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Galveston, Texas is a small coastal island town on the Gulf Coast and is known for Moody Gardens, which houses many animals and exhibits in their iconic glass pyramids. Historic carnival rides and restaurants line the beach on the wooden boardwalk. But how did this island grow from, well an island, to a bustling port that draws tourists back year after year?
The History of Galveston
Well, it all started back in 1528 when the first Europeans landed in the Americas and discovered the Akokisa and the Karankawa Indians, who would camp, hunt, and bury their dead in the swampy land of the island. Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer who was shipwrecked and lived with the Karankawa Indians as a medicine man and a slave. The name Galveston comes from Bernardo de Gálvez, who was a Spanish colonial governor and general. Bernardo sent Jose de Evia to chart the Gulf Coast from Texas to New Orleans. Evia discovered an area near the mouth of Trinity Bay and on July 23, 1786, named it Galveston Bay. The island and city took the same name later that year. Sadly, Gálvez died in 1786, having never set foot on his island. However, Jose de Evia wasn’t the man who settled the town.
Jean Lafitte, a sophisticated privateer, established the colony of Campeche on Galveston Island in 1817 with a population count of 1,000. Later, Jean was forced to leave the town (torching it behind him). Michel Menard and Samuel May Williams founded the Galveston we all know and love. In the 17th century, Galveston grew into the largest seaport in Texas, which is saying something because Texas is a massive state. It housed the first Texas opera house, the first post office, hospital, golf course, etc.
On September 8th, 1900, Galveston was hit by the “Great Storm,” a hurricane that wiped out one-third of the city and killed 6,000 people. However, this didn’t stop the survivors from rebuilding their city. The entire city was raised eight feet, and the seawall was raised seventeen feet above sea level. Engineer Henry Martyn Robert devised a plan to slant the ground around the seawall to allow water to run off into the bay.
I had so much fun exploring the beach, visiting Moody Gardens, and learning all about oil rigs at the Ocean Star Oil Rig Museum even though the temperature would vary between 48-58 degrees without a wind chill. The ocean wind would lower the temperature, but that didn’t stop me from exploring. Each morning, I spent an hour walking down the coast searching for shells and other oddities. I collected a few shells and a lifetime of memories.
The Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens was enthralling because each exhibit showcased a unique scene that was sponsored by a local business. I also enjoyed the light up nativity scene. Now, this wasn’t a traditional nativity. Any time the narrator would begin to tell a part of the story, the lights would change to match the new scene.
The Ocean Star was so cool! (I filmed a few clips for my first video, and I said that probably five to six times.) It’s an old oil rig that has been transformed into a museum that educates people all about offshore drilling, jobs in the industry, and how the whole world is affected by petroleum. It also shows how the wells are created and drilled.
Why You Should Visit Galveston, Texas
Why should you visit Galveston in December? You should visit Galveston for three reasons: The number of tourists is lower, hotels and rentals are cheaper, and the holidays are in full swing. Since the tourist season is during the summertime, their won’t be as many people crowding the beaches, museums, and downtown, which means you will feel less stressed while you explore. Hotels and rentals are cheaper because there aren’t as many people reserving rooms which means you will have more options. The Christmas holidays are in full swing in December and Galveston celebrates by hosting the 50 days of Christmas. All of the stores hold sales, the restaurants and cafes sell limited-edition dishes, drinks, and desserts.