Early April, hoards of athletes head down to Galveston, TX to race the Ironman Texas 70.3. Millions of dollars are brought into the island and surge pricing for accommodations takes over. This year I was finally able to complete my race (race report / recap here) and I had a much more relaxed attitude towards the entire trip given I had almost done the race before. Whether or not you’re into the triathlon scene, Galveston is a lovely Texas beach town that is unpretentious and quaint. It is a 5hr road trip from Dallas, and typically an inexpensive place to vacation to (outside of triathlon weekend!). Below is our long weekend trip itinerary to Galveston, TX.
Trip dates: April 9-11, 2021
Friday, April 9th
7am – Drop Reus off at Smart Dog Dallas and begin the 240mi trek to Houston.
11am – Lunch at Pinkerton’s BBQ, a Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ spot. There is nothing better than arriving to a BBQ lunch at your final destination. This has become a road trip go-to for us, particularly in Houston because we so rarely go and there are so many solid places like in Dallas. We ordered brisket, pork ribs, sausage and mac n cheese and let me tell you, it was delicious. Pecan Lodge in Dallas will always have my heart, but Pinkerton’s is a close runner up. It was chipotle style set up, where you walk down the line as folks carve your meat and you have more opportunity to request the cut you prefer. We took the opportunity to eat outside and devoured it all too quickly.
12pm – Museum of Natural Science. Next, we drove our BBQ bellies down to the museum district in Houston. The Museum of Natural Science is known for being a fantastic experience, so it was high on the list to visit as we have done the art museums on previous visits. We were blown away by the depth of exhibits there ranging from precious gems to mollusks, and dinosaurs. They had an entire exhibit on the Houston and Galveston coast line which is fun to learn about the local environment as well. We were probably the only young couple there without a bunch of kids, but had a great time anyways. Other noteworthy Houston destinations we have already visted: Houston Zoo, Museum of Fine Arts
3pm – Stroll through Hermann Park right outside of the Museum of Natural Science. We spent a little over three hours at the Museum of Natural Science, so we lazily walked around Hermann Park and enjoyed the public lounge chairs in front of the water feature. There were a good amount of families walking around the park and reading some of the sculptures and structures around the park.
4:30pm – Drinks (and apparently the food is really good too) at Saint Arnold. We went to their 2000 Lyons Ave location which is a relatively new addition to Houston. They had a massive covered and turfed out patio. We regret not picking Saint Arnold for dinner plans! The food looked great and our Houston friends confirmed it. I had a cider beer and Patrick had a few varieties of beer on tap. We loved the vibe and would have loved to stay longer. After not so sneakily changing into date night clothes in our car in the parking lot…. We were off to dinner!
7pm – Dinner at Caracol. This modern Mexican restaurant had delicious drinks but personally, the food was overpriced for the quality. It was very hip and fun vibe, but the food was just ok for how expensive it was (~$136 for us two with drinks). The service was great, and it was in a fancy part of Houston. Texas natives may just be tough Mexican food critics.
9:30pm – Departed to Galveston
11pm – Arrived in Galveston at Domum de Vencé. Galveston is an interesting town, because the government has limited major chain businesses. The largest hotel branch is Four Seasons, and at that it is maybe the only chain hotel available. We ended up selecting Domum de Vence for the not-so-absurd pricing and because one additional stay through Hotels.com ended up getting Patrick a free stay for our later trip. During Ironman weekend it is common to see 3x pricing on everything. Would recommend avoiding that weekend if you don’t intend to race in it!
Saturday, April 10th
7am – Emergency coffee run at Starbucks. Please note, Domum de Vence has k-cup coffee only…. Cue the emergency run to Starbucks!
8am – Athlete Check in for Ironman Texas 70.3
9am – Bike Check in
10am – Mosquito Café for Breakfast. This is a Galveston classic, loved and been around for years. We almost blew it off because there was a line out the door. I got desperate at one point and sat on the curb, but 45 minutes later we were in the door. I had a breakfast platter with bacon and an apple salad (know this is a mayo thing, not a green thing) and Patrick had a breakfast sandwich. Aside from my apple salad snafu, we had a fantastic power breakfast and cracked out on more coffee before heading out for what we knew would be a big day at Space Center Houston.
11:30 – NASA Johnson Space Center Museum & Tour. We have lived in Texas our whole lives and never made it to NASA? Glad we had a chance to fix that! Again, we were probably the only people there without kids, but we had such an amazing time. The indoor space museum had so much history of the space program, space itself and they were even doing live doing science demonstrations and meet and greets with astronauts. For it being a pandemic, it was shockingly packed. We took the tram ride out to see the rockets as well, and until you’re standing next to one, there is no way to fully understand the size of these. The person manning the tram line will ask you to get the app to reserve a spot, but you can just ask them to get on the tram and they will let you. It is more of a marketing ploy to try to get you to download the app. All in all, we took 4 hours to explore the exhibits and probably didn’t read every sign. It is very kid friendly and again, we were probably the only young married couple without a family there. We finished our tour exploring the multiple levels of the American Airline aircraft carrier turned space craft carrier and then called it a day.
4pm – League City Buccee’s run for race snacks
6pm – Dinner at Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar. A stone’s throw from our hotel, we decided to try the most romantic dinner in Galveston. It was a bit cheesy on the décor with all the famous people that had been there, but we were quickly impressed by the service, delicious food, and volume of food. We split the ribeye which came with sides, a very infrequent practice at today’s steakhouses. We have also been to BLVD Seafood and that is a fantastic spot if you’re more of a fish person.
Sunday, April 11th
4:45am – Allie wakes up to get ready for race!
5:15am – Depart hotel for Moody Gardens
7am – Allie Races and Patrick explores
8am – 2pm – Putt Putt, Long Walks on the Beach, Pier, 1892 Bishop’s Palace
2pm – Allie finished racing and we went to see if The Spot had tables (45min wait). I was looking forward to The Spot’s burgers all day but unfortunately with the wait and the drive back to Dallas we still needed to make, we waved to The Spot and continued on our quest of finding another burger place without a wait.
3pm – League City Lunch at HopDoddy. Completely empty by the time we arrived, and a great post-Galveston stop as you have to drive through League City to get to Houston anyways. We destroyed burgers, fries and shakes and began the trek back home on a full belly.
8pm – Home in Dallas!
Any other favorites you have in the Houston or Galveston area that we need to check out next time?