Explore the Birthplace of Juneteenth with a Trip to Galveston, Texas
Immerse yourself in the history of the holiday in this coastal Texas town where celebrations abound.
Juneteenth, in case you didn’t know, originated in Galveston, Texas. Known for its beaches and Victorian architecture, this coastal town on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico is where word finally reached former enslaved people that General Order No. 3 proclaimed “all slaves are free” in the United States, a whole two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Ever since, Galveston remains the place to be on Juneteenth, the now-federal holiday that celebrates this day.
The weekend kicks off with the Annual Historic Parade and Picnic, as well as a Juneteenth Festival at Menard Park, where people set up lawn chairs and feast on food from local vendors throughout the park. On Sunday, there will be a Juneteenth Morning Worship Service at Reedy Chapel, an African Methodist Episcopal church—a Texas Historic Landmark known for its gothic architecture—and one of the locations where General Order No. 3 was originally read.
If you’re in town on Juneteenth, visit the Rosenberg Library, where the NIA Cultural Center and the Juneteenth Legacy Project put on the Juneteenth Musical Celebration: “Music of the Movement.” After taking in the tunes, attend the Emancipation March followed by activities such as an emancipation service, where there will be a live DJ, dancing, and local merchants.
In between events, there are plenty of notable places to peruse. Embark on Galveston’s Juneteenth Freedom Walk, which maps out five historic sites notable to the holiday. Historic mansion 1859 Ashton Villa has a Juneteenth exhibit “And Still We Rise…” on display, which features interviews conducted by the chair of Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee Tommie Boudreaux, collected photos, and historic documents.
Even if you miss the jam-packed Juneteenth festivities, Galveston is always a beautiful beach town on the Gulf of Mexico with plenty to do and see.
55 minutes from Houston, Texas.
3 hours, 30 minutes from Austin, Texas.
4 hours, 25 minutes from Dallas, Texas.
What to do that night:
There’s no better way to decompress after an activity-filled day than with nourishment from Leon's World Finest Bar-B-Que, where seasoned pitmaster Leon O’Neal cooks his barbecue the old-fashioned Texas way, coated in his beloved homemade, secret sauce.
Where to get some sleep:
In the heart of Galveston’s Historic District, The Tremont House is a charming and elegant hotel that has undergone many iterations since it was founded in 1839. Rest your head in this cozy but fresh lodging, but not before a nightcap at the Henry Toujouse lobby bar.
Head here to fuel up for the drive:
Get some much-needed sustenance before the journey home at The Sunflower Bakery & Cafe. A cup of coffee and a plate of decadent Huevos Rancheros are a must, and make sure to order some biscuits to tuck into on your trek.