Galveston is Great for Family Reunions - My Family Travels

Beach house rentals at America's top coastal resorts, such as Texas' port of Galveston, make planning and enjoying a small family reunion easy and fun.Beach house rentals at America's top coastal resorts, such as Texas' port of Galveston, make planning and enjoying a small family reunion easy and fun.

If your family members are scattered between Portand, Maine and Portland, Oregon, as well as points in between, you may be planning a get-together at one convenient location to commemorate that special birthday or anniversary. Renting a house that will accommodate several generations under one roof is not only economical, it enables your extended family to spend time together and have privacy as well.

Here are my six top beach destinations, chosen because they are easily reachable, have enough varied activities to please most kids, parents and grandparents, and offer fair weather almost year-round.
• Cape Cod, Massachusetts
• Galveston, Texas
• Newport Beach, California
• San Diego, California
• Sanibel/Captiva Islands, Florida
• Virginia Beach, Virginia

Tips for Planning Your House Rental

Once you've reviewed the "virtues" of each of my favorite destinations, discuss them with other family members, determine how convenient they will be for all parties, and decide whether you're heading East or West. Then you can determine with other family members how many bedrooms and bathrooms everyone will need. (Most rental vacation homes have one or more sofabeds and roll-aways for extra kids.) Allow as much flexibility in your rental dates as possible.

Several real estate agents I interviewed for this story mentioned that since large rental homes (5-6 bedrooms) are rare, they are often booked far in advance. However, they also mentioned that many families register their homes for rental only after the January 1st deadline each year. That means you'll have the most choices of rental homes if you call the recommended agents early in the year.

What's Special About Galveston, Texas

Galveston offers 32 miles of white sand beach and is located about 50 miles south of Houston. In its long and colorful history, it has been an Indian burial ground, a pirate base, the world's leading cotton port, a haven for gamblers, bootleggers and prostitutes, and now, a recently-restored, lively Victorian-era resort town.

Besides strolling by the many shops, galleries and restaurants on the Strand, or lounging on the pretty beach fringing the calm Gulf of Mexico, families will enjoy a tram-tour or horse-drawn carriage tour of the exceptional East End and Silk Stocking Historical districts. Although much of the island was leveled in 1900 when a hurricane and tidal wave killed nearly 6,000 residents, stormy weather is rare and Galveston remains a popular year-round tourist destination, with peak rates in summer and on weekends.

And in a testament to this coastal resort's resiliency (and strong construction), after 2008's Hurricane Ike barreled up from the Gulf of Mexico, the oldest areas of the low-lying town suffered relatively minor flooding. The historic Hotel Galvez, built right on the beachfront after the hurricane of 1900 had destroyed its predecessor, was damaged by approximately two feet of water in the lower level and lost clay roof tiles. The Tremont House, located in the heart of historic downtown Galveston in the 1879 Leon H. Blum Building, sustained several feet of flooding on the first floor. The Harbor House, located at Pier 21 and overlooking Galveston’s harbor, received water damage due to high waters. All three hotels operated by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts closed for about four weeks of repairs before reopening to holiday crowds.


Details, Details

Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau at 888/425-4753

Recommended Rental Agents
Sand N' Sea Properties: 800/880-2554; 409/797-5500
Coldwell Banker: 888/308-6558

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