For some people, a perfect trip involves a lounge chair, sunglasses and a lullaby composed by the crashing waves.
For others, it's all about finding things to do, from carnivals to museums to water parks.
If you're having trouble deciding on a place to vacation this summer that will satisfy everyone in your group's needs, here's an idea: Galveston.
From big-name attractions like Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn to quiet pleasures like flying a kite on the beach, Galveston has earned a reputation as a versatile destination with a little something for everyone.
Here are eight fun things to consider during your next trip to Galveston.
Love turtles? Then this is the time to visit Galveston. The island just launched a new public art tour, Turtles About Town, featuring 20 turtle monuments across the city painted by local and national artists. The project, a partnership with Galveston’s Clay Cup Studios and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, aims to increase awareness of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles native to the area. See details at galveston.com/turtles.
Speaking of unique art, another must-do in Galveston is to take a tree sculpture tour. The tour, which you can do at your own pace, features dozens of sculptures created by homeowners from trees that were ravaged during Hurricane Ike in 2008. Expect everything from a recreation of the island's famous Tall Ship Elissa to a pod of dolphins and even SpongeBob SquarePants. Many of the sculptures are centered in the city's East End Historic District; more at galveston.com/treesculpturetour.
Be the captain
In addition to checking out the tree sculpture of the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship, you can also see her in person at the Texas Seaport Museum. Originally built in Scotland, Elissa allows visitors to imagine what it would have been like to sail the seas with her as she carried cargo to ports around the world for 90 years. The Texas Seaport Museum also offers exhibits about the city's role as a hub of seaborne commerce and immigration. Get more information at galvestonhistory.org/attractions/maritime-heritage/1877-tall-ship-elissa-3.
Walk through underwater history
We may not all live on a submarine, but we can walk through one at the Galveston Naval Museum at Seawolf Park, where the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine that sank a Japanese aircraft carrier involved in the Pearl Harbor attacks, still resides. The museum is also home to the USS Stewart, a World War II destroyer escort among the few left in the world. It's a great place to explain history to children, who will appreciate walking through the actual places where crew members once slept, enjoyed ice cream cones and put in long days on the job. Learn more at galvestonnavalmuseum.com.
Whether you're most interested in cavorting with sharks and penguins in the Aquarium Pyramid or strolling through the Rainforest Pyramid rife with monkeys and river otters, you can do it all at Moody Gardens, where the goal is to educate and excite visitors about conservation and wildlife. Getting up close and personal with the ocean thanks to the film "Great White Sharks 3D" during our recent visit was a particular highlight. Find details at moodygardens.com.
Everyone loves the Strand, Galveston's popular downtown historic district brimming with shops and restaurants. If you go, stop first into the Style Co., an adorable boutique located on Postoffice Street filled with bright jewelry, trendy clothing and fun accessories, then head next door to the Naked Mermaid, where mermaid-themed kitsch is the order of the day. Recommended restaurants include Rudy & Paco, Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar, Black Pearl Oyster Bar and Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza. And don't forget to satisfy your sweet tooth at La King's Confectionery, which features a working 1920s soda fountain, handcrafted shakes and saltwater taffy that you can watch being pulled and stretched in-store. The Strand District also offers movie and music nights in Saengerfest Park in the summer. Get details at galveston.com/saengerfestpark.
Whether you want to ride a roller coaster, grab a burger or try to win a big prize, you can do it all at Galveston's Pleasure Pier. The amusement park, which is located where the original Pleasure Pier stood from 1943 to 1961, stands atop a 1,130-foot pier that offers stunning views of the coast. Find more at pleasurepier.com.
Meet me in San Luis
For upscale lodging that's adjacent to the beach, head to the San Luis Resort. This stunning Tilman Fertitta-owned property features multiple restaurants including Grotto and the Steakhouse; numerous boutiques; and the recently renovated the Cove tropical pool. Whether you're traveling as a family, a couple, with friends or by yourself, its versatility makes it a solid choice. Learn more at sanluisresort.com.
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