Nature Lover’s Guide to Galveston’s West End

The West End is the perfect place for Galveston nature lovers to enjoy a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of work schedules, as well as the towering skyscrapers and overpasses of cities like Houston and Dallas.

Think Galveston is all about attractions like Moody Gardens, the Historic Pleasure Pier, and the cruise terminal? Think again! Head west on Seawall Boulevard and you’ll experience another side of this unique Gulf Coast barrier island. Cruise past long stretches of pastures, sprawling residential neighborhoods, local hardware stores and casual restaurants. Roll down your windows and enjoy the peace that comes from hearing the never-ending rhythm of the waves rolling ashore.

Unload your suitcase at your private West End vacation home and get ready to explore the unique ecosystems and parks that make up Galveston!

Perfect Places for Galveston Nature Lovers

Laffites Cove Nature Preserve

3501 Eckert Drive

This preserve offers a quick and easy walk that feels like it’s a world away. Laffites Cove Nature Society, which includes all Laffites Cove residents, maintains this relaxing nature preserve. You’ll find a boardwalk and path to explore the area. The route provides signage about some of the types of birds and other creatures you may see during your stroll. There’s also a gazebo about midway through. Plan to bring a snack, sit and enjoy the view. According to folklore, the Pirate Jean Laffite established an outpost in this area between 1817-1821.

Helen and Edward Oppenheimer Bird Observatory

13102 Stewart Road

Birders and Galveston nature lovers in general are going to love this observation platform. You’ll find this spot for nature lovers at the corner of Settegast and Stewart Roads. Artist Boat commissioned this platform to give visitors a unique birding experience in the natural prairie grasses of the island. Their goal is to inspire visitors to connect with nature. Enjoy a half-mile trail through the wetlands and a view from the 150-foot boardwalk. Tip: Artist Boat offers public kayak tours in the Coastal Heritage Preserve. Check their website to book your tour.

Sportsman Road

Another popular spot for birders is Sportsman Road. From Stewart Road, turn north on 8 Mile Road and west on Sportsman Road. Keep in mind this is in a residential area, so please be courteous to residents and don’t block driveways. Park in a gravel area at the end of 8 Mile Road. You’ll see shorebirds in this area year-round.

Galveston Island State Park

14901 FM 3005

NOTE: Typically, you can enjoy both the beach and bay sides of Galveston Island State Park. The beach side of the park is currently under renovation. Visitors will be able to access that side again in 2022.

On the bay side of the park you’ll find hiking trails, interpretive trails, a spot to launch your kayak, fishing, and an observation tower. You can also go geocaching. Check their website for tips on fishing, maps for hiking trails, and special events open to the public.

Where Galveston Island Nature Lovers Can Stay

Vacation rentals are the best way to for Galveston Island nature lovers to experience our barrier island. They give you a private place to relax and unwind, and have all of the comforts of home – with none of the responsibilities!

Vacation homes located along the bay side of the island often overlook wetlands. You’ll see various birds, fish, turtles, snakes, crabs, seagrass, and so much more in this part of the island. Rentals on the Gulf side offer the undeniable appeal of Gulf sunrises, busy little shorebirds and easy early morning beachcombing.

However you decide to connect with nature during your stay, Sand ‘N Sea offers the best selection of West End vacation rentals in Galveston. Options include beachfront, beachside, or bayfront homes. We also offer pet friendly vacation homes and homes with elevators.

Sand ‘N Sea is locally owned and operated and has served Galveston vacation rental guests and real estate clients since 1974.

Galveston Family Photos = Beach Memories Forever

Galveston family photo with bright colors - Plan-it Ink Photography

Make it easy to remember your vacation – plan to take professional Galveston family photos during your next beach trip!

Busy schedules and spread-out family members are only two of the things that make it difficult to snap the perfect family photo. Yes, limited opportunities arise in the forms of holidays or special events like weddings, but those can be stressful and overly formal. You can’t get much more relaxed than being on the beach!

Sure, selfies are fun, but there’s something to be said for letting a professional photographer be responsible for capturing your family’s memories. Months, years, or decades later, you or your kids will be able to flip through an album and remember all the fun you had at the beach that year.

You’ve already gone to the trouble of planning a great Galveston vacation – why not take advantage of the time together by booking a professional photo shoot right after you book your beach house?

Top tips for getting the perfect Galveston family photos:

Think Themes

If the photos include extended family, make sure they know in advance. It can be stressful enough packing for vacation. Don’t leave it til the last minute if you want to coordinate outfits. Popular looks for Galveston family photos are often all white tops with denim bottoms. You could also do mini themes for each family group. Don’t be afraid of color – think pale corals or vibrant greens. You’ll want something that pops against the tan sand and varying blues of the Gulf!

Include Your BFF (Best Furry Friend)

Galveston family photo with dog - Plan-it Ink Photography

Get the whole family in on the fun! Pet friendly vacation homes are abundant on the West End of Galveston. Plus, furry pals are great for adding a little stress relief to the shoot. Make sure you bring their favorite squeaky toy to grab their attention.

Pick the Perfect Prop

Think about adding props like oversized letters with your family name, fishing poles, or surfboards. What are your favorite family activities? Another idea is to hire a professional sand sculptor. Yes, that’s a thing! Sandy Feet Sand Castle Services can create a unique sand sculpture as part of your photo. How fun is that?

Book in Advance

Book your photoshoot in advance and schedule at the start of your trip. Why? Just in case, the weather doesn’t cooperate, this can give you time for a backup date for your Galveston family photos. Plus, it’s better to get that photo taken before the sun or wind burn set in!

