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Dog-friendly Galveston, Texas

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Once the busiest city in Texas and a major center of commerce, in 1900 the town then called “Wall Street of the Southwest” was struck by the most devastating hurricane in US history. Today the city, which is located 50 miles from Houston on Galveston Island, recalls its roots with a 36-block historic district. The city and island are popular tourist destinations and dogs are welcome on the beaches and in many local establishments.

Dog-Friendly Galveston Attractions and Activities

BayWatch Dolphin Tours. Your dog can ride for free on this cruise that visits dolphins in their native habitat. The 45-minute tours are held on a boat with a covered interior; the boat has no propeller to keep the dolphins safe. Tours are conducted daily, departing from Pier 21. Info: 2101 Harborside Dr.

Bolivar Ferry. This free car ferry travels from the east end of Galveston to the Bolivar Peninsula. Your dog will have to remain in your vehicle but keep an eye out for porpoise as well as gulls. Ferries leave about every 20 minutes; the ride lasts 18 minutes. You can drive your car onto one or step onboard the 185-foot-long ferry as a passenger. Info: To reach the ferry landing, follow I-45 South out of Houston until it turns into Broadway (after you cross the causeway to Galveston Island at the “0” mile marker). Follow Broadway, and you’ll see signs directing you toward the landing.

East Beach. Often called the “party beach” (a hint at the activity level you’ll find here), this beach gets its reputation because alcohol is legal on this beach. If your dog doesn’t mind crowds, this beach on the eastern tip of the island welcomes him. During the summer months, you’ll find chairs for rent here as well as umbrellas. 1923 Boddeker Rd.

Fort Travis Seashore Park. Located on the Bolivar Peninsula (see the Bolivar ferry, above), this site has long served as a fortification, first by the Spanish and later by the Confederates and US military in a fort built at the site. Although dismantled in 1949, today some reminders of the early fort remain along with picnic grounds, a seawall, and the Fort Travis Interpretive Trail that invites you and your dog to explore. The park also includes campsites. 900 TX 87.

Galveston Island State Park. Located on the west end of the island, this nearly 2,000-acre park spans the entire width of the island, including both beach and salt marsh frontage. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department runs Galveston Island State Park, located at 14901 FM 3005. This is a great place to see wildlife, including birds and ducks, raccoons, marsh rabbits, and even the occasional armadillo. 14901 FM 3005.

Galveston Beach Pocket Parks. Whether your pooch is pocket-sized or not, he’ll enjoy a visit to one of the island’s “pocket parks,” small beachside parks that promise Spot plenty of fun in the sun. The pocket parks are located on the island’s West End. Sea Gull Shores Beach Pocket Park 1 is located on Galveston Island’s west end at FM 3005 at 7 1/2 Mile Road. Sand Castle Beach Pocket Park 2 is located at 11745 FM 3005 at 9 Mile Road. Sea Shell Beach Pocket Park 3 is located on Galveston Island’s west end at 13315 FM 3005 at 11 Mile Road. With 10 miles of beaches, this pocket park is the largest. Each of the pocket parks is open only from March through September. I

Stewart Beach. Considered the best family beach on the island (so expect numerous children, just in case they make your dog nervous), this beach welcomes dogs on leash. You’ll find chair and umbrella rentals and expect special events ranging from sand castle building contests to volleyball tournaments during peak months.201 Seawall Blvd.;

Dog-Friendly Shopping

Galveston has three fun shopping districts that, if nothing else, make for some fun window-shopping for you and your dog. Seawall Boulevard, which runs alongside the wall built to protect the island from storms, is lined with stores selling all kinds of beach gear and souvenirs. Postoffice Street is lined with antiques shops and art galleries as well as restaurants and bars. The Strand is perhaps the most famous of the shopping districts, spanning a five-block area from 20th to 25th Street along Avenue B/Strand Street. Here the Victorian buildings are filled with everything from souvenirs to artwork.

Dog-Friendly Events

March through October. Movie and Music Nights on The Strand. Grab Fido’s leash as well as your chair, blanket or pillow and head to downtown Galveston for this free movie or music event. Movie Night on The Strand takes place at 7 p.m. every first Saturday of the month at Saengerfest Park, located at the corner of 23rd and Strand Streets. On the 2nd and 4th Saturdays, you can catch free live concerts from 6-9 p.m. in Saengerfest Park.

April: A Bark in the Park. Held in Kempner Park, this annual event begins with the Blessing of the Dogs before moving into the competitions (which welcome all dogs, regardless of breed or breed mix). Along with classification competitions (including a special competition for mixed breeds), there’s a trick contest, costume contest, and more. The event, which benefits the Galveston Island Humane Society, also includes seminars, vendors, and local adoptables.

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