Well, we did it. Our first real family vacation. Another adult in our family, who shall remain nameless, is somewhat of a homebody compared to the other adult, who loves to travel and experience new things. And it didn't help the second adult's case that we had 2 children, 5 and younger which made convincing the first adult to travel an even harder sale. So...... with free hotel in hand and 2 children who were both essentially potty-trained, the trip was a go. I will go ahead and say now that while Galveston certainly would not have been my first choice in terms of a beach vacation, free hotel does tend to have it's influence. And my friends, as many of you may already know, Galveston IS.NO.FLORIDA! I was completely spoiled by living in both Florida and Alabama, enjoying many great beaches including Key West. But luckily, the kids have no other reference point and both had a great time.
The pictures are in reverse of our stay because I didn't have the energy to move them around after I realized I had put them on backwards!
On our final day, we hit the beach for a few hours in the morning, then quickly cleaned up and checked out in order to make it to Moody Gardens for one of their 3D shows. Although Luke really thought he wanted to see the dinosaur movie, we chose the ocean one. And glad we did since he freaked out during the advertisement of the dinosaur movie. The kids were so cute in their 3D glasses but the picture did not turn out. It was a first experience for both, and except for Luke getting a little nervous several times, we all enjoyed it.
Curtis and I had been to Moody Gardens before for a 1-night stay with friends, but it has grown so much and really is a great inclusive vacation spot for families. We told the kids we would come back for sure!
These are some shots I got of Luke feeding the seagulls. Which we learned later is highly discouraged, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, he had a great time doing so and the last shot is of the sea gull catching Luke's cracker in mid-air!
Anysa by a painted store front on The Strand.
Luke by a painted store front on The Strand
On our last afternoon/evening in Galveston, we took the free ferry ride across and back to another island before eating dinner. After dinner at Salsa's, we headed down to The Strand to look at the big ships and eat ice cream. Of course, there were cute shops! The kids did great on our walk and enjoyed seeing the horse pull the carriages.
These are pictures of Curtis out in the water with both kids. Luke always took more convincing than Anysa to get out there, but had fun most of the time as long as the water stayed out of his eyes. In the last picture, you can see Anysa on her cheap, blow-up boogie board. We probably should have rented her real one after seeing her out there the first day, but we didn't.
Yes, Anysa volunteered herself for this activity. And, Luke was happy to oblige!
Luke realizing his Twizzler had a bit of a salty crunch to it!
Anysa with her Daddy in the water. She has her cool orange goggles on! The girl lived in the water while we were there. She really loved the waves which were always strong and big later in the day. She truly is my water baby compared to my land-loving son. Luke did have fun in the water, but enjoyed being on the shore more.
Sand castle artists hard at work!
* We stayed at The Commodore on the Beach. I would label it a decent place to stay, but certainly not fancy in anyway. Rooms were not very big, but big enough for a family of four for the time you spend in them. More than that, would require the suites they had. Free continental breakfast which wasn't too bad-no protein, but other than that, it did the job. Free cookies in afternoon. Hotel is located (like many others) directly across from the free beach. I think summer rates are between $109-$170 for the time we stayed.
* We ate at 2 restaurants while there for evening meals. Both were on our inexpensive list I got off a website.
Guido's, which was a short walking distance across the street from our hotel. It is part of a hotel of the same name. When you walk up, it looks like you are eating at Casey's, so I am a little confused, but our bill did say Guido's. Prices are really reasonable, especially considering the enormous amount of food you get. The kid's meals seemed pricey at first ($5.99), until we saw that they got almost the same sized portions as us. I had the grilled fish taco salad which was very yummy. The kids had chicken nuggets and fish nuggets. Curtis had some fish and shrimp dish.
Salsa's was the mexican/seafood choice. It was voted best margarita's, but I have had better. Prices were decent and food was good with reasonable portions.
* We only saw one show at Moody Gardens, but there are many attractions there. Even if you don't stay there, you can buy day passes for the whole place or pay per attraction if you are only there a short time. There are tons of discount coupons available around town.
As a fun wrap-up, I thought I would share some do's and don'ts in terms of family travel, beach vacations, and Galveston in general.
* Waste 90 minutes of your life if it means something significantly free in terms of a vacation. In other words, go share a meal with strangers and while listening about something you probably won't purchase. Remember, we also had a cruise but had to decline due to timing.
* Take plenty of food and drinks for the car, hotel, and beach. We chose to eat what we brought for lunch and snacks and only eat out once in the evenings.
* Do have an afternoon rest time. Can you believe that both kids practically begged, or at the least did not resist, taking afternoon naps. Neither did the adults! What was funnier, it that they both wanted to go to bed each night as well.
* Rent at least an umbrella (if you don't bring one) if you are going to be at the same beach all day. The rentals were quite reasonable I thought. Umbrella and 2 chairs were $23. Boogie board was $5 for an hour or $10 for all day.
* Get larger goggles (the scuba size) that fit for younger kids if they love to be in the water.
* Assure your children that, yes, there are beaches where the sand is white and the water doesn't look like you had diarrhea when you are taking off your swimsuits.
* Know that you will be finding sand in everything you own that went with you (whether it was on the beach or not!)for a VERY LONG TIME. Even if you think you cleaned it out!
* Consider taking a vacation with a girlfriend and her children, along with a responsible teenager that will stay with the kids while they watch movies in the hotel room and you enjoy the evening together.
* Watch either the sunrise or sunset, or both at least once!
* Worry you will be lacking in people-watching opportunities!
* Buy a white or light-colored bathing suit right before you go to Galveston! No worries, mine was brown already!
* Even entertain the idea that you will be the largest person in a swimsuit on the beach. Or even close to! You won't EVER be the largest person. EVER! We were entertained by the number of considerably (I am NOT talking pudgy) larger people on the beach. Or more so at what they were willing to wear in terms of swimsuits. Now, before I get myself in trouble. Maybe they love their body and I say more power to them if they don't struggle with body image issues. Maybe they just say "scr*w it, i am here to enjoy.". Maybe they are hating every minute of it and hating people like me who are hating their own bodies in a swimsuit at the same time. Who knows! I just found it fascinating!
* Waste your money on a Power Body Wrap right before you go thinking the miracles that will happen. (I promise a separate post JUST on that alone!) Enjoy a good massage and mani/pedi instead!
* Expect to eat on the beach and not have sand in your food!
I could probably think of even more, but this post has taken me forver already!!