Usually when I mention Galveston Island to friends or family, I’m asked about Spring Break or Summer Vacation. Since it is so close by, there is also usually a conversation about what to do while visiting Galveston Island over the weekend. But the warm months aren’t the only time to visit Galveston Island. The holidays create a winter wonder island with great Galveston holiday happenings to enjoy with the whole family.
Each year our family tries to get away from the hustle and bustle of baking and shopping for the holidays. There is just so much to do, plus parties and special events to attend. It is nice to get away with the family for a few days and just spend time together enjoying all the beauty that they offer. One of the easiest ways to get away is a road trip and with Galveston Island close by we can get our family fun started not too long after we leave the driveway. It’s a winter wonder island getaway! So pack up your bags, print the ultimate island getaway guide and get your family over to Galveston!
Moody Gardens was one of the very first activities we were ever introduced to on Galveston Island. We stayed on the island for the one week we had in which to find a house so that the whole family could join Mr. MoneySavingParent after he got a job here. The children fell in love with the wildlife they were able to enjoy. But Moody Gardens also turns into a winter wonderland for the holiday season with a wide variety of activities and events for the whole family to enjoy.
This year the girls asked to return to ICE LAND. ICE LAND, the first year we attended featured Spongebob and the gang, but this year it features the beautiful rainforest life you have come to enjoy throughout the rest of the year at Moody Gardens. Your journey through ICE LAND begins with grabbing your heavy duty parka, to keep you warm. After all it is only 9 degrees inside the structure! Experience monkeys, birds, butterflies, orchids and so much more all hand-carved out of ice! Two million pounds of ice were used to create the these mesmerizing masterpieces. The award-winning carving team traveled 6,633 miles from Harbin, China and worked diligently for 45 days. While the beauty of the ice sculptures is spectacular, the ice slide was our daughters’ personal favorite with children and adults taking more than one turn slipping and sliding away.
Moody Gardens also offers a 4D Rudolph the Reindeer movie, an ice skating rink, a tall slide, food vendors and walking trails with beautiful holiday themed lights. Each area of the gardens has it’s own special them. Don’t forget to stop in the Pyramid, take a boat ride, enjoy the zip lines and rope walk (available on a limited basis), hot cocoa and more. We even did the special Di Vinci Exhibit which may have been my youngest favorite part of the trip.
Use this Ultimate Galveston Island Getaway for the Holidays Printable to help you plan your getaway!
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston
You may have heard of the Schlitterbahn Waterpark when doing your research for things to do in Galveston. We took the kids there for a day and they had a grand time of play. Mom and dad thought the water was a little cold though. Keep in mind it is not heated but if it is about 79 degrees outside, like it was the weekend we were there you won’t even notice. And those visiting for cold weather climates may be thrilled at the warm weather, indoor activities, easily accessible changing rooms and on site dining.
Places to Go Things to Do on Galveston Island
Does your family enjoy trains? A fan of the movie “The Polar Express?” Then no visit during the holidays would be complete without a trip to Galveston Railroad Museum. Part indoor and part outdoor it is decorated for the holidays and the family can explore the trains which make up the history of Texas. After your visit there, head over to The Strand for “Dickens on the Strand.” Enjoy traditional holiday decorations and lighting throughout the area as well as unique shopping experiences and dining. Other family favorite activities include:
- The 1877 Tall Ship Elissa at the Texas Seaport Musuem
- Pleasure Pier (rides, attractions, games and dining in a holiday lit atmosphere)
- Riding bikes or pedal cars along the Seawall, there are a number of different places to rent from by the hour or partial hour
- Carriage rides through The Strand, enjoy the lights and sounds of the holidays as well as a guided as you are pulled through the historic district
- Dolphin cruises (though there are several other types available, choose your family favorite
- Put a new twist on an old favorite instead of looking at Christmas trees, travel throughout Galveston Island looking for Tree Sculptures, unique to the island
- Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion are part of the wonderful history of Galveston, and are all dressed up for the holidays.
- And, don’t miss out on the Downtown Lanterns and Lights, which feature a magical display of Christmas trees and other artisan made pieces as they illuminate Saengerfest Park from Nov. 24 through Jan. 2.
- Enjoy the return of the Sandhill Cranes! Bird watching on the East End of Galveston Island for the small period of time these elegant looking birds make Galveston their home.
Where to Stay on Galveston Island
There are a number of hotels on the island to stay. We have visited the Comfort Suites, the Waterpark Inn at Schlitterbahn, and the Holiday Inn Vacation Club, as well as Moody Gardens Hotel just to name a few. The girls still fondly talk of the Waterpark Inn a Schlitterbahn, because they enjoyed the complimentary minature golf. So far my personal favorite has been the Moody Gardens. It’s beautifully decorated for the holidays. You can walk outside to get to the marina on the bay, Ice Land, Festival of Lights, and across the street (drive way really) to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. I admit I still have a wish list of places to stay like the Hotel Galvez and The San Luis Resort and Tremont House.