Shopping is one of Galveston’s main draws, with abundant fashion boutiques and knickknack shops throughout the historic downtown area. Keep in mind, this is where wealthy Houstonians come to play, so items are often priced for this clientele.
The gas-lit street lamps, ornate architectural detailing, and lofty display windows along the 36-block Strand district even attract non-shoppers with their Victorian-era charm. One of the first places many people start their browsing is the eclectic Hendley Market (2010 Strand St., 409/762-2610, www.hendleymarket.com). This fascinating emporium contains a little bit of everything, from Mexican imports to vintage jewelry to kitschy knickknacks to antique medical instruments. Kids will love the baskets filled with hand-crafted toys and plastic novelty trinkets.
Not quite as charming yet equally beguiling with its amazing array of objects is Big House Antiques (2212 Mechanic St., 409/762-0559). Shoppers will find many estate-sale pieces here, including furniture, jewelry, decorative items, and books.
For a modest increase on the price and quality scale, step into the Front Parlor (2111 Strand St., 409/762-0224, www.thefrontparlor.com), where the sign out front promises “books, gifts, and surprises.” Though the store specializes in fancy Lampe Berger lamps imported from Paris, the Front Parlor also features home accessories and women’s clothing.
This being Texas, shoppers may want to mosey through Way Out West (2317 Strand St., 409/766-7837). Like most Western-themed gift shops, some of the items here get a bit hokey (garish Lone Star State posters and T-shirts), but for the most part, Way Out West offers tasteful gifts, including silver jewelry, home décor objects, wind chimes, and hand-carved woodwork.
If you forgot your flip-flops or lost your sunglasses on the beach, drop by the Tropicana Outlet (2126 Strand St., 409/763-5539). Every beach town needs a few good T-shirt shops, and Tropicana Outlet is one of Galveston’s longest-running establishments of its kind. Pick up towels, caps, sunscreen, or even one of those bitey alligator toys here.
A step up from Tropicana is La Vida Clothing (2410 Strand St., 409/621-5555), where you can get a T-shirt for the beach and some stylish cruisewear for a night on the town. Brands include Stussy, Miss Me Denim, Converse, and Lucky Brand.
Fancier still is Couteux Couture (2029 Strand St., 409/763-3363), an upscale store specializing in women’s clothing and accessories. This is for big-city shoppers accustomed to big-city price tags, but the quality brands and cutting-edge fashions offer a classy experience in a historical boutique setting.
A mandatory stop on the Strand is the venerable Old Strand Emporium (2112 Strand St., 409/515-0715). The longest-running spot in the district, the Old Strand Emporium offers fresh fudge, ice cream, deli sandwiches, and cold drinks, including beer and wine. Texas foods are the specialty here, so be sure to grab a jar of salsa, a pecan praline, or some tangy barbecue sauce.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition