The fall months are always the most beautiful time of year in the harborside town of Galveston, Texas. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities and there are plenty of events for all ages of vacationers.
This barrier island off of the Gulf of Mexico will provide you with a beachy vibe, which is a change of pace for those used to more traditional portrayals of autumn.
For those who are planning a weeklong fall trip to Galveston, or are making a quick weekend escape from the city of Houston, here are some great suggestions of things to do during your vacation.
Artoberfest is an annual art festival hosted in Galveston’s downtown cultural arts district each October. It’s a premier event for finding one-of-a-kind home decor, artwork, and jewelry from local creatives and entrepreneurs. There are artist talks, live music, and workshops to participate in as well, making the event accessible for all members of the family.
The Moody Gardens Festival Of Lights
The Moody Gardens are one of the most beloved attractions in Texas and are open year-round. From November 18th through January 2nd, the festival features holiday music and entertainment for the whole family. Visitors can enjoy walking through their botanical garden, which is fully decorated with lights all around that sparkle in different colors during your walk. There are displays set up throughout that show different festive scenes.
There is a special section that features Santa Claus and his elves, along with the North Pole train display that children will love to see.
The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier Boardwalk
The Pleasure Pier Boardwalk is one of the best places to visit during your fall vacation. This pier extends out over five hundred feet into Galveston Bay and is full of games, rides, food stalls, restaurants, and shops that are perfect for spending time with family. You could spend an entire weekend here and never run out of things to do. There is a weekend adventure pass that can be purchased for a more affordable and straightforward ticketing experience.
The Galveston Island State Park
Fall is the perfect time to head to this natural park that features over 2,000 acres of wildlife and natural landscapes. Some of the beautiful ecosystems you’ll see include wetlands, marshes, and dunes. You can hike, bike, fish, and camp in this region, making it perfect for nature lovers or those who want to spend a quick afternoon having a picnic.
This is the perfect getaway for those who want something more laid back and natural than a waterpark such as the Schlitterbahn or a crowded time on the beach. It’s fairly close to the main attractions and urban areas of the city, so you can make a quick trip out if need be.
The 1892 Bishop’s Palace
The Bishop’s Palace is a perfect place to visit for those who want to know a bit about this town’s history. This beautiful historic landmark was built between 1887 and 1893 and features over 19,000 square feet of Victorian architecture and design.
This home was so significant that it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Galveston Historical Foundation operates and owns this property and provides access for visitors in the form of tours, special events, and occasional venue rentals.
A tour admission will gain you access as well as an audio device that will teach you about the families who have lived here as well as the home itself. You’ll have access to two floors of the palace as well as the basement which houses the gift shop.
The Strand Historic District
The Strand is a colorful historical 5-block long district that is filled with shopping, dining for the foodie, and entertainment. There are over a hundred unique shops as well as historical sites that date back to the 1800s when Galveston was considered one of Texas’ most significant seaport towns.
It’s located in the heart of Galveston Island and is regularly a central place for many cultural and community festivals and events. You can find something happening every weekend in this location and most days of the week in summer or early fall.
There is a special collection of Victorian-era architecture that you’ll want to see when visiting, including historical buildings such as the Tremont House hotel and Strand Theatre, which has been transformed into an art gallery for local artists. During your visit, there are also tours available for those who want a deeper dive into this area’s history.
For those visiting in late fall or early winter, Dickens on the Strand is a holiday-themed festival featuring many characters, activities, and shows from the Charles Dickens Universe.
The Galveston Railroad Museum
This unique museum was founded in 1982 and has been a dream destination for train lovers. It houses a huge collection of passenger and freight cars as well as steam and diesel engines. You’ll leave this museum with a new appreciation for the technological and engineering feats that were achieved during this time.
There is also a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and memorabilia to remind you of your trip down memory lane. Make sure to keep an eye on the museum’s calendar to catch their many events throughout the year, most famously including their annual Mardi Gras celebration and various parades where their historic trains can be seen.
The Grand 1894 Opera House
The Grand 1894 Opera house can be found in the Historic Downtown Cultural Arts District and is a gem for its architectural significance. It was built in the Romanesque Revival architectural style and features over 11,000 square feet of space.
This building was completed in 1894 after three years of construction at a cost of approximately $250,000, which is equivalent to around six million dollars today.
