Galveston Day Trip: Seafood, Pie, Historic Mansions & a Wedding Teaser

The Complete Package and I spent a day in Galveston, although it was not entirely the day we’d planned. Our intent was to check out the second annual Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival, but we never got that far. Tragic, right? Well, no. Not really. We may have gotten sidetracked, but we still had a great time.

Shrimp 'N Stuff - it's not fancy, but it is delicious!

It started with the one hour drive to Galveston. We timed it to arrive around noon. Why? Because we couldn’t miss the chance to visit our favorite seafood place – Shrimp ‘N Stuff. This place is billed as “where the locals eat” and while that may be true, a lot of informed tourists make it by, too. On a typical Saturday, you will have to search out an empty table and wait as long as half an hour for your food, but you won’t find anyone complaining. Everything at Shrimp ‘N Stuff is fresh. Fresh seafood. Fresh sides. Made fresh by a staff that is always kept hopping. While the rest of the tourists flood the seawall for the more expensive, more commercial seafood restaurants, the smart ones are hanging out at Shrimp ‘N Stuff eating great food at unbeatable prices. Why, I feel smarter and more stuffed already.

A seafood feast at Shrimp 'N Stuff

Speaking of stuffed, I had the fried catfish plate – 2 large pieces of catfish, fries, hushpuppies and coleslaw – all for $7.39. I added a large iced tea and a piece of key lime pie, so my total was around $12.00. I couldn’t finish any of it (except for the pie), and it was still a bargain. TCP had the seafood combo po-boy sandwich (also $7.39) with fries, an iced tea, and a side order of hushpuppies. His total came out to around $12.00, as well. For the record, my fish plate was not twice the size of his sandwich. It’s just the angle of the photo. I swear. No, really! Shrimp ‘N Stuff is located at 39th and “O”, south of Broadway.

After lunch, we took a leisurely (okay, slow) drive down Broadway, Galveston’s main thoroughfare as you arrive on the island. While I miss the gorgeous 100 year-old live oaks along Broadway that were lost during Hurricane Ike, I still love the beautiful old homes and historic Victorian architecture.

Ashton Villa - built in 1858, it is a Galveston gem

Our first stop was Ashton Villa. It was among the first “palaces” built in Galveston and is thought to be the first brick home built in Texas (1858). Although the home is not open for tours, they do have a Galveston Visitor’s Center in the old garage where you can pick up maps and tourist information. But we dropped in for another reason.

Jonah Bear & Kaki

Our friend Kaki (Jonah Bear’s swim teacher, Ziggy’s babysitter, Bunco pal and all-around bestie) is getting married here next weekend. At 50+, our beloved Kaki has found her Prince Charming (Don) and will be tying the knot in this very mansion in 5 days. We couldn’t be more excited for them. It just confirms the belief that there is a perfect someone for everyone, and that someone may find you at any time and any age if you’re open to it. There’s a whole “small world” story behind how they got together. Some day, with their help, I’ll share it with you. For now, I’ll just say that it involved Nascar and a friend called “Boomer”. How’s that for a teaser?

The Bishop's Palace - a Galveston icon

Next up, we visited The Bishop’s Palace. I’ve lived in the Houston area for 21 years, and I have no idea why it took me so long to tour this place. It’s an iconic landmark on Galveston Island. Built in 1892 for the Gresham family, this home was one of the few that survived the great hurricane of 1901. In fact, on the tour you will see a framed photo of the home surrounded in mounds of debris from where most of the island was destroyed. There’s a good reason for that – the home is made of solid stone walls 23″ thick. That always helps in high winds. And it’s all Texas stone, too. The home’s facade is made entirely from native red sandstone, white limestone and granite.

Love those verandahs

While the home’s exterior is surrounded in lovely verandahs, ornate chimneys and gorgeous stained glass, the interior is dripping in Victorian elegance. Each room on the main floor features a different wood in the paneling and fireplace, and each room has some architectural gem that was a first of its kind. The main staircase is a marvel, with a center fireplace built in, stained glass windows as you ascend, and a 3-story octagon shaped rotunda above. It is glorious. Frankly, now that I’ve been inside I think I’m more in awe of the architect, Nicholas Clayton, than I am with the family who had it built. Gresham may have had the money, but Clayton was clearly the visionary. While the home was originally called Gresham Castle, it was sold to the Catholic Church in 1920, and became known as Bishop’s Palace when the bishop moved in from 1920-1950. The home is still owned by the church, but is supported and maintained solely through the revenue from public tours and donations. If you visit Galveston, this should definitely be on your “must see” list. For more information and a few interior photos, click here.

