From The Strand to Postoffice, WeMa to Pier 21
The charming Victorian-era buildings of the Historic Downtown District beckon visitors with their ornate iron balconies and whimsical painted signs. The magnificent buildings, which date back to the late 1800s, are striking examples of this wealthy port town once dubbed the “Wall Street of the South.” Fortunately, many of these buildings survived the 1900 Storm without significant damage. Downtown encompasses four distinct areas, each with their own appeal – The Strand, Pier 21, Postoffice Street, and West Market. It also hosts some of Galveston’s biggest festivals and events.
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Galveston Native George Mitchell led the extensive renovation of the area in the 1980s and today The Strand is a picturesque shopping and dining destination, as well as the hub of year-round special events and festivals like Mardi Gras! Galveston and Dickens on the Strand. The district is home to one of the largest and most well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country.
This waterfront entertainment and dining district is located on Galveston’s harbor in the Historic Strand Seaport area. Pier 21 features a variety of attractions, museums, restaurants, and the Harbor House Hotel and Marina. Several boat tours depart from Pier 21 and it offers a prime view of the Galveston Ship Channel. Wave at cruise passengers as they depart for their voyage and catch a glimpse of playful dolphins swimming in their wake.
With recent investments by the City, this burgeoning area west of the downtown district boasts old-fashioned, fabled establishments, including Maceo Spice and Import Company, where visitors can sit at a community table for a new experience every day; cocktail speakeasy Daiquiri Time Out, which features fresh, classic cocktails in a sleek, urban setting; and free-flowing Gypsy Joynt, offering eclectic fare locals crave and evening entertainment.
Lovers of fine art and culture will find their haven a stone’s throw away from all the other bustling spots downtown. Galveston’s Postoffice Street is widely known among locals for its vast selection of art galleries, chic boutiques and antiques, diverse eateries and The Grand 1894 Opera House. More than 25 historic buildings in the district have been restored and reinvented, including upscale loft residences. Don’t miss an evening of fine art, wine and hors d’oeuvres at the district’s recurring ArtWalk event, which takes place every six weeks April through November.
Shop for any occasion with the wide selection of boutiques and antiques, book and novelty stores, artisan jewelry, stationery, spice shops and more. Skip the tchotchkes and select a piece of fine art from one of Postoffice Street’s coastal inspired galleries, some hand pulled salt water taffy from LaKings Confectionery on the Strand, or stop in at Nautical Antiques to bring home a piece of marine history.
Want to stay within walking distance of all the action downtown? Luckily, there are great options to consider. The Tremont House is a charming boutique hotel with high-ceiling rooms with hardwood floors and custom-crafted furnishings. Harbor House at Pier 21 is situated on Galveston’s harbor at Pier 21, with stylishly decorated guest rooms & suites and one-of-a-kind harbor views.
There are a surprising number of diverse food offerings within Galveston’s lively downtown district. From burgers to fine dining, lunch spots, sweet treats and the freshest seafood on the Gulf, there’s a place to satisfy every craving.
Tucked inside the charming Victoria-era buildings of downtown are some of the islands best bars and clubs. Why not drink somewhere with some style, like the bar at Hearsay? Or with a view, like The Rooftop Bar at The Tremont House? From craft beer to specialty cocktails, there’s a place downtown to wet your whistle.
You could spend an entire vacation in Galveston without ever leaving the downtown district and never bore of the variety of experiences offered there. Visit the Galveston Railroad Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, or tour a real off-shore oil rig. See a show at The Grand 1894 Opera House and Island ETC Theater, or take a boat tour from Pier 21. You can even relive Galveston’s storied past by going on ghost tours or visiting a pirate museum.