Gone are the days that we can put in a full day of sightseeing and then settle in for a quiet evening in the hotel room with sleepy little children. With teens and tweens, it seems like they are just getting their second wind as the sun starts to set and they are looking for more entertainment. This is a problem for two reasons: 1) I am old and I get tired at night and 2) Most tourist attractions close at 5 pm.
I am always thrilled to find an attraction that is open late, so when we were planning a recent trip to Galveston, I knew that the evening hours of Pleasure Pier would be perfect for the late shift.
History of Galveston’s Pleasure Pier
As it stands today, the glitz of the 1,100 foot pier is the newest attraction in Galveston, but the Pier has a rich history for the Gulf Coast city. The Pier was originally built in 1948 as a recreation area for the military, and was turned over to the city at the end of WWII. The pier continued to operate as an iconic family destination until it was severely battered by Hurricane Carla in 1961. Four years later the famed Flagship Hotel was built over the water and occupied the site until it was completely destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. With an undefeatable attitude towards Mother Nature, the city of Galveston rose once again from the rubble with a plan to make the Pier better than ever. The glory of the past catapulted into the present with the opening of 16 rides, retail shops, and a wide selection of food venues. Once again, the skyline sparkles with the lights of Pleasure Pier.
Visiting Pleasure Pier
Knowing that the Pier would be open and sparkling late into the night, we planned our afternoon and evening around the beach nearby. Playing in the waves and sand was a perfect way to pass the afternoon until the sun was setting, and although we could have grabbed a bite to eat at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp next to the Pier, we opted for a picnic on the beach instead. As we ate our dinner, we watched the Pier slowly transform from day to evening, and before long, we were like moths to the florescent glow of fun.
Four Things We Loved About Galveston’s Pleasure Pier
- The crowds were manageable. There is a $10 charge to even walk onto the Pier and an even higher admission price for an unlimited rides band. There were plenty of people who seemed a little more than slightly miffed that the Pier was so restricted, but it really helped to keep the crowds at a minimum. Even on a Saturday night in the full swing of summer, there was never more than a 10 or 15 minute wait for any ride, and most rides were walk-on. I really appreciated that the crowd control allowed us to have a more enjoyable evening.
- The views were breathtaking. Even when we were waiting in line, it was hard to complain with the views of the orange sun sinking into the inky water. The air was fresh and salty and the sound of the waves was mesmerizing. It certainly made for a perfect atmosphere. The panoramic views from atop the Texas Star Flyer alone were worth the price of admission.
- It was ideal for older tweens and teens. My kids are getting to an age where they want a little freedom (sniff), but still need some supervision. The Pier was compact enough that I felt comfortable letting them head off with their friends and check in every hour. Letting the kids head off on their own also meant mom and dad could sit back and enjoy a few moments of live music and conversation.
- It was like stepping into a postcard from the past. Carnival games with colorful facades, and old school amuseument park rides with music box anthems created a scene that was filled with nostalgia. Although it was live country music playing as the soundtrack on the evening we visited, I felt like we were somehow connected to the Big Band acts that would light up the bandstand in WWII. The rising and falling of squeals on the thrill rides were the same as they had been for decades over the constant undulating waves. As the spinning and swirling and screaming mingled, it all felt like it had come full circle and was the perfect place to say goodbye to the beach until the next time.
~Pleasure Pier provided my family with complimentary passes during our visit to Galveston. They did not require that I express a particular viewpoint and all opinions are my own.~