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Galveston offers endless options for a fun family vacation. Families can spend the day playing and swimming at one of Galveston’s beaches or spend the day visiting once of the area’s attractions (if the weather doesn’t cooperate). Moody Gardens is probably the most popular attractions in Galveston. Here you will find the Rainforest Pyramid with exotic wildlife and plants, the Discovery Pyramid where you can learn about science or visit the IMAX Theater. There is also a blue lagoon in Moody Garden’s with a white sand beach. For more information, check out the Moody Gardens website: www.moodygardens.orgAnother option for a fun day away from the beach, is the new Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark http://www.schlitterbahn.com/gal/ . This is the first water park that is open year round – and if rain starts the park has a convertible section will become enclosed so you can still enjoy everything! The park has speed slides, tube slides an activity pool for children as well as a hot tub to relax.
There are also many museums to visit in Galveston. The Lone Star Flight Museum is an aviation museum actually in an old airplane hanger. Look for coupons in the local mini-papers/stand newsletters. If you are interested in learning the history of Galveston then you should visit The Texas Seaport Museum. A full list of attractions is available at www.galveston.com.
If getting out on the water and maybe catching a BIG fish on the Gulf or just spending the day with your family and friends watching each other have a blast and making new memories that will last a lifetime, take a look at www.gethookedfishingcharter.com for a private fishing charter!! Offering everything from bay/jetty trips, shark trips, close offshore trips, deep sea trips and even overnight tuna trips, Get Hooked Charters is sure to have a trip to fit your needs. Get Hooked Charters is very family friendly welcoming families of all ages. With 7 boats and 7 full time captains, they can even accomodate your larger groups!
Galveston Freebies & some more general attraction info...
Dolphin sightseeing trips can run $15 or more per person. For the free version, try the Point Bolivar ferry at the east end of the Island. Park your car in the parking lot on the right side of the plaza and walk on-board. Hide valuables or bring them with you. Note: If you are in a wheelchair, you should take your car instead, as there are no elevators to the 2nd level of the ferry. During at least part of the trip, while drivers remain in their cars for loading & unloading of vehicles, pedestrians must remain upstairs so they are out of the way. (You may wish to confirm this with the ferry operators.) Dolphins, frequently (though not always) are seen on the Point Bolivar side while the ferry is waiting for the cars to unload & load again for the return trip. By walking on, the whole trip should take about an hour, from when you get out of your car & walk on to the time you walk off & get back in your car at the plaza at the end of the trip (add 10-20 min wait time if no ferry is available when you walk up). Restrooms are available at the plaza and on the ferry.
Cruising the sea wall is another fun free thing. For the best view, start at the West end and go East. There are a few souvenir shops and a couple of restaurants right off the sea wall.
A couple of freebies are at Moody Gardens. The outdoor gardens are free & are behind the Rainforest Pyramid. Second, you can get a glimpse of the Rainforest free from the Overlook. (Ask for directions to either or read on below.) Lastly, there's a playground hidden between the Palm Beach area and the hotel. Face the main entrance to Moody Gardens, with the Aquarium to your left some distance away, and the Rainforest pyramid in front & to the left of the main entrance of the building. (Behind you is the parking lot, and behind it is the hotel.) Go to your right & follow the sidewalk. As you pass the fence surrounding Palm Beach, you'll walk right up to the playground. It has beach chairs for parents to sit in while the kids play and is quite new - built in 2005 or so. Toddlers as well as big kids will find something here, and sand is used to cushion falls, so you may wish to bring some sand toys/pails, etc. to play with as well. There is no fee to use this playground.
Next, to get a glimpse of the Rainforest pyramid from the overlook, you need to enter the main building. You can also see some beautiful pink flamingos (or were they Rosette spoonbills??) Go straight back, as if you're going to eat at the restaurant at the back of the building. Just past the gift shop on the left is a large open seating area. Go to the windows on the left (and/or the left hallway) to see the birds. Go further down the left hallway to exit the building & enjoy the outdoor gardens. But to glimpse the Rainforest Pyramid, don't go left, just keep going straight. Then, just before the restaurant entrance, turn right & walk past the snack bar & restrooms on your left & straight up the stairs (or use the elevator on the left near the restrooms). Upon reaching the second floor, go straight ahead toward the glass doors. The exit doors from the IMAX theater should be on your left. Go through the glass doors & follow the directions to the Rainforest overlook. Enjoy your glimpse of the Rainforest. Now, as for the fee-based attractions...Be aware that no refunds are given, or given only reluctantly. Persons with breathing problems, heart problems, etc, may find that the hot, humid atmosphere of the Rainforest pyramid can make it unexpectedly difficult to breathe. (Hmmm...perhaps a test run at the Rainforest Overlook is a good idea).
If you can only see one attraction, the Aquarium is highly recommended. The Aquarium features all the four major oceans of the world and has an excellent penguin exhibit. Also look into a behind the scenes experience to Meet a Penguin. For an additional ticket price guests can go into the penguin exhibit and actually meet a penguin and watch them paint a picture. This is a unique experience for not only children but adults are very entertained as well.
Moody Gardens also features a Discovery Pyramid which houses rotating exhibits and an IMAX RideFilm.
If your children aren't easily frightened, try taking them to the Rainforest Cafe on the Seawall for lunch or a snack. You might even just get a drink at the bar - it has fun-looking stools, and kids are welcome there, too (no alcoholic drinks for them, please!). There's also a short ride available. It is fun & informative. During October, the ride is given the Halloween treatment and can be quite frightening, so beware! During the week, (when things are slow) is a good time to bring the kids for a tour. They'll likely enjoy the 'thunderstorms' and how the mechanical apes thump their chests while the elephants trumpet. The indoor waterfall is cool too! At night, the volcano over the entrance to the Rainforest Cafe will 'erupt' with fire about every hour, on the hour. The show lasts a couple of minutes. The schedule varies during the year, but usually starts at sunset. You can call for exact eruption times.