Local Expertise

Galveston family photo with toddler - Plan-it Ink Photography

Just like local fishermen, an experienced local photographer will have their own special spot, perfect for capturing your family’s beach memories. Plus, they’ll have unique, proven ideas about special views or times of day (sunset snapshots, anyone?) you should consider.

Galveston Family Photographers

The most important tip for memorable Galveston family photos is to have fun. Your local photographer will know how to make that stubborn child keep their eyes towards the camera or make your overly-serious grandpa crack a smile.

Local photographers specializing in Galveston family photography include:

Make Memories

Galveston family photo with blue and white - Callie Walker Photography

Document the best vacation ever with Galveston family photos during your next visit. Plan ahead so you’ll have your pick of beach house rentals and photographer session times!

Sand ‘N Sea Properties offers over 150+ of the best West End vacation homes on Galveston, Texas. Local and trusted since 1974, our experienced local team is ready to help you make memories that last a lifetime!

Galveston Mother’s Day Brunches

Galveston Island is full of delicious restaurants looking to help you spoil the mom in your life on May 9, 2021! Galveston Mother’s Day brunches feature fare like bottomless mimosas, fresh Gulf Snapper, filet mignon with lobster tail and an abundance of sweet treats for dessert.

The Best Brunch Buffets for Mom

Table at Galveston Mother's Day brunch

1880 Garten Verein Champagne Brunch

Enjoy a Champagne Brunch at the 1880 Garten Verein from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Taking place during the 47th Annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour, this special event brunch includes a unique gift, corsage, live music and more.

The menu includes options of salads, breakfast selections and lunch selections in addition to gourmet coffee, iced tea, and free-flowing mimosas.

Tickets must be booked ahead of time online. Limited availability.

Moody Gardens Mother’s Day Brunch

Moody Gardens is serving a full brunch buffet in their Frances Moody Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m..

Their huge menu includes an omelet station, carving station, seafood display, meat and cheese platters, salad selections and an assortment of desserts. Don’t forget the complimentary mimosas and Bloody Marys!

Seating times are scheduled every 30 minutes, with the last seating taking place at 2 p.m. Reserve your table online.

For additional information, visit Moody Gardens website or call 409.683.4404.

Special Mother’s Day Menus

San Luis Resort Brunch

San Luis Resort is hosting a Galveston Mother’s Day celebration with a culinary-inspired menu! Your choice of first and second courses, an entrée of filet mignon with shrimp scampi, and finish with a family-style dessert. The food options will be accompanied by a full bar.

Reservations run hourly, between 11 A.M. – 2 P.M. Find pricing information and place reservations online. For parties of 10 or more, call 409.744.1500.

Gaido’s Seafood Brunch

Alongside their full menu, Gaido’s will be serving a featured menu this year. Treat your mom to some classic coastal treats at this local institution.

This special Galveston Mother’s Day meal includes your choice of starter (including mixed greens salad, crab bisque and cocktail shrimp) and entrée options such as a center cut filet or the grilled catch of the day. You’ll wrap up your meal with delectable desserts like their signature pecan pie.

Pricing and additional details can be found online, or call 409.761.5500.

Hearsay on The Strand

On Mother’s Day, Hearsay on the Strand is adding featured menu items to celebrate the day!

Hearsay on the Strand is located in Galveston’s Historic Strand District. This funky restaurant blends vintage elements with eclectic American cuisine.

Menu items include delicious fare like a filet benedict or a frozen amaretto soufflé! For more information or to make a reservation for this year’s Galveston Mother’s Day trip, visit Hearsay on the Strand online or call 409.539.5914.

Where to Stay for Mother’s Day

Sand `N Sea Properties manages over 155+ private West End Galveston vacation rentals. Decks with panoramic Gulf views, spacious primary suites with private balconies, hot tubs, private pools, and more await!

Make memories to last a lifetime with your mom at a beach house this year! We’ll help make your Galveston Mother’s Day a special one.

Galveston Island Animals to Discover on Your Next Visit

Galveston isn’t just a popular beach destination for people – it’s home to a wide variety of flora & fauna as well!

With 32 miles of beaches and year-round temperate weather, Galveston Island has a lot to offer for permanent residents and seasonal visitors alike – weather they’re slimy, scaled or feathered! Raucous seagulls and silent saltwater fishes aren’t the only type of Galveston Island animals you’ll come across while spending time here on the upper Texas coast.

Read on for some fun facts about a few of our favorite Galveston Island animals! All the creatures listed below can be spotted year-round, but some are much easier to find during specific seasons.

Springtime Galveston Animals

Roseate Spoonbills

Roseate Spoonbills flying over marsh grass Galveston Island

While Roseate Spoonbills are common on the island year-round, their unique pink coloring is especially vibrant in the spring during their mating and nesting season. Yes, just like their more well-known distance relatives the flamingos, Roseate Spoonbills get their pink coloring from their diet. This can include crustaceans, insects, frogs and small fish. Their coloring can vary from a pale pink to a bright magenta.

Spoonbills are unique in both the way they feed and in the way they fly! They collect their food by sweeping their head side to side in shallow water to collect what they can. These long birds are quite muscular, and they fly with their heads pointed straight out to help keep their balance. This eye-catching avian is unique to the Gulf Coast, yet is one of the more common Galveston Island animals – sometimes you don’t even need binoculars to catch sight of them!

