We are on Airbnb!

We’re diversifying our listing exposure. While remaining on HomeAway and VRBO, we are also listing the Galveston Beach House, Las Brisas, on Airbnb. Go on over there to check it out! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7761435 Add us to your wish list! It will help other travelers find us.

I’d love to hear from travelers and owners if you have a favorite travel website you like best and why. When would you choose a hotel vs choose a home? Does it depend on location/number of folks/whole vs. partial place?  We’ve rented three times through VRBO for extended family gatherings in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. All three were fantastic experiences for all ages – grandparents, aunts, uncles and kids.

And of course, we love sharing our beach houses!

 

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Las Brisas

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Galveston Island Happenings

It’s a great time to visit Galveston. Yes, it’s technically in the middle of winter (what’s that?) and not officially beach season, but there’s a lot happening on the island!

Galveston Restaurant Week

It’s the last week of Galveston Restaurant Week – Jan 9- 23rd. Select restaurants around town put together a prix-fixe menu at price points between $10-$40. Along with the celebration of food comes the voting of a winning restaurant. You can vote for your favorite eatery to be crowned “Galveston Restaurant Week Restaurant of the Year!” #CelebrateDelicious

Here’s a list of places with the “Magical Affordable $10 Lunch” a great option to savor food at some of the best restaurants without breaking the bank.

  • The Gumbo Diner 3602 Seawall Blvd.,  (409)762-3232

  • Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar 2107 Postoffice St., (409)744-8626

  • Nick’s Kitchen & Beach Bar 3828 Seawall Blvd., (409)762-9625

  • Nonno Tony’s World Kitchen 2100 Harborside Dr., (409)621-5100

  • Rainforest Cafe 5310 Seawall Blvd., (409)744-6000

  • Riondo’s Ristorante 2328 Strand, (409)621-9595

  • Saltwater Grill 2017 Postoffice St., (409)762-3474

  • Shrimp ‘N Stuff Downtown 216 23rd St., (409)974-4609

  • Sky Bar Steak & Sushi 2102 Postoffice St., (409)621-4759

Vote for your favorite here! http://www.galveston.com/galvrw/

Mardi Gras

Galveston has one of the largest celebrations of Mardi Gras in the country. The festivities begin January 29 and run through February 9. Parades with floats, Golf car parade, concerts and even a 5K race provide something for everyone. For the full schedule and all the details go Galveston.com. I did notice that Cory Morrow will be headlining the entertainment on February 5th beginning at 10:30pm. We saw him play at Stubb’s in Austin last summer at a concert and had a great time!

It’s always a good time for Island Time on Galveston! Spring Break is around the corner!

It's always a good time for Island time! Mardi Gras, Restaurant Week, Spring Break....

Children of guests at beach

 

Girls Gathering at the Beach House – A Quick Guide

A few weeks ago I hosted a 2 day retreat for some girlfriends at Las Brisas in Galveston. We arrived at the beach house on a Sunday afternoon and didn’t get in the cars again until Tuesday morning. What luxury! For busy moms who seem to do life in cars, to have nearly 48 hours to relax, renew and connect was so needed. Here’s how we managed to make it work!

A Quick Guide to planning a girls getaway at the beach - including a DIY craft collage project!

Tip 1: Timing is everything!

We planned the getaway about 2 months in advance for an off season Sunday – Tuesday.  We left home on Sunday mid day – this got the Dads and kids through most of the weekend activities and returned by the time school got out Tuesday afternoon. While we were there, we talked, walked the beach, hung out at the beach club, share meals, did a fun craft project that helped remind us of who we are and walked the beach some more. We came away refreshed!

Tip 2: Bring two days worth of food

Our Menu:

Sunday Night – one sweet friend roasted a chicken Sunday morning, chopped the veg for a salad and brought a bowl full of quinoa and greens that assembled quickly. Dinner done!

Monday Morning – gluten free cinnamon rolls from my favorite local farmer’s market vendor, Sweet Texas; coffee.

Monday Lunch – ham and turkey sandwiches and leftover salad and chicken.

Monday Dinner – turkey burgers, vegetable sautee with zucchini, squash and mushrooms

Tuesday Morning – eggs scrambled with leftover veggies; coffee.

