Dallas to Galveston Distance: Driving, By Plane, Train or Bus
You may think that the city of Dallas in Texas may have it all, in terms of parks and culture, zoos and colleges. It even has a classic 1970s television soapie named after it, but whichever way you look at it, it doesn't have a beach. Right? A popular seaside destination for people living in Dallas is Galveston, a beautiful and historical island city just off the coast of Texas. And it's less than 270 miles away. Photo: Dale/Fotolia
»Dallas to Galveston By Plane
The nearest airport to Galveston is Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, a 37 minute drive to the island. Dallas has two commercial airports, which clock in over 31 flights a week to Galveston. So, depending on the carrier you choose and the time of day, week or year you choose to travel there, this flight of a mere 1 hour and 10 minutes could cost you a lot less than $100.
Curiously, the train trip between the two cities is a lot more expensive. But it is also a lot longer in duration, a lot more luxurious. It really takes the idea of visiting Galveston via the scenic route to heart. There is no direct train ride between Dallas and Galveston: so if you plan to taking a train ride between Dallas and Galveston is prepared to detour to the city of Hayward in California on the way. While this may seem like a very odd detour, it's an extraordinarily beautiful one, and it will expose you to seascapes aplenty all the way down. The train trip takes up to 23 hours and it could act as a fantastic counterpart to your Galveston holiday, if you're not under pressure for time or money.
There is a luxury bus route which will take you between the two cities in just over 10 hours on any day of the week you wish to go. Featuring a stopover in the city of Longview in Texas, which is true to its name, it's a trip which will leave you with beautiful views of the state of Texas in your heart and soul as you make your way to the coast, without the stress of driving yourself, or getting lost.
Want a slightly quicker bus trip down? Why not take a bus shuttle? Taking about 7 hours and 30 minutes in all, this route, hosted by Amtrak will enable you to touch base near Travis, San Antonio's most favorite downtown park, on the way. It also stops at Houston's Hobby Airport before getting to Galveston.
»Dallas to Galveston By Car
But if the idea of any form of public transport doesn't appeal to you, if all you want to do is head out to the beach and just glory in all it has to offer, then get in your car – or hire a car or taxi, and head out south. As the crow flies, it's a distance of just over 4 hours. It's a good clean, well-maintained road, with decent pit stops on the roadside, but seasoned drivers of this route recommend Madisonville and Kemah, as places to stop and stretch your legs – or even sleep over during the drive.
A tiny city known for its annual celebration of mushrooms every October, Madisonville is quaint in every which way. It's a low-key place with historic hotels, good hospitality culture and a tranquil lake. It's really a place to get you into slow-down mode on your way to the beach at Galveston.
A short digression from your drive to Galveston, but one well worth it, the city of Kemah is already on the coast. It boasts a beautiful boardwalk, the Stingray Reef, boat tours, a marina and all you could dream of in a coastal holiday – in fact, if you didn't have your heart set on being in Galveston, Kemah could be the next best option, but once you've caught your breath and eaten your lunch, knowing that those 32 beaches at Galveston are a mere 34 minute drive away, will get you back behind the steering wheel pronto.
Photo: BJ Ray/Fotolia
»Activities at Galveston
Once you've had your fill of beach life and are ready to explore, Galveston has lots of sites and experiences designed just for you. Many of them, including Galveston's local ferry rides, are free to the public, if you're watching your budget. But all of Galveston's tourist experiences are completely sophisticated with the needs and comforts of the local tourist industry in mind.
The top of the list in anyone's Galveston recommendations is Moody Gardens. This complex of hotel, golf course and amusement park is well recognized by its three enormous glass pyramids. Each pyramid contains something completely magical. One contains an aquarium with everything inside it from fantastic displays of fish to a tunnel of sharks and a cluster of penguins. The second is a kind of zoo, marketing itself as a rain forest. It's an adventure all in itself, filled as it is with indigenous birds, butterflies and monkeys as well as snakes and lizards. And the third pyramid is a highly developed and maintained discovery center with many delightful interactive activities for visitors old and young.
Remember soda shops which sold handmade milkshakes and sweets such as coconut ice and fudge and toffee apples in the 1950s – or remember seeing movies which feature them? Well, La Kings Confectionary in Galveston is a retro throwback to those old style sweets and drink that will make you feel like dressing up in period costume as you experience the sweetmeats your granddad loved when he was a teenager. But seriously, if you do want to dress up in historical style, visit the Strand of Galveston in December, where there's a Dickens on the Strand Christmas pageant to enjoy.
And what would an island city be without a fun waterpark with games and slides? Not as much fun, of course. Schlitterbahn is still – after it opened way back in 1966 – considered among the best waterparks in the areas. Featuring no less than 20 different types of water rides, with a range of thrill levels to choose from – from "slow" or "lazy" to "aggressive" or "river rapids" – Schlitterbahn guarantees you huge fun whether you're fit and adventurous or a little terrified of all the speed and shouting.
It may look like a tiny island, but Galveston has enough space for so many activities, once you arrive there you might realize you need to stay for longer. There are hiking trails and kayaking trails, quiet fishing spots and places just to lie back and enjoy the tropical climate on your body. Indeed, to expert fisherman, Galveston is considered to be the best saltwater fishing venues in Texas, where you can fish flounders, cobias and even sharks, should you wish to.
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But if you find yourself tired of the buzz and shout of waterparks and beach activities, or even the quietude of fishing, Galveston is also rich in museums and it features all kinds of more sedate experiences from ghost tours of the more secret interstices of the city's cemeteries and reputedly haunted houses, to historical ones that will take you back to the founding of the city by French and Spanish pirates in 1816.
It was a shipwreck in the 1500s that alerted a Spanish explorer by the name of Cabeza de Vaca to the existence of this sliver of an island off the coast of the bay of Texas. People of the Karakawa and Akosisa communities used to live here centuries before then – and the island was known as Auia at the time. Time and tides, wars and great acts of weather (Galveston is subject to hurricanes), gave Galveston island different focuses over the years. In 1816, it was renamed, after another Spanish explorer, who was also a Count: Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid. Today it is an important holiday destination, which is home to less than 60,000 souls, according to its last census.
While it still uses its geographic position to keep its economy turning over, in its dealings with cargo and shipping, fishing and the associated industires, it is also a lucrative repository for America's most important teaching hospitals and insurance giants.
Galveston has six historic districts, which are preserved as such. This includes the fact that Galveston enjoys the status of having the most 19th century buildings in pristine condition, in the whole of the United States, and is a good landmark for this type of architecture. The buildings have been repurposed into restaurants, theatres and the like, and remain open to the public and functional, but their structures are protected as immovable heritage.
But you may hear the name Galveston and burst into song. And you wouldn't be wrong: the Galveston that Glen Campbell sings of in his eponymous nostalgic love song, which was understood as an anti-Vietnam war song at the time it debuted in 1969, is a real American classic. Today, this beautiful and simple ballad is considered the 'anthem' of Galveston Island.
Dallas to Galveston Distance: Driving, By Plane, Train or Bus
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