One of the city’s most treasured landmarks is the 1877 ship Elissa (Pier 21, 409/763-1877, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., $8 adults, $6 students ages 6 and up). This remarkable historic ship is the second-oldest operational sailing vessel in the world and one of the three oldest merchant boats still afloat. Get a feel for seafaring life by walking across the sturdy wooden decks under massive masts and 19 sails and exploring the sleeping quarters and mechanical room below. The Elissa has been designated an American Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
To learn more about the Elissa’s dramatic scrapyard rescue and subsequent restoration, visit the adjacent Texas Seaport Museum. The portside facility features informative exhibits about maritime culture, a fascinating movie about Galveston ’s port-based heritage as the “Ellis Island of the West,” and a computer database with the names of more than 133,000 immigrants who entered the United States through Galveston.