These days you can catch a concert, musical, or theatrical production in the venue. They also host additional events including food, wine, and other fall festivals.
The Galveston Seawall
The seawall was built as a result of the Galveston hurricane of 1900 as a way to protect the city. It became known as Seawall Blvd and has recently been through a major artist renovation. In 1996, the See-Wall Mural project began and the city organized over 14,000 people to contribute to painting this 2.5-mile long wall with over 2,000 gallons of paint.
This has been an ongoing project for the city and has served as a successful way to unite residents and tourists alike. You can find murals and artwork on the way as you walk around town or ride your bike along this section of Galveston Island.
The East End Historic District
This unique district is home to various Victorian-style homes that were built between 1860 and 1879. There are also many notable buildings such as St Mary’s Church which was built in 1859.
The East End district is filled with residences on the National Register of Historic Places, making it a significant place to visit for history buffs and art aficionados alike.
This area also has some great restaurants featuring local food options that will give you an authentic Galveston experience during your vacation.
Dolphin Watching Tours
If you’re a fan of animals, one of the best ways to spend your time in Galveston is by going on a dolphin-watching tour. These tours take place along the Gulf Coast and are offered year-round at different times throughout the day.
There’s something about seeing these creatures up close that will give you an unforgettable experience. You can also see them from a distance by going on a deep-sea fishing trip or kayaking.
This is the perfect event for anyone looking to celebrate the fall season in Texas and get in touch with their German roots. This is known as the “Island Oktoberfest” due to its laid-back beachy atmosphere. This annual fall festival is a must-attend and includes live music, food tastings, games and contests (including stein holding), an international marketplace, carnival rides, dancing performances complete with polka bands from all over Europe.
There are also family-friendly activities like a kids’ corral and face painting. There will also be arts and crafts sections as well as performances that will keep the young ones entertained.
The Greetings From Galveston Mural
This mural replicates the old-fashioned travel postcard and makes for a perfect place to get the classic tourist photo. It was painted in 2016 by Gabriel Prusmak and was commissioned by the Galveston Island Visitors & Convention Bureau.
It’s located in Saengerfest park and is right off of the Strand for those who are enjoying a day in this region.
The Moody Mansion
This historic home is located in the Old East End district and was built in 1895 by the Moody family who made their fortune through cotton trading after moving to Galveston from Virginia City, Montana.
The mansion has twelve rooms on three stories with a grand staircase that leads up to each floor, as well as an elevator which wasn’t common at that time.
Today the home is used as a museum and features permanent exhibits on the history of Galveston that will teach you all about this fascinating city’s past along with changing seasonal displays that are always fun to explore.
The Historic Galveston Ghost Tour
This offbeat walking tour is perfect for the fall time and is a great way to learn about over 150 years of paranormal activity and history in downtown Galveston. This tour features a guide who will take you on a 1.5-hour tour. This trip promises to be one of the more unique ghost tours you’ve experienced in Texas!
This is one of the most popular beaches in town and has earned several mentions and awards for being one of the best beaches on the gulf coast. It has many amenities to enjoy, including a pavilion, chair and umbrella rentals, volleyball courts, a playground, a snack bar, and much more.
While fall may seem like the wrong time of the year to head to the beach, the gulf coast waters will often stay warm into mid-October. If it’s not warm enough to swim, you can still enjoy a picnic and beautiful water views on the beach. The crowds will have decreased by this time of the year and you’ll have a relaxing experience that’s easy to enjoy.
The Bryan Museum
This is a must-see museum and national historic landmark if you’re looking for a well-curated history of Texas. They have a Spanish Colonial Gallery, a Texas frontier room, and many artifacts such as clothing, artwork, spurs, saddles, and firearms from the Galveston area.
You’ll find a few artists that you wouldn’t expect in this museum. There are three Andy Warhol paintings within this collection!
The museum is housed in the historic Galveston Orphanage, a building that survived the great hurricane of 1900, and is one of the few remaining buildings from the time before the storm.
Enjoy Your Time in Galveston Texas!
Now that you have a comprehensive list of Galveston fall activities, it’s time to start planning your trip. There are plenty of options for hotels and lodging as well as dining and shopping venues that you can explore once you arrive. Take a look at Galveston’s official website for more information about things to do this fall.
Have fun living it up and running on island time in this coastal oasis.