I Still Dream of Galveston

Galveston is one of the oldest and most historic cities in Texas.

1859 Ashton Villa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
1859 Ashton Villa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From its time as a major 1800s-era shipping port, through the devastating Hurricane of 1900 and up until modern day, Galveston has played a major role in shaping Texas history.

Galveston sits on a barrier island two miles offshore surrounded by 32 miles of sandy beaches, numerous attractions, and one of the largest and best-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the US. From soft sandy beaches to famous 19th century architecture, the island is surrounded with incredible history and unique beauty.

Running parallel to Galveston Beach and the Gulf of Mexico is the island’s famous Seawall that stretches for more than 10 miles and rises 17 feet above mean sea level. The Seawall was built to protect Galveston from hurricanes, following the Hurricane of 1900 that devastated the island.

Moody Mansion © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Moody Mansion © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Seawall is as much a playground as it is a protective barrier for the City against the ever changing tides of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you enjoy biking, strolling, or just people watching, the Seawall is the place to visit.

A premier Texas destination, Galveston never disappoints with its unlimited attractions. Our favorites follow.

1859 Ashton Villa: The first of Galveston’s great Broadway “palaces”,  Ashton Villa set the standard for the magnificent homes that followed. It was the first brick house to be built in Texas.

1892 Bishop’s Palace: Galveston’s grandest and best-known building, is an ornate delight of colored stone, intricately carved ornaments, rare woods such as rosewood and white mahogany, stained-glass windows, massive sliding doors, bronze dragons and other sculptures, and impressive fireplaces from around the world—including one lined with pure silver.

Ocean Star Drilling Rig & Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ocean Star Drilling Rig & Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1885 Moody Mansion: A portrayal of early 20th century family life among Galveston’s elite.

Grand 1894 Opera House: Among the nation’s finest historical theaters, the Grand 1894 Opera House, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as “The Official Opera House of Texas”.

Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 Tall Ship Elissa: With two floors of exhibits, historic photos, and displays, the Texas Seaport Museum highlights the history of the Port of Galveston that includes its rich legacy of seaborne commerce and immigration. Elissa is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by Alexander Hall & Company.

Strand Historic District © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Strand Historic District © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pier 21 Theater: The Pier 21 Theater features two theatrical presentations about Galveston’s historic past: The Great Storm and The Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte. The Great Storm documentary details the 1900 hurricane which killed 6,000 and changed the Island’s history.

Ocean Star Drilling Rig & Museum: Three floors of models and interactive displays illustrate the story of offshore oil and gas from seismic technology to exploration and production. The Ocean Star was a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit, and as such it was towed from place-to-place to drill test wells in the quest for oil and gas.

Strand Historic District: Galveston’s Strand was the city’s primary commercial area during the second half of the 19th century, when its star was bright and full of great promise. A thriving, energetic, and prosperous district, the Strand developed alongside the shipping channel and port that helped make the city the largest metropolis in the state.

Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 Tall Ship Elissa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 Tall Ship Elissa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galveston Railroad Museum: Located in the former Santa Fe Union Station, the Galveston Railroad Museum depicts the city’s rail heritage. One of the five largest in the country, the Railroad Museum features more than 20,000 railroad items, including three steam engines, three diesel engines, 15 passenger/business/ex­press cars, 14 freight cars, three cabooses, and the stream­lined Texas Limited passenger train.

Moody Gardens: The 242-acre Moody Gardens is part theme park, part educational and rehabilitative facility, part pleasure garden. Amidst the profusion of tropical plants gleam three glass pyramids—pink, blue, and white—housing a 10-story rainforest, one of the world’s largest aquariums, and an educational Discovery Museum. The complex also includes a 3D theater, 4D Special FX theater, and 3-D Ridefilm theater, Palm Beach with white sand and freshwater lagoons, 19th century style Colonel Paddlewheeler with one-hour narrative cruises, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a luxury hotel.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…
Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea waves crashing
While I watch the cannons flashing
I clean my gun and dream of Galveston.

