RE: george bush international airport to galveston
The most straightforward way of going (leaving out any issues of traffic, etc) is to
1. Go from the airport to I-45 (Interstate 45 runs just west of the airport - there should be many signs on how to get there, and if you are renting a car, the car rental people will tell you where to get on).
2. Drive south on I-45 about 55-65 miles.
3. When you cross the very long bridge over a lot of water, you will be in Galveston...stay on I-45. Once in the city, I-45 veers to the left and becomes "Broadway".
4. At 61st Street (there should be a traffic light here), take a right. It won't matter if you miss this intersection.
5. Go down to Seawall Boulevard - i.e., there is a traffic light and all traffic must turn left or right...because the Gulf of Mexico is dead ahead. You should turn left.
6. Go to 5222 Seawall Blvd. The San Luis Hotel and Resort will be clearly visible on the left about a half a mile down.
Note: if in step #4, you miss the turn on to 61st Street, just continue and take the right on 53rd Street (probably the next traffic light?). I-45 turns into Broadway which runs the length of the eastern part of the island, so turning right on any major street will take you to Seawall Boulevard...despite being a cliche, "it's hard to miss".
If you stay on I-45, you cannot miss arriving in Galveston, since the interstate dead-ends there. Really, it is easy.
Note that if you map this on maps.yahoo.com, that they will suggest that you go south from the airport to the Beltway 8 (the outer loop of Houston), then slide around the east side of Houston on the Beltway until you hit I-45 on the south east side of town, whereupon you head south to Galveston as I described before. Both ways work, and the Yahoo method may be better in high traffic times.
I don't know if there is a bus from Galveston to Houston...I assume there is, but all(?) Texans drive cars so it's not something that we think about much. The Galveston transit system website is http://www.islandtransit.net/main.htm - you might ask them....
Galveston is indeed steeped in history...it was the major city of Texas when the hurricane of 1900 destroyed it...it is a testament to the residents that instead of waiting for the government to bail them out (which wouldn't have happened in those days), the residents took it upon themselves to raise the city 6-8 feet, relocate many buildings to the higher ground, and build a large seawall that has protected the city ever since. It is fascinating to visit some of the houses that survived the storm, and see that the fence outside is only 2 feet high - because when they raised the house, they left the fence where it was at the original surface level of the city.
Look here on VT for tips on what to do, and also look at the official tourist website at http://www.galveston.com/ which includes a schedule of events - for example, "Dickens on the Strand" (a recreation of Victorian London) is done every year in early December.
One thing that is often overlooked: the ferry on the east end of the island is free, since it is part of the Texas Highway System. Drive out to the east end of the island, get into the right hand lane (the left lane is for cars getting on the ferry), drive to the parking lot at the ferry terminal, park your car (for free) and walk on to the ferry (pedestrians are welcome). Take the 20(?) minute ferry ride across the opening of Galveston Bay to the Bolivar Peninsula, seeing the ocean vessels queueing up to enter Galveston Bay from the Gulf, and, if you're lucky, watching dolphins swimming parallel to the ferry.
Once you stop at the other end, just stay on board and the ferry will turn around as soon as it has offloaded and onloaded the cars; then the ferry will return to where you started. An absolutely free way to get a neat view of the area.
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