To G-Town, With Love
A Houstonian's Unique Guide to the Island
If you've ever been to Galveston, chances are you know the beach, you know The Strand, and you've probably driven by the Pleasure Pier once or twice. But Galveston is more than just the seawall and Moody Gardens. There's an active bike community, a skater scene, plenty of historical intrigue, and the freshest seafood in the state of Texas. If you feel like you've already "been there, done that" when it comes to the island, then this list is made for you. Here are some unique G-Town gems that you may not have yet experienced.
Everyone who visits Galveston heads to The Strand. Sampling the fresh laffy taffy at La King's candy store is basically a right of passage. Well, let me introduce you to The Strand's lesser-known little cousin, Post Office Street. It's six blocks from Strand St. and highlights both new and old G-Town. With new bars inside of old buildings and wildly colorful murals lining the street, it's easy to see why Post Office has become quite popular with the young and hip crowd. One of the newer places that's hard to miss is MOD Coffee House which sits right at the corner of Post Office and 22nd Street, AKA Kempner St. This cafe has a creative coffee menu, delicious pastries, a beautiful vine-laden pergola patio, AND the live music on Friday/Saturday nights really keeps this place lit.
If you keep walking East on Post Office, you'll run into a fun little store called The Witchery. This place calls itself the "Purveyors of Fine Esoteric Goods," which was enough to get me in the door. Once inside, you will not be disappointed. Just as the name suggests, you're greeted by witchy, dark-world decorations, intricately jeweled goblets, and the woody, sweet smell of incense. They've got an assortment of Mexican candles, artistically carved skulls, and they also offer psychic readings in the back room. It's a good way to get mystical on the island.
After satisfying your apothecarial curiosity, head up the road to The Grand 1894 Opera House. Oddly enough, most of the people I know have never been here, which is strange considering how long it's been around. This place survived the great storm of 1900. It's the Official Opera House of Texas. So, needless to say, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl with a crush when I was opening that heavy, wooden concert hall door. The tour was self-guided, only cost a couple of bucks, and it included access to all levels of the theater, including the private box seats. You can actually sit down in the exact seats shared by VIPs over the last hundred years. Take your experience a step further, and purchase tickets to one of the theater's current shows. The schedule can be found on their website.
Anyone could easily spend hours on Post Office street with its restaurants, ice cream, antiques, and TWO Irish pubs. But might I suggest Church instead? Stay with me, now. I'm actually referring to Church Street, which is two blocks south of Post Office. At the corner of 22nd and Church, you'll see one of the absolute coolest shops on the island: The Vinyl Radio Skate Shop. It's a retro skate shop that sells skate decks, comic books, board games, vinyl, VHS tapes, and so much more. Oh, and it's also an AM radio station! (AM1350) The owner, Chris, is the brains behind the whole operation and is well-known within the skater community. He's also a fun guy to talk to, but watch your time because it's entirely too easy to get carried away here. **UPDATE** The Vinyl Radio Skate Shop has since closed and moved to Las Vegas.
Move on from Post Office Street to Broadway Ave., where many of us have spent countless hours in bumper to bumper Mardis Gras traffic. This is the street you drive onto from the Galveston bridge. It's the multi-lane boulevard that has the giant statue in the middle of the intersection, and it's also the street with the haunted cemetery. Side-note: That cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery, is a fantastic spot for photos during wildflower season in the spring (April/early May)...if you're not creeped out by the fact that it's a haunted cemetery.
The Victorian-style mansions are also on Broadway, with famously-named Moody Mansion at the top of tourists' lists. But it's Bishop's Palace that has the most elegant views of the tour homes. For years, I've wondered why anyone would pay to go inside an old house, but then I did it, and now I get it. There's more to it than just old style and worn furniture. As you're walking inside, you're stepping back in time.
You imagine kids running around the rooms and the family sitting down for Christmas dinner. You walk up the wooden staircase and wonder whose hands have been on this banister or feet on these steps. There's no smart T.V., but there is a dumbwaiter, and the tour begins and ends in the actual basement of the house. Pro Tip: As you're walking back outside from the gift shop, head to the right and around the house to the backyard garden area. Enjoy a moment of peace here before heading out the back pedestrian gate into the alley. This is likely an entrance/exit for museum staff, but it's also a pretty neat little pathway not many people know about.
If at any point during the day you get hungry, no matter where you are on the island at that moment, drive to Shrimp N Stuff at Avenue O and 39th Street. You'll be glad you did. This is the place the locals recommend when you ask "where's the BEST fried shrimp on the island." There's usually a line out the door during lunchtime and for good reason. Coconut shrimp, crab balls, fried catfish, and more deliciousness is cooked here every day. It's a casual place with indoor and outdoor seating, and it has its own parking lot.
As the day winds down, an awesome spot to relax and take in the sunset is Galveston Island State Park. If you've never seen the setting sun lowering down behind Galveston Bay, you don't know what you're missing. The park has a couple of lookout towers on the bay side that give you the perfect elevated perspective. There's no better place to sit at sunset. Pro Tip: Mosquito spray. It's still Texas, after all.
Being a Houston girl, Galveston has always held a special place in my heart. I'll always remember summers at the beach and fishing from the old Flagship pier. Things have certainly changed on the island over the years, and now, only a year after Hurricane Harvey, G-Town is looking pretty great. So, get over there and get reacquainted. She'll be glad to show you some new ish.
If you head to any of these locations, be sure to let them know it was a Natie Fresh article that sent you! You won't get any discount for it because no one knows me, but in business, it's always good to know how your business is growing. So, there's that.
Keep it fresh, yall.
About the Author:
Natalie "Natie Fresh" Ortiz likes to spend her money on donuts🍩 and plane tickets. She's a low-key bad ass who's hiked an active volcano🌋, swum with stingrays🏊, jumped out of an airplane🛩️, and white-water-rafted thru the Grand Canyon🚣. Her taste for adrenaline is like my taste for chocolate lava cake with a scoop of Blue Bell homemade vanilla 🍨...oh👏so👏strong👏and👏without👏end👏😋. Each week, she lyrically transports us thru an outrageous adventure via her travel blog, "VayCray." Money-saving tips included free of charge✌️
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