Galveston Island on a Budget

Historic Galveston Island is just about an hour away from Houston, and it’s a favorite year-round destination for many in our area because it’s low-key and very affordable. It has 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family-friendly attractions and several National Historic Landmarks. Many of the island’s most popular attractions are great for anyone looking for free or affordable ways to have fun.

Start planning your next trip to the beach by buying a Galveston Island Pass. Once you purchase at least four attractions (and you have access to more than a dozen of the most popular attractions on the island), you’ll receive 40 percent off regular admission prices. The pass is good for 30 days after purchase, so you have plenty of time to spread out the fun without rushing around in one day. (By the way, if you decide to spend the night in Galveston, consider staying mid-week, when rates are typically much lower than the weekends.)

Also, before we share all the great free things you can do, we must state the obvious. Especially if you have kids, the two of the most popular attractions on Galveston Island are likely Moody Gardens and the Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The tickets for both venues are pricey, but here’s the good news: both places offer free parking.


History in Museums

Galveston has many affordable museums focused on history, science, art and more. At Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast, families can learn about the legends, myths and stories of the last buccaneers. The Galveston Railroad Museum features Pullman cars, cabooses and miniature trains, while the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame and Lone Star Flight Museum houses WWII Fighters, bombers, liaison trainers and executive planes.

Pier 21 is home to the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA. The Bryan Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts, documents and artwork relating to Texas and the American West. Other great museums include the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, Texas Seaport Museum and the Mardi Gras Museum.


Take a Stroll… or a Ferry Ride

There’s no better place to take a stroll than Galveston. Galveston has the longest continuous sidewalk in the United States on beachfront Seawall Boulevard. While you’re out and about, take advantage of all the free outdoor activities at the beach, from biking or running, to swimming, fishing, throwing a Frisbee or playing beach volleyball. And arrive early or stay late to catch the breath-taking sunrise or sunset.

Another great area is The Strand downtown, which includes a great selection of charming shops, restaurants and Victorian architecture. Look for the life-size chessboard and live entertainment. Every six weeks, ArtWalk is a free Saturday night event where the downtown art galleries open for free so patrons can enjoy an evening of art viewing, live entertainment and refreshments.

Finally, if you’re looking to connect with nature, look for dolphin on Galveston’s Bolivar Ferry, which is a free, 20-minute ride each way between Port Bolivar and Galveston. And plan a trip Galveston Island State Park, which offers a wide variety of free outdoor activities such as kayak tours, surf explorations, bird walks, nature field trips and fishing clinics.

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