Galveston Texas, City Guide

Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Welcome

Millions of visitors each year dream about living in this tropical setting called Galveston Island. You can be one of the fortunate Island residents who live the fantasy. Galveston Island is located on the coastline of Texas just 50 miles south of Houston. Explore the treasures it has to offer – 32 miles of beaches, relaxed atmosphere, abundant leisure activities, excellent medical facilities, first-rate restaurants, educational opportunities, numerous attractions, and a vibrant historic downtown that offers cruising, shopping, arts and entertainment.

Imagine yourself as an Islander living in an elegant Victorian home in the charming historic district on the Island’s east end, or in a home overlooking the sparkling Gulf of Mexico on the west end. There is a variety of rental property to choose from throughout the Island, from apartments to condominiums, high rises, low rises and raised beach homes.

Galveston has the amenities of a larger city, but with tight knit, small-town friendliness. Its ethnically diverse citizens have worked together to make their city better since the early days of its founding in 1836. When faced with adversity, Galvestonians unite to solve whatever obstacles may arise. Nonprofit organizations and community groups offer a variety of volunteer opportunities regardless of your interests or desired area of service.

The Island has a multifaceted economic base with expanding job markets in tourism, medical fields, research, marine related fields, as well as other areas. Education, banking, insurance and marine industries contribute to the strong, diverse economy.

Island life is enhanced by the absence of drive-time traffic reports on the radio and heavy traffic delays. The major thoroughfares are rarely heavily congested, even during peak times. And it takes no more than 15-20 minutes to get anywhere you want to go on the Island. All this time saved driving to work and running errands can be spent enjoying Island life. When the workday is over, pack a picnic dinner and some easy chairs and head to the beach. Temperatures are moderate, so outdoor activities are enjoyable year-round. Relax and enjoy watching the waves roll in at sunset as sandpipers scurry along the edge of the gulf water. 

To enhance the pleasure of the beach for visitors and residents alike, the city operates a beach replenishment program to maintain the beaches below the seawall, a 10.4-mile-long concrete structure built to protect the Island against storm tides. As it has done since its creation after the 1900 Storm, the seawall has again proven its worth in September 2008 when Hurricane Ike struck the Island.

Winter months, when currents deposit rows of shells on the sand, are the best time to comb the beaches for seashells. With average temperatures normally ranging from lows in the 50s (10 Celsius) to highs in the 60s (18 Celsius) December through February, the weather is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities, such as fishing, boating and bird watching.

The beach is only one of dozens of enjoyable leisure-time attractions in Galveston. The excellent restaurants, shops, museums and special events that lure millions of tourists to the Island each year also make it a fun place to live. First-class museums recount the histories of almost every form of transportation – ships, planes and trains. Historic house museums, including the Bishop’s Palace, Moody Mansion, Ashton Villa and the Menard House, preserve the elegant life of 19th-century Galveston. Many of these museums are located in historic downtown Galveston, which has experienced a dramatic renaissance in the last four decades. For a number of years, the ornate Victorian buildings along The Strand were empty, decaying shells.They were sad reminders of what The Strand and Galveston once was – the vibrant cultural and economic center of the Southwest.

Over the past few decades, an infusion of millions of dollars in private and public funds has revived The Strand and surrounding downtown streets to their former glory. A leisurely tour by horse-drawn carriage through the area offers an appreciation of the Victorian architecture of the buildings that now house shops, restaurants, offices, loft apartments and nighttime hot spots. The Strand is just one of a number of retail centers located conveniently throughout the Island. Other major areas of retail activity include Seawall Boulevard, 45th Street, 61st Street, Broadway and Stewart Road.

The Strand is a beautiful backdrop for two of the Island’s largest annual events – Dickens on The Strand, a Victorian Christmas festival held in December; and Mardi Gras! Galveston, held between January and March (dependent on Lent) – that attracts hundreds of thousands of people with the quality of its parades and festivities. As an Island resident, your calendar will be filled with festivals, theater performances and special events year-round. Between the festivals and attractions, there is no shortage of fun and unique ways to enjoy Island life.

If you get a yearning for the big city and a faster pace, Houston is just an hour drive up Interstate 45. One of the largest cities in the United States, take your pick of professional sporting events, hundreds of restaurants, theater, live music, and all that a metropolitan area has to offer.

But you’ll find, as many Islanders do, that Galveston has an appeal that’s undeniable and hard to leave. Few great cities have this appealing packaging of amenities – rich history, natural beauty, cultural events and stunning architecture – all tied up neatly in a soft blue ribbon of relaxed ambiance.

Discover a secret that Galvestonians have kept for years – Galveston Island is a wonderful place to live. For more information, call the Galveston Chamber of Commerce at (409) 763-5326 or visit www.GalvestonChamber.com.

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