Cheap Family Beach Vacations:

Galveston Island, Texas

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For cheap family beach vacations, our family has visited Galveston Island, Texas several times.

This little island near Houston is easy to get to, with a variety of things to do. It is more than just a beach town...

It also has a fascinating history...

About Galveston Island

In 1582, Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer who was shipwrecked on an island that he called the “Island of Doom”. He lived with the Karankawa Indians and was a medicine man and slave. The Akokisa tribe also lived on the island. Fast forward to 1786, when this island was named Galveston Island after Bernardo de Galvez who was a Spanish Colonial governor and general.

Pirate Jean Lafitte had his pirate’s den there in 1817 and had one thousand people living in his fort and in 1836 the town of Galveston was founded by Michel Minard and Samuel May Williams. Galveston became a rich city because cotton was shipped from it. Galveston was the first city in Texas to have electricity, a telephone, a bank, a post office, a hospital, an opera house, a golf club and a country club.

Ships also brought people to Galveston from other countries and it became a second "Ellis Island". A hurricane called “The Great Storm” killed over six thousand people in 1900. It was the most deadly natural disaster in U.S. history. The people who survived built a seawall to protect the town from the next hurricane. In 2008, Hurricane Ike went over the seawall so the city was a disaster again. Our visit in 2010 showed the city making great headway toward recovery, although there was still evidence of the Ike.

Cheap family beach vacations, Galveston Island, Texas

Galveston Island, Texas

What to See and Do on your cheap family beach vacation:

Lot of folks know about the top Galveston Island, Texas vacation attractions...Moody Gardens, the Bishop's Palace and the Moody Mansion.

But we're here for cheap family vacations hidden gems, right?

For Galveston Island, Texas family vacations, visit the Texas Seaport Museum which has several great attractions:

Tall Ship Elissa

Our kids love exploring the tall ship, Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum. To us, it looks a bit like a pirate ship, and the displays on the ship explaining it's history as well as information about ships in general is well done.

While at the Elissa, we love to eat at restaurant next door.

Cheap family beach vacations, Elissa, Galveston Island, Texas

Aboard the Tall Ship Elissa

Pirate Jean Lafitte

Speaking of pirates, the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte made his home on Galveston Island.

The Texas Seaport Musuem has a film about him, and just down the road (at 1417 Avenue A - also known as Water Street) you can visit the ruins of his home, called Maison Rouge. A historical marker marks the spot. Evidently when forced to leave the island he burned his the foundations are all that are left.

There is an admission charge for the film, but you can visit the Maison Rouge foundations for free.

The knowledge that pirates where there, and that Jean Lafitte's treasure has never been found, had us digging for pirate treasure on our cheap family beach vacations!

Dolphin Watching

Also at the Texas Seaport Museum, there are boat tours to go out into the harbor to see the dolphins.

We were delighted on our trip to see many dolphins, and it was a highlight of our time on Galveston Island.

More more info on these attractions, visit

Now, a few other of our favorite cheap family beach vacations attractions:

Seawolf Park

Seawolf Park has a World War II submarine and a destroyer escort that you can climb all over - inside and out. Our kids thought it was really interesting to see inside a submarine!

The Beach

One of our favorite things to do at the beach is to go out at night with flashlight. There are crabs running around everywhere! Free!

During the day, a lot of seaweed comes ashore, often bringing beautiful shells, crabs, jellyfish and other sealife with it. A treasure trove!


Galveston Island has lots of places to stay, from hotels and motels, to B&B's, to beach houses. We usually rent a beach house - the access to the water is priceless, and by renting a beach house you'll avoid the crowds that flock to the public beaches and near the hotels.

Our favorite area to stay is in Pirates Beach. Here the beaches are not very crowded, especially during the week, but you'll have easy access to restaurants, shops and grocery stores just north on the main road.

Cheap Family Beach Vacations, Galveston Island, Texas

Beach Houses in Galveston Island, Texas

Great Attractions Near Galveston Island for cheap family beach vacations

There are lots of things nearby, since Houston is so close.

One attraction is NASA.

Another is the San Jacinto Monument, which is a memorial to the fight for Texas Independence. The Battleship Texas can also be found there.

A great place to go is Kemah Boardwalk. An old-fashioned boardwalk amusement park, this sort of attraction is a novelty down in Texas. For more info, visit:

All in all, Galveston Island is a cheap family beach vacations destination. There are sights to see, but they are affordable and your time at the beach together will be priceless.

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