Grocery List: (I brought these things with me so we didn’t have to make a grocery store run) apples, bananas, creamer, eggs, lunch meat, cheese, condiments, ground turkey burgers, buns (for sandwiches and burgers), cinnamon rolls, foccacia bread, Seeds of Change brown rice/quinoa microwave pouch, mushrooms, farmer’s market zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes, assorted snacks and wine. My friend brought the roasted chicken and all the fixings for a super salad.

Tip 3 – Do Something Creative

We brought along poster board (1/2 sheet per person), glue sticks, scissors and a TON of magazines – mostly Coastal Living, National Geographic, Southern Living and Eating Well because that’s what I have. We set up at the kitchen table clipping out pictures and words that caught our attention. Everyone’s was different and was a great reflection of who they are and visions had of what they want in life. The photo below is of mine. Nothing fancy but meaningful for me. With a daughter off to college and another with one foot out the door, I’m wondering what’s next in my life. These pics helped me remember how important hospitality and connectedness is to me and to be open new ways to doing that.

A Quick Guide to planning a girls getaway at the beach - including a DIY craft collage project!

Tip 4 – The Housekeeper

I never ever clean the whole beach house when we stay. I do start the laundry but I hire my housekeeper to come in and do all the make ready for the next guests. If I had to clean, it wouldn’t be a getaway!

Haunted Galveston

Galveston Ghost tours are a great way to learn about the rich history of the island this Halloween season.

Over the years Galveston has been consistently ranked at the top of Most Haunted Cities in America. Of course this list also includes places like New Orleans, Baltimore and Boston – all fantastic travel destinations regardless of paranormal activity. From the phantasmic to the historical – Ghost Tours can be spooky, but all in good fun.

Voted #1 Most Popular Haunted Ghost Tour in America, Dash Beardsley (Ghost Tours of Galveston Island) offers thrill seekers four tours infused with Galveston’s rich history. According to their website, The Original Ghost Tour of the Strand is the most family friendly, good for first time visitors, Ghost seekers, and families because of the emphasis on the history of the area. Their other tours include a follow up to the Original Ghost Tour, a Cemetery Tour and even a Jack the Ripper Mystery Island Tour.

If you want to dip your toes in history with a just a side of spook, The Galveston Historical Foundation opens up the oldest home on the Island, the 1838 Michel B. Menard House for trick or treating on October 31 from 5-7 pm. The event is free and fun for all.  Menard was one of the founders of the City of Galveston in 1838. The Galveston Historical Foundation gives detailed history about the Menard house on it’s website.

The history of Galveston island is rich with stories – some probably more embellished than others. It’s had it’s share of tragedy, turmoil and wild times through the years. The tales of the island, especially the first hand accounts of the hurricane of 1900, can be haunting, whether or not you see a ghost. Dive into the island history and lore, it will make you appreciate the indomitable spirit of Galvestonians – past, present and future.

 

 

5 Reasons to go to the Beach in the Fall

1. No Crowds

It’s all yours – the beach is lovely, warm and uncrowded. Perfect for morning walks, evening walks and anything in between. I’m always surprised at how warm the water can still be in the Fall. My kids have even been in it at Thanksgiving!

It's all Mine!

It’s all Mine!

2. Great Shells

I’m amazed at the different shells we find on the coast. A few Septembers ago I was in Galveston with some friends and we found the entire beach was littered with quarter sized shells – I think they were disk clams (Elegant Dosinia). Shelling on St Joe’s Island is an adventure anytime of the year. One contributor to TripAdvisor said they found fantastic shells in November.

Sea Treasure

Sea Treasure

3. Great Temperature

The average highs and lows in degrees fahrenheit for October are:

Galveston 79.7 and 68.4.

Port Aransas 82 and 71.

Very. Nearly. Perfect.

Perfect conditions

Perfect conditions

4. Great Fishing

Port Aransas, TX Offshore Charters & Bay Fishing Guides says that Fall is a great time to fish – still warm, not crowded and with more flexibility in booking trips. In searching for charters/guides for family trips, I’ve also seen that some rates are less in the Fall.

5. Fun Local Activities Happen in the Fall

Check out the local calendar for goings on in the area  Port A Calendar of Events and Galveston Calendar of Events.

Highlights include – October 16-10 The Port Aransas plyWooden Boat Festival and Oct 23-25 The Harvest Moon Regatta

Boats heading to Port A

Boats heading to Port A

6. Bonus: Just Because You Can

Always a new place to explore!

