GALVESTON, Texas (KLTV) – It was one of the first thriving seaports on the Texas Gulf Coast, and a sunny vacation destination.
Devastated by hurricanes over the decades, it was rebuilt again and again, and the city continues to come back strong each time, drawing millions of visitors, including lots of East Texans each year.
A 5-and-a-half-hour trip to the south, and you run into the cool ocean breezes and palm trees of Galveston.
“It’s built back up; there’s a lot of stuff to do along the seawall. You go down to the Strand, and there’s a bunch of stuff to do down there,” said Splendora native Kent Bray.
Galveston is an island that has overcome adversity numerous times. Since records have been kept, the island has been hit by tropical storms and hurricanes dozens of times, causing millions upon millions of dollars in damage.
Eight-thousand people died in the hurricane of 1900.
But the island’s charm and resilience draw visitors back year after year.
“I was not expecting it at all. It’s close enough to home We can get here and enjoy it, not have to go anywhere else,” said visitor Melanie Pruitt-Carley.
The Strand in old downtown Galveston is a popular destination for its abundant nightlife, tons of restaurants, and of course, fresh seafood.
Moody Gardens’ arboretum and aquarium are also big attractions.
“There’s plenty of little restaurants along here. Beach access is practically right across the street,” Bray said.
The seawall’s Historic Pleasure Pier carnival, which has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, is a family fun destination.
However, there’s always one biggest star of any show.
A bustling seaport during the 1800s, Galveston quickly became a favorite among college students. The reason: long stretches of beautiful open beach.
The tranquil tracks of beach from Stewart all the way to the west end of the island are where you see most of Galveston’s visitors.
“The beach was empty when we went over there earlier. It was nice,” said one visiting couple.
On the far west end of the island, you can get away from all the crowds with what’s called “glamping” at a KOA campground.
Charming seaside cabins with all the comforts of home are available.
“We’re on the more quiet end of the island, so the beaches are less crowded. We’re about a 20-minute drive into town. You get a little more privacy, and a little less crowds,” said KOA manager Tammy Hollander.
The serenity and relaxing environment are what the island’s allure is all about.
“It’s amazing. I’d recommend anybody coming down here,” Bray said.
Numerous rental sea-side houses and cabins on Galveston island are available but KOA managers advise vacationers to book well in advance due to demand and availability.
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