With sun-soaked beaches, history and culture at every corner, you’ll soon see why this is known as the “Playground of the South.”

Galveston is not a boomtown like its big brother Houston, but what it lacks in population it makes up for in its carefree lifestyle. And although this is a barrier island, you won’t need your own boat to get here. The Port Bolivar Ferry can transport you and your wheels for a cost of absolutely nothing, giving you time to take in the scenic views.

Once you step off the ferry, you may be wondering what to do in Galveston. Pro Tip: one of the best free things to do in Galveston is head towards the shore. There are 32 miles of sandy coastline to dig your toes in and enjoy the Gulf’s breeze. Crystal Beach provides a quiet day of searching for seashells and cooling off by the water’s edge, while Porretto Beach is perfect for making new friends.

A walk through town is pretty much a walk through history—specifically, one of the largest collections of 19th-century buildings in the United States. Picture sun-dappled streets lined with Victorian houses, topped off by the Bishop’s Palace—seemingly straight out of medieval Europe. This ornate, castle-like structure was once home to Bishop Christopher Byrne. Are those pyramids in the distance? Why, yes they are! Moody Gardens, a nonprofit focused on conservation education, opened its doors in 1986 and has two of these Egyptian-inspired structures housing everything from exotic plants to penguins.

As the sun starts to slowly slip into the warm Gulf, you’ll feel the city start to shake off the sand and freshen up for the night. Galveston is famous for its vibrant nightlife and consistently hosts festivals ranging from Greek Heritage to Craft Beer. If you find yourself here during Mardi Gras, you’ll see The Strand transformed into Bourbon Street, complete with floats being ushered through the bead-strewn crowds.

When the ocean’s siren song is beckoning you, look at our Galveston vacation packages. We’ll see you there.