“Imagine a romantic island.” Do you picture warm waters, sandy beaches and Pina Coladas with tiny umbrellas? Is that romantic island somewhere in the blue waters of the Caribbean or South Pacific? Why not Texas? Galveston is a tiny patch of island just off the Texas coast that boasts 32 miles of pristine beaches and a small town vibe, with a population of 47,000 plus. You have to take a bridge to get to Galveston, but once you do, you might never want to leave.

We should count ourselves lucky that Galveston is still with us because back in 1900 it was nearly wiped off the face of the map. That is when a devastating hurricane ripped through the island tearing up one-third of the city and killing 6,000 residents. That still ranks as the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. History. Let’s hope we never break that record. Today, Galveston is a vibrant and lively island that has plenty to offer.

The Strand And The Grand

Galveston has one of the country’s largest collections of 19th-century buildings. Even after that hurricane, these buildings survived. They’re also part of the historic Strand district. The Strand is sort of Galveston’s Main Street, bustling with cafes, shops, and bars. From the Strand, you can veer off on a walking tour of some of these great mansions and buildings. Before leaving town, before to check out The Grand as in Grand Opera House. Opened in 1894, it is the official Opera House of Texas. Who knew Texans liked opera? Actually, it’s not just opera playing at the Opera House. If you can, take in a show. You’ll be glad you did.

Beach Blanket Galveston

When it comes to the beaches, you’ll have plenty to pick from. Here’s a quick recap: East Beach is the party beach. Stewart Beach is the family beach. Sand Castle Beach is the wetlands beach. Palm Beach is the waterfall beach. Try a different beach every day.

Pleasure Pier

This is Galveston’s version of a “boardwalk empire, ” and it’s got a little something for everyone. In fact, it was named by Amusement Today as one of the world’s top-five seaside parks. Plus, its home to Texas’ first Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant.

Galveston is the place where many Texans go for a winter vacation. Translation: there is always great weather there. If it sounds like the perfect vacation destination that’s because it is.