Situated along the Gulf Coast in the Lone Star State, the laid-back community of Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula offers plenty of exciting things to do and see. If you're seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, the area's small-town vibe will help you unwind. Enjoy calming beach views, explore fascinating historic sites, and browse in unique shops. Featuring a mix of natural beauty and local charm, you won't find a dull moment in this coastal getaway. Here are a few things to do that'll make your trip to the area memorable.
As you step aboard this huge ferry, enjoy all there is to see while traveling between Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula. Watch dolphins as they lead large ships down the channel. You'll also have great views of Fort Travis, the Bolivar Lighthouse, Seawolf Park, and the Galveston Yacht Basin. Since 1934, this free ferry service has been available to all travelers 24 hours a day. Depending on your plans, you can either walk onto the ferry or even bring your vehicle, too.
Found on the eastern end of Galveston Island, Fort Travis was the first fort established in 1836 by the Republic of Texas to protect the Galveston harbor entrance. Now a county park, the historic attraction is named after William B. Travis, a famous defender of the Alamo. Overnight camping is prohibited at the fort; however, covered picnic areas, playgrounds, and restrooms are available on-site.
Take a relaxing stroll while enjoying the many sights and sounds of birds, ships, and sea life of the North Jetty, which guards the entrance to Galveston Bay and the ship channel. Built of huge granite rocks in the 1890s by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the jetty is a popular spot for fishing and crabbing. It extends approximately five miles into the Gulf Coast. To get here, take Hwy. 87 down to 17th Street until it dead-ends.
One of the few remaining lighthouses on the Gulf Coast, this iron lighthouse was built in 1872. According to the Bolivar Point Lighthouse Foundation, the lighthouse shined every night for service except for two nights during a 1915 hurricane. It remained in use until 1933, the peak of the Great Depression. You can view the lighthouse from the main road to snap a photo. However, the lighthouse property is privately owned. There are no active tours.
Surf fishing at Crystal Beach offers nearly 30 miles of beautiful shoreline to cast your line from. With rod and reel in hand, soak in some rays from the sun and relax as you patiently wait for reds, speckled trout, black drum, gafftopsail catfish, and more to bite your bait. Just don't forget the sunscreen. Fishing licenses are required for both residents and non-residents fishing in public waters.
You'll never run out of things to do in the Galveston Bay area. Some of the best attractions in the state, like Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn Waterpark, and the Kemah Boardwalk, are here. With nearly perfect temperatures, enjoying the beautiful outdoors year-round is possible. The area also has a thriving arts scene, festivals, shops, live music, and an abundant restaurant and beverage scene.
Considered the main form of transportation for most in Crystal Beach and the Bolivar Peninsular, golf carts are a great way to enjoy the beach without the headache of taking your car everywhere. Search for sea treasures as you cruise along the sand or sip coffee while watching the sun rise or set. Most local businesses offer golf cart rentals by the day and free delivery and pick-up.
Challenge yourself by visiting the Bolivar Escape Room on the peninsula. Here, you can try to break free from an asylum and rescue Edna, the patient, by solving puzzles and clues to open locks. You have an hour to escape before the doctor returns to take her to her next shock therapy treatment. You can also prevent a shipwreck disaster and save Port Bolivar by turning the light to the lighthouse back on. Players have just one hour to do so before chaos ensues.
Family-owned since 1977, Fun Spot Water Slide in Crystal Beach is a small waterpark with a two-chute water slide. Past guests have described the park as laid back and the staff as friendly. For $25, guests can enjoy the slides all day long. Hungry? Grab a burger, corn dog, fried pickles, seasoned fries, or dessert from the on-site food truck. Sodas and fresh-squeezed lemonade are also available.
This 9-hole golf course features three sets of tees for different skill levels. A flat fee of $25 allows golfers to play the green all day. As you try for a hole-in-one, enjoy the stunning views from the peninsula. Golf carts and balls are available on-site. Located about an hour southeast of Houston, the course is perfect for new and experienced golfers.
Situated along Hwy. 87, The Gulf Range offers a friendly atmosphere and fun games for the entire family to enjoy in Crystal Beach. This 18-whole course features endless obstacles and excitement that will keep you playing for hours. To get you through the entire course, enjoy the family saloon on site, which features cold drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and delicious foods, including salads, sandwiches, pizza, and more.
If you time your trip just right, you can enjoy live entertainment, shopping, food, competitions, and, of course, lots of crabs during the annual Texas Crab Festival. Held every May, the event has been going strong since 1986. Launched as a way to promote business and tourism in Crystal Beach, the three-day, fun-filled family event was selected as one of the "10 Best Festivals to Dive Into" by USA Today. The event features wiener dog races, a 5K run, a dance contest, a crab walking contest, a crab gumbo cookoff, and much more.
Kids and adults alike will have a blast catching waves on their boogie boards and riding them back to the shore on Crystal Beach. The waves are perfect, with past guests on TripAdvisor describing them as "unintimidating" for smaller guests. Don't have a boogie board? No worries. Surf shops around the Bolivar Peninsula offer rentals on various beach gear. Saturdays can be busy, so if you want to avoid the crowds, consider going during the week.
When you're done searching for pretty seashells or perhaps chasing a hermit crab on Crystal Beach, why not build a majestic sandcastle? The beach has all the sand you need to make your masterpiece. Not very creative or don't know where to begin? That's perfectly OK. While there's technically no wrong way to build a sand sculpture, learn to build one like a pro with 2-hour private lessons from Sandy Feet Sand Castle Services.
There is no shortage of birds along the Bolivar Peninsula, from blue herons to spoonbills. The area is home to quite a few bird sanctuaries. One to consider visiting is the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary. Managed by the Houston Audobon Society, this unique habitat provides resting and feeding for thousands of birds annually. This place also offers the perfect spot to enjoy a nice stroll while observing wildlife in its natural habitat. Other sanctuaries include the Boy Scout Woods Bird Sanctuaries and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.