Galveston Geography 101: The East End, Historic District, Downtown, & The Strand
For a skinny island that’s only about 2.5 miles wide at its widest point, Galveston boasts a significant and surprising amount of distinct areas for visitors to explore. There’s the long and lean West End, with all of its lovely beaches and laid-back seaside allure. There’s Moody Gardens, that sort of acts like the getaway to the West End and includes the famous Schlitterbahn Water Park. Next up is Midtown, with its plethora of residential homes, mom-and-pop restaurants, and corner shops.
We’re going to start our Galveston geography lesson where most people assume Galveston begins— on the eastern end. The East End includes a beautifully preserved Historic District, an exciting and eclectic Downtown, and the endlessly entertaining Strand. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite parts of this charming Texas Gulf Coast community.
The Historic District
For history buffs, this gorgeous and sprawling area is not to be missed. Technically, the historic district is located right next door to what Galveston locals consider to be “downtown.” This beautifully preserved space was also Galveston’s very first residential neighborhood. There was a huge fire in 1885 that destroyed entire sections of this community, but luckily rebuilding was swift— with most of the city recovered and rebuilt by the end of 1886.
The area is filled to the brim with vibrant, colorful Victorians, elegant Queen Anne, and Greek Revival structures. Local architects like George Stowe and Alfred Muller were very active during this rebuilding time and were given free rein to design a stunning and charming city from the ground up. Because a lot of these homes were built during the same short time period, there’s a lovely flow and cohesion to this area.
If staying in this magical area is appealing to you, take a look inside The Victoria House— our exquisite, historic home located smack dab in the center of the Galveston historic district. With intricate gingerbread detail, a generous front porch, and whimsical lavender shutters, The Victoria House will transport you back in time, while providing all the modern comforts of home. You’ll also be located right across the street from peaceful Adoue Park.
Located directly adjacent to the historic district, this charming and bustling area also includes a large assortment of whimsical historic details and preserved architecture. Most of the structures date back to the late 1800s when this incredibly wealthy port town was referred to as the “Wall Street of the South.”
Like most thriving downtowns, Galveston’s downtown is filled with a mind-blowing selection of award-winning restaurants, casual coffee cafes, eclectic clothing and accessory shops, incredible antique stores, and interesting art galleries and museums. Technically, downtown Galveston encompasses four distinct areas itself— West Market, Postoffice Street, Pier 21, and The Strand.
This lively strip of commerce in the heart of downtown is a Galveston must-see. Often considered to be Galveston’s “Main Street” this colorful section is filled with gift shops, boutiques, and cafes. Stop in La King’s Confectionary for old-fashioned candy making and fresh taffy. Make a reservation at Hearsay on the Strand for a romantic and unforgettable date night. And take a peek inside The Admiralty— a nautically themed gift shop with tons of take-home souvenirs to choose from.
Stay on the Water
If you want to stay close to the excitement of the east end, but still enjoy all the beauty of the Texas Gulf Coast beaches, consider booking a stay at the best of both worlds— otherwise known as Sea La Vie. Recently constructed in the exclusive Preserve at Grand Beach, this sprawling four-story home has panoramic views of both the sparkling Gulf of Mexico and the downtown Galveston skyline.
You’ll be a few quick steps away from sandy toes while also being close to the shopping and dining on the Strand. With space for 22 people, an elevator, four sun-drenched decks, and a charcoal grill, this flawless Texas holiday home easily accomplishes the impossible— it’s sure to please everyone in your group!
Take a Tour
One of the best ways to see the sights of the historic East End of Galveston while learning all about the interesting history and the stories of this town is to take a tour. Some of our favorites include the Galveston Duck Tours— which take you on both a land and sea tour of the city— and the Galveston Ghost Bus Tours— which are just as cool and spooky as they sound!
As always, if you have questions about the geography of Galveston or just want to chat with a knowledgeable local who can let you in on all the insider secrets, give Beach Box a call or send us an email. We’re always happy to help visitors to the Texas Gulf Coast find their happy place here.
If you want to explore a little more, take a quick flip through our extensive blog, where we share everything from where to grocery shop on the Texas Gulf Coast to the best happy hours in Galveston. We’ll also be delving a little deeper into the other Galveston communities— the West End, Moody Gardens, and Midtown— in the coming months. Stay tuned!