20 Top Things To Do in Galveston with Kids

Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks
Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks
4/19/24 - By Rachael Cherry

Galveston is more than just sand, seaweed, and sun — the little island is jam-packed with fun for families. From tours and water parks to aquariums and museums (and great restaurants in between), we've pinpointed kid-friendly activities throughout the city and compiled a list of 20 family-friendly things to do in Galveston.

Heading straight for the water? We've got a list of the Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Galveston as well.

For more ideas on summer activities, check out our Summer Fun Guide for Houston families.


1. The Seawall

For a laid-back beach experience, you'll want to head straight for The Seawall, which offers more than 10 miles of beach and water. Metered parking is available along The Seawall. Have a picnic on the beach, or take advantage of a wide variety of beachfront restaurants that are a short walk from the sand. While you're exploring The Seawall, be sure to make a pit-stop at Murdochs, where you can stock up on beach souvenirs and take in sweeping views of the sea through stationary viewfinders while enjoying a tasty cold beverage.

Pleasure Pier Galveston 
Pleasure Pier is a small amusement park extending over the water. Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

2. Pleasure Pier

Amusement rides, midway games, restaurants, and retail shops for kids of all ages abound on Pleasure Pier, and all of it offers a waterfront view. Want to play at Pleasure Pier but also take advantage of other island attractions? Wristbands allow re-entry throughout the day.  Patrons can choose from the All Day Ride Pass, walk-on passes, single-ride tickets, or the Weekend Adventure Pass that allows unlimited access to Pleasure Pier, nearby Kemah Boardwalk, and the Houston Downtown Aquarium.

3. Galveston Island State Park

One of many State Parks Near Houston, Galveston Island State Park offers fishing, bird watching, kayaking, swimming, and camping. Entry costs $5 per person, and kids ages 12 and under get in free. You can hang out at the park for the day to take advantage of the beach or stay overnight at one of the 60+ available campsites. Kids can even become Junior Rangers by visiting the Nature Center, picking up the Junior Ranger Activity Journal and Explorer Pack, and completing tasks to earn a badge. The beach side of the park features newly renovated amenities like two boardwalks, a kayak launch, pavilions, enhanced restrooms, and more. 

Related: Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Galveston

Moody Gardens Galveston
Moody Gardens is worth a weekend trip alone. Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens

4. Moody Gardens

With three pyramids of attractions, there's something for everyone to enjoy at Moody Gardens. Each pyramid offers a different experience: the Aquarium Pyramid gives visitors a glimpse into ocean life; the Rainforest Pyramid offers a peek of rainforests in Asia, Africa, and the Americas; and the Discovery Pyramid houses a rotating museum exhibit. There are also theaters, a golf course, the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, a water park, restaurants, ziplines, a ropes course, and more!

5. Galveston Tour

To get a feel for the island and its history, take one of the many Galveston tours. Each tour offers something unique: like the Taste of the Strand, 1895 Moody Mansion, SegCity Tours, various boat tours, walking and riding tours, and ghost tours of local haunted spots. One of our personal favorites is a dolphin tour, where families can take a ride around Galveston Bay and watch the dolphins jump during an entertaining boat ride. 

Related: Family Fun at Port Aransas: Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do

Mardi Gras parade in Galveston

Galveston Mardi Gras is an annual highlight. Photo by Kim Christensen

6. Festivals and Events

When planning a trip to Galveston, be sure to check the calendar for any festivals or special events that the island may be hosting. Notoriously, Galveston's Mardi Gras events feature plenty of family-friendly parades and festivities. Also popular for families are the Galveston Greek Festival each fall, Dickens on the Strand at Christmastime, and the Galveston Island Beach Revue to kick off summer.

7. Bay Fishing and Offshore Fishing in Galveston

Whether it's in the bay, along the surf, or off a pier, there are plenty of places to cast a line and spend the day fishing with the kids in Galveston. Looking for something more intense? Consider making a day of it by booking an off-shore fishing trip, where it's not unusual to catch large tuna and marlins. The kids may not be strong enough to reel in the giant fish by themselves, but the experience is one that will last a lifetime.

8. Schlitterbahn

If you're looking for a water experience sans the sand, look no further than Schlitterbahn Galveston, one of our favorite Amusement Parks Near Houston. The water park has a variety of rides for all age levels, kids areas and beaches, a lazy river, heated pools, and more, including MASSIV, the world's tallest water coaster. You can also rent cabanas for the day, so you have a place to come back to and relax and recharge.

Galveston Artwalk 
Artwalk is a monthly event and the perfect chance to walk through Galveston's many art galleries. Photo courtesy of Galveston Artwalk

9. Art Galleries

Did you know that Galveston has a thriving art scene? If you are an art-loving family, head to one of Galveston's many art galleries to view works by local artists, as well as imported pieces. Most of the studios are kid-friendly, but at Clay Cup Studios kids can make their own pottery and paintings. At various times throughout the year, businesses on The Strand display local artwork on Saturday nights as part of Galveston's ArtWalk.

