29 Things to Do in Galveston
When I take a road trip, I like grabbing one souvenir to remember my trip. Some people collect magnets. Some people collect shot glasses. I love collecting cookbooks. And I’m really disappointed if I can’t find one. And it’s not just me! People still love to buy printed cookbooks!
Last spring, Megan Giles (my talented designer, friend, and business bestie) and I decided to launch our own series of souvenir cookbooks. We started with Galveston because number one, we love the place, and number two, it’s a tourist town through and through.
For me it was also a sentimental favorite. It’s the place where my toes hit beach sand for the very first time. It’s the place where I first saw the ocean stretching far into the horizon. And the place where I experienced my first fancy seafood dinner.
I packed my bags and headed to Galveston.
It was a cloudy day in March, and my first stop was wharf road near Pier 20 where the shrimp boats dock. If you go, just know that you might have to compete with pelicans for fresh seafood. They float in a lazy bunch in back of Katie’s Seafood Market or roost on the roof waiting for scraps. They also occasionally attempt to walk in the front door. I don’t blame them. It’s the freshest seafood on the island.
I know the nearby business owners must think they’re a pain in the tail feathers, but I loved watching them. I remember a time when you rarely saw pelicans in Galveston because DDT had just about wiped them out.
I took lots of photos of the pelicans and then headed over to their restaurant next door: Katie’s Seafood House. They have something on their menu called Snapper Wings and I wanted to try them.
What they’re calling snapper wings used to be tossed out when the fish was filleted. Technically, it’s probably a fish throat, because it’s a cut that starts just after the gills and extends back to the pectoral fin. But “deep fried fish throats” probably won’t sound appetizing on any menu. Hence, snapper wings. There’s so much rich flavor hidden in this cut of the fish. You can expect a platter full of goodness and you can prepare to get in there with your hands, just like you would Buffalo wings. I sat at the bar, made new friends, and enjoyed every bite.
Galveston is a hot spot for food tourism. But when it comes to touristy things to do, Galveston’s got something for everyone.
Here are 29 ideas for your next visit.
- Build a sandcastle
- Swim in the ocean
- Read a book on the beach
- Ride the ferry – it’s fun and it’s free!
- Visit Hubcap Grill. Go for Teffeny’s lavender margarita and stay for the bourbon and burgers!
- Rent a bicycle and ride along the seawall
- Shop merchants on the Strand
- Experience Dickens on the Strand
- Visit Riondo’s Ristorante and turn any day into a special occasion. Don’t forget to order the seafood raviolis! And, don’t skip the bread. It’s made with Rico’s own two hands.
- Charter a fishing boat
- Watch birds in the estuaries
- Hike in Galveston State Park
- Kayak in the bay
- Explore The Bryan Museum. It’s in the restored orphanage that survived the 1900 hurricane but it’s more than a museum. It’s a trip back in time to discover Texas History and the old west.
- Visit Queen’s BBQ. I’ve got to suggest the Texas Drop brisket sandwich.
- Feed the seagulls
- Ride the Ferris wheel at the Pleasure Pier.
- Visit Waterman’s Restaurant. You’ll want to catch happy hour and a sunset overlooking the marina.
- Explore the historic Old Cemetery. It dates back to the early 1830s. If you happen to meet a veteran named Robert walking his dog Bella, ask him to tell you stories about the cemetery (and maybe tip him for the entertainment). He’s quite the storyteller.
- Photograph classic Victorian architecture
- Visit Sugar & Rye. It’s a classy spot with talented bartenders and an elevated menu. Watch their events calendar for a chance to catch live piano music.
- Roam through galleries and discover new artists
- Collect seashells
- Play a round of golf
- Catch live music performances at the 1894 Opera House
- Discover pyramids, penguins, and parrots at Moody Gardens
- Float in the hotel pool just to get away from the sand
- Experience Mardi Gras
- Visit Shykatz Deli. Take a selfie in front of the mural and stick around for breakfast or lunch. You’ll find old family recipes served with a lot of love.
You’re going to hear more about our favorite hot spots on future episodes. But I hope this one has inspired you to plan your next visit to Galveston!
And if you’d like a copy of our book, go order Savor the Flavor of Galveston on Amazon.
It’s got travel tips and 44 recipes you’ll want to try at home.
BONUS: Here's a sneak peek at a recipe from the book! Chef Rico Caminos, chef and co-owner of Riondo's Ristorante, shared his great great grandmother's gnocchi recipe. 😱
Gnocchi di Spinachi a la Panna
from Chef Rico / Riondo’s Ristorante
1.5 kilos of boiled potatoes
600 grams of flour
200 grams of fresh spinach (after cooked down in olive oil)
Boil the potatoes, then mash. Mix in spinach. Make a dough with the flour, potatoes, and spinach. Stretch dough out then roll so that the dough is long and about 1 inch in diameter. Begin cutting the gnocchi so they are about one inch dumplings. Boil gnocchi with water and salt. When gnocchi floats to the top it is done.
1 Tablespoon of butter Minced shallots
1 Tablespoon of prosciutto 2 Tablespoon green peas Dry white wine
Saute ingredients in butter until hot then deglaze pan with dry white wine. Add 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Combine sauce and gnocchi then add a generous amount of pecorino cheese.