Always a new place to explore!

We don’t really ever need a reason to head to the coast – Just grab friends and family and hit the road!

Good times ahead!

Favorite Eateries in Galveston

Eating out out-of-town is fun but can be challenging for me. I’m gluten intolerant and allergic to soy. Soy is a primary component in vegetable oil which is found (in what seems to be) an infinite number of dishes in restaurants. This keeps me from usually eating all sorts of yummies that are fried, which on the coast, is a lot. Unfortunately for me, the soy allergy rules out many of the most popular restaurants in town. However, there are several where I’ve found some really delicious meals and easily work with my food issues. Here are a few of my favorites:

Mario’s on Seawall has the BEST gluten free pizza I’ve ever had. I almost always get the Popeye’s Special – spinach, Roma tomatoes and slices of Italian sausage. Delish! It’s such a great restaurant – beautiful courtyard, interesting art (including a giant mural) and good service. We are usually so full from the meal, there’s no room for dessert, but if I had room I’d get their gelato.

Zack’s Mac Shack surprising as it may be has a fantastic Taco Salad. I went with a friend who got the lobster mac – really rich and decadent. Every table around us had something different and it all looked good. It’s in a great location – on Post Office and close to the Strand. Start here for lunch and get fortified for an afternoon of touring and shopping.

Waterman’s Restaurant, just off Stewart Road near the Galveston Country Club, Waterman’s is an elegant and casual restaurant. Great for a date night. The inside is gorgeous – lots of exposed beams. I’ve been several times, but never in time to see the sunset over the water, which I think would be fabulous. I usually get the Tequila Shrimp (Gulf shrimp sautéed in tequila, olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice) and like it so much, I just can’t get anything else.

Red Snapper Inn (Surfside, TX) has an incredible menu. It’s west of the beach house at Pointe West, but it takes about as long to get to Surfside as it does to get in to town in Galveston, so it’s a great trip to make after spending the day at the beach in Pointe West. I love the Sauteed Filet of Snapper Veracruz. The snapper is served on mediterranean rice, topped with fresh tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, green olives, and capers with cilantro and sherry. It’s such a large portion, it’s great for dinner and leftovers are good for lunch the next day.

Other faves: Mosquito Cafe, Farley Girls and who can live with out Ben and Jerry’s 🙂

My favorite Galveston eateries

My favorite Galveston eateries

Confession: I’ve never made it to Gaido’s and from what I hear, it would be on the favorite list if I’d eaten there. I’m planning to visit this Fall!

I’m always happy to hear about new places in Galveston to check out – let me know if you have any favorites!

Is the Beach Safe?

I’ve received two calls over the past week from guests concerned about the bacteria counts in the water at the coast and one about shark attacks. Heavens! Worries can sure ruin a vacation. We have had a ton of runoff from the recent rains which unfortunately is impacting the contaminate (bacterial, viral or protazoan) counts in some locations. Thank goodness for www.texasbeachwatch.com from the General Land Office. Check out the map to see the status of the water near your location. Samples are taken once a week during the peak summer season and every other week the rest of the year. When beaches have a high contaminant level, an advisory is posted and levels are supposed to be tested every 24 hours until considered safe.

The beach over July 4th weekend in Pointe West.

The beach over July 4th weekend in Pointe West.

I found this news release from the Galveston County Health Department about the hot topic (http://www.gchd.org/press/2015/July-4-beach-advisories-press-release.pdf):

Scott Packard, Galveston County Health District spokesperson states, “Advisories are not uncommon after periods of heavy rain. Rain runoff from across the state flows into rivers and streams and eventually the Gulf. It’s a natural process that sometimes briefly increases bacteria levels at a handful of testing locations.” Advisories typically last just a few days, sometimes less, and are primarily aimed the people with weakened immune systems or open cuts or wounds. In fact, it’s routine for GCHD to recommend people with such health issues to consult their healthcare provider before swimming in untreated water, anywhere, anytime. The beach water advisory is simply a reiteration of that message. “If you are a healthy adult, you have little reason for concern when such advisories are issued,” said Packard. “If you are at a beach that’s under advisory and have concerns, we simply encourage you to go a block down the street to another one of the many beaches without an advisory.”

No worries at Pointe West over the 4th of July weekend. We got in the water and had a great time!

