You don’t have to go far to find a tour, unique museum or another interesting site while in historic downtown Galveston - plus you might learn something, too.
If you are exploring Galveston’s historic harbor and have an interest in the oil industry, stop by the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum
at Pier 19. The museum offers a unique opportunity to tour an actual jack-up drilling oil rig and learn about the oil industry. The Ocean Star was built in 1969 in Beaumont and drilled 200 wells in its working life along the Gulf Coast. Now it’s an operating museum with exhibits, models, and equipment interpreting the offshore industry and giving a glimpse of life offshore. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
At Pier 21, you’ll find that you have two options for touring Galveston’s historic port. Baywatch Tours
is docked at Pier 21 and departs on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Harbor Tours
aboard the Seagull II is operated by the Galveston Historical Foundation and is affiliated with the Texas Seaport Museum. Currently, the Seagull II is at Pier 21 and tours depart at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. During these tours there is always a good chance that you will snap a picture or video of a dolphin or dolphins.
Nearby you will find the Texas Seaport Museum
and 1877 Tall Ship Elissa
. This museum and restored ship will give you some insight into the history of Galveston as a working port. The Elissa, which is temporarily docked at Pier 21, has nineteen sails covering over one-quarter of an acre in surface area. It is one of three authentic restored ships in the United States that still sails. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. A combination ticket is available for the Museum, Elissa and Harbor Tour.
Pier 21 Theater now offers three films for visitors – The Great Storm
, The Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte and Galveston – Gateway on the Gulf. The Great Storm, which is shown on the hour, is a 27-minute documentary that tells the incredible story of the deadliest natural disaster in United States history through personal letters, photos and articles. The 18-minute Pirate Island
, which airs on the half hour, chronicles the adventures of the infamous Jean Laffite who called Galveston home for three years. Both films were directed by C. Grant Mitchell. Pier 21 Theater just added Galveston – Gateway on the Gulf
, a PBS documentary on immigration to its schedule. This 56-minute documentary gives a history of Galveston as a port of entry for more than 133,000 immigrants and is shown at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Near Saengerfest Park, 2302 Strand, you will find Galveston’s newest attractions – Haunted Mayfield Manor
and Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast
. The year-round Haunted Mayfield Manor is themed around the fictional character Dr. Mayfield and the 1900 Storm. Pirates! is a family friendly attraction that addresses the fact and fiction of pirates and the infamous Jean Lafitte. For example, did you know that Blackbeard would scare off his opponents with crazy behavior, like taking pieces of rope and adding gun powder then lighting it like a fuse, all under his hat?
Just a couple of blocks away, you will find the Galveston Railroad Museum
which was heavily damaged during Hurricane Ike. The good news is that much has been restored including the Union Station waiting room which is home to the museum’s “ghosts of travelers past” located on the first floor of Shearn Moody Plaza. Currently, four passenger cars are open for tours and guests can also explore several locomotives and cabooses. New locomotives and model displays will be in place this summer. The new F7 Santa Fe Super Chief Locomotive will be named for George P. Mitchell and the late Cynthia Mitchell in honor of their original donation of the Texas Limited in 1996.
Downtown Galveston is a great spot for shopping, dining and seeing the sites.
Quick Reference List of Downtown Attractions
1. Ocean Star Offshore Oil Rig Museum, Pier 19, 409-766-7827
2. BayWatch Tours, Pier 21, 832-859-4557
3. Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, Pier 21, 409-763-1877
4. Harbor Tours, Pier 21, 409-763-1877
5. Pier 21 Theater, Pier 21, 409-763-8808
6. Haunted Mayfield Manor, 2309 Harborside (Entrance off Saengerfest Park, 23rd & Strand), 409-762-6677
7. Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast, 2309 Harborside (Entrance off Saengerfest Park, 23rd & Strand), 409-762-6677
8. Galveston Railroad Museum, 2602 Santa Fe Place, 409-765-5700
Book your room at one of these Galveston hotels and plan your next vacation on the Texas Gulf Coast.
For a beach view with history, stay at Hotel Galvez & Spa. The hotel provides a courtesy shuttle to transport hotel overnight guests’ downtown.
For a stay in The Historic Strand District, book your stay at The Tremont House.
Or if you want to enjoy of view of the harbor and the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA, consider Harbor House Hotel & Marina at Pier 21.