With the Memorial Day holiday quickly approaching Texans interested in visiting the crown jewel community of the Texas coastline need look no further than the island of Galveston, Texas.
Stretching only 27 miles along the Texas Gulf Coast, just 50 miles southeast of Houston and five hours from Dallas, the City of Galveston has much to offer vacationing families.
With clean family-friendly pet-friendly beaches, awesome seafood restaurants and a variety of entertainment venues, Galveston easily delivers a fun-filled, reasonably priced, summertime vacation.
The beaches; particularly Babes Beach and Stewart Beach located along famous Galveston Seawall Boulevard are beautiful and offer pier fishing, swimming, surfing, kayaking, cycling and tourists shopping.
And near the water, seafood lovers will find a large array of restaurants that deliver freshly caught and deliciously cooked seafood. Following the advice of several local residents, this seafood lover discovered two seafood restaurants that I’d highly recommend to anyone visiting the island.
Shrimp ‘n Stuff Restaurant located on Ave. O and 39th Street. A small seafood establishment that opened in 1976, this restaurant is a favorite with locals because its serves big shrimp tacos that are stuffed with coleslaw and laced with Chipotle sauce. And over-sized seafood Po-boys that are made with your choice of shrimp, catfish, crab, oysters or tilapia.
And Benno’s Cajun Seafood located at 1200 Seawall Blvd. simply ranks high above its peers in its delivery of freshly caught and perfectly cooked seafood.
A large restaurant with nice patio seating facing the open water, Benno’s customers line up at the counter to order and then await the delivery of their food seated at large bench style tables.
Huge platters containing all manner of seafood dishes including Gumbo, E'touf'fee, oysters, shrimp, crab cakes, stone crab claws, flounder, tilapia, catfish and craw fish tails are served with fries or Cajun seasoned boiled potatoes.
Pulling their seafood daily from the Galveston Bay, Benno’s Cajun Seafood gets a big thumbs up for serving a delicious variety of fresh seafood entrees at seasonally, reasonable prices.
Because the Port of Galveston was established by proclamation in October 1825 when Texas was still part of Mexico, it is the state’s oldest port city making it a gold time of Texas history.
Full of resilient business-minded civic leaders, the City of Galveston annually draws thousands of tourists from across the world and these tourists spend considerable time enjoying the famed Strand Historic District.
The oldest port in the Gulf of Mexico west of New Orleans, La., the City of Galveston, their Parks and Recreation Department and the Galveston Historical Foundation have worked in unison to provide several educational venues for visitors seeking more than just a beach-time experience.
Comprising a large section of the downtown area, The Strand Historic District is located along the south side of Harborside Drive (Ave. A), along both sides of Ave. B (Strand St.) and Ave. C (Mechanic St.) and it stretches from 20th Street westward to 26th Street.
The Strand is comprised of hundreds of historical buildings, homes and businesses, and its listed on the National Historic Landmark District and in 1970 was selected for the National Register of Historic Places for its unparalleled collection of commercial Victorian architecture, and for its role as the state's major port in the 19th century.
Located adjacent to the boarding terminal of several cruise lines, The Strand is packed full of shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that highlight the history of the island within many of its attractions.
The Strand offers popular attractions such as Saengerfest Park, Pirates! Legend’s of the Gulf Coast, the Haunted Mayfield Manor, tours of the historic Red Light District and several highly acclaimed restaurants and nightclubs.
Both an educational and a fun hands-on experience for children and adults alike; Pirates! Legend’s of the Gulf Coast and the Haunted Mayfield Manor are separate attractions housed within the same building. Both offer tours that begin with brief video presentations which tell historically accurate stories that center around the history of Galveston Island.
Also fun for vacationing families will be a lunch time visit to the Star Drug Store located at 510 23rd Street within The Strand District. Touted as “the oldest drug store in Texas”, Star Drug Store serves breakfast, lunch and brunch only and the nostalgic taste of their scrumptious food is well worth the effort.
Menu choices include huge hamburgers and sandwiches alongside a nice variety of homemade salads that may be ordered in a bowl or on fresh bread. Popular salad selections include Island Curry Chicken Salad, Southern Seafood Salad, Tuna Salad and a delicious homemade Dill Potato Salad.
Also famous for its old-fashioned soda fountain, Star Drug Store serves historically accurate ice cream treats that include Brown, Black and White Cow Shakes, a delicious creamy Peanut Butter Shake, a large traditional Banana Split and a variety of ice cream floats made with Coke, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer or Cherry syrup.
Eating at Star Drug Store is like stepping back-in-time for anyone over fifty, and because it still operates as an actual retail store, tourists may purchase any of the nostalgic items on display in the many glass cases located within the store.
And because historians and architectural enthusiasts alike will immensely enjoy seeing the hundreds of historically restored buildings located on the island, these visitors should schedule time to tour The Bishop's Palace, the Grand 1894 Opera House and or The Bryan Museum.
Honored to receive a private tour of the Bryan Museum located at 1315 21st Street within The Strand District, the museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts, documents and artwork relating to the founding of Texas and the American West.
It was opened in 2015 to house The Bryan Collection, and the building is historically known as the Galveston Orphans Home. The collection was assembled by J.P. and Mary Jon Bryan and it includes pieces ranging from ancient Native American cultural artifacts to modern twenty-first century objects.
The huge three-story building has been beautifully restored both inside and out, and the museum offers several rooms that are used for educational lectures, meetings and private functions.
A gorgeous staircase leads upward from the lobby to the second floor and within the stairwell the museum has prominently displayed three priceless Andy Warhol paintings.
Also, on display at the Bryan Museum are two unique historical pieces; an 18th Century Mother-of-Pearl chest which “Carried a Spanish Royal Grant for California Land” and an ivory crucifix that was “bestowed by Pope Pius IX to Austrian Prince Ferdinand Maximilian as he became Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico” in 1864.
Detailing the history of these two priceless Texas artifacts, Bryan Museum Director of Marketing and Membership Jordan Price said “We’re looking at two very special artifacts in the collection. The artifact on the right, the crucifix, once belonged to Bud Adams which most Texans would recognize as the late owner of the Houston Oilers and the Tennessee Titans. We have several items that belonged to Bud Adams, including this crucifix and some large Remington Sculptures on the front lawn.”
Explaining the acquisition of these historical treasures, Director Price said “This piece is made of Mother-of-Pearl, tortoise shell and silver, and really it was a piece designed to impress. Imagine this piece seating outside on a table, in a field with the sun glistening off it. It would’ve been magnificent.”
Describing the crest, Price said “This is from the 18th century and this chest carried Imperial Land Grants from Spain. Pieces of paper which indicated that California belonged to the Spanish Empire. When this piece was originally acquired it was locked. So, a locksmith was hired to open it up and the chest was empty inside accept for the key. Which means that somewhere on earth the second key to this chest exist.”
Check out the below video to hear more about these two Texas historical artifacts. And if “It’s Island Time” for your family this summer, Galveston Island could be your ticket.
To view more photographs and videos of Galveston Island, visit The Forney Post on Facebook!
Written by: Denise Bell