Even More Reasons to Visit Galveston This Fall
With cooler weather, Galveston comes alive in the fall with its popular outdoor events and festivals – some popular traditions and activities that both locals and visitors look forward to every year. As the leaves turn colors and as the beach crowds wane, the focus is now more on the arts, theater, music, dining, sightseeing, bikeriding and walking along the Seawall to enjoy the cool breezes.
And then there are the holiday events – from the spooks and ghosts of Halloween to the island’s longstanding “Dickens on The Strand” festival. Here are highlights of just some of the things you can do in Galveston this fall:
The Fall Migration for Bird Watchers & Amazing Fishing
Autumn is one of the best times to go fishing on the island. Flounder, red drum and trout are especially active as they start feeding for the winter, meaning you just might catch a few fish you can brag to your friends about. See our Fishing on the Island article at galvestonislandguide.com/where-to-fish-on-galveston-island.
Fall is also bird migration season and Galveston sits in the heart of the trans-Gulf migration route. Get your binoculars and explore the island’s shorelines, prairies and waterways to see non-native birds like the sandhill crane, sharp-shinned hawk and Mississippi kite. For a complete guide, go to galvestonbirds.org.
When you’re not fishing or birdwatching, rent a stand up paddleboard and hit the waves at the Galveston Seawall, explore the kayaking trails in Galveston Island State Park or simply kick back and catch a refreshingly cool sea breeze.
And if you are not into fishing for your dinner, be sure to check out the harbors seafood shops. The Texas Gulf Coast is all about the seafood, and you won’t find it any fresher than at Galveston’s own Katie’s Seafood Market and Sampson & Son’s. Step into either market and you’ll see whole red snappers, redfish, tilefish and groupers, as well as shrimp that were caught just hours before. Fillets are available as well, just in case you don’t know how to clean a fish.
And if you don’t want to even cook it, you can take your taste of the Gulf to Olympia Grill at Pier 21 and they’ll prepare it for you. Since Gulf-fresh fish is hard to find, make sure to stop by on your way out of town to stock up.
Cocktails with a View
Sip on a cocktail and watch the sun set over historic downtown Galveston at The Rooftop Bar, a sophisticated open-air joint perched on top of The Tremont House. Drink in a stunning view of downtown Galveston you won’t get anywhere else and order up a tasty cocktail or a pint of craft beer. Once the sun sets, bask in the soft glow of lights from the eight-foot-tall Manzanita tree as you find a cozy spot on one of the sectional couches.
The Rooftop Bar is just as ideal for a romantic date night or an evening with friends, but it’s not the only unique spot in town.
Indulge in a craft cocktail, or your choice of a selection of beer and fine spirits, at the upscale Daiquiri Time Out (2701 Market St.). For tropical drinks, seafood eats and views of the beach, the Rum Shack (3204 Seawall Blvd.) is for you. Marina Bar & Grill (715 N. Holiday Dr.) offers wonderful views in a local’s favorite casual atmosphere.
Regardless of where you end up, you’re guaranteed a good night out on Galveston Island.
Galveston Island Shrimp Festival – September 28th-29th
Galveston Island is a seafood lover’s paradise all year round, but in September Yaga’s Entertainment Inc. will bring foodies a little taste of heaven at the Galveston Island Shrimp Festival featuring some of the best shrimp gumbo the Gulf Coast has to offer.
Event festivities include Galveston Island Shrimp Festival Official 5K Fun Run, Shrimp Gumbo Cook-Off, Lil’ Shrimps Parade, the Strand Merchant Walkabout and more.
ArtWalk – October 13th
For over 25 years, the Galveston Art Center has produced an ArtWalk on Saturday nights in the heart of the historic district. Now spreading to other parts of the Island, ArtWalk occurs approximately every six weeks. Not a street festival, ArtWalk takes place in existing commercial galleries, non-profit arts spaces and what are called “other walls” — restaurants and retail stores. One of the Galveston Arts Center’s largest programs, ArtWalk promotes visual art and supports our arts-based community, offering alternative places to see and learn about art.
Galveston Island Greek Festival – October 13th-14th
Galveston’s lively Greek Festival brings together top Greek dishes along with a variety of Greek ornaments, icons, jewelry and artwork that will please the most discerning shoppers. In its 35th year, the festival will include traditional foods like beef souvlaki, gyro, pastitsio, tiropites (cheese puff triangles) and favorites spanakopita (spinach triangles), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and keftedes (meat balls). And don’t forget the Greek salad with olives and feta cheese.
ARToberFEST – October 20th-21st
Sponsored by the The Grand 1894 Opera House, ARToberFEST is the island’s biggest art event bringing together more than 125 artists from all over the country, each showcasing their creations – paintings, sculptures, drawings and more. Enjoy the bursts of colors from the artistic works while “sipping and strolling.” Have children? ARToberFEST offers a wonderful kids area that encourages them to create their own paintings and other works of art.
Harvest Moon Regatta – October 25th
Come out and watch as hundreds of sailboats take to the Gulf of Mexico for the annual Harvest Moon Regatta. The race will start in Galveston, with the start of the race located at 25th and Seawall Blvd. The boats will race to Port Aransas.
Island Oktoberfest – October 26th-27th
Oktoberfest has been bringing Galvestonians, visitors of German heritage and those who just enjoy a great time together for 37 consecutive years. This fun, family festival weekend will feature continuous live entertainment on two stages, authentic German food and libations, Cake Wheel, fine arts, crafts and gifts; an exciting auction, exciting family and children’s activities and much more. Oktoberfest will be held on the grounds of and streets adjacent to First Lutheran Church, 24th and Winnie – in historic downtown Galveston. Admission is free. German costumes encouraged.
Mini Monster Bash – October 27th
Saengerfest Park will be the central location for fun. There will be games, arts and crafts, face painting, balloon artists, and a costume contest. Contestants will compete for Cutest, Scariest, and Most Creative for age groups 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-11. The festival will be free to the public and include Trick or Treat Stops at local businesses throughout Downtown Galveston.
And…Ghost Tours. Need We Say More?
Throughout its turbulent – and sometimes tragic – history, Galveston has been home to cannibalistic Indians and marauding pirates, and it has also weathered the deadliest natural disaster in American history. No wonder it’s one of the most haunted cities in the country. What better time to experience the island’s spooky side than Halloween season? Fortunately, there are an abundance of captivating ghost tours that will give you all the spine-tingling chills you could ask for.
Explore some of the island’s most active paranormal hot spots with Dash Beardsley, the one and only Ghost Man of Galveston. Visit some of the creepiest locations in the Strand Historic District, or embark on an eerie journey into the Old City Cemetery, the resting place of Civil War soldiers and victims of The Great Storm of 1900. Dash Beardsley’s tours are held throughout the year, but there are a few that you can only go on in the fall. Take a ghost tour of the 1859 Ashton Villa for a chance to see the spectral form of former resident Miss Bettie Brown. Meanwhile, a sunset cruise to some of the island’s mysterious places is a gripping way to learn about Galveston’s supernatural past.
November 1st-4th – Lone Star Rally
With juried bike shows, truck, jeep & classic car shows and free concerts on two stages, this year’s Lone Star Rally will be jam packed with entertainment for all ages, day and night, all weekend long.
This year’s rally will once again present more than 40 free musical performances in genres from classic rock and adult contemporary to rockin’ country on two sound stages – the main stage at Saengerfest Park downtown, and a second at Beach Central Park in front of the Hotel Galvez. Houston area day trippers are encouraged to come out and enjoy all the free, non-stop entertainment only the Lone Star Rally provides.
Big rig displays of motorcycle parts and accessories will dot the island’s three event zones: Downtown/The Strand, Harborside at Pier 21 and Beach Central Park at Seawall. As well, hundreds of vendors selling everything from leatherwear to jewelry, sunglasses to crab cake sandwiches will fill every nook and corner of the Strand and along the seawall. Visit LoneStarRally.com for the latest news and event happenings.