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About an hour from Houston, Galveston is actually a barrier island on the Gulf Coast that was once one of the most prosperous cities in the US. The original town was nearly wiped out by a 1900 storm and this devestation was nearly repeated by Hurricane Ike in 2009. Since then, the city full of historic homes and beach front has been trying to recover and is now once again full of restaurants,shops, and a renewed amusement park along the shore. I've twice gone down and really enjoyed a full day of just visiting the old homes and sitting on the beach.

The beaches of Galveston are just starting to recover from Ike but as a result are not crowded with rental shops and kiosks like they may have once been. Instead, there are long stretches of sand and tons of eager seagulls along the seawall on the gulf. The East End historic distric of Galveston is lined with homes from the late 19th century. Most needed refurbishing (and lost the stately oaks in their yards) after flooding from Hurricane Ike, but now look quite grand. Galveston's most impressive and most visited home is nicknamed "Bishop's Palace" (it was owned and used by the local diocese) and holds within its imposing stone walls an amazing array of artful woodwork and stained glass windows. Another historic area of the town is the old Galveston market district where the nearby harbor and cotton trade made the city so prosperous. Another historic home in the area is the Moody Mansion, full of elaborate detailed decor and a big stained glass window. Out back is the garage full of old cars and the narby Oleander Garden. The other side of Galvseton is its harbor where you can watch ships come to port, take ferries to outlying nature islands, or take a tour of an old oil rig. Yet another historic district is the so-called Silk Stocking area with many colorful homes from the turn of the century.