For our one-year anniversary, my husband and I knew we were only going to have a long weekend to spare between our two schedules. To throw a little excitement into the mix, I am about 3 months pregnant, so a budget-conscious trip was also important, in light of impending baby bills. Luckily, we live in San Antonio, so options abound when it comes to road trip vacations. We recently featured a list of Top Get-Aways in Texas on my blog, Haute in Texas, and my husband discovered one of the resorts we mentioned was a Wyndham property! Where was this fabulous destination, you ask? We were headed for the Hotel Galvez, a lovely little gem on the Galveston, Texas shoreline. Check out my list of the top 5 things to do, and if you notice nightlife activities are absent, I will refer you to the aforementioned pregnancy, and therefore my incessant need to sleep these days! Enjoy!
1. Moody Gardens
- What: This park is laid out with unique attractions everywhere you turn. There's an aquarium, a rainforest "pyramid", several theaters with 3-D and 4-D experiences, and a bunch of other family-friendly activities.
- Who: While the entire park is mainly geared towards family, my husband and I were still able to have fun and learn a few things. In the rainforest pyramid, Orlando was able to get a few feet away from a sloth, and I loved watching otters play in the outside enclosures.
- Why: Moody Gardens made the list because it's an all-in-one adventure. Whereas most attractions ask you to pay one fee for one shining exhibit, the admission fee here pays for several experiences that can last you all day, no matter what your interests are!
2. Hotel Galvez
- What: For full disclosure, this just happens to be the Wyndham property we stayed in for free (thanks Local Nation!). But even if you don't stay here, you simply must take a walk through the lobby, and stroll through the historical hallways. Frank Sinatra stayed here, people! It's absolutely gorgeous, and has newly remodeled features while retaining its classic, sophisticated appeal.
- Who: While we were staying there we saw families, elderly couples, wedding parties, social get-togethers, and the list goes on! I think most people could appreciate the beautiful architecture, but their customer service and top-of-the-line accommodations will win anyone over.
- Why: Galveston has tons of history, and no property represents this better than the Hotel Galvez. And besides, you can stay at a cookie-cutter hotel anytime. Why not go out on a limb while you're on vacation and soak up a unique hospitality experience?
- What: This souvenir shop doesn't feel cheap and dirty like most places, and there was plenty of cute beach décor to take home. In addition, they included a section of the store where they have photos and remnants of previous stores, destroyed by the hurricanes of yore. It's truly a testament to the strong will of the people in Galveston, and we found it very touching.
- Who: Anybody could find something here, and families are certainly welcome. It's not the sort of shop with fragile antiques around every bend, so haphazard toddlers won't be an issue.
- Why: Although shopping is great, souvenir shops are a dime a dozen on the beach. What made Murdoch's stand out was the breezeway in between the two halves of the shore. The relaxing sea breeze and convenient patio furniture mean Dad can relax while the girls shop 'til they drop. Or you can take my advice, and head down there just to people watch and enjoy the ambience.
4. The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
- What: Step aboard a retired offshore drilling rig and learn absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about the oil industry. Sound boring? I assure you, it's actually pretty cool! There are interactive portions, kid-friendly exhibits, and you will be blown away by the sheer size of these rigs!
- Who: The museum is definitely kid-friendly, but there are also some high-tech equipment pieces and terminology that will blow even the biggest nerd's mind. However, if you're one of those people who doesn't want to think, much less read on your vacation, it may not be the place for you.
- Why: I wasn't sure what to expect before experiencing this museum, but I felt it was a unique topic that most Americans don't know enough about. Honestly, despite the tragic oil spills in recent memory, how many of us can truly say we know how the rigs actually operate?
5. The Strand
- What: This historical district in downtown Galveston contains every little unique shop and antique store you could dream of. Even just taking a stroll or a slow drive through the district transports you to a time when the mall wasn't the only place to buy a pair of shoes.
- Who: While there are certainly kid-friendly stores, this area may be more conducive to couples, and older visitors, since there will certainly be a lot of walking and browsing involved. However, there are several restaurants that could be a perfect destination for families who want just a taste of The Strand, no pun intended!
- Why: As I mentioned before, how often do we just run to the local mall these days instead of appreciating local businesses for all their quirks and individuality? America was built on entrepreneurs, and The Strand is the perfect opportunity to appreciate that, not to mention head home with some adorable trinkets.