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A little more time on the island

 
A little more time on the island
Enjoy a real old-fashioned chocolate malt at the lunch counter and soda fountain of the Star Drug Store in Galveston. Popular lunch fare includes the store's burger and Reuben sandwich.

Last week, we shared with you the history of Galveston, the beaches, and several family-fun activities (see http://lavernianews.com/1683). But there’s so much more!

One attraction no visitor can ignore is the seawall, the longest continuous sidewalk in the United States -- just over 10 miles. It is the “place to be.” It is a wide walkway, with room for the crowds of people -- whether strolling, biking, or peddling a surrey for two or four. There are many bike and surrey rentals along Seawall Boulevard. Bikes rent for around $10 per hour and surreys for $20. There are many rental places along the seawall; if it is a slow day, you will probably get a bargain.

Free family fun

A fun thing to do is take the ferry to Bolivar Island. The island is mainly residential, but the ride over and back is beautiful; dolphins often can be seen swimming alongside the ferry. The ferry is free, as it is part of the Texas Department of Transportation highway system. This ferry is the only lifeline for the residents and visitors to Bolivar Island.

Hint: If you are just going for the ride, as you approach the ferry landing, stay in the far right lane marked “walk on.” Park your car in the area provided. When the next ferry docks, you can simply walk on. When you get to the island, stay on the ferry and ride back. It takes about 20 minutes each way, plus the loading and unloading time. As you leave, be sure to wave to all those folks still sitting in their cars, waiting.

Another adventure, more like a treasure hunt, is to locate and view the Tree Sculptures. When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, many large trees were badly damaged, but instead of cutting them down, several artists carved beautiful art pieces from the stumps that remained in the ground. There are 21 of these beauties, scattered in a five-square-block area between Broadway and Postoffice Roads. Stop at the Visitors Center at 2528 Broadway (Avenue J) and pick up a free map to guide you. You can drive, bike, or walk the area. Many are on private property, but we spoke with several of the residents and they really don’t mind people stopping to look and take pictures.

Enjoy art, history

So much to see -- the Moody Mansion, the Bishop’s Palace, the Railroad Museum, the oldest German-Catholic Church in Texas, Ashton Villa (an antebellum mansion built in 1859), the Menard Home (the oldest in Galveston built in 1838), and the Grand Opera House on the Strand.

If art is your passion, there are 19 art galleries on the island. For the last 25 years, the Galveston Art Center has presented ArtWalk on Saturday nights in the heart of the historic district. Upcoming ArtWalk dates are July 11, Aug. 22, Oct. 10, and Nov. 28.

The Strand

Walk the Strand Historic District and enjoy one of the magnificent collections of historic buildings in the United States. There are Victorian and early 20th century buildings, streetcars, horse-drawn carriages, unique shops, art galleries, candy stores, a wonderful array of restaurants, a fabulous coffeehouse named the MOD, and our favorite, the Star Drug Store.

We stopped at the Star to get a real, authentic chocolate malt and got a great history lesson with it. Originally constructed of wood in 1886, the Star survived the Great Storm of 1900. It was converted to an all-brick building in 1909 and the soda fountain and lunch counter were added in 1917. It was destroyed by fire in 1998 and rebuilt, and in 2008, Hurricane Ike dumped more than 6 feet of water inside the store; but, as in the past, it survived. If you visit, be sure to notice the large Coca Cola sign on the exterior. It is one of the oldest porcelain neon Coke signs in existence. The Reuben sandwich and the hamburger are the most-ordered meals.

You may be surprised to see how close the Strand is to the cruise terminal. On any given day, you can see these giant ships docked a block away. On the first weekend of December, the Strand really comes alive for Dickens on the Stand, reliving Dickens’ London including performers, parades, and even a skating rink.

Island pass

If you plan to visit at least four attractions where entry fees are charged, you might want to explore the Island Pass. It is available online; you can review all the participating attractions, see the discounts, and purchase and print your tickets. Or, you can go to the Visitors Center at 2328 Broadway (Avenue J) and let the very knowledgeable folks there help you. They have a computer set up for visitors to use for purchasing and printing their discounted tickets. Discounts vary, but most attractions/tours offer a 40 percent discount when purchased through Island Pass.

Play, relax, enjoy. You’re on island time!

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at Harry-Linda411@att.net.

Find out more

•Visitors Center, 888-425-4753, www.galveston.com/visitorscenter

•Island Pass, 409-765-3580, www.galvestonislandpass.com

•Bolivar Island Ferry, 409-795-2230, www.galveston.com/galvestonferry

•The Strand, www.galveston.com/downtowntour

•Star Drug Store, 409-766-7719, www.galvestonstardrug.com

 
 
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