Spending time with your grandparents in Galveston can be a wonderful experience, as the city offers a mix of historical charm, family-friendly activites, cultural art scenes, and accessible outdoor recration. That is why when my grandparents said they wanted to come visit us for the Thanksgiving holiday, I knew they were going to love it! Below you can see our family's itinerary which can hopefully give you some ideas on things to do while you're there.
As an early Christmas gift, my husband and I rented an Electric Model T car from Carriage Haus for our grandparents to ride around in over the weekend. This was probably their favorite part of the entire trip! We were able to easily cruise around most of the island in style. I also felt like my grandparents were able to see more of the island in less time because of how accessible the transportation was. to ride around and park vs. being in a regular car. While the car is most ideal in sunny weather, our days were mostly cloudy and rainy. However, with a waterproof jacket and towels to sit on, we didn't let the weather rain on our parade. In fact, it made it feel cozy and extra Christmasy.
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"What?" is the question you don't want to hear one hundrend times when having a meal with your grandparents. That is why choosing restaurants with a quieter ambiance, can allow for easy conversation and a more enjoyable meal. My Grandpa also has diabetes, so we had to be sure there were food options that could accommodate whatever his insulin levels were. Here are some of the places we ate.
Vida Agave- We came here for lunch as dinner and late night can be very loud. But around 1 PM to 3:30 PM you will experience less crowd/noise. Vida is all about "family" so if you tell them to seat you in a quiet corner, they are more than happy to accommodate.
Sugar & Rye- Our family visited for brunch at 9:30 AM on a Saturday. It was prime time, so the noise level was pretty loud, but the food was delicious and we could make reservations! My Grandmother still raves about the French toast. But if you went around 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM you can hit a more serene atmosphere.
The Buffalo Grill- This restaurant is located in the quiet Evia Main neighborhood tucked away on the west side of the island. Because this spot is off the beaten path, it's great for conversation. We went here for dinner at 7:30 PM on Saturday and we were the only people there and our meal came out in less than 10 minutes! Plus they have corn hole, Jenna, and other out door games to play with the family.
Press Box- Due to our schedule, I wasn't able to go with my grandparents to this location, but when they came back they said they LOVED it. They went for dinner and said the grilled cheese was the best thing on their menu.
Porch Cafe- While we didn't go here when my grandparents came, it's one I always suggest to people looking for another dining experience that is quaint with high quality food. Porch Cafe is on the east side of the island and in the Beachtown neighborhood. It has a large covered wrap around porch (hence the name) that overlooks beautiful beach homes with a private beach access!
When looking for activities to do with my grandparents I kept two major things in mind: accessibility and interest. First, the activities needed to be something they could do as independently as possible. So I tried to find things to do that were easily walkable, had an elevator option, and minimal stairs. Second, I wanted them to do activities they wanted to do! For my grandparents, they did not necessarily care about shopping nor did they care to go to the beach. So here is a list of things we did:
Galveston Unscripted Tour- My grandparents are history fanatics. When I told them about Galveston Unscripted we knew we had to get a tour from the founder J.R. Shaw. They were able to hear many fascinating facts about Galveston as we cruised around on the Carriage Haus car hearing fascinating stories of Galveston's past. While J.R. does not always give tours due to his schedule, his audio tours are always available on the Galveston Unscripted Website!
Moody Mansion- As I mentioned before, my grandparents really enjoy history, so I picked one of the Broadway Beauties to tour. One of the things that really helped my grandad, was this self-guided tour is given on an audio device that looks like a phone. He was able to put the phone up to his ears and adjust the volume as he needed! It was perfect for someone like him who wears a hearing aid. However, Moody Mansion does have quite a staircase, so be sure your loved one can walk them if they want to see the entire house.
Clay Cup Studios- My grandad used to have a woodworking workshop in his backyard when I was growing up and he and I would spend time carving crafts and painting. I knew Clay Cup Studio would be a place he would enjoy! It also was a nice place to sit down and rest from the walking and weather. My grandparents decided to make a candle where they picked out the color, shape, and scents; but my husband and I both painted. My grandma was giddy about taking her candle home!
Evia Outdoor Games-After dinner one night, we spent time on the Evil turf outside of The Buffalo Grille. I played many outdoor games with my grandparents like connect four, Jenna, and attempted to throw corn hole even though neither me or my grandma was very good! It was a blast playing classic games and enjoying the night under the stars.
ELISSA Ship-This was by far the number one thing my grandpa wanted to do while he was in Galveston. This ship sailed in 1877 and has a remarkable history that is now told through its museum located inside the boat. This provided about an hour to an hour and half of entertainment if your group truly takes time to read all the signage. If not, it can be an easy 20-30 minute walk through. While there are a little bit of stairs to go up and down, most of it is pretty accessible for seniors. However, we went when it was raining so some of the stairs were more slippery than normal. My grandpa did fine, but looking back we should have toured on a more sunny day for safety reasons.
Dolphin Tours: Baywatch Dolphin Tours- is located right next to the ELISSA Ship. Unfortunately we ran out of time to do this activity but it was on my to-do list since it is a jump, hop, and skip away from where we were already touring. I have been on one of their tours though, and the captain was very knowledgeable and took us to find lots of dolphins! We did see some dolphins from the ELISSA Ship while we were on the deck so keep your eyes out if you're in that area.
There are so many Airbnbs, Vrbos, and hotels on the island it's hard to narrow down all the best ones for your elderly loved one. However, I can make some recommendations on what to look for in accommodations when searching for the right place.
Accessibility- Look for places that are single story or ADA accessible for individuals who have trouble walking up and down stairs. My in-laws even found an Airbnb with a built in elevator when my husband's grandparents came to visit a few years ago!
Location- Parking varies around Galveston Island. Most hotels have valet or free parking, but other rentals may require you to street or lot park. This can be a hassle for loved ones who may not have the energy or ability to walk very far. Look for places that have direct private parking as they will decrease the chances of you having to walk down curbs or tall sidewalks with your loved one.
Noise levels- While some elderly loved ones may be hard of hearing, others may be all too sensitive to loud noises (especially at night). Steer clear of locations located in the heart of downtown or near bars/restaurants that stay open late. Search for places that are located in neighborhoods or secluded beach areas for the most quaint accommodations.
Visiting Galveston with an elderly loved one is an experience that seamlessly blends historical charm with modern amenities, creating an ideal destination for intergenerational bonding. The island's relaxed atmosphere, soothing coastal vibes, and diverse range of attractions cater to various interests and mobility levels, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable trip for seniors. From the iconic Seawall Boulevard, offering breathtaking ocean views and accessible pathways, to the historic Strand District with its well-preserved architecture and delightful shops, A visit to Galveston with an elderly loved one promises not only relaxation but also a shared experience that transcends time and creates lasting bonds.