Galveston, located on Galveston Island and just an hour from Houston, was once Texas's thriving commercial center; it was a hub of activity in the 19th century as one of the country's largest ports. But Galveston is probably best known for the massive 1900 hurricane that swept over the entire island. It is considered the United States' deadliest natural disaster to date, and caused the city's activity to move to the mainland, leaving Galveston as a ghost town for some years.
Today, Galveston's economy relies on shipping and tourism, as it has become a popular beach retreat for local Texans and visitors alike. It's beaches aren't the most beautiful in the country (the sand isn't white and the waters can be a bit cloudy) but the waters are warm and the seawall, built after the 1900 hurricane, is a popular spot for strolling and biking while enjoying the views. Plus, The Strand's beautiful historic buildings, restaurants, museums, and antique shops draw visitors as well.
As the 1900 hurricane proved, Galveston's shallow bottom does not protect the island from hurricanes, and Hurricane Ike caused significant damage in 2008, again hurting the economy. Though it look a while for repairs to be made, the city is now back to how it once was and enjoys a steady stream of visitors in the summertime.
Good news: Finding a budget-friendly hotel in Galveston is an easy feat. About every mid-range chain you know has a hotel near the beach; the closer it is to the seawall, (oftentimes) the more expensive it is. If being by the water isn't a requirement, visitors can find more charming options in and near The Strand district where cute inns and B&Bs are housed in historic buildings.
May - Aug.
Sept. - April
No, for nationalities included in the Visa Waiver Program
120 V, 60 Hz
15-20% in restaurants