Located on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Houston-Galveston metroplex combines the amenities of one of the nation's largest urban centers with the unique ambiance of island living.
The University area offers housing ranging from restored Victorian mansions and cottages to modern apartment complexes, University dormitories and apartments, fraternity houses and neighborhood garage apartments, many of which are within easy walking distance of campus. The cost for University dormitories can be viewed at http://www.utmb.edu/auxiliaryenterprises/Housing/.
On the west end of the island, there are beach homes for sale or rent. Many of them are either on the beach or a canal leading to Galveston Bay.
Student membership in the UTMB Alumni Field House is included in the student activity fee. The Field House offers exercise and recreational opportunities and includes, exercise equipment, sauna, steam rooms and locker rooms. In addition, there is an Olympic-size swimming pool., basketball and tennis courts, and fields used for baseball, softball, soccer and rugby. In addition to facilities for individual fitness programs, the Field House coordinates various activities such as aerobic classes, intramural games, tournaments and charity benefits.
Thirty-two miles of sandy beaches bathed by warm Gulf waters-that's what most Texans picture when you mention Galveston Island. But Galveston offers much more than just sun, sand and surf to those who live and work here. Objective observers agree Galveston is a great place to live-the Galveston/Texas City area ranked first in Texas and 32nd nationally in the 1990 Money Magazine “Best Places to Live” survey. It was also rated number 21 on the top 50 places to live in Reader's Digest, 1997. With a history enlivened by pirate intrigue and Gay Nineties grandeur, Galveston today enjoys contrasting identities as a bustling medical center and relaxing seaside resort. Together, these two enterprises draw an estimated five to six million visitors annually and give national prominence to Galveston. As one of the oldest ports in the state, this city of 65,000 occupies most of Galveston Island, a Gulf of Mexico barrier island approximately 32 miles long and less than three miles wide, and the smaller Pelican Island. Galveston lies some two miles off the mainland and is connected to it by causeways and free public ferries. With its extensive shoreline, fishing piers and semitropical climate, this island has been a “find” for fishermen and beach enthusiasts for generations.
Galveston couples the friendly atmosphere of a small resort city with cultural and recreational attractions normally found only in cities many times larger. The island offers many types and styles of restaurants and night clubs, which provide needed weekend relief and entertainment. Galveston provides ready recreation for those enjoying fishing, swimming, bicycling and other outdoor sports. There are several sailing marinas. The city and county maintain waterfront parks, some with boat ramps. Stewart and Apffel beaches, major east-end parks with various concessions, are also the site of special events such as rock concerts and fireworks displays, among others. Seawolf Park on Pelican Island has fishing piers and World War II vessels dry-berthed for tours. Further west, Galveston Island State Park offers the beach, picnic areas, camping, nature trails and abundant bird-watching.
Moody Gardens is a new, multiphase project that includes Hope Arena, a 60,000-square-foot center suitable for meetings, exhibits and conventions. The arena is surrounded by a popular jogging track. The adjacent Palm Beach is a man-made, white sand beach open to the public. Other attractions include a 3-D IMAX theater and a rainforest pyramid.
The island's colorful history is the springboard for many tourist attractions, as well as entertainment for residents. Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) has been a powerful force in the movement to restore the city's wealth of historic architecture. The Strand area of restaurants, shops, galleries and other businesses is evidence of this effort. GHF-sponsored Dickens on The Strand, a Christmas season winter festival with a Victorian theme, and the spring Mardi Gras celebration attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The annual Blessing of the Shrimp Fleet is another festive highlight, while Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by the Hispanic community.
Other significant historical attractions are the 1859 Ashton Villa and 1839 Samuel May Williams house museums, the 1877 sailing vessel Elissa, and the Texas Seaport Museum. The Ashbel-Smith Building at UTMB and the ornate Bishop's Palace are among the surviving legacies of premier 19th-century Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton.
The Grand 1894 Opera House has been restored to full Victorian-era splendor, offering performances by touring symphony orchestras, jazz, rock and country groups, theater companies, and ballet troupes. The Strand Street Theater, Galveston College, Upper Deck Theater and nearby College of the Mainland offer regular performances, while the Lone Star Theater features outdoor drama during the summer. Other local performing groups include the Galveston Symphony Orchestra.
If you are interested in performing, amateurs can participate in the Galveston Symphony Orchestra, the Galveston Chorale, and the Upper Deck Theater, etc.
Galveston Arts is a multifaceted arts center on The Strand, and is a source of information about local artists and galleries in Galveston, Recently, an area of Postoffice Street has become a center of art in Galveston, with many studios, galleries, coffee shops and restaurants. An Art Walk is held every six weeks throughout the year on Saturday evenings to celebrate new exhibits and gallery shows in dozens of art