Coyote-Red Wolf Hybrids

Coyote Red Wolf Hybrid against grasses Galveston Island

Perhaps the most unique Galveston citizen are these wild canines that have been found to be half coyote and half red wolf! They lack the adaptability of the coyote and the aggressive pack mentality of the wolf. So, don’t be scared off by the name, because these canines are actually quite shy and tend to stay clear of human activity.

These limited-population canines can typically be spotted (and heard!) in the dusk or dawn hours of the day. The coyote-red wolf hybrids live on the island year-round, but the mating season is in February and the pups are typically born between April and May.

Blue Crabs

Blue Crab in water Galveston Island

Galveston has quite a few different types of crabs, but the blue crabs are one of the most economically important fisheries of the Gulf. Blue crabs like to burrow in softer mud or hide in sea grasses. They are what are known as bottom dwellers, and enjoy eating clams, oysters and mussels. Spawning season for blue crabs is from December to October, with the peak occurring in the spring and summer months. Blue crab hunting happens year-round in Galveston, except for the month of February!

Get the whole family in on the fun! Find & catch blue crabs hanging out in the bays and mud flats on the north side of the island.

Did you know? Blue crabs get their names from the color of the claws, which vary in shades of blue, but the females can always be spotted easily because the tips of their claws are red!

Summer Fun Galveston Animals

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle on Beach

Galveston is a great place to catch a glimpse of some turtles, especially in the summertime! Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest of all marine turtles, and one of only two species that have mass synchronized nestings called “arribadas”, which is the Spanish word for arrival.

You may see some turtle nests, a momma turtle coming to lay her eggs, or even some turtle hatchlings on the beach, but remember – they are the most endangered sea turtle in the world so do not touch the eggs or nests!

If you spot a nest or a stranded/injured sea turtle report them to 1-866-TURTLES.

These are one of our favorite annual Galveston Island animals, and Galveston also has a fun, public art project known as Turtles About Town. Designed to showcase our little local friend and help support the conservation efforts of Turtle Island Restoration Network, this “turtle trail” is a great way to spend a day exploring the island. Local businesses around Galveston, including Sand ‘N Sea, sponsored the turtles while local artists were commissioned to give each turtle their own unique personality and meaning!

Turtles About Town was dreamed up & organized by the local leaders for Turtle Island Restoration Network and the owner of Clay Cup Studios. Check out our interactive Turtles About Town map and see how many statues you can find on your next trip to Galveston Island!

Ghost Crabs

Ghost crabs are another crustacean that calls Galveston home! Also known as sand crabs because they are pale in color, these little guys blend in beautifully with their surroundings.

They are nocturnal, but can occasionally be seen during the daytime too – so keep your eyes peeled when you’re hanging out on the beach! You’ll have to be quick, because these little guys can move up to 10 miles per hour!

While they also burrow, similar to the blue crabs, their homes are a little more unique. Their burrows are dug at a 45-degree angle to the surface, and can reach up to four feet deep!

Fun Fact: Their burrows entrances are angled like that to allow the breeze to blow inside for additional ventilation – even the crabs know you need AC during the hot Texas summer!

Winter Wonder-Island Animals

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes, nicknamed Sandies, are one of only two crane species typically found in Texas. Birders travel from all around to watch these stately avians in the open pastures on the West End of the island during their annual winter migration.

If you know the right places to look, Galveston’s Sandhill Cranes are easy to find. These birds stand nearly 4 feet tall and have distinctive red crowns on the top of their heads. If that bright crown doesn’t your attention, you’ll definitely hear their strident trumpeting call. Sandhill Cranes are also known for dancing! They like to stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow and leap.

Check out the pastures along 9 Mile Road, Pabst Road and 11 Mile Road during December & January for the best chance to see these beauties!

Sand ‘N Sea is proud to be a sponsor of Holiday with the Cranes, a celebratory & educational event put on annually each December by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council.

Piping Plovers

Unlike their wintering neighbors the Sandhill Cranes, Piping Plovers are small and can be easily missed! These delicate birds are scant in size, weight and wingspan. Combine that with their sandy gray color, and these birds are masters at invisibility!

Piping Plovers migrate south to spend the winter here with us on the island, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these little cuties! They are protected under the Endangered Species Act, so when you do see one, be sure to keep your distance so they can continue to vacation with us here in the winter!

American White Pelican

American White Pelican Galveston Island

Pelicans may be the first bird that comes to mind when you think about Galveston Island animals, but what may not be known is there are two different types that call our island home!

The American White Pelican primarily breeds in the interior states of North America. They then migrate south to the coasts, but only for the winter – just like our Galveston Winter Texan vacation rental guests! American White Pelicans follow the “bigger is better” mantra that Texas is known for with a whopping 9-foot wide wingspan.

Unlike other pelican species, these large birds don’t dive for fish. Instead, they forage by swimming and dipping. It’s typical to see large colonies in the marshes and around the inlets along the northern edges of Galveston Island. They can also be spotted flying high above the Gulf and bay, especially near the Bolivar Jetty.

Year-Round Galveston Island Animals

Bottle Nose Dolphins

Did you know that Galveston Bay boasts a resident group of these exciting marine mammals? These fun mammals can be spotted by themselves or in small groups known as pods, and are part of an ongoing study by the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research Program – check out their great pictorial guide to meet the dolphins that call Galveston Bay home!

A helpful hint for spotting a dolphin: watch for where the birds are feeding! Underneath the surface of the water that birds are typically feed at, there are dolphins feeding in the water. They also love to surf in the wake of the ferry and other vessels in the shipping channel.

Another great way to increase your chances of seeing a dolphin is to catch a ride on the free Galveston-Bolivar ferry – the dolphins love to swim alongside. Or, book a spot on the Dolphin Watch harbor tour at Pier 21!

Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelican on Side of Fishing Boat Galveston Island

Brown Pelicans are permanent residents here on Galveston Island. They can be seen flying over all of Galveston’s beaches, bays and inlets. Day-trippers to Galveston can always catch sight of them from the Seawall as the pelicans dive into the water to retrieve their meals.

When Brown Pelicans plunge headfirst into the water, their gular (throat) can fill up with up to 2.5 gallons of water! They then tilt their heads to drain off the saltwater before they swallow their delicious fishy meal!

Brown Pelicans are rarely spotted inland, as their preferred habitat is along the coastline and on breeding colony islands. These coastal creatures nest from February to July, though most eggs hatch by late May.

Places to Stay in Galveston

Galveston’s West End is the perfect place to rest your head after hours of exploration of the habitats that Galveston Island animals call home. Book a beach house for the best home-away-from-home amenities. You’ll love the large living spaces, fully stocked kitchens, private bedrooms and decks with panoramic views of the Gulf or bay.

Sand `N Sea manages over 150 of the best vacation rentals on the West End, and we would love to you welcome you (and your pup!) to explore our island home soon!

Where to Watch Galveston Sunsets

Every great vacation includes time to slow down and enjoy the sunset. We think the best place to enjoy it is sitting on the deck of your vacation rental, but there are other great Galveston sunset spots too – including “meals with a view” options!

Galveston Island is no more than 3 miles across at its widest point, so vibrant sunset views can be had just about anywhere on the West End of the island. Beach or bay, it’s as easy as walking onto your rental’s deck to watch the sun sink slowly over the water.

Fishing Pier and Sunset on Galveston Bay

Sunset Dining on Galveston’s West End

If you decide to venture away from dining al fresco on your beach or bay house’s deck, there are two great options for a delicious West End meal. Savor some local flavor while overlooking the bay at either place!

Waterman’s Restaurant (14302 Stewart Road) offers an outdoor bar and patio area with a stunning sunset view. The restaurant is adjacent to Waterman’s Marina, so if you travel by boat, it’s a great stop during a sunset cruise. As you’d expect, the restaurant specializes in fresh Gulf seafood. But, if you’re craving steak, they offer certified Angus beef too.

West End Marina & Restaurants (21706 Burnet Drive) is located in the Sea Isle Neighborhood. West End Marina offers two dining options: eating upstairs under their palapa or downstairs in their Sandbar. And, look for a new Margarita Bar coming soon. This restaurant specializes in seafood with a Cajun and Latin flair – the perfect sides to your Galveston sunset!

Two people fishing at sunset, overlooking the bay

Other Superb Galveston Sunset Spots

Looking to get out and explore the Island? Here are a few places that are perfect for end-of-day wanderings or a personal picnic:

Galveston Island State Park (14901 FM 3005, Galveston, TX) offers a day pass that’s good through 10 p.m. The cost is $5 per person for guests age 13 and over. Children under 13 are free. On the Galveston Island State Park’s bay side, you’ll find hiking trails, interpretive trails, a kayak launch, fishing spots, and an observation tower. The park also offers convenient parking.

Sportsman Road is located just off of Stewart Road. To find this spot, turn north on 8 Mile Road and head west on Sportsman Road. You can park in the gravel area at the end of 8 Mile Road. This area is residential, so pack your blanket or chairs and some dinner snacks!

Surfside Jetty County Park (101 Parkview Road) is located in Surfside, just past the toll bridge on the far west end of the island far west end of the island. Surfside Jetty County Park is a 15-acre park with paved parking and a picnic area. You’ll have a view of the harbor channel, jetty, and the beach. If you want to grab dinner to-go before or after the sunset, check out the Red Snapper Inn (402 Bluewater Highway) in Freeport.

Man Kayaking at Sunset on Galveston Bay

One thing’s for sure, when you book your West End getaway in a Sand `N Sea vacation home, you’ll be in the perfect position to soak in the gorgeous colors as another day on the island draws to a close.

Sand ‘N Sea Properties offers an excellent selection of West End vacation rentals in Galveston. Options include beachfront, beachside, canal, or bayfront homes. We also offer pet-friendly vacation homes and homes with elevators.

Sand ‘N Sea Properties is locally owned and operated and has been helping guests make vacation memories on the West End of Galveston since 1974. Book your next Galveston vacation, workcation, or staycation with us!

Outdoor Activities in Galveston TX

Galveston is a popular beach destination for a reason. It’s an ideal escape for fishing and birding enthusiasts. Plus, the 32 miles of beach prove perfect for kite flying and a wide variety of other activities that outdoor enthusiasts love. 

We tried to keep this list to the Top 5 – but there are just too many great options to choose from! Regardless of your age or energy level, you’ll never find a shortage of things to do in Galveston!



Surrounded by nutrient-rich waters that wash west across our shores, Galveston is full of excellent places to throw a line in (including right from the deck of your bayfront vacation rental!). Take the time to learn patience and a new skill, or get back to the hobby you love while fishing in Galveston. The island provides a wide array of underwater habitats perfect for a great catch of the day!

Fishing at sunset in Galveston tx


Who can resist a boating excursion? With a variety of Galveston boat rental options and easy access to the bay from your West End vacation rental, you can be out on the water in no time! Bring your fishing poles and life jackets and prepare for a relaxing day on the water.

