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Talk about a split personality. A well-heeled Victorian historic district offsets the sunburnt craziness of spring break at this beach getaway 50 miles southeast of Houston. Only a few of the gorgeous grand dames, such as Moody Mansion, are available for viewing year round, but the Historic Homes Tour opens more in May.
Both an island and a town, Galveston has seen its share of serious storms, most notably in 1900 and 2008. But it always fights back and reopens for business. Take time to eat and shop in the historic Strand District before stopping into Pier 21 Theater or the Texas Seaport Museum to see the 1877 tall ship Elissa.
Freely accessible beaches line the gulf side of the island, but organized Stewart Beach has family-friendly facilities, concessions and games. For even more fun, Pleasure Pier offers amusements and rides. And Moody Gardens’ three glass pyramids contain a rainforest, science exhibits, an aquarium and an IMAX theater. Not tired yet? Nearby Schlitterbahn waterpark can wear the little ones out.