—Glen Campbell

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I Dream of Galveston: The Moody Heritage

Following are more of our favorite Galveston attractions…

Moody Gardens

The Rainforest Pyramid is now open after $25 million in enhancements. (Credit: drclue.com)

Surprises abound at Moody Gardens, a 242-acre wonderland just off Interstate 45 northeast of Offats Bayou. Lush gardens surround the 242 acre complex, which features three shimmering glass pyramids rising from the coastal flats that contain fascinating exhibits plus 3D IMAX Theatre.

The Aquarium Pyramid, the largest and arguably most remarkable exhibit of the three pyramids, boasts 1.5 million gallons of aquatic environments and houses about 8,000 specimens of marine life from the North and South Pacific, South Atlantic, and Caribbean. Sharks, sea turtles, eels, and thousands of beautiful tropical fish swim overhead as you navigate through an underwater tunnel completely surrounded by the exhibit’s one-million gallons of water.

Sharks In Depth, the latest exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid, explores the mysterious and often-misunderstood world of sharks, from where they live and what they eat, to how they are designed for their environments.

The Rainforest Pyramid is now open after $25 million in enhancements that takes you closer than ever to the over 1,000 species of exotic plants and animals from the rainforests of Africa, Asia, and the Americas that populate the multi-level 10-story glass pyramid.

Your journey starts through the Rainforests of the World on a new walkway overlooking the endangered giant Amazon River otter exhibit before entering the pyramid at the canopy level, letting you explore the rainforest from the air and giving you a better opportunity to spot the birds, sloths, white-faced saki monkeys, cotton-top tamarins, and other free-roaming tree-dwellers.

Scarlet Macaw at the Moody Gardens Rain Forest Pyramid. (Credit: Dee Ann Pederson/art.com)

The canopy walkway also includes one of Moody Gardens’ most beloved features— a walk-in butterfly exhibit that lets you mingle with several species of beautiful butterflies.

And the pink-hued Discovery Pyramid offers a unique peek into the world of science, from the heavens to the earth. Spectacular traveling exhibits from around the country provide interactive demonstrations showcasing the world of science that surrounds you.

The current exhibit, “Bones: An Exhibit Inside You”, was originally developed by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The exhibit features exciting and interactive activities to teach visitors about bones. It examines bone biology, keeping bones healthy, and how bones are a part of cultures all over the world.

Admission: $49.95 (includes admission  to Aquarium Pyramid, 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, Ridefilm Theater, Discovery Museum, and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat); two-day pass $64.95; discount available when purchased online

Location: One Hope Boulevard

Admission: (800) 582-4673

Website: moodygardens.com

Moody Mansion

Purchased by W.L. Moody six days after the 1900 storm (reportedly for “ten cents on the dollar”), this imposing 28,000-square-foot limestone and-brick mansion has 32 rooms filled with opulent furnishings and heirlooms from one of Texas’s most powerful families. Mr. and Mrs. Moody and their four children celebrated the first of more than eighty Christmas seasons in the house in December of that year. Built in 1895, the mansion remained home for Moody family members until 1986.

The guided tour of the Moody Mansion includes a history of the Moody family in the context of late 19th and 20th century Galveston and Texas.

The guided tour of the Moody Mansion includes a history of the Moody family in the context of late 19th and 20th century Galveston and Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The furnishings are all original to the family and to the house. Each room on the main floor is decorated in a different style. The house was meticulously restored in the late 1980s and first opened to the public in 1991.

When W.L. Moody died in 1954, Time magazine proclaimed him one of the 10 wealthiest men in the country. Moody’s philanthropist daughter, Mary Moody Northen, made her social debut in the mansion’s ballroom in 1911 and lived here until it was damaged by hurricane Alicia in 1983. It was subsequently restored with 1900- era furnishings.

During Hurricane Ike, five feet of water covered the main floor; however tours of Moody Mansion were able to be resumed the following Thanksgiving weekend.

Admission: $8.00; seniors $7

Location: 2618 Broadway

Phone: (409) 762-7668 or (409) 765-9770

Website: moodymansion.org

Please Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories on favorite Galveston attractions

Texas Spoken Friendly

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

Worth Pondering…
Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin’
I still see her dark eyes glowin’
She was 21 when I left Galveston.
—Glen Campbell

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