Galveston Island offers visitors plenty of free activities the entire family will enjoy. Below you’ll find the best free things to do in Galveston!
Galveston is only a 35 minute drive from Houston and is a fun beach getaway. With plenty of shoreline, there is no shortages of sandy beaches to play. But did you know Galveston has more to offer than swimming in the ocean?
A Galveston Beach Vacation is filled with beaches, gorgeous sunsets and great food.
Perfect for weekend trips or long family vacations. But there are also plenty of free activities to keep the family entertained!
Best Free Things to do in Galveston
Port Bolivar Ferry
The Port Bolivar Ferry ride is free and an absolute must do! The 20 minute ride takes you from Galveston to Bolivar. Be sure to look for dolphins!
We road the ferry 2 days in a row because my son enjoyed it so much. We rode it early in the morning and saw about 20 dolphins each day.
Swim in the ocean
Galveston has over 30 miles of shoreline and can find parking along the Seawall. Or hit up Stewart beach, a family friend spot that has showers, bathrooms & dining.
My favorite is East beach (and no fee to park!). It’s less crowded and you can park your vehicle right on the beach.
Tree Sculpture Tour
In 2008 Hurricane Ike left plenty of damage in its wake. But area sculptures turned damaged oak trees into amazing tree sculptures. You can take a self-guided tour throughout the island to see over 30 gorgeous sculptures.
East End Historic District Tour
Take a walking tour of historic homes dating back to the mid-1800s.
Galveston State Park
Grab your binoculars and head to the state park. You’ll have breathtaking views, scenic nature walks and spot wildlife that is unique to this part of Texas.
La King’s Confectionery is an old fashion candy store and you watch a demonstration how taffy is made. Kids will love this activity!
The historic district has several fun murals painted on sides of the buildings. Take the family for a stroll and take this is as a great opportunity to get some fun photos.
Take a stroll down Pier 21. Not only can you spot dolphins and other marine wildlife, but you can view all the boats that are docked. Brings some crackers or bread and feed the pelicans.
Strand Historic District
The 5-block district is located in the heart of downtown. Here you will find fine dining, waterfront restaurants, art galleries, and plenty of boutique shops.
This is also a great place to get some Instagrammable photos with the unique buildings in the background.
Sits at 17 feet high and 10 miles long. This man-made wall is the place to find great beaches, delicious food, and all the tourist attractions. You can take a bike ride along the wall, people watch, and end the day with the sunset views.
Galveston Arts Center
Take a stroll through the Arts Center and explore the unique artwork. The museum offers artwork that spans from painting, sculptures, and photographs.
Galveston’s Own Farmers Market
The open-air farmers market takes place every Sunday from 9-1 at The Bryan Museum. You’ll find fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods, jams, salsa, and more.
Cooking classes are also held at the Farmer’s Market on weekends. The cooking classes are designed for all ages.
East End Lagoon Nature Preserve
The perfect way to spend a relaxing day! Enjoy the wildlife, take some nature photography, fish and kayak. Located on 600 acres, you’ll find plenty of space to unwind and explore.
Big Reef Nature Park
Located off the beaten path, you’ll find great hiking trails and plenty of wildlife watching opportunities. This is also a great spot for birdwatching where you’ll find seagulls, black skimmers, shorebirds, and egrets.
Seawolf Park is home to one of the area’s most beloved fishing piers and has a playground, picnic sites, and a World War II submarine. Explore inside the USS Cavalla and see the remnants of S.S. Selma, a WWI tanker.
You don’t have to stay at this gorgeous hotel to appreciate its beauty. Built in 1911, this historic hotel offers first-class services and beautiful features. You can walk around the property or book a dinner reservation.
Inexpensive Activities in Galveston
1892 Bishop’s Palace
This ornate 19,000 sq foot building was built in 1887. This Victorian-style home has unique features like an all-silver fireplace. Take the guided audio tour to learn the history of this National Historic Landmark.
Best known for gigantic pyramid glass structures that are part of the 242-acre theme park. Inside the pyramids is home to a rainforest, aquarium, and other educational exhibits.
If you’re looking for a bigger thrill then be sure to check out the Gulf Coast’s tallest rope course and zipline.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
This amusement park was built in 1942 and sits on the island’s historic pier. It offers dining, live entertainment, games, and amusement rides. The views from the top of the Ferris wheel can’t be beaten!
Take an audio tour of this 1895 Victorian mansion. The elegant interiors, amazing antiques and artwork scattered throughout the 20 room tour will dazzle you.
Galveston Railroad Museum
Inside the museum, guests will view the collection of freight and passenger cars, steam engines, and other artifacts such as the largest dining car china collection in the Southwest.
The museum also hosts events and parties throughout the year, including a Mardi Gras celebration.
The Grand 1894 Opera House
Located in the Historic Downtown Cultural Arts District, you’ll find this historic opera house. This is a great place for a romantic date.
They offer plenty of theatrical and musical performances throughout the year.
Texas Seaport Museum and Elise
The tall ship Elissa is a three-masted barque and is one of the oldest ships sailing today.
Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark which has also been designated one of America’s Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum
See how gas and oil companies process drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The 3-story rig gives you a glimpse of how offshore drilling works.
Galveston Children’s Museum
Located in the Moody Mansion, you’ll find this great museum. This hands-on museum allows children to use microscopes, build robots, and other interactive exhibits.
Be sure to check the calendar as they offer classes throughout the year.