fully check you and them, before going through the sequence of the jump again to refresh your memory. It’s easy to forget things while on the ride to altitude. This is an excellent opportunity to address anything you have forgotten and make you comfortable.

The door opens and your instructor will talk you through getting in position ready to jump. You get to pose for some final photos in the door, and then we launch you into freefall. Now you can breathe a little and enjoy the rush of 120 mph while soaking up the beach and ocean views.

After a breathtaking canopy ride you’ll be landed safely on the beach, have an opportunity to reflect on the epic adventure you just undertook and congratulate yourself for your bravery. From there you’ll be transported back to where it all started, have some wind-down time with your instructors and be presented with your very own certificate and the video and/or photos you purchased.

A Galveston visit isn’t complete without a stop at one of the area’s many delicious restaurants. Head down to Pier 21 or Galveston’s largest selection of entertainment and dining including Fisherman’s Wharf, Willie G’s Olympia Grill at Pier 21. Complete your stay at the Harbor House Hotel located right at Pier 21. The Hotel Galvez is famous for being the only Historic Hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast and features Texas’ best Sunday Brunch.  The Hotel Galvez is one of Galveston’s best known historic hotels.

Sunday brunch is a divine tradition at Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel. Embracing the tradition of a classic hotel’s Sunday Brunch while keeping the menu fresh and appealing, fresh fruit, cheeses, breads and pastries are just the beginning of this mid-morning delight.

Every week, Sunday brunch also features an extensive seafood station offering smoked salmon, cocktail shrimp, crab claws and oysters. For those craving a taste of breakfast, the hotel offers made to order omelets and a waffle station. For those with an appetite for lunch, the pasta station offers marinara and Alfredo sauces and several pastas as well as vegetables, shrimp and chicken.

Perhaps the island’s most unique dining experience, Rudy & Paco features grilled seafood and steak with a South Central American flare. Relax with your favorite cocktail before taking in a show at the Grand 1894 Opera House right next door.

Because sometimes you’re just in the mood for drinks and apps. Galveston is ready for this type of appetite. Drink some, eat some, move along. See as much as you can while you’re there.  The best spot in Galveston for both appetizers and cocktails is the Tremont House Rooftop Bar. Don’t miss Hearsay on The Strand for the perfect bloody mary. Live Jazz and beverages can be found at the 1888 Toujouse Bar.

We finished our Galveston tour with a stop at Beerfoot Brewery. With 33 craft beers on tap, this is not your regular alehouse. “We are hoping to find the next great craft brewer and say “we knew him when.”, the website states. “Homebrewers are invited to use our top of the line brewing system to produce their best for you to try and critique. Every cycle we will have a new brewer and a new flavor. These beers will be the freshest and most unique in all of Texas.”

By Michelle Keller

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