From fireworks to parades to richly engrained history, Galveston offers a 4th of July weekend that makes this national holiday the grandest of holidays.
By Sara G. Stephens
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” ~Erma Bombeck
Thank you, Erma. Picnics and Frisbees—and we would add parades and fireworks—are, indeed, iconic images of how America celebrates its birth and its freedom.
You can enjoy these simple, beautiful celebrations anywhere, from your front yard to Main Street, to the local VFW Park. Or, for something different and truly spectacular, you can drive one hour to Galveston, the playground of the South, and treat the family to beachfront fireworks, larger-than-life parades, and fun in the sun all weekend long.
Galveston 4th of July Fireworks and Parade
On Thursday, July 4, Galveston hosts thousands of visitors looking to celebrate our country’s independence.
In the evening, a parade on Seawall Boulevard will march from 28th Street to 45th Street. Expect to see decorated service vehicles from the military, performers, local hometown sponsors and more. The parade starts at 7:30 pm, so you should plan to arrive early for the best viewing spots—they go fast.
After the parade you can stretch out on the beach and enjoy a phenomenal fireworks display directly over the Gulf of Mexico. The show takes place from Seawall Boulevard at 37th Street. The beachfront fireworks display starts at around 9:00 pm.
Miles of History
Keeping in mind that Independence Day is a celebration of not only freedom, but also progress and history, Galveston offers a host of other recreational diversions for the long weekend. For example, the island boasts one of the largest concentrations of beautifully preserved Victorian-era and Greek Revival-style homes in the nation.
Bishop’s Palace, an opulent home built in 1892, offers daily tours. The other stately home is the Moody Mansion Museum. The rich and powerful Moody family built the home in 1895. Moody Museum and Bishop’s Palace are both on Broadway Boulevard.
A strategically located port on the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston is regarded by many as having been the “Ellis Island of the South,” with its important history of European immigration. Between 1835 and 1935, more than 200,000 immigrants from all over the world entered the United States through this Texas island. Also, the island once hailed as a prominent financial center that highly influenced Texas banking and commerce activities.
A stroll down The Strand, in Galveston’s downtown, immerses you in this bygone era, with horse-and-carriage rides; La King’s Confectionary Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Factory (where you can watch salt water taffy, peanut brittle and divinity being made); boutiques, museums, and eateries; Pier 21’s historically-based documentaries (The Great Storm, The Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte, and Galveston: Gateway on the Gulf); and so much more.
Finally, if you’re looking for a historically significant place to lay your weary head after the day’s fun, consider checking out—and checking into—Hotel Galvez & Spa. This Texas Historic Landmark celebrated its centennial in 2011. Among the festivities marking its 100 years, the hotel underwent an $11 million renovation. It also teamed with Galveston County Historical Museum to create a “Hall of History” exhibit.
So, as you sit down with the family to decide this year’s honoring of the red, white, and blue, know that Galveston offers the right mix of tradition, fun, and spectacle to merit a place at the top of your list. With so many festivities, the island promises visitors a celebration your family will never forget.