Faremax Top Logo
Faremax Side Logo

I Still See Her Standing by the Water

Galveston, Texas

Additional Research, Images

The title of this article is taken from Glen Campbell’s classic song ‘Galveston’ – a song which reflects that town’s long standing in US culture and the history of the Gulf Coast and the Old West. But, despite its age, Galveston has not been invulnerable over the years. In 1900 it was devastated by a hurricane which claimed something in the region of 8000 lives – nobody knows for sure how many really perished: certainly Galveston got off relatively lightly in comparison to 1900 when hit by Hurricane Rita in September 2005. However, many locals argue that if it were not for the city’s vulnerable position on an offshore island it would be a more significant city than nearby Houston.

Galveston hasn’t expanded much beyond the natural borders that its island imposes upon it, and the population is a little under sixty thousand people. To get in to the city you have to take the toll bridge that connects the mainland with the northern part of the island, or, alternatively, the regular ferry.

Despite its stormy past – and present – Galveston is a relaxed and friendly place. It seems quite old fashioned, in some ways. Some commentators have said that the place is so laid back that it feels pre-war, the war in question being the War of Independence rather than any twentieth century conflict. For all that, there’s a surprising amount to see and do in such a relatively small city. One of Galveston’s biggest draws, both to outside tourists and the wealth citizens of Houston who buy apartments and condos here, is the fantastic beaches that surround the city.

Not far from the beach you’ll find the Galveston City Golf Course, a 6900 yard masterpiece that features rolling fairways of grass and salt shore plants. The course is open to visitors, and you can hire all the equipment you need, including sets of quality clubs. The beaches themselves – all thirty-two miles of them – are very popular with tourists and residents alike. One of the most popular is lies along the edge of Seawolf Park. The Park is on Pelican Island, a sub-islet of the mini-archipelago on which Galveston itself stands, and is easily reached by bridge from the city proper. There’s a small fee for parking if you’re bringing your car, and also a surcharge for visitors who wish to use the beach’s fishing pier. Other great beaches include Stewart Beach, which even has its own mini golf course and maze. These beaches are typically places where locals, or folks from Houston, will come to chill out at a weekend; tourists from further away, however, will also find a warm welcome awaits them.

Those who are interested in flora and fauna will like Galveston’s beaches very much. The island city sites in the middle of a very special eco-system, which boasts over six hundred species of birds alone. If you’re an expert you can take to the shoreline with your guidebook, camera and binoculars. If you’re interested but you don’t have the knowledge to seek out the wildlife yourself, you can book specialty wildlife tours in the city – try Jim Stevenson’s Bird and Wildlife Tours. Galveston is also a haven for beautiful sea turtles.

If the beach isn’t your thing, or you’ve had your fill of sand and sea, an exploration of the downtown area is very rewarding. Although many beautiful old buildings were destroyed or partially washed away in 1900, some beautiful structures remain, even including a few antebellum mansions and public buildings that survived the storm surge - including the famous Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion. There are some interesting shops, and one or two great places to eat.

One of the best ways to see Galveston – at least from the outside – is to take a cruise around the city. Typically starting at the north end of the city, Galveston cruises work their way around the island and its beaches, and feature knowledgeable tour guides to point out places of interest as you pass. One of the best day cruise options available is to take one of the few remaining paddlewheel cruisers for a taste of old-fashioned southern elegance.

Despite the battering she’s taken in the past, and continues to take, Galveston remains one of the most beautiful and culturally significant cities in North America. She didn’t get hit as badly as she might have done by Hurricane Rita, though other hurricanes and tropical storms will be along, and they might not treat Galveston so kindly next time. But she’ll survive: you can be sure that in a hundred years time you’ll still see her, standing by the water.

© 2001-2012 Faremax, Inc.  All rights reserved.
faremax.com and its contents are trademarks and/or service marks of Faremax, Inc.
Use of this Website constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement and Privacy Policy