A Weekend Trip to Galveston, Texas.
Ryan (my husband) sent me a text last Wednesday”
“Let’s take a trip this weekend with the kids, I need to get away. I can take Friday and Monday off, so we have four days to escape somewhere.”
So, we went back and forth a bit on where we should go. Should we drive somewhere? If so, that limited our options, and we’ve been to Dallas (the closest metro) so many times that frankly, it just didn’t sound too exciting. We also tossed around the idea of staying at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas, but four days just seemed too long for Great Wolf (as much as we love it).
We had talked about checking out Galveston a few years back, but never acted on it. Though it is a bit out of the driving range that we were comfortable with (a 10 hour drive from OKC), it’s a pretty short flight (a little over an hour). It wasn’t San Diego by any means, but a beach no less and easy to get to, so we committed and I hastily started making plans and reservations.
Which hotel? What is there to do? Is the beach nice? These were all questions that I did not know the answers to, so I did a bit of research online (i.e. Google) and reached out to friends (i.e. Facebook) to gather ideas (I’ll be sharing these throughout the post). After little deliberation (um, because two days), we booked our flights via Southwest Airlines (OKC to HOU), reserved a room at Hotel Galvez (a Wyndham hotel, so I was able to use reward points for a free night, as well as earn points for our stay) and booked a rental car (AAA, Hertz). The deed was done, and all that was left to do was pack.
I was so thankful that our flight was a late afternoon one, even though it ended up being a bit delayed. From OKC, we flew to Houston Hobby, jumped in the rental car, then drove an hour to Galveston. We checked into the beautiful Hotel Galvez, which is old and historic. The rooms were a bit small, but the hotel is by far the nicest one on Seawall Blvd, the main road for getting to the beach and attractions on Galveston Island. I recommend using the valet service if you drive in because the walk from and to the parking garage is quite long and includes a fee. Valet includes a higher fee, too, but the convenience is well worth it.
We hadn’t eaten lunch yet and it was creeping towards 1:30pm, so we jumped into the rental car and hopped on Seawall Blvd to find a suitable restaurant. We passed by several charming restaurants, most of them being of seafood fare, but landed at one of the most tourtisty places you can think of – Rainforest Cafe. BUT, this Rainforest Cafe had something we had never seen before (and we have been to several around the country, trust me) – an indoor ride. Yup. A very tame, but LOUD and rather dark water raft ride (there is no getting wet, so no worries) that we rode after dinner. And ANOTHER shocking thing – my 6 year-old actually rode on it. This was HUGE for him (especially with the dark and loud elements).
After Rainforest Cafe, we headed to Moody Gardens, which includes three different glass pyramids and is only a short drive from Seawall Blvd. Though the admission is quite steep (beginning around $59.95 for a one day pass), there is quite a bit that Moody Gardens offers – Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, Ridefilm Theater, Discovery Museum, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, Palm Beach (seasonal), Festival of Lights (seasonal), as well as a ropes course and zip line. We only had four hours until closing time, so we opted for the One Day Value Pass which included everything BUT the zip line and ropes course (though a one day pass does provide a 25% discount for those activities).
We started with the Aquarium Pyramid first, where Charlie (our 6 year-old) was given a “passport” to collect stamps as we traveled through the exhibits. He had more fun doing that than seeing the sea life! The aquarium was quite sizable and there was a lot to see, including penguins (my favorite part!) and sharks.
After the aquarium, we headed over to the Rainforest Pyramid. When we initially opened the doors to the exhibit we were nearly knocked over by the heat and humidity. I mean, it was supposed to be a rainforest, but WHOA, it was HOT. Fortunately, there were a/c vents scattered throughout the trail that helped us survive!
Once we made our way through the trail, it did get cooler (the more we headed down to the bottom, the cooler it got) and we found it more enjoyable, too. The Rainforest is full of free flying birds (one flew right by Ryan’s head!), waterfalls, butterflies, plants and trees of various species and even monkeys. Once we made the rounds we were officially exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel. We needed to rest up for a BIG day at Schlitterbahn the following morning.
