A rapidly growing port town in the later part of the 19th century Galveston was the one of the most importent gulf coast harbors. Galveston town had a prospering social scene thanks to all the money the port put into the city. Then came the hurricane of 1900. That huricane (known as the great storm to some locals) wiped Galveston clean off the map and killed many, many people.(I don't have the actual number handy but it was a lot) After 1900 modern Galveston was rebuilt in the finicial shadow of Huston.
Modern galveston's main income comes from the offshore oil industry, and tourisim, in that order. Most of the tourists come from Texas as if you have to fly or drive more than 6 hours you can go somewhere nicer for a vacation, but if you happen to be in Galveston for valid reasons, (ie. a bussniess trip or a pressing desire to remove yourself from the bad air of houston on a prolonged bussniess trip) then galveston is a fairly nice place to visit. Also supported by Galveston are branch campasses of the two biggest Texas public schools: Texas A&M at galveston located on pelician island and home of the only US. Maritime acadamy on the gulf coast, and University of Texas medical branch located on strand by the fery. The presence of these schools helps to bring no small amount of prestige and money into Galveston.
Things to do
For the Visitor the outher wise industrial city of Galveston has established the Strand, a nice area of over overpriced shops and restraunrts located along the water. Also over the 99 years of it's modern existence several very rich people have lived in and left behind very nice mansions of wich tours are given. Of the beach, well it is sandy but the water is really very clouded and shallow, but all this sediment in the water has promoted great fisheries all about the gulf coast and galveston island. So rather than putting your tender self in the water I recomend you but a baited hook in the ocean and relax you person with a cold beverage on the shore/peir/boat and you will most probably catch somthing (I have seen 4-6 foot fish pulled out of the shipping channel right off the dock)
Places to eat
for good seafood and more reasonably priced than most of the strand area, Willi G's is very good.
A less prominiate spot is Yamamotos japenese steak house off 61'st street.
Places to avoid
The docks and industrial areas unless you have pressing reasons to go there(like it is where your ship is docked). Also the seawolf parkway after dark 30 is the most dangourous place in the entire city. Otherwise Galveston is no worse than just anout any americian city and better than most.
Local brews to try
none-unless your from out of state/nation then try shiner bock,
it is not a Galveston beer but it is a true texas beer.
local bars and clubs
club 42: in the strand
bar Diggies: also in the strand
bar Fitzpatriks: in the strand