The Seawall, of course, is the 10-mile concrete barrier that the islanders built to protect their home after the infamous 1900 Hurricane nearly wiped the city off the map. Since then, the mural-covered fortification has aged quite well, fulfilling its defensive purpose while concentrating a great deal of island fun across a single well-trafficked frontier. A day wandering the wall, bouncing between beach and boulevard, is a day well spent.
9 a.m.: Beach Time
Plant your umbrella firmly on Babe’s Beach, a pristine 15-block stretch of sand west of 61st Street, newly dredged as of 2015 and named for A.R. “Babe” Schwartz, the longtime Texas state congressman who ensured public access to Gulf beaches. The lovely stretch sits far enough from the tourist traps to avoid the biggest crowds, while remaining close enough to area attractions. Wanting to get out on a boat, kayak, jet ski, or parasail boat? Try Caribbean Breeze (galvestonparasail.com) at 61st Street and the Seawall.
Noon: Limon Paradise
During the part of the afternoon when the oppressive sun threatens to disintegrate all beachgoers, hop across Seawall Boulevard for tacos served with salsas the cashier promises will “melt your face off.” Also a must at this bright little shop: a sticky sweet raspa or any of the aguas frescas, properly served in those barrel-sized Styrofoam cups.
1 p.m.: The Bryan Museum
Your docent will begin his spiel with an admission that this shrine to Texas history goes heavy on “saddles, spurs and firearms”—three interests of J.P. Bryan, the Houston businessman who, in 2015, donated his personal collection to start the museum, located about a dozen blocks inland from the Seawall but well worth the short trip. We reckon this former Galveston orphanage is the only place where you can see work by Andy Warhol (pop art versions of Annie Oakley, Geronimo, and General Custer) alongside a procession of arrowheads, model galleons, and very real guns in firing condition.
3 p.m.: The Pleasure Pier
Got the kids with you? Take them to the boardwalk carnival extending into the ocean near the Seawall’s eastern terminus, and find yourself the hero. They’ll exhaust themselves on 16 rides to accommodate any age, a “5-D theater ride” and lots of midway games. Keep in mind that an afternoon here can get expensive fast; day passes, which start at $19.99 for youngsters, are the way to go.
6 p.m.: BLVD Seafood
This popular, chic-yet-approachable beachfront eatery, serving delicious Galveston-caught seafood in the all-too-rare un-fried form, is no tourist trap. You can’t go wrong with the Jobber—a hearty gumbo with shrimp, crab, and Andouille—or the eminently flaky redfish on the half shell.
8 p.m.: Beerfoot Brewery
It’s happened to all of us: You think you’re going to Galveston for the day, but find you’re just not ready to leave the island. If that’s you, find a hotel and Uber over to the island’s only brewpub, where you’re likely to find a rowdy crowd of locals whooping it up over foosball and darts. Enjoy the sea air while sipping one of Beerfoot’s house-made brews. When it’s time to go home, a free “tipsy shuttle” will cart you to pretty much any bed on the island.