We had a somewhat late breakfast, then prepared to go to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The park opened at 10:00 a.m., so we arrived shortly before. We figured that the earlier we arrived, the better crowd levels would be (and we were right!). We opted for a 2-day pass so we wouldn’t feel pressured to get to all of the slides in one day. We got a locker, sprayed ourselves down with sunscreen, and started playing!
I was pretty impressed with Schlitterbahn. It is a rather large waterpark with plenty of slides and pools for all ages, which was perfect for my teen and 6 year-old. Ryan and I would often split off in different directions, taking one kid with us. Rafts were easy to come by, sans the smaller green double kid rafts (that have a section where smaller kids can sit inside, verses dangling their legs through). Once the afternoon hit, the park inflated with people rather quickly, which made some of the sections so backed up full of people and rafts that it was somewhat uncomfortable. Around 1:00 or so, we were ready to go back to the hotel and rest.
Around 5:00 p.m. or so, we decided to head over to Pleasure Pier (carnival rides, games, restaurants, etc.) for dinner and a little fun. We ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, which was VERY crowded, but we were able to skip the line a bit by signing up for the Landry’s Select Club ($25 for a rewards card, but you are refunded when you use it at a Landry’s Select restaurant – I also received $25 credit for my birthday month!). We ate, then headed into the pier, which did come with a fee to enter (and extra for rides).
Once again, our little Charlie surprised us by riding several kid rides, including the tea cups with his brother shown above. He was DYING to play some carnival games, so after a few rides, we let him have a little carnival fun!
After a few games, Charlie took away a little blue frog and elephant, so he was quite proud of himself! We splurged on a bit of ice cream and then called it a night.
We spent the morning and early afternoon at Schlitterbahn, once again (we had a 2-day pass). I wasn’t as busy on the previous day (this was on a Sunday), but it did start to pick up again around noon or so. We left around 2:00 p.m, with a plan to go back to the hotel to rest and watch the USA soccer game, but first we decided to head further north along Seawall Blvd to see what attractions, if any, were there. It was also a time to really check out the beaches, which we hadn’t really paid much attention to before then, as crazy as that may sound!
Before heading to Galveston, we had been “warned” that the seaweed was rather heavy this year, and boy, it really was. It was everywhere and thick. From the looks of people walking through it, it came to about their knees. To be completely honest, it just wasn’t appealing to spend any time there. I mean, we LOVED seeing the Gulf from our hotel window, but getting in the actual water or even sitting on the beach just didn’t seem that appealing. We did notice that there were nicer beaches the farther north we went up Seawall Blvd, which were probably less congested with seaweed (it was hard see for sure).
We had dinner in the hotel that evening so that we wouldn’t have to mess with getting back out, and that is when I started developing a bad headache than quickly escalated to a migraine. I took a Benedryl, hoping that it would knock me out and I could sleep it off, but then I became extremely nauseous. Like, BAD. It all went downhill from there and it was apparent that I had contracted food poisoning. A couple hours later and my poor Charlie would follow suit. Fortunately, the other two were not affected. Trying to pinpoint what Charlie and I ate that the other two didn’t was quite difficult, but I believe it was the hotdogs from Schlitterbahn we had eaten on Saturday. It is the only meal we had separate from the other guys. Needless to say, night 3 was pretty miserable for Charlie and I.
This was the day we were traveling home, though, THANK GOODNESS, not until 5:30 p.m. The very gracious Hotel Galvez granted us a late checkout of 2:00 p.m. (saints!), which was a good thing because Charlie and I were so weak that we just wanted to lay down. It was quite a challenge getting us into the car and on a plane, but we managed, and were thankful to be in our own beds that night.
Overall, Galveston was a fun little island and perfect for a weekend getaway. The flight was so short for us, too, so travel was quite easy. The beaches aren’t ones that I am accustomed to, but with the seaweed at a all-time high, I hate to judge. The Gulf in Galveston felt more like a lake to me than a beach, much unlike my Gulf experience in Destin, Florida that was quite blue and beautiful. Regardless of the beaches, though, there is a TON to do for families in Galveston and a million different ways to swim, fish or get outside. I highly recommend it!