The island is full of hidden gems. And if you know where to look, some of those gems can be free-ninety nine! That is why I have put together a list of things you can do that will keep you within budget. These ideas are great for a family day, hanging out with friends, on a date, or even to do alone. See what memories you can make in Galveston without spending a dime!
Spot the Tree Sculptures
In 2008 hurricane Ike hit the island. Unfortunately this natural disaster uprooted and destroyed the tropical environment and many of its trees. However, Galveston locals decided to turn the tragedy into a blank canvas. With their skills they have crafted some of the damaged oak wood into intricate works of art.
Now these breath taking sculptures are scattered throughout the Galveston community for you to enjoy! Be sure to look close, because they can be easily missed as they sit tucked away in lovely yards and enchanting gardens.
If you’re looking for something fun to do on the island try to go find all 28 of them. Either start from scratch in the historic housing district, or click here to look-up the entire map.
Explore the Galveston Bookshop
This shop may not look very big on the outside but don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Inside you will find hundreds of novels from floor to ceiling! Whether you’re looking for a used book to read on the beach or the newest novel to keep you awake all night, Galveston Bookshop truly has it all. Did I mention they also sell first editions, vinyls, and even tarot cards?
Their store front mural nods to classic literature + Galveston History! If you haven’t read Issac’s Storm about the infamous 1900 Galveston Storm, I highly recommend it. In fact, the bookshop has an entire section dedicated to Galveston history and local authors. Click here to get the address.
Take Mural Wall Photos
Galveston is known for having many talented local artists! There are so many murals throughout the community that are perfect for admiring or catching a photo in front of. Many of these murals can be found on Post Office, Mechanic, and Market Street. However, these murals are scattered all over the island, so spend time getting lost and seeing what fun art you can find.
Admire the Architecture
The island has incredibly beautiful architecture. Many historic homes and buildings decorate for seasons and holidays. Take a walk or golf cart ride around the East End Historic District or along Broadway. You are sure to see architecture that amazes you! If you want to learn more in-depth information on this area, take a running or walking tour with Galveston Running Tours.
Visit the Rosenberg Library
This public building also doubles as a mini Galveston museum! Inside you can find historic Galveston artifacts. Some of these items includes original paintings, old newspapers, island records, and more. While you're there check-out a book or take your kiddos to the downstairs children section. Click here to learn more about the Rosenberg Library.
Tour Turtles About Town Sculptures
Turtles About Town was created in 2018 by Turtle Island Restoration Network and local craft shop Clay Cup Studios. The statues help raise funds to help keep endangered sea turtles safe. Each statue is sponsored by a business or organization and commissioned local artists to bring each one its own personality. Talk a stroll around town and see how many turtles you can spot. Click here to download the entire map.
When in Galveston you have to go to the beach! Make the afternoon an active one by going to search for seashells along the shoreline. Take a look at this article from Beach Combing Magazine that gives you the inside scoop on where to scout out the best shells.
Hammock Under Murdochs
Murdochs is a popular store located on SeaWall. Underneath the building there are large posts that are perfect for setting up a hammock along the coastline. Plus enjoy a private view of Pleasure Pier in the distance! Click here for directions.
Plan a Picnic
While eating out on the island is always a treat, nothing beats a home cooked meal overlooking the ocean. Or if you don't want to bother with sand, Galveston has plenty of public parks you relax in. Just remember to love our island by cleaning up your mess before you leave. Click here to find public parks.
Visit A Moody Garden Educational Attraction
While this only includes K-12 students, if they present a report card within the last 30 days showing Bs or better, they can receive free admission into one educational attraction. These attractions include: Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, Colonel Paddlewheeler, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, or Audience Recognition Theater. Click here for more info.
Galveston Unscripted Audio Tour
Galveston Unscripted is a free self-guided audio tour that teaches you about the history of the island. Hear about the rich history of the island by visiting Galveston locations that have significant stories to tell. New places are being added everyday! Click here to learn more.
If you have a set of wheels, like a bicycle, roller skates, or skateboard, take them for a spin. Popular roller skates spots include Seawall and the pavement by Pier 21 off Harborside. Drive. In fact, Galveston has a skate group that has frequent meet-ups. Check them out by clicking here. If you don't have a set of wheels, then check out the local skate shop Reverie Skate Shop located on The Strand.
Speaking of Pier 21, that location is beloved spot by dolphins. If you catch them at the right time, you can see the dolphins swim by. Take a morning or evening stroll and see if you can spot any. If you do decide to spend a few dollars, there are many local dolphin tour tickets you can purchase. Or grab a happy hour drink on the patio at The Fisherman's Wharf while you wait for a few dolphins to appear.
One of the best things about Galveston is the community, and let me tell you, the people love to stay busy. There always seems to be something going on, especially on the weekend. Take a look at current community events to see what kind of "free" activities you can find. Aesthetically Galveston's Instagram is always posting upcoming events or you can search the events tab on Facebook.
One of my favorite free Galveston events is ArtWalk, which happens every 6-8 weeks on the island. Local artists, musicians, and vendors set up around the downtown area and all the shops stay open late! Some stops provide drinks and refreshments. Click here to learn more about ArtWalk.
Exchange Books at a Little Free Library
Give your phone a break and bury your nose in a book. Little Free Library is a National non-profit organization committed to expanding book access to all! That means you can borrow a book to read on the beach or in your hotel room for FREE. All they ask is you return the book to any Little Free Library stand when you’re done, so others have the chance to read it too.
Did you know there are around 30 Little Free Libraries currently on the island? This particular stand is next to MOD Coffee and Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream on Post Office Street. Perfect for some quiet time under the pergola. If you have books collecting dust, consider recycling them by donating to your nearest stand. You can rest easy at night knowing you gave your book new life! Click here to check the location of any Little Free Library stand.