10. Galveston Restaurants

There are so many family-friendly dining options to choose from in Galveston, many with waterfront views. Try favorites like The Spot for a great burger, Tortuga's for delicious Tex-Mex, or Willie G's for seafood and to watch the cruise ships set sail. If you happen to be in Galveston during the winter months, be sure to check out the restaurants participating in Galveston Restaurant Weeks to enjoy a great meal at a discount for a good cause.

Related: Fun Summer Day Trips for Houston Families

La King's Confectionary in Galveston
Making taffy is mesmerizing to watch. Photo courtesy of La King's Confectionery 

11. The Strand Historic District

Downtown Galveston, known as The Strand, gives visitors a chance to kick off the sand and walk around while perusing shop-lined streets. You'll find a variety of novelty stores full of knick-knacks and memorabilia, restaurants and bars to grab a bite to eat or a drink, and every kid's favorite stop: La King's Confectionery, where there's an endless selection of candy, antique arcade games, a 1920s soda fountain, ice cream, and even saltwater taffy-pulling demonstrations.

12. Snap Amazing Photos

Many of our favorite spots to visit around town are also amazing places to get cute Instagram-worthy photos of kids. Several murals are located in The Strand district, along the Seawall, and at other locations throughout the island. We love the "Greetings From Galveston, Texas" mural in Saengerfest Park, which also has a giant chess board.

The Railroad Museum in Galveston

Schedule a stop at the Railroad Museum. Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

13. Galveston Children's Museum

If you're visiting Galveston with little ones, you won't want to miss the Galveston Children's Museum. Here, interactive, hands-on exhibits are geared towards youngsters from ages 2-10. From a tinker workshop and a building zone to an arts studio and more, your kiddo is sure to have a great time learning and exploring while also beating the Galveston heat. 

14. Galveston Island Ferry

Looking for something different, fun, and free to do? Take a ride with the kids on the Galveston Island Ferry. Passengers are allowed to walk on (as well as drive) and the kids can have a blast looking for fish, dolphins, boats, and birds as you travel to and from Bolivar Peninsula. Round-trip, the whole excursion takes less than 40 minutes. 

15. Splash Pad

Three Galveston splash pads have caught our eye as being excellent places to cool down after a day in the sun - and as an added bonus, they're all free! Menard Park, one of the Best Splash Pads Near Houston, is the perfect place to play when you're fresh from the beach and need to rinse off sandy kids. For dumping buckets and fun spray jets, kiddos love to splash at the Wright Cuney Recreation Center, which features a playground and covered picnic tables along with the sprayground. Schreiber Park's splash pad showcases an airplane amid water jets that shoot up from the ground. 

Seaport Museum in Galveston 
Vist a historical ship at the Seaport Museum. Photo courtesy of the Seaport Museum

16. Tall Ship ELISSA

Give the kids a history lesson when you visit Galveston's historic seaport, where you'll find the Tall Ship ELISSA, a square-rigged iron barque that dates to 1877. This ship museum offers guests an inside look into the island's storied immigration history. Climb aboard to follow in the footsteps of early immigrants as you get an up-close look at what it was like to travel the seas and arrive at the bustling port city in the 1800s. 

17. Historic Mansions

Galveston, once known as the Wall Street of the South, is home to historic mansions that are open for tours. At the 1892 Bishop's Palace, families are welcome to walk through the Victorian home on a self-guided tour for a peek into the past. The 28,000-square-foot Moody Mansion dates to 1895 and lures history buffs to tour 20 rooms furnished and decorated with the personal belongings of the Moody family. 

18. Public Pier at Seawolf Park

Located on Pelican Island, Galveston's Seawolf Park features an array of interesting tourist attractions, like the USS Cavalla, a WWII submarine located at the Galveston Naval Museum, along with a playground and picnic sites. However, its biggest draw is the park's public fishing pier, where you can angle for flounder or drum with the kiddos while taking in views of WWI tanker S.S. Selma. 

19. Galveston Railroad Museum

All aboard for a ride through time when you visit the Galveston Railroad Museum, which showcases real-life rail cars, a fully restored 1932 train depot, model trains, and more. The Art Deco decor and 1930s-era style sets the tone and makes for an unforgettable Galveston experience the whole family will enjoy. For a thrill, hop aboard a locomotive for a ride before you go. 

Photo courtesy of The Bryan Museum

20. The Bryan Museum

Get the kids a fascinating Texas history lesson at The Bryan Museum, which features roughly 70,000 items spanning more than 12,000 years - one of the world's largest collections of artifacts showcasing early Texas and the American West. Saddles, spurs, fine art, Native American tools, and more lead visitors on a chronological journey through the history of Texas and the West, starting with Native American artifacts belonging to the land's original residents and ending in the 21st century.

Places featured in this article: