In Galveston, Texas: Checking Into Hotel Galvez Before Boarding Disney Magic

Sitting directly across from the beach, the Hotel Galvez was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.  photo courtesy: Hotel Galvez

After weeks of frigid temperatures in my Windy City of Chicago, I’m blown away by how good it feels to be enjoying sunshine and warm weather. I’ve arrived in Galveston, Texas, Disney’s newest port city, and I’ve got one day to explore this historic southern charmer. As in every port, I’m eager to dive into the history, and Galveston’s history lessons do not disappoint.

I’ve heard these Gulf Coast beaches serve as a summer escape from Houston, just over an hour away, but that’s about all I knew of Galveston. Amazingly, I’d never heard that Galveston was the site of one of the United States’ worst natural disasters, the hurricane of 1900 that killed over 6,000 people. This story and many more are brought to life inside the historic Hotel Galvez.

The ornate hand-carved wood in the Hotel Galvez bar comes from the Old Galveston Club, considered Galveston’s last speakeasy. photo courtesy: Hotel Galvez

Built in 1911, Hotel Galvez was a source of civic pride, a symbol that Galveston would not only survive, but thrive after the devastation of 1900. Instead of the city returning to its previous gilded glamour, over the next few decades Galveston came to be known as the “Atlantic City of the South”.

If you’re a history lover like I am, consider a pre or post-cruise stay at the grand Hotel Galvez and make sure to ask for a tour from the hotel’s guest ambassador, Bobby Hilton. He’ll take you on a lively history tour, pointing out what parts of the hotel are original, along with plenty of fun stories about the days when celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart and Sammy Davis Jr. overnighted, along with tales of presidential visits from FDR, Eisenhower, LBJ and Richard Nixon. If you can’t arrange a tour with Bobby, step down into the hotel’s Hall of History and check out the exhibit and archival photos.

Hall of History in the lower level of the Hotel Galvez photo: Andrea Guthmann
Although the hotel has been modernized, many parts look exactly as they did in 1911.     photo: Andrea Guthmann
Lobby 2
The lobby of the Hotel Galvez evokes a by-gone era of Old World elegance. photo: Hotel Galvez

Although Galveston doesn’t have the most picturesque beaches, strolling along the city’s famed seawall, built after the hurricane of 1900, makes for a fun walk.

You’ll find plenty of nautical kitsch along Galveston’s beachfront. photo: Andrea Guthmann
Galveston’s Pleasure Pier makes for a fun-filled afternoon at the beach.                    photo: Andrea Guthmann
Pleasure Pier at Night
Galveston’s Pleasure Pier is reminiscent of Coney Island. There’s a boardwalk filled with amusement park rides and games, including a ferris wheel and roller coaster. photo courtesy: Galveston CVB
Galveston’s historic downtown district, known as The Strand, makes for a pleasant stroll with its charming shops and brightly colored Victorian era buildings.                               photo: Andrea Guthmann
Painted ladies and historic homes keep Galveston’s Victorian heyday alive for visitors. photo: Andrea Guthmann
No Galveston visit would be complete without a visit to La Kings ice cream parlor and candy store.                                photo: Andrea Guthmann
LaKings Confectionery in Galveston’s historic Strand district. photo: Andrea Guthmann
Mardi Gras treats at La Kings.

Our day in Galveston has been a wonderful history lesson. Now we’re off to embark on our Caribbean cruise!

Join us tomorrow, when we explore the Disney Magic during our day at sea. We plan to hit the deck — with our sneakers for a morning run. Then we’ll check out the kids activities, the dining scene and enjoy the live music and entertainment.

Andrea Guthmann is a Midwest Emmy Award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist. She spent many years as a TV producer for WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago. Her writing’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. She’s also the Midwest blogger

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from pre-school to high school. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago, but loves escaping from the Midwest winters! 

Disclosure: Disney Magic is hosting the author and her guests for purposes of this review

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