Boat at sunset in Galveston TX


Galveston is a prime birding destination thanks to its location along the Central Flyway. Thousands of birds stop by on their annual migration each spring and fall. Join us during the off season for peak birding opportunities, and don’t miss the annual Featherfest celebration in April. Discover your new favorite outdoor activity in Galveston, TX!

Birds flying over Galveston TX

Kite Flying

The constant Gulf breeze is perfect for kite flying! Whether your piloting a line or simply watch those around you, this is a perfect way to get outdoors and enjoy time with others. Bring your own favorite flyer or check out the local Kites Unlimited shop on Seawall Blvd. Kids of all ages will love this perfect beach activity!

family flying a kite on the beach


Galveston Island offers visitors a variety of different local parks for exploration. Stop by the playground, carve up the skate park, or let your pup off the leash at the local dog park. Visiting Galveston parks is a perfect way to enjoy nature and experience many of the outdoor activities in Galveston, TX.

Galveston Bay

Paddle Boarding

No matter your skill level, a few hours of paddle boarding the local waters is exactly what your next trip to Galveston Island needs! Plan your equipment rental and private lesson, then hit the Gulf or bay! (#protip – Ask your vendor about delivery & pick-up options for your beach house.) When the day is over, we are sure you’ll have a few impressive pictures to look back on as well.

Man paddle boarding with dog


A long day of combing the beach for hidden treasures is extremely rewarding! Whether you are looking for sea glass, shark teeth, arrowheads, or maybe a unique shell for the kids, Galveston offers a variety of hidden surprise that will make your beachcombing plans worth it!

Shells on beach in Galveston TX


Immerse yourself in Galveston’s unique marine habitat no matter the water temp – enjoy the view from the seat of a kayak. Explore the coast’s splendor and reignite your connection with nature by taking a personal excursion or booking a guided kayak tour.

kayaking in Galveston TX

Jet Skiing

Every vacation or getaway needs some kind of high intensity adventure! Quicken the pace of your day by hopping on a jet ski while in Galveston. These small watercraft are perfect for exploring the canals and inlets along the northern coast of the island. Delivery & pick-up to your beach house is available from local vendors.

Man on jet ski in Galveston TX

Sand Castle Building

We take sand castle building seriously here in Galveston! Many locals say this is one of their favorite outdoor activities. This recreational activity is sure to provide hours of family fun for all ages and is a great past time to keep the kiddos entertained while their sunblock soaks in!

Family standing in front of sand castle in Galveston tx

Sitting and Relaxing

Take advantage of the serenity of the island while watching the waves roll in. Enjoy a simple stroll or just sit back and relax in your beach chair. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or watch the pelicans and shorebirds. Nothing’s better than the sand under your feet and your favorite drink in your hand while relaxing on a Galveston beach.

Woman relaxing on the beach in Galveston TX.


Galveston Island provides the perfect destination for sun, sand, and fun! Sand ‘N Sea offers 155+ of the best vacation rentals on Galveston’s West End. From open floor plans with multiple decks to elevators and swimming pools, these homes have the amenities you want for a perfect beach trip.

There is no shortage of outdoor activities in Galveston, TX! Contact our team and start planning your perfect outdoor getaway today.

Pet Friendly Guide to Galveston

Read on for the inside scoop on the best places to bring Fido, how to beach like a pro with your pup, and what your canine companion shouldn’t miss on your Galveston beach vacation!

Beach Trip Tips

What do you need to bring to the beach for your pet? Your furry friend needs plenty of fresh water, a shady spot to relax and pet friendly sun screen on those delicate noses & thinly-furred areas!

The American Kennel Club has lots of good tips about sunscreen for your pup. Be an informed pet parent – be sure to avoid zinc oxide-based sunscreens (zinc is harmful if ingested). Look for varieties meant for human babies or sensitive skin. Better yet – ask your vet if they carry any in their office!

Find more tips for keeping your dog’s tail wagging during your beach trip here.

Local Leash Laws

Keep yourself and your VIP (very important pet) out of the dog house and on the right side of the law!

City ordinance requires dogs to be leashed at all times – including on the beach. This also lets you (attempt) to keep them out of the surf, and prevents them from bothering nesting shore birds or knocking over sandcastles during their beach stroll!

Dolphins & Doggos

Nothing makes us happier than watching a good case of the zoomies – on land or at sea!

Baywatch Dolphin Tours welcomes pups & their people on 45 minute guided tours of Galveston. Their covered jet drive boats (no propellers = happy sea life) depart from Pier 21. Pups ride free!

Footloose & Free Galveston Dog Park

Lindale Park at Fourth Street & Marine Drive has a great dog park that offers a chance for your pup to mingle and run to their heart’s content!

This off-leash Galveston dog park boasts a fenced green area with benches, water stations, and a small dog section. It also has a dog agility course, thanks to the efforts of a local Eagle Scout and Better Parks for Galveston.

Doggy Dining on Galveston Island

There’s a whole pack of pet friendly Galveston restaurants happy to feed you & your pup while you’re out & about on the Island! Our favorites include:

  • Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar (Postoffice Street)
  • MOD Coffeehouse (Postoffice Street)
  • Shrimp N Stuff (Avenue O location)
  • Sunflower Bakery & Cafe (14th Street)
  • Sand Bar at West End Restaurant (West End)

Enjoy dining al fresco on their patios and have a delicious meal with your whole family! (Call ahead to verify current hours & policies.)

