Family Vacations in Texas on a Budget - Galveston
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18 Must Do Things to do in Galveston with Kids

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This is an article detailing things to do in Galveston with kids.

Known for its sandy beaches, Galveston is a popular tourist attraction for Texans and non-Texans alike.  It’s also just an hour from Houston making it one of the more popular weekend family getaways near Houston.  If you’re looking for a quick getaway or you’re looking into Texas family spring break ideas, there are plenty of things to do in Galveston with kids.

Things to do in Galveston with Kids

Things to Do in Galveston With Kids

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Explore Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is a place where kids can learn about science and animal life through its many interactive exhibits. Featuring three visually-stunning pyramids, families can learn about marine life through the aquarium exhibits or learn about the tropical plants, insects, and animals that call the rainforest their home.

The Discovery Pyramid features hands-on children’s activities for kids to learn about science through experience. In addition to the exhibits housed in the three pyramids, families can enjoy several other fun activities, such as a splash pad for the kids, a zipline, a white sand beach, or golf. These are just a few of the activities your family can enjoy at Moody Gardens.

Splash at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark

Of course, the beaches are the main draw but the ocean isn’t the only aquatic thing you can do with kids in Galveston. Open year-round, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark features several thrilling water attractions that will keep your family entertained all day. With open and enclosed water slides, a lazy river, and a lounging pool, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Families can rent a private cabana to relax throughout the day and enjoy a picnic. There’s even an area of the park that transforms into an indoor waterpark during the colder months, so even if you’re visiting Galveston at the peak of winter, you can still have some summer-feeling water fun.

Be Entertained at the Historic Pleasure Pier

Things to do in Galveston - Pleasure Pier

Galveston’s Historic Pleasure Pier, located on the Seawall, is a must-do on the list of things to do in Galveston with kids. Featuring a roller coaster with an incredible view of the Gulf of Mexico and several other rides, this amusement park provides hours of entertainment. Kids will also have fun with the carnival games and parents will love the souvenir shops. Because of its location on the Seawall, it’s an especially ideal place to watch the sunset over the water at the end of a fun-filled day.


Enjoy a Private Beach

The public beaches of Galveston are a blast but it’s hard to beat the privacy and cleanliness of a private beach.  Strolling the beach, fishing, or looking for shells on a limited-traffic beach is one of the top things to do in Galveston with kids.  There are a few ways to gain access but the most surefire way is to rent the right beach vacation rental in Galveston.

[Please note: we were hosted for this stay but all opinions are our own.]

Book one of the awesome options available with Vacasa to find a clean, nicely appointed option for your family.  We stayed in this 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom house located in Beachside Village.  It was more than enough room for our family of four and had everything we needed including an outdoor area to rinse off the sand.  It also included an entrance to the beach that was exclusive to our neighborhood.

Things to do in Galveston with Kids - Vacasa

[You can see more of our weekend adventures on Instagram.]

Vacasa has properties of all sizes like this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath haven that is also located in Beachside Village and this 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom retreat located right outside of Galveston.  All of these options come with access to a private beach but Vacasa has options without the beach access or options that are even closer to the mainland with no beach view at all.  Whatever your preference, Vacasa has options!

Highly recommend this as one of the things to do in Galveston with kids.

Learn Nature at Galveston Island State Park

If you want to add a little nature to your things to do in Galveston with kids, be sure to stop by Galveston Island State Park. The park sits on 2,000 acres of beaches, dunes, wetlands, campgrounds, and hiking trails, giving your family several options for fun and
relaxation. Several species of wildlife call the park home, and many people especially enjoy birdwatching there.

Enjoy a picnic, go fishing, or bring some bikes to ride. Canoeing and kayaking are also fun options. You can even stay overnight, camping at one of the campgrounds, or renting a beach cabin.

[If you decide to go camping, check out these options for the best camping sleeping bags for kids!]

Sail on the Port Bolivar Ferry

Drive your car onto the Port Bolivar Ferry and cross the water between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.  You’ll enjoy the breathtaking view as you and your family ride across the water. Kids love to watch for dolphins jumping in and out of the water or bring bread to feed the seagulls who have just been waiting for you to bring them their next meal.

The ferry is free to ride making it one of the top things to do in Galveston with kids. Once you get to the Bolivar Penisula, there are plenty of things to do like visiting the Bolivar Lighthouse or Fort Travis, the first fort established by the Republic of Texas to protect the entrance to Galveston Harbor. Ride back to the island in the evening and enjoy an unforgettable sunset.

Take a Thrilling [But Kid Friendly] Ghost Tour

If you are up for adding a little excitement to your list of things to do in Galveston with kids, consider taking a ghost tour! There are centuries of rumors about ghosts haunting the island. The stories are told in good fun during one of the many ghost tours available in Galveston. Tour Galveston’s haunted cemeteries, search for ghosts along the strand, or walk the island in search of them on foot.

Document the Family Excursion with a Photo Shoot on the Beach

Don’t let the memories of your amazing trip to Galveston only live on in your head. Add a family beach photoshoot to your list of things to do in Galveston with kids! Our favorite photography group is Flytographer. They are a worldwide network of amazing photographers that amazingly capture your family’s priceless moments. You can read more about why we love Flytographer in our Flytographer review.

