After our latest visit to Galveston, I found myself looking up the price of homes in the city near Downtown. So, obviously we had a good time. I think that the biggest difference on this visit was that we figured out how to bring along both the furry kiddos, Coach and Madden, and also securing the bike rack to bring along our his and hers cruiser bikes. At the same time, we also had a lot of success finding new experiences in this beach town that added to our improving opinion of this under-appreciated destination.
I kinda feel ashamed but I might love Galveston.
When I think about it more now that I am home, another important element of this trip was that we stayed near Downtown and that it was Fall. The weather was absolutely amazing and the city was filled with more locals than tourists. It was kinda quiet actually. We also were able to explore several new places and were very impressed with the quality and charm of these new finds.
For housing, we stayed in the Beachy Keen vacation rental again. The mangers are the nicest guys. We paid our “rent” by visiting one of them at their day job with the local antiques store called Antique Warehouse. If I were an architect or designer, I would know what to do with all these amazing finds… but alas it looks like trash with potential to my novice eye. As my album reads on Pinterest, “if only I were crafty”.
We love this vacation rental, but it will not be right for everyone. For our purposes, we love the yard and deck that become an activity and play area for the dogs… not as much for the interior. Don’t get me wrong — it is really cute. And it has a great history too. Built in 1890, this was originally a workman’s cottage built for the immigrant population who helped labor the city. It actually survived the Great Storm of 1900 and has a plaque to prove it today. In the 1920’s another room was added to the back, now the bedroom. And while it is nice and clean, as with most beach homes they did not outfit it with high quality furniture. In fact, the beds are small for a couple and not that comfortable either. But our trips are more about family adventures and less about romantic getaways. The second story deck is just great and with two sets of stairs on both sides of the deck, it absolutely wears out the dogs without a trip away from the house. They love to lounge and watch the street. It is great for us. So take a look at the listing, but even if this one is not the right fit, look at vacation rentals for there are some gems in the city.
Not only do we find the history and character of the vacation rental to be nice, but it is also closely located to Downtown Galveston. While we might stay at another vacation rental in the future, we will likely always plant ourselves Downtown. There is just so much to do. This recent trip, we happened into Oktoberfest which is managed by a local church. Festivals such as this are common and fun in the center of town, but honestly being near Downtown is great for bicycle access. Having a bicycle in Galveston is not only easy, it is just plain awesome in our book.
Look, I still stand by my other blog post about Galveston and I get complaints about the city. It is not a gorgeous beach community like Florida or California, but get on a bike in the cool Fall climate with the stars over your head and it is just too difficult to be negative. I have no complaints when I have my sweet bears, my bikes and the always enjoyable company of my dear husband. This is a fun city when you know what to do.
So that leads me to my new finds. We are thrilled to say that we have added some new suggestions to our list of Galveston to-dos. Keeping in mind that we absolutely did not leave out some favorites, especially Mosquito Cafe and the Gumbo Bar, on this trip I am happy to say that we tried some new places — some really great new places that you should know if you are headed to the city.
I think that our favorite was Smooth Tony’s Patio & Grill. It is actually in the University area near the East End. The website describes: “Tony Gonzalez’ Smooth Tony’s Patio and Grill features a backyard experience that has been described as New Orleans meets Austin. Live music is playing, great wine and food is being served, in a tropical backyard patio that welcomes all who enter with eclectic visual delights.” As that description totally fits, I see no reason to spin it in my way, but I will add that at night the inside area was not open and that it is counter service. But the food was good, the music was lovely and the ambiance romantic. Plus there is Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream right next door for an after-dinner treat made locally.
To help balance the guilt of late night dessert, our next favorite find was Yoga Haven the next morning. Located on Market Street in historic Downtown area, the building where these yoga classes are hosted is a step back in time. And adding to the appeal is the Oasis Juice Bar & Market, which is under the same ownership and only a walk around the corner. Featuring fresh juices, gluten-free meals and natural groceries, it is a perfect complement to the yoga studio. I am certain that these will be regular additions to our future visits.
While Smooth Tony’s and Yoga Haven rise to the top for our favorite new discoveries in the city, Dave and I are split on our favorite meal from this visit. I thought that the tuna ceviche appetizer at M&M Restaurant & Bar was top-notch. With lemony accents and avocado bites, as well as quality tuna and fried corn chips, this was a perfect snack for us as we biked the city. While we were not there for dinner, I think that I want to come back on a future visit for the tuna with jalapeno cream sauce main dish. On the other hand, Dave favored the salmon and eggs (with hollandaise sauce) breakfast at the Sunflower Bakery & Cafe, and I agree that it was very good too. This spot actually allows dogs on their outdoor patio area as well, so I am pretty sure that we will be back.
For a casual snack, we had a great hot dog at The Jungle. It was interesting to find out that they offer delivery too, something that we might have taken advantage of if we had known the night before. We visited the location that is right off the Seawall, which is a fun place to ride. Finding good food along the Seawall can be challenging, so if you are planning a stroll or ride in this area then take a look at their casual options.
By far the biggest surprise of the trip was Murdoch’s. Considered a Galveston institution, it is a wood structure that was constructed directly on the sand in the 1800s. Originally a bathhouse where bathing suits and showers were rented to visitors, it later added a souvenir shop which now serves the main purpose. I usually avoid places like this. I am not a fan of the overpriced shells and tacky beach style, and I really hate the painted live hermit crabs that they sell. HATE them actually. But the place has survived more hurricanes and storms than any one business could normally handle, and it has a vintage look. We strolled the store, but really the surprise was not with the shopping — none of that is for me. Tucked in the back there is a simple bar set-up that sells beers and wine, and then at the back there is a lovely deck area with rocking chairs and a view of the Pleasure Pier, a game and ride pier for tourists. It was a great stop for a drink and a view.
Here is the thing about Galveston, it does have a wonderful history and character that we miss in Houston, a city that tears down old buildings for new developments. It is also fairly affordable as a destination. I was surprised when researching beach cottages just how affordable that they are to purchase as well. But I don’t think that we need to own a beach house there actually, I just want an excuse to go down again while the weather is cool and the beach tourism is down.
I kinda dig you Galveston.