Tasty Treats

With all of the delicious Galveston restaurants that you have to choose from, it’s only fair that your pup gets to partake in some special dog treats too!

Pattycakes Bakery offers fresh baked goods daily – including dog treats! Stop by early for the best selection at this local Galveston Island favorite.

Want a cool treat? Check out the homemade ice cream at Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream. Flavors change daily. (#localtip – Run, don’t walk, to taste their Ultimate Nacho specialty sundae!)

Local Galveston Vets

You never know what will happen with your favorite canine! Just in case:

Get away & play in Galveston

Don’t be part of the 39% of people who have skipped vacations to stay home with their dog – book a pet friendly beach house!

Staying at a pet friendly beach house lets your pup’s nose get a full workout from the safety & serenity of the deck or fenced yard…and island sunbeams are the perfect place for a quick snooze before getting up and doing it all over again!

There’s something for everyone here on pet friendly Galveston Island. We hope to see you & your pup racing the waves soon!

Thanksgiving Dining on Galveston Island

Enjoy Thanksgiving on Galveston beaches! Several favorite local restaurants offer special Thanksgiving menus, with dine-in and take-and-bake options to meet everyone’s needs this year.

Thanksgiving is full of family, friends and – of course! – food!  While we all love the fruits of our kitchen labor – it can definitely get a little overwhelming! Thankfully (see what we did there?) there are a number of fabulous local food options for your Sand `N Sea Thanksgiving holiday on Galveston Island!

Who doesn’t love a Thanksgiving dinner full of turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, cranberries (we will forever love the “fancy” cranberry sauce from childhood – complete with those snazzy ridges from the can!), etc.? And then, of course, there’s the pie.  Pumpkin? Check.  Blueberry? Check.  Apple? Check.  Seriously, it’s really just more fruit if you think about it ;). Add fresh Gulf Coast seafood to all of those classics and you’ve got the perfect Galveston Thanksgiving feast!

Thanksgiving in Galveston

Holidays at the slower pace of Island life are ideal no matter your age and you don’t have to worry about meeting that “in-law/grandmother clean” standard when everyone travels to a beach house instead – it’s a win-win!

Galveston has some great local dining options if you want to make it a TRUE holiday and let your family chef(s) relax too! We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite Galveston Island Thanksgiving Dining options below, or view our downloadable 2020 Thanksgiving in Galveston guide here:

The San Luis Resort 4-Course Plated Dinner
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
$71/adult, $35/children
*Reservations required. No parties larger than 10.

Moody Gardens Staff-Plated Thanksgiving Buffet
11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
$59/adult, $29/children
*Reservations required.

Galvez Bar & Grill – Feasts to Go
Herb crusted turkey, 3 sides, gravy, cranberry sauce and your choice of Gaido’s pecan or pumpkin pie.
Serve 6 – $175, Serve 12 – $325
Preorder by Thursday, November 19
Pick up Wednesday, November 25 or Thursday, November 26

Mosquito Cafe – Take & Bake
Preorder by 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24
Pickup 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25

thanksgiving dining on galveston island tx cornucopia

Now that you’re drooling, pick a place and get your Thanksgiving getaway finalized!  Make sure EVERYone gets a chance to relax and enjoy your Galveston Island Thanksgiving this year!


Your Summer 2020 Galveston Vacation

Wondering what’s new for your Sand `N Sea Galveston vacation rental experience this year? Check out our Summer 2020 Resource Page for all of the COVID-19-related updates – from our new contact-free check-in details to the most up-to-date information about our cancellation policy.

Already booked your Island getaway? Keep reading for the best insider tips on how to have a stress-free vacation!

NEW Contact-Free Check-in & Check-out

Guests no longer check in at our Pirates Beach office. We have moved to a contact-free, express check-in process!

You’ll digitally sign & submit your check-in paperwork the day before arrival. On your check-in day you’ll receive a text with the code to the key lock box at the home as soon as it’s ready for arrival. (Make sure you’ve provide your cell phone number when you book your reservation!)

No more worries about being stuck in traffic! Arrive any time after 5:00 p.m.

On departure day, return the keys to the lock box at the home by 10:00 a.m. It’s that simple!

Please know that we deeply miss personally welcoming each of you to Galveston. Don’t worry – we are still only a phone call away! Email us at or leave us a message at 409.797.5500 if there is anything we can do to help during your stay.

View the Step-by-Step process here.

Please note: We are not able to accommodate requests for early arrivals or late departures. We need to ensure our professional housekeeping teams have the time necessary to accommodate our full cleaning, disinfecting & sanitizing protocols before every new arrival.


#1 – Bring Supplies

Just like in your own home town, some supplies are still difficult to find on the Island (paper products, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, shelf stable groceries, medications, etc.). Shop ahead and bring essential supplies with you.

Don’t forget – less time in line at the grocery means more time on the beach!

Use our Starter List of Things to Bring to get your packing list started!

#2 – Beach Rules

All 32 miles of Galveston’s public beaches are open. We encourage you to keep a few things in mind:

Leave at least 6 feet between you and your neighbors. (Beach breezes carry water droplets!)

Respect the guidelines and keep your group at 10 or less.

Leave No Trace – dispose of all of your waste items in the bright blue trash cans provided by the City & be sure to bring your beach equipment in each night.

As of May 15, there are six West End beach access points that are closed to vehicular traffic on the weekends. Pedestrian traffic is welcome. Click here for details.