If they’re unavailable, or you’d just like other options, this Galveston photographer offers family photoshoots and is highly recommended!

Wander Around the Galveston Strand

If the Seawall is the heart of Galveston, the Strand is what keeps its pulse. This downtown area has plenty of kid-friendly activities! Look for street art, grab ice cream at Hey Mikey’s, watch them make taffy at La King’s Confectionery [get a root beer float while you’re there], and tour the numerous art galleries featuring local artists.

Visit the Historic Sites in Galveston

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise but there is a ton of history in Galveston, As a coastal city, it was instrumental in making Texas the state it is today. Lucky for us, the Galveston Historical Foundation has done a wonderful job maintaining that history and keeping it alive for us to experience today. Tour the historic homes in the city like the Bishop’s Palace, wander a tall ship from 1877 or see interactive exhibits detailing the life of early immigrants. You can even experience the history of Juneteenth first hand.

Heritage travel is so enriching for our children so that makes this one of the top things to do in Galveston with kids.

Learn to Build Professional Grade Sandcastles

If you visit Galveston with kids but don’t fully enjoy the beach, did you even go? While I do think there is so much more to the city than its shore, building sandcastles on the beach is an absolute must-do for things to do in Galveston with kids! Take a sandcastle lesson from a professional sandcastle builder who will teach your family how to make works of art. Or catch one of the festivals in Galveston where you can learn to do this for free! Check out this list of free things to do in Galveston.

Cruise The Galveston Seawall

Galveston’s Seawall is probably one of the most notable things to do in Galveston with kids.  It was built to help protect the island from the devastation caused by hurricanes and runs ten miles along the coastline. Several places along the Seawall feature stunning painted murals and cool statues.

Your kids will love walking along the beach to look for seashells and sand dollars. Or watch the sandpipers running in and out of the water, looking for their next meal. If you get to the beach early enough, you can watch the sunrise. Dip your feet in the water, or sit and relax while the kids play in the sand building sandcastles.

If you’d rather cruise the seawall in style, rent a Replica 1908 Model-T electric golf cart! It even comes with a signature horn that goes “ahooga” instead of beep beep.

Discover Oil Rigs at the Ocean Star Museum

Oil is Texas’s “black gold” and played an essential part in developing the state’s wealth. Experience the unique opportunity to tour an off-shore oil rig by visiting the Ocean Star Museum. It’s a retired oil rig that drilled over 200 wells in its lifetime. Now it’s been jacked up and is available for tours.

Learn at the Galveston Railroad Museum

Things to do in Galveston with Kids - Railroad Museum

Take your kids on a trip into the past at the Galveston Railroad Museum. The museum features a rich collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia that tell the history of railway travel in the area. Your kids will surely be fascinated by the steam and diesel engine train exhibits, and the whole family will love a trip on the Harborside Express, an open-air caboose that takes you on a tour along Harborside Drive.

The museum is also the site of the re-created 1932 Santa Fe Depot. The museum hosts several special events throughout the year, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the history of train travel.

Be Creative at the Galveston Children’s Museum

For a fun and educational experience to add to your things to do in Galveston with kids, there’s nothing like the Galveston Children’s Museum. Featuring a number of engaging and interactive activities, kids can learn about science and creativity through safe and educational hands-on experiences. Kids might build a robot or explore wood-based construction. There’s even an opportunity to learn about health through a simulated doctor’s office. The goal of the children’s museum is to give kids the opportunity to exercise their creativity and discover important concepts on their own through play. Parents appreciate the way their kids get to have fun while learning at the same time.

See Marine Life with A Dolphin Tour

Things to do in Galveston with Kids - Dolphin Tour

Your kids will never forget taking a boat tour and seeing dolphins up close in their natural habitat. Take a Dolphin Sightseeing Tour in Galveston to see dolphins jump and play. You’ll also hear about the history of dolphins in the area, giving your kids both a fun and educational experience.

The boats have a covered interior and feature no propellers, which make them safe for marine life, so you know that the dolphins are protected. Dolphin viewers are encouraged to take pictures to capture the memory of these fascinating sea mammals.

If you’d much rather explore the coast by land, taking an e-bike tour with your kids is a great option too! Check out this E-Bike Island Adventure Tour.

Shout “Ahoy” at the Galveston Naval Museum

Climb aboard real-life naval ships [and submarines!] at the Galveston Naval Museum! Learn more about the US Navy, the people who served on these ships, and even have a picnic at the adjoining park. This amazing activity should definitely be on your list of things to do in Galveston with kids.

Experience One Of Galveston’s Iconic Festivals and Events

Did you know that Galveston hosts tons of family-friendly events and festivals throughout the year? Mardi Gras, Juneteenth, Dickens on the Strand, and so much more are hosted right in the coastal city! Check out the city of Galveston’s full list of year-round fun on their website.

Galveston Island is one of the top vacation destinations for families with kids in Texas, and for good reason. From the beaches, the food, and the attractions, with activities for all ages all year round, there are plenty of fun things to do in Galveston with kids.

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