Heralded in Victorian times as the “Playground of the South,” historic Galveston Island attracted wealthy merchants who built mansions on the palm-lined beaches that elegantly define the Sea Wall area today. With more than 30 miles of shoreline, the island has nooks and crannies aplenty for sandcastle building and wave jumpers. But there’s plenty more to do, and the still bustling barrier isle, remains an entertaining destination. At Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, America's northernmost coral reef system, go deep sea diving to view manta rays and whale sharks. Birders can roam the estuary and salt marshes. Or take your kids to The Strand, a fun section of town by the water, which teems with shops and amusements. Don’t miss Pleasure Pier, a theme park brimming with booths, rides, and places to nosh.