Travel: See-worthy

It turns out, there’s more to Galveston than massive cruise ships and months-long Mardi Gras celebrations.

By April Cumming

Consider this your condensed getaway guide to a grand weekend in Galveston, Texas.  

Friday

4:38 p.m.
Congratulations! You managed to take off work a few hours early and slip past the bottleneck traffic that is rush hour in Austin and Houston. Drop off your car with the valet and proceed up the sloping walkway to the oceanfront San Luis Resort like you’re a Hollywood starlet making her debut on the red carpet. Throw open the door to your top-level room and walk directly past the California king-size bed en route to the balcony. Take a deep breath as you scan the coastline glistening before you. On an otherwise seamless stretch of horizon, cargo ships inch along, crawling at a caterpillar-like pace. Time, you notice, starts to slow to a similar speed. A quick glance to ground level reveals the secluded grotto area of the resort’s pool. Make a plotting promise to yourself that a quick dip will be on the agenda before bedtime. sanluisresort.com

5:55 p.m.
Find your funny bone—and work out any physical kinks your body might be going through—as you stretch out and unwind at a free laughter-yoga class (offered at 6 p.m. on the first and third Fridays of the month). Taught by beloved studio owner Kathleen DiNatale, classes at The Yoga Haven are open to all levels, even those simply after a little shavasana. theyogahaven.net

8:35 p.m.
What was that promise you made to yourself again? Oh, yes: a dip in the pool. Cue the soundtrack of ocean waves slushing their way to shore and muffled laughter coming from a nearby cabana. A chilly, cloudless-night breeze raises a few goose bumps, justifying your decision to sink a couple inches deeper into the water. 

 

Saturday

Get back to the beach. Watching the sunrise over the Gulf has a subtle way of making you feel small. With 32 miles of sandy, eggshell-white shoreline, Galveston features a constant stream of bikers, joggers and languid amblers soaking in the sun.

7 a.m.
Shake up your morning routine with a splash of refreshing ocean water. Paddleboard in tow, wade in and catch a morning surf session with SUP Gulf Coast. Venture out far enough and you might just spot a playful pod of dolphins bobbing in the distance. supgulfcoasttx.com

10:13 a.m.
You’ve seen enough Travel Channel snippets on Pike Place Market in Seattle to know all about the fun times those fishmongers have tossing enormous salmon up and over the counter, only to have them magically land in the embrace of eagerly awaiting customers. While it may not receive quite as much hype, Katie’s Seafood Market lets passersby watch as weathered, local fisherman haul in their fresh catches for the day. If you’re planning to place an order, be sure to call it out before one of the pescatarians (aka pelicans) swoops in. Those big-beaked birds keep an open tab here. katiesseafoodmarket.com

11:45 a.m.
Don’t be surprised if you lose yourself on island time when you step into the Oasis Juice Bar & Market. In addition to offering a bevy of salads ready to placate even the pickiest of health nuts, this Jimmy Buffet-esque emporium offers juice concoctions with fun, if not somewhat cliché, titles like Tropic Tease, Can’t Be Beet, Island Sunrise, Berry Good and Mean & Green. oasisjuicebar.com

1:10 p.m.
Cherry-pick through the boutique shops lining The Strand, Galveston’s historic downtown shopping district. If you’re fortunate, an afternoon storm might sweep through town and convince you to duck into The Grand 1894 Opera House for a show or The Bryan Museum to peruse the world’s largest collection of historical artifacts and artwork relating to the Southwestern U.S. thegrand.com, thebryanmuseum.org

4:05 p.m.
The clock says it’s only 4:05 p.m. instead of 5:04 p.m.? Oh, well. Happy hour isn’t far away. Catch a free tour or mosey up to the bar at Galveston Island Brewing and order up a craft-beer tasting flight or take your drink out to where all the cool kids are congregating on the homey front-yard patio. Concocted in-house, popular brews include Tiki Wheat, a vibrant wheat ale, and Nightfall, a porter with coffee undertones. This is day drinking at its finest. galvestonislandbrewing.com

6:35 p.m.
Officially starving, one look at the menu at Ocean Grille & Beach Bar will have you ordering a glass of pinot grigio and settling in for a while. Judging from outward appearances, this ocean-to-table, beachfront restaurant, helmed by award-winning Chef Randy Evans, comes off as anything but pretentious. But order the half-pound Wagyu beef burger or the savory, bright-pink snapper— caught just mere hours earlier—and you’ll start to feel like you’re living the high life. oceangrilleandbeachbar.com

8:12 p.m.
Speaking of the high life, a slow night ride on the 100-foot-tall, LED-lit Ferris wheel at Pleasure Pier sounds like a pretty solid post-dinner plan. From your perch in the sky, marvel as the city streets cast their glow, appearing as though someone has stamped the town with a grid-like potato masher and strung the rivulets with lights. pleasurepier.com 

 

Sunday

10:13 a.m.
Act like a local and hit up the Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market. In the midst of seasonal greenhouse and garden-fresh produce and booths touting specialty milks and soaps sits a stand called Jackie’s Gourmet. Don’t leave without scooping up a few jars of Jackie’s burst-in-your-mouth jellies. Flavors include Meyer lemon lavender, blackberry cherry lavender and red pineapple habanero. galvestonsownfarmersmarket.com

12:50 p.m.
Before you head home, take one last drive along the Seawall, windows down, ocean breeze whipping through your hair, and take respite in the fact that, at least for now, you’ve got no better place to be than here. For a quick moment, somewhere between the rustling cacophony of palm fronds and daydreams of a sunsoaked life lived in one of the city’s ornate and opulently painted Victorian homes, you have to pinch yourself. Yep, you’re still in Texas. 

 

Festival on the Horizon

Start detoxing now. You’ll be glad you did when the Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival hits town April 11 through 17. Rub elbows with chef, restaurateur and Food Network superstar Robert Irvine and spoil yourself on second and third helpings from the remarkably lavish food spread during the award-winning Sunday Brunch event at Hotel Galvez. galvestonfoodandwinefestival.com, hotelgalvez.com

 

The Yoga Haven photo by Ellie Cherryhomes. Other photos courtesy of Galveston Island CVB. 


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