Galveston in Texas is a quiet seaside town with a pretty historic district. It is about one hour away from Houston, so if you are looking for a weekend break then just hop in the car and drive down Interstate-45.
My favourite pit stop on my way to Galveston was a Buc-ee’s gas station on I-45. I stopped at the Buc-ee’s to fill up my Mustang and to eat some local specialities.
Related: Things to Do In Houston, Texas
Buc-ee’s is a unique Texas convenience store with petrol pumps along various highways. Buc-ee’s founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin is a Texas surfer who got fed up with dirty toilets along the highway and started his own business – with a special focus on clean toilets! Aplin and his business partner Don Wasek opened their first Buc-ee’s store in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1982 with a focus on cheap ice and clean bathrooms. The first Buc-ee’s was so successful that they decided to expand, and now have 27 locations around the state. They even won the cleanest toilets award in the US!
The World’s Buc-ee’s Largest Gas Station
I headed down to Galveston on the I-45. I said I would avoid the Interstates but I wanted to stop off at a local wonder: Buc-ee’s. It is the largest gas station in the world with 120 pumps! They sell all sorts of weird stuff and the toilets are supposed to be super clean.
I bought some beaver nuggets, beef jerky and sausages and some other local weird stuff then refilled the Mustang. Even when I got back to England I thought about Buc-ee’s sometimes so I started searching online and found this video below:
Driving to Galveston from Houston
The drive to Galveston was super nice and it was hot so I let the roof down and just drove nice and easy. Galveston is like the Hastings of Texas: it looked like a hippie place to me. Loads of run-down industrial sites, old houses and wide roads leading to nowhere – just how I like it!
Driving into Galveston I turned left off Broadway into the side streets. It looked just like out of some crime movie: gangster-looking folk sitting on the porch smoking pot, kids running and cycling across the road lined with boarded up houses, a school and factories.
Some of the houses were quite nice and I imagine they used to belong to the better paid families in the heyday of the town.
This article is part of a series about my Road Trip Around Texas
Historic Downtown Galveston
Here is what I did in Galveston: I parked up the car in downtown and walked around the historic district. I popped into a couple of bars and walked down to the seaside, after which I sat in a Popeye’s for dinner.
Imagine driving past a completely run down industrial estate, ravaged by Hurrican Kathrina. You stop at a junction, facing a truck stop at the red light. A massive SUV then drives past just as you hear a huge passenger ship honk its horns. It was quite fascinating for a first timer. The downtown area was not very far from here, but parking was a pain again so I had to drive around twice before I could find a good spot.
Most of downtown was built around the second half of the 19th century or early 20th century, so it’s a mix and match of styles. The roads are nice and wide everywhere and the whole place is so airy, not claustrophobic like most European old towns. What I just can’t get my head around is why everyone needs an SUV? If everyone had a Volkswagen Golf, the US’s fuel consumption could easily drop to a quarter of its current levels.
The Galveston Beach
Galveston has a sandy beach where all the houses are elevated in case the hurricane floods everything. Not a bad idea. I stopped off at the beach for about half an hour to see the sunset then headed out towards Freeport. I was planning to sleep there in a motel but it didn’t come to pass.
The Freeport Dow Chemical Plant
The Dow Chemical Company’s Freeport plant is the largest in the world. Dow first came to Texas in 1940, building a plant in Freeport to extract magnesium from seawater. The company’s presence in the state has continued to grow through the years and now it calls the state home. I have a connection to Freeport myself. I used to speak to a guy here about epichlorohydrin once a fortnight during my ICIS days. Now I can put a place to it at last!
A real western Cowboy: Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos
By the time I arrived in Freeport I was absolutely exhausted so I started to look for a place to stay. Unfortunately, I could not find anywhere as the nearby nuclear plant was under annual maintenance and they brought in about 1,000 people to rebuild the place. That meant that they booked everything up in Bay City. My last hope, a small motel told me they had no rooms either, so I ended up sleeping in the car in their car park.
Sleeping in the Mustang
I have to say the new Mustang is much more spacious on the inside than the old one from 2014. (The image below is from my road trip in California last year). The silver Mustang was tiny on the inside but looked much more masculine, while the new is more spacious but looks more like a BMW. In the new Mustang I just pushed the seat all the way back and I could stretch out completely. I slept a good couple of hours then I decided to drive on. It was another fascinating night drive, with nobody else on the road except me. Obviously, I tested out the engine on those empty roads. When I couldn’t go any further, I pulled over on a small country road and slept until dawn. To find out why I went to Texas, read this article.