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Honestly, Is Galveston a Pretty Beach?

When you make plans to visit Texas, you have so many options to choose from. You may feel stressed trying to narrow down all the cities and attractions spread over 268,000 square miles.

But have you thought about visiting Galveston, Texas? Just an hour’s drive from the city center of Houston, Galveston offers a resort-type feel without the hustle and bustle of the big city. It’s a great place to escape for a family vacation or a romantic getaway.

But are the beaches worth visiting? Let’s look closer.

About Galveston, Texas?

Galveston is a coastal city situated on Galveston Island, a barrier island off the Texas Gulf Coast. It’s about 45 miles south of Houston and has an area of over 200 square miles. Because of its architectural significance, Galveston has six historic districts with over 60 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Called Galvez’s town, the city was named after the Spanish military and political leader Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez. It became one of the most important ports in the country in the 19th Century. The tragedy of the Galveston Hurricane in 1900 devastated the area and is still the most deadly natural disaster to ever occur in the United States.

During Prohibition, Galveston re-emerged and became a center for illegal gambling. Today the economy relies heavily on tourism, health care, shipping, and the financial industries.

The humid subtropical climate means it has mild winters, and summer temperatures regularly exceed 90 degrees. However, it also has the threat of Hurricanes in the summer and fall. Yet, over 53,000 people live in Galveston, Texas. 

Young copy running on the beach in Galveston, Texas.
Soak up the sun and relax on white sandy beaches in Galveston, Texas.

What Is Galveston Texas Known For? 

Most people go to Galveston, Texas, on vacation. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially in the winter, as snowbirds escape the cold of the northern states. The rich heritage and cultural history also lure guests who want to enjoy the area’s architecture, food, and history. The Strand National Historic Landmark District is one of those areas with unique shopping and dining opportunities and old-world charm.

Galveston, Texas, is also the birthplace of Juneteenth, a holiday in which Americans celebrate the freedom of slaves. In 1865, Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, announcing the freedom of more than 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas.

Over the last few decades, Galveston has become a resort city with beaches, water activities, and the popular Moody Gardens. With 32 miles of shoreline, visitors dig their toes in the Gulf Shore sand and relax in the sun all day.

Pro Tip: After tanning on the beach in Galveston, make sure to do these 9 Best Things To Do in Galveston, Texas.

Does Galveston Have Nice Beaches? 

No beaches in Galveston, Texas, made US Travel’s “Best Beaches in the U.S.” list. For those, you’ll want to visit Florida, Hawaii, or California. However, that doesn’t mean that Galveston doesn’t have nice beaches.

Of the ones in Texas, the South Padre Island, Corpus Christi, and Port Aransas areas are some of the most popular. But the ones in Galveston, like Crystal Beach and East Beach, are also worth visiting. The best thing about Galveston beaches is how they’re all a bit different. Depending on the experience you want, they each offer visitors something special. Let’s learn more about them.

What Is the Prettiest Beach in Galveston?

Crystal Beach is family-friendly and allows visitors to drive and park on the beach. Many enjoy camping, beachcombing, and fishing. East Beach is the largest in Galveston. It holds numerous festivals and celebrations and an annual sandcastle-building competition. This makes it one of the most popular beaches in Galveston and the entire state.

Galveston Island State Park and Matagorda Bay Nature Park are two that offer educational experiences and nature walks. People enjoy birding, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking. Stewart Beach is popular among families as it has a children’s play area, umbrella rentals, showers, and restrooms.

Jamaica Beach may be the prettiest beach in Galveston, Texas, partly because it’s less crowded. It offers wide stretches of pristine sandy shorelines. About 1,000 people live in Jamaica Beach. However, the shore is calmer than other beaches in Galveston while still offering the basic activities of surfing, swimming, sunbathing, and sandcastle building.

Mom walking with son and daughter on Galveston Beach
A trip to Galveston is perfect for both young and old adventurers.

Can You Swim in Galveston Beach?

The Galveston Bay Foundation monitors the water quality monthly in Galveston Bay. The Foundation explains, “Large areas of Galveston Bay are closed for harvesting shellfish for direct consumption due to elevated concentrations of bacteria.” Fecal bacteria, commonly found in Galveston Bay, is introduced through polluted runoff, wastewater treatment outflow, and boater waste discharge.

However, the Foundation concludes that most areas have low enough levels of bacteria to be safe for swimming.

Just pay attention to large amounts of algae floating around or dead fish. In addition, you might want to skip swimming immediately after a storm.

Which Beach in Galveston Can You Camp On?

You can go overnight camping with a permit on Crystal Beach on the Gulf side. Galveston Island State Park on the Bay and Gulf side allows RVs and tents. You can also stay in private campgrounds located on the Galveston beaches like Dellanera RV Park, Galveston Island KOA Holiday, Jamaica Beach RV Resort, and Stella Mare RV Resort.

Pro Tip: Need somewhere to stay in Galveston, Texas? We loved camping at these 7 Awesome Galveston RV Parks.

Woman smiling in the sand dunes in Galveston
Camp close to the shoreline in Galveston Island State Park.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Galveston, TX?

You’ll want to avoid the high heat and humidity of the summer. In addition, because of Galveston’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, stay clear of the city during hurricane season. However, as mentioned above, Galveston, Texas, is a great location for snowbirds who want to escape the frigid temperatures of the north during the winter.

Shops, restaurants, and attractions don’t close here, so visiting in November through February means still having access to Galveston’s amenities. Be prepared for crowds since the city is a popular tourist destination.

Is Galveston, Texas, Worth Visiting? 

Galveston, Texas, offers a lot more than just pretty beaches. If that’s your only reason to come to the Gulf Coast of Texas, you’ll enjoy it and have a great time beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. But when you visit, make plans to take in all the city provides, from its unique history and architecture to the amazing food.

Enrich your vacation by venturing away from the beaches for at least a day or two. They’ll still be there with their pristine white sandy shoreline when you return.

Have you ever visited Galveston, Texas? What was your favorite memory? Tell us in the comments!

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