Afternoon Tours

Open to all registered attendees

Conference attendees are invited to participate in afternoon tours that will highlight some of the best experiences in Galveston. Tours are included with all attendees’ registrations.

The same tours will be provided on May 15 and May 16. Signups for afternoon tours will begin a few weeks before the start of the conference. Tours subject to change.

Galveston's Maritime Industry Past and Present

In the 1800s, Galveston was the second largest point of immigration into the U.S. behind Ellis Island. A vibrant port city, Galveston’s maritime industry made it the Wall Street of the South and continues to be a significant embarkation point for several cruise lines.

Participants on this tour will visit the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, one of only three ships of her kind in the world to still actively sail and welcomes over 40,000 visitors annually. She also serves as the Official Tall Ship of Texas, a National Historic Landmark, and is a symbol of the Gulf Coast’s historic beginnings as a seaport and active waterfront. 

The adjacent Ship to Shore exhibit chronicles the true stories of immigrants to the U.S. via Galveston. The multi-media experience will give participants a glimpse into the hardships and triumphs of families who made their way to Galveston from Europe and points beyond. 

Next, participants will step aboard a harbor tour boat to cruise the Galveston Harbor. Here, cargo and cruise ships traverse the waters conducting business vital to the regional economy. The Battleship Texas is in dry dock nearby and participants will get a close look and hear the background on this significant piece of history. 

Other notable sites along the harbor tour include Seawolf Park and the cement ship the USS Selma. Dolphins frolic in the water along the way. 

Finally, guests will experience a tour of the new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal. Completed in 2022, the $125 million facility is home to the Oasis Class ship Allure of the seas. Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the United States, home to Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and Disney cruise lines.

Island Cocktail Trail - Rooftop to Rooftop

From locally made brews to a distillery producing vodka and whiskey, Galveston’s cocktail makers have stories to tell. During the Island Coctktail Trail excursion, participants will visit the newly renovated Rooftop Bar at the Tremont House Hotel in historic downtown Galveston to enjoy signature cocktails. The crew at Texas Tail Distillery will show guests how they distill vodka and whiskey. Another rooftop experience awaits at the new, hip boutique hotel, The Hotel Lucine. As the tour heads back to conference headquarters it will stop at Galveston Island Brewing Company to tour the facility, meet their crew and sample some brew.

Historic Galveston

Galveston is home to many firsts including the state’s first post office, cotton compress, naval base and parochial school. Its impressive architecture is a testament to Galveston’s resiliency through major storms.

During this tour, participants will explore The Bryan Museum, home to the world’s largest private collection of art, artifacts, documents, maps and weaponry related to Texas and the Southwest. Proprietor J.P. Bryan is the NATJA conference’s keynote speaker and rightly insists that history is not boring! The museum itself is home to what once was the Galveston Orphans Home and its configuration pays tribute to its past.

Galveston’s past is frought with storm and strife. The 1900 Storm still stands as the nation’s most deadly having killed more than 6,00o residents. Many storm survivor structures still stand including The 1892 Bishop’s Palace. Here, guests will see stunning stained glass, ironwork and grand wooden staircases.

Galveston is the birthplace of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when enslaved people in the South learned they had been freed. At the Ashton Villa, itself a historic and haunted establishment, the Galveston Historical Foundation’s And Still We Rise exhibit leads guests from that fateful day on June 19, 1865 through today, depicting news stories, first-person stories and more.

The tour will end at the newly renovated Grand Galvez Hotel. Constructed in 1911, the Queen of the Gulf was built to signal to the world that Galveston was open for business after the 1900 storm. Renovations have resurrected the hotel’s glory days where famous actors and U.S. Presidents have stayed.

Natural Galveston

Galveston Island is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and its bays and estuaries. Get close to these ecosystems during an Artist Boat led kayak tour in a pristine estuary. Artist Boat is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote awareness and preservation of coastal margins and the marine environment. Artist Boat has secured funding to preserve hundreds of acres on Galveston’s west end from future development. Natural Galveston tour participants will learn more about their mission as they kayak and take part in a plein air art experience.

Downtown Galveston Walking/Shopping Tour

Historic downtown Galveston is flanked by Victorian architecture and serves as an important center for some of Galveston’s largest special events including Texas’ largest Mardi Gras (the nation’s third largest), the Lone Star Motorcycle Rally and the beloved holiday tradition, Dickens on the Strand.

Walkers and shoppers can expect to see colorful murals, including the Absolute Equality mural, depicting Juneteenth. A large selection of locally owned shops offer beach-themed items, stylish clothing, nautical relics, whimsical books and collectibles and much more.

The Grand 1894 Opera House is located in the Historic Postoffice District and is Texas’ official opera house. Here, no seat is more than 70 feet from the stage and its offerings include concerts, plays, musical theater and children’s programming. Coffee shops, ice cream stores and friendly cocktail lounges provide refreshment along the way.

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