#3 – Where to Eat

Galveston restaurants are slowly shifting back to dine-in service in a limited way (primarily outdoor dining, at 25% capacity).

Just interested in grabbing your favorite dishes and lounging on the deck of your private beach house? The majority of our local eateries continue to offer curbside pick-up service.

Find a current list of open Galveston Restaurants here – and don’t be afraid to call ahead to your favorite if it’s not on the list!

#4 – What to Do

Looking for a little more than just relaxing and soaking in the sun?

BONUS FREE download: Historic Galveston Island coloring book! Full of fun facts about some of the most interesting spots on the Island!

#5 – Housekeeping

Our Property Services managers have been hard at work educating & training our professional housekeepers on our updated protocols. The key points:

Hospital-grade disinfectants continue to be used before every new arrival. (Rated to kill COVID-19.) All of the chemicals we use are EPA-approved. Our teams use ROOM SENSE 200 on all hard surfaces and Champions Aerosol Disinfectant on all soft surfaces.

Housekeepers & Inspectors follow all CDC guidelines and wear fresh masks & gloves as they clean each home. They pay special attention to high-touch areas including, but not limited to:

  • light switches, outlets, lamps, fan pull chains, elevator controls
  • cabinet knobs, drawer pulls & other handles including faucets & toilets
  • controls for large & small appliances, including TV remotes
  • stair railings & outdoor deck railings

Our commercial laundry sanitizes all towels and sheets at 160 degrees between guests. (Most home machines only reach 100 degrees.)

Galveston Concierge Services & Beach Equipment Rentals

Need grocery delivery? Beach chairs, umbrellas or tents? Dreaming of a campfire on the beach complete with s’mores? The professionals at Sea La Vie Concierge Services can take care of it all! 409.457.9544

Interested in renting a golf cart? Rick’s Rentals is located out here on the West End and will deliver & pick up directly from your beach house. 409.632.0256

Enjoy all 32 miles of sandy coastline during your stay: add to your seashell collection, ride the waves, work on perfecting your sandcastle technique, catch fresh Gulf seafood for dinner, and more! Get ready to kick back, relax, and enjoy your vacation on historic Galveston Island!

We look forward to seeing you at the beach!

Sand `N Sea Properties and COVID-19

For more details about check-in/out changes and other new office policies, visit our COVID-19/coronavirus webpage.

As is the case throughout the country, things are continuously changing here on Galveston Island. We want to make sure our guests, homeowners and staff have the information they need and we are updating this page regularly.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly at with any questions. Our limited staff is working remotely from home, but we will do our best to respond to you as quickly as possible.

March 23, 7:00 p.m.

Galveston County has issued notice of a shelter-in-place order. This countywide order will go into effect beginning at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 and remain in effect until April 3.

We have not yet heard from City of Galveston officials regarding any other specifics that will impact Galveston Island.

Please know, our Reservations & Property Services teams are working remotely from home. We are committed to returning phone calls & emails from all of our guests just as quickly as we can with our limited staff.

We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the options available to you on a case-by-case basis. Where possible, we are helping guests adjust reservation dates. In other cases, we are processing refunds. (Please remember, it can take several days for your credit card company to apply your credit to your account, regardless of when we process it.)

We continue to encourage guests to contact us via email at Include your reservation number, leaseholder name and the best contact phone number.

We are not accepting any reservations for arrivals before April 4.

Our team will be back at their (remote) desks again at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, and we will continue to work diligently to reach all of our valued guests.

March 21, 11:00 a.m.

Our reservations team is responding to all guest inquiries as quickly as possible. Our primary focus at this time is guests with arrival dates through April 25.

We encourage guests with questions to email us at Please include your reservation number, leaseholder name and the best contact phone number.

Due to the high volume of calls, you may reach our answering service when you reach out via phone. Guests with imminent arrival dates will receive priority in the queue. Please know that we are doing our best to get back to everyone as soon as we can.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to reach out to every one of our guests.

March 18, 2020 3:45 p.m.

Yesterday’s orders closing all Galveston Island’s entertainment venues and restaurant dining rooms for 7 days has certainly added a challenge for day-to-day operations for our local chefs and restaurateurs.

Several local restaurants have moved their operations to carry-out or delivery services. Some great options currently offering meals to-go include:

If you aren’t in town, we encourage you to purchase a gift card for use during your next visit to Galveston. We know our guests all have their favorite spots to eat while vacationing. If we all work together to continue to support them through these uncertain times it will help ensure your favorites will be here for your next visit, too!

March 17, 2020 4:00 p.m.


GALVESTON, TX – March 17, 2020 – Mayor Jim Yarbrough on Tuesday enacted two orders closing public amusement venues, including bars, and limiting restaurants to take-out, delivery and drive-thru services, following federal guidelines regarding Coronavirus and public gatherings.

The order requires the closure of public amusement venues operating within the City of Galveston, effective 4 p.m. today. The second order limits restaurants to take-out, delivery and drive-thru only, effective 5 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Hotel restaurants will still be able to serve guests only. The order also closes bars, effective at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

This includes museums and theme parks, such as the Pleasure Pier, and other large attractions, such as Moody Gardens. The orders were signed into effect by the Galveston Mayor on Tuesday, as permitted under the emergency declaration enacted Monday, as authorized by the Texas Government Code Chapter 418.

This decision is intended to reduce the risk of community spread and protect the health of our residents. The decision is prompted by the first confirmed case of community spread in Galveston County. By state law, the order will be in effect for seven days, effective immediately.

March 17, 2020 1:00 p.m.

Many local attractions have closed public operations for the next few weeks in an effort to support social distancing efforts aimed at keeping our friends and neighbors as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While your favorite museum might not be open, there are still plenty of things to do around the Island during your visit. Local restaurants are adjusting schedules, rearranging dining rooms & offering new curbside pickup services. Other small businesses are getting creative with the way they offer their services.

As we all know, modified schedules and plans for closings are changing rapidly. Please be sure to check social media accounts or call ahead for current hours before jumping in your car. As of today, you can make plans check out these great local options on your visit to Galveston Island:

Self-Guided Tours, perfect for stretching your legs and getting some fresh air:

Museums & Attractions

  • The Bryan Museum (no guided tours or special events)
  • Moody Gardens
    • Aquarium Pyramid
    • Rainforest Pyramid
    • Discovery Museum
    • The current Skeletown exhibit is perfect for home learning curriculum!
    • Golf Course
  • Galveston Historical Foundation Sites:
    • Texas Seaport Museum (no audio tours available)
    • Tall Ship ELISSA
    • Historic Harbor Tour & Dolphin Watch
    • 1892 Bishop’s Palace (no audio tours available)

Other Activities

Other Island Updates:

  • Pointe West announced that their community pools will be closed as of 9:00 a.m., Thursday, March 19, until further notice.
  • City of Galveston suspended rubber wheel trolley service through March 31. Fixed-route service will continue to operate as normal, with modifications to keep passengers at least six feet apart.

March 16, 2020 7:00 p.m.

In the last few days, we have seen even more area schools extend their Spring Break closures to multiple weeks, as well as an increase to the number of businesses restructuring their workflow to accommodate remote offices for their employees.

As the need for social distancing increases, we continue to work hard to welcome guests from Houston and other nearby areas to their private beach house reservations, as scheduled.

Here at the Sand `N Sea office, we continue to refine our “best practices” daily. The focus remains on mitigating risk for our guests, their families, and our vacation rental and real estate teams.

In addition to the efforts that we began last week, we are working on several procedural changes for low/no-contact check-in, etc. We will share those once they roll out live for our guests. For now:

At check-out:

We encourage guests to use our Express Check-out lockbox located in the parking lot on the east side of our office (towards 12 Mile Road). Just drop your keys in the box and go!

Other Island updates:

As of 6:00 p.m. the City of Galveston informed the Galveston Restaurant Association that Galveston restaurants can still operate dining rooms within appropriate guidelines.

• No more than 50 people at one time in a dining room.
• No tables larger than parties of 10.
• 6-foot social distancing between tables.
• Curbside pick-up, take-out, drive-thru, & delivery options are allowed, and will continue to be allowed even if a federal mandate closes dining rooms.

March 13, 2020 2:00 CST

With the unprecedented events of the last week and the unknown impact timeline of COVID-19, we wanted to keep our readers up-to-date about what is currently happening within the Sand `N Sea office and our community.

Our guests’ health is important to us and, here in Galveston, our community is committed to best practices and procedures when it comes to the health & safety of all visitors to our Island. We continue to closely monitor statements regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) and remain in close communication with state & local tourism officials and other business owners. Like the majority of businesses, we are following guidance from federal, state and local agencies, including the CDC and WHO.

We know that you may have questions about your upcoming Galveston vacation, and we feel it’s important to be transparent with our policies. Here are a few of the things that we are doing to mitigate the risk for our guests and staff members:

In our office:
• Our entire office is disinfected daily, and check-in counters are cleaned frequently throughout the day.
• Check-in counters also have hand sanitizers for guest and staff use, and there are disinfectants for staff to use between guests.
• Hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays are positioned throughout the office, in restrooms and in all areas which staff & guests use frequently.
• Property services requires all staff and maintenance vendors entering and departing to use the sanitizing stations located in their department.
• Vacation Rentals team members and Realtors are required to stay home if sick.
• Any staff members or Realtors traveling internationally or on cruises are required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days after arrival back in the US.

At your beach house:
• Our professionally trained housekeeping teams continue to use professional level disinfectants and cleaning supplies.
• Our commercial laundry washes towels and sheets professionally – at 160 degrees (your home washer typically reaches 100 degrees).
• Inspecting & Property Services staff that are entering houses have been extensively trained and are being super vigilant about disinfectants and cleanliness standards.

Your private vacation home is the perfect escape during this stressful time. Spacious living areas, private decks, and miles of beaches make it easy to avoid contact with other travelers. Many local restaurants offer delicious takeout options, and all are taking precautions above & beyond normal food safety practices.

A few things to note that will make your trip even easier:
• Hand sanitizer and other home supplies like toilet paper may only be available in limited quantities at local stores. We recommend bringing these items with you.
• The majority of our homes offer free WiFi for guest use. If you have questions about your home’s amenities just give us a call. Telecommute with confidence, but be aware that speeds can be slow here on the more rural side of Galveston. You are always welcome to use the WiFi, fax or printers at our office.
• If you aren’t feeling well, we encourage you to stay home. Even in the best of times, vacationing while sick is no fun. If you or your guests are ill and you elected to purchase travel insurance coverage please contact RedSky Travel Insurance (866.889.7409 or
• We understand that circumstances with your family may be changing daily. If you have concerns, please call us at 409.797.5500. We would be happy to go over your options with you.

We want you to be confident in your choice to vacation in Sand `N Sea beach houses. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 409.797.5500 with any questions.

We will continue to post updates as the COVID-19 situation evolves here on Galveston Island.