Tropical Storm Bill – You Nearly Gave me a Heart Attack

Hurricane Season – I’m not ready.

Having a beach house on the coast isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve already had an incredible year of storms and we are only 17 days into the 2015 Hurricane Season. The month of April was a monster and the storms over the 17th/18th resulted in two new roofs – one on each beach house!! I thought having homes in two different parts of the coast would protect us (somewhat) from doing major repairs from storms on each house at the same time. Well, not so my friends!

One of my Pointe West neighbors had a indoor security camera running and caught the storm on video. We had a mini tornado with 100 mph winds. The wind and hail in Galveston were incredible and seriously, why ANYONE would not evacuate in a hurricane, I have no idea. It was terrifying just watching the video and listening to the wind howl (yes it sounded like a train) and the hail pound and the hanging light in the foyer start to sway in the worst of of the wind. HOLY MOLY. The hail sounded like someone dumping rocks on the house. In case you are wondering, no one was at our place at the time.  Thank heaven!!  My first experience putting in a claim with TWIA and new roof and new paint job and Las Brisas is back in business thanks to Morgan Roofing and John Brock Painting.

Now all the wind and rain we had took a toll on the Port A home as well. But, sadly, that roof was just OLD and worn out and had to be replaced. Good thing that house is cute because it’s a bit of a pain. The blue roof they had to rip off, actually had been put on OVER a tan roof which also had to be ripped off, resulting in lots of extra work and a bit of a schedule delay.

The roof in progress:

Port a roof in progress

finished roof side Finished Roof back

We were very happy with Ricky at Upgraded Roofing and the job they did.  I think the grey of the roof makes the house look even more blue. Of course that gorgeous sky also helps. Perfect beach day!

And now onto Tropical Storm Bill – 16 days into the hurricane season. Seriously! I JUST put TWO NEW ROOFS on the beach houses. I was glued to the twitter feed from Galveston County OEM  (@galvcountyoem) and the Nueces County OEM (@nuecesoem) as well as the National Hurricane Center – Atlantic Ops (@NCH_Atlantic) for about 24 hours. My phone buzzed like crazy with updates. They were incredibly informative on the status of the storm. I was also in frequent communication with the guests at Las Brisas. Nothing indicated that it would be nearly as bad as the April storm, so I was not at all concerned for the guests at the house. It would be windy and rainy, but that’s about it. Gusts up to 40 mph. Luckily for all of us, the storm came ashore over Matagorda Bay – between Port Aransas and Galveston. And luckily, it moved just enough that the Galveston house received some rain, but not nearly as much as it could have been. Port A actually got more rain today, the day after the storm, than it did in the storm. My housekeeper said that some places may have received 5 inches of rain in an hour. Glad to have that new roof!!

Here’s hoping the REST of the summer is free from storms of any sort and full of sunshine.

I saw this at HomeGoods (my favorite store) this week and despite the drama and the trouble with homes on the coast, the statement is true. Let’s go to the beach!

Heaven closer

Hurricane Season

Well, it’s that time of year again. We keep a watchful eye on the Gulf with mixed emotions. Living in Central Texas, we see our lakes and rivers severely low to due to the ongoing drought. I want some rain at my house but not quite so much that the coastal areas have any damage from a tropical storm. It’s a double edged sword, this wanting and not wanting.

Las Brisas in Galveston survived Hurricane Ike in 2008. If you are at the house and look in the garage you can see the water line from the storm surge. Scary, but all the water stayed below the main floor. Thank goodness for height requirements and construction codes!

Hurricane Ike - from Wikipedia

Hurricane Ike – from Wikipedia

One time in Galveston as I was shopping at The Strand, I picked up a book about the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. A Weekend in September was a great read, written in the 1950’s and compiled interviews with folks who survived the hurricane. That book is all I ever need to read to know that I will NEVER ride out a storm on the coast. What a terrifying experience that would be. Nothing is worth it.

So, we know that Las Brisas can likely ride out a hurricane on it’s own. The Blue Roost might be another matter.  I think Category 3 Hurricane Celia in 1970 was the last major hurricane to hit the middle Texas Coast. We are prepared with boards and contacts to board up the house should we need it. We nearly activated the drill last summer when we thought one was coming, but it passed us by. Whew. Sort of.

At any rate, here’s hoping we get some rain during this hurricane season…but not too much!