So back to the Brewmaster International Beer Festival. Because of Tropical Storm Lee, winds in Galveston were gusting at up to 40 miles per hour creating whitecaps across Galveston Bay and blowing debris around like tumbleweeds. Somehow, standing in that wind at an outdoor festival just to sample a few craft beers wasn’t so appealing. I apologize to the organizers for whimping out, but I promise to try again next year and I’m happy to include the link to their website for anyone who may be interested in attending in the future. If I see you there next year, I’ll buy you a beer.

For more information on visiting Galveston, try these links:
Shrimp ‘N Stuff Restaurant
The Galveston Historical Foundation
Tour brochure of Galveston’s Oak Tree Sculptures (carved from old oaks damaged by Hurricane Ike; brochure will appear upside-down; scroll down)
Moody Gardens – Entertainment, Educational & Convention Complex



Filed under "Buy Local" Spotlights, Travel Tales

16 responses to “Galveston Day Trip: Seafood, Pie, Historic Mansions & a Wedding Teaser

  1. Pat Counts

    Having beer blow all over you might have been fun! Can’t wait for next weekend. Pat

    • I’m sure it eliminates the ‘foam on top of the cup’ issue, but it was so windy I’m not sure there would have been any beer in the cup, either! And for all the wind and clouds we’ve gotten from Tropical Storm Lee in the last 3 days, can you believe we haven’t gotten any rain? How desperate can we get with this drought? I was praying for Lee to come our way. How sad is that?

  2. Mary Roberts

    Okay now. Your wedding teaser made me cry. By Saturday, I will most likely be a blubbering mess. But those tears will be tears of joy, for the two whom God has brought together. Counting down the days and looking forward to seeing you and others. I do so love your blog!

    • I’m sure the wedding will be emotional for you on many levels! Other than Kaki & Donny, I don’t think anyone has more invested in this union than you. I just love their story!

  3. cindy

    Shrimp N Stuff is definitely the place to go, love their po-boys! And at least we have had some breezy conditions to break up this drought…”bridesmaid” dress is ready at the wait! :)

  4. Kat

    I will barter El Taco Riendo to you in exchange for Shrimp ‘n Stuff for one weekend. I practically cheered when I read about you + TCP’s delicious haul!

  5. We used to live northwest of Houston, in an area called Spring. We made a few trips to Galveston beach and I have such good family memories from our time there. I know that Galveston beach isn’t exactly the beach of beaches, but it was fun for us.

    • Terri, we’re very familiar with Spring. We make the pilgrimage about once a year to Old Town Spring for shopping and lunch at Wunsche Brothers, then hit all the antique stores within 10 miles of Spring. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a fall weekend. You’re right about Galveston beaches. It’s not like going to the gorgeous white sand beaches of Florida, but it’s fun to go to the Gulf, smell the sea and enjoy great seafood. Glad we were able to bring back some happy memories for you! -jeanne

  6. Jeanne….thank you for taking me on a tour of Galveston! The best places to eat are always where the locals go! I’m not a big catfish fan….but I certainly would have had the po’boy, hush puppies AND key lime pie! Those mansions are gorgeous. That sounds like it’s going to be a beautiful wedding…on many levels! Thanks for sharing such a GREAT post! : )

    • That po’ boy sandwich was awesome, and TCP enjoyed every bite. I rarely order key lime pie (anywhere), but we had it this spring when my Mom & sisters came down and we spent a day in Galveston (and had lunch at Shrimp ‘N Stuff) and it was great. I also thought of my blogging friend Alex at Laundry & Vodka when I ordered it. She’d talked about craving it last month. So it was tribute pie. I did it for her. (wink)

  7. Now THAT’S a verandah! Man, oh man The craft brew fest sounded fun, but I think you found some pretty great alternatives. I love touring old homes/castles. Great way to chase a meal of catfish & key lime pie. The only thing that would have made it more perfect, and make me a teensy bit jealous, would be if you told me you hit an antique shop or two along the way.

    • Wow – you know me pretty well. I DID hit an antique shop! Of course I did. “Somewhere in Time” Antiques is located at Strand & 20th, and is a small but fun shop. I failed to snap photos while I was browsing, so I didn’t mention it. You know I don’t go anywhere without hitting at least one antique or resale shop. Can’t help it.

  8. I know I just came from a fair with tons of fried foods, but those hush puppies are calling to me.
    I can understand avoiding the craft brew samples in the wind tunnel, but maybe they could have come up with a beer tupperware-type solution. Then everybody wins.

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