With more than 30 miles of Gulf beaches, a laidback vibe, and plenty of family-friendly fun, Galveston has long been a destination for Houstonians looking for a reprieve or break from the city. The bustling island town is home to its own exciting dining scene, with quality seafood, beachfront bars, and dive bars to boot. Tourist traps, which can be fun in their own right, abound, but there are plenty of options that will allow you to veer from the beaten path to truly explore all that the island has to offer. Here’s one way to fill up on a day of fun in Galveston, but bring a swimsuit and a change of clothes just in case. You might want to stick around for a bit longer.
9:30 a.m. Sunflower Bakery & Cafe, followed by a stroll on the Strand
512 14th Street
Breakfast is a comforting affair at this bakery and cafe, which serves up piles of pillowy pancakes with fresh berries, omelets, and classic Mexican plates like migas and huevos rancheros. For the table, order the gooey grilled cinnamon roll, or sample a variety of baked goods with the bakery basket, which includes freshly baked danishes, croissants, and a blueberry muffin, with a side of strawberry butter. After breakfast, head to the Strand and see what catches your eye. Considered the heart of the island (and also part of the route for the local Mardis Gras parade), this historic five-block stretch near the island’s warf features an assortment of small shops, art galleries, and more restaurants worth exploring.
11:30 a.m. — Ice cream, candy, and souvenirs at La King’s Confectionery
2323 The Strand
Too early for candy? Think this over while heading to this historic old-fashioned candy shop where sweet stuff abounds. Find homemade chocolates, ice cream and frozen yogurt available by the scoop in more than a dozen flavors, plus milkshakes and malts served at the 1920s-era soda fountain. If you’re still full from breakfast, be sure to take some sweets home. Cop a few extra saltwater taffy or pecan logs as edible souvenirs for friends or family, but be sure to keep them out of the sweltering heat.
1 p.m. Sip and dine on the Seawall
After discovering some of the most Northern part of the island, head South to the seawall where beachfront bars and restaurants are a given. Go for a more casual lunch at The Gumbo Diner (3602 Seawall Blvd), which serves its namesake gumbo, seafood platters, and all-day breakfast, or try out BLVD Seafood (2804 Avenue R 1/2), where diners rave about their crab cakes. Order a dozen oysters prepared BLVD-style with blackened shrimp, crab, parmesan, and bread crumbs, then decide between a shrimp and fish platter, seafood-filled tacos, or crab cake sliders.
3:30 p.m. — Drinks and small bites at the Spot
3204 Seawall Boulevard
Sure, many believe it’s a tourist trap, but the food and views of the seawall at this iconic multi-faceted, tiki bar-restaurant can be worth it. Grab a drink during its happy hour between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., when wells are $3 and rum punches, frozen margaritas and pina coladas will run you just $5. Different-themed areas, including its beachfront rum-fueled palapas bar, the outdoor Squeeze Ritas & Tequila margarita haven, and the cocktail and beer-focused Sideyard can keep things interesting. If you’ve already worked up an appetite, tie yourself over before dinner with its beachfront ceviche, made with fresh lime-marinated fish with hot peppers, onion, and cilantro, and served with warm tortilla chips, or spring for a platter of fried seafood, including the coconut shrimp, to share. Then, walk up and down the seawall to see what other bars are worth hopping into.
7 p.m. Dinner at Gaido’s
3828 Seawall Boulevard
Open for more than 100 years, Gaido’s is a Galveston bucket list-type restaurant if you’ve never been. Sit down for a more upscale seafood dinner with entrees like its pecan-crusted red snapper, fried stuffed shrimp, chargrilled oysters, and so much more.
9 p.m. — Cocktails at Daiquiri Time Out
2701 Market Street
Channel your inner Ernest Hemingway and head to this quirky neon-lit craft cocktail lounge. DTO boasts stellar specials on its daiquiris, Old Fashioneds, and more — with $6 cocktails during its all-day happy hour on Mondays, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Try its quirky seasonal concoctions, like its current Dark Side of the Shroom cocktail, made with Ford's gin, Suntory Toki whiskey, mushroom, vermouth, and plenty of umami flavor, or pick something from its classics menu, like the rum-loaded Painkiller.
Late Night — Pizza and nightcap at Murphy’s Pub
213-215 22nd Street
When in search of no-frills drinks and late-night eats to soak up the alcohol, head to Murphy’s. The Irish pub is stocked with friendly bartenders and the bar serves up late-night pizza well into the wee hours of the morning.
Early Morning — Bronco Burritos
4917 Broadway Avenue J
If you’re an early riser or in need of a hangover helper, get started with an island staple. Galveston’s iconic surprise burrito — typically, a hefty breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, refried beans, cheese, and potatoes — is a filling way to start your journey or end it after a night of drinking. Open from 6 a.m. until noon Tuesday through Saturday, Bronco Burritos serves up its version using chorizo that’s hard to beat.
Lodging — San Luis Resort
5222 Seawall Boulevard
Thinking about staying in Galveston longer than just 24 hours? Who can blame you? The San Luis Resort — complete with three restaurants, a gelato shop, a pool with a swim-up bar, and excellent views of the beach — is a fine lodging option, and can be a vacation all on its own.