2 Hours + 7 Girls + 11 Years Old + 0 Money = Galveston Island Beach?
June 19, 2014 10:36 AM   Subscribe

What is the best beach in Galveston to take a bunch of eleven-year-olds for a couple of hours?

I'm taking a Girl Scout troop to an overnight event at the Space Center in Houston. We had originally planned a couple of days on Galveston Island as well. Our budget went bye-bye, so we cut out the extended trip, but the girls still desperately want to see the ocean. I am trying to convince them to go to Sylvan Beach Park, which is closer to the Space Center, and would be less of a hassle, but if we do end up in Galveston, what is the best beach to go to with the two hours of beach time we'll have available?

We won't be swimming. They will want to look for shells, build sand castles, wade in the ocean, and just mess around a bit. The possibility of dolphin sightings would be awesome and would lead to a lot of squealing (largely by me). We don't have much money to spare - we can pay for parking, but not much else. They're already disappointed about the shortened trip, I don't want them to be disappointed by their ocean experience too.
posted by Dojie to Travel & Transportation around Galveston, TX (6 answers total)
Most of the beaches along Galveston Island are crowded the moment that school lets out.

If you have the time, I'd take them to Port Bolivar Island, a 10-minute ferry ride east of Galveston Island. They get to ride a ferry and the beaches on Bolivar are a lot quieter. I've been there several times (though not in the last 4 years) and there were shells aplenty and a shallow slope into the water that's great for wading. It's also very easy to get to, just take 45 across the causeway and keep going past the freeway's end on Broadway until you get to the ferry terminal. The ferry is free.
posted by fireoyster at 11:48 AM on June 19, 2014

Oh, one possible downside: There are few businesses on Bolivar and the only restrooms I know of are in the restaurants on Bolivar Loop (called Broadway Ave these days) that are definitely hole-in-the-wall drinking-on-vacation establishments. There was a good convenience store about a mile and a half up the island but I think it got obliterated in the last hurricane and didn't rebuild.
posted by fireoyster at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2014

Stewart Beach Park. It also has showers.
posted by at at 12:04 PM on June 19, 2014

The beaches at Galveston Island State Park are about the best on the island. Downsides: it takes a bit longer to get there from I-45 than the beaches on the Seawall side. It's also $5 for adults (but free for 12 and under). The park passes also get you access to the bay side of the island, with lots of interesting marsh lands and birding spots and what not.
posted by planetesimal at 12:24 PM on June 19, 2014

Take them to Seabrook (Pine Gully Park or Clear Lake Park), or Kemah. Info on Pine Gully here. I would ask about the $20 covering a group vehicle. If it were me I might call ahead, say we're out of town Girl Scouts, could you waive or discount the fee?
Plenty of blue water to gawk at, less of a drive. Kemah boardwalk is very artificial but fun also.

Seabrook has a lot of natural beauty, but I agree that Port Bolivar or one of the beaches in Brazoria county are better beaches overall. The place you're looking at is man made, so maybe a visit to the manmade beach at Moody Gardens instead?

On the island, be sure to check for health advisories: http://www.gchd.org/pollution/BeachAdvisory.htm

The Pier theater on the island has very short, inexpensive films - one about pirates, one about the 1900 storm. For kids, I'd say the pirate flick. There's also Magic Carpet Golf, very inexpensive.

In the future, you can visit Rocket Park during normal business hours without the costly Space Center tickets. I trust you have one of the Space Center coupons to discount all entries?

I've only been here nine or so years, but I have never seen a dolphin on the island, except in gift shops. I think you need to do a dolphin boat tour to make that happen.
posted by mitschlag at 1:58 PM on June 19, 2014

I don't know the area, but I think you should go to whichever beach will let you work on the council's own Discover Galveston Island patch.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:41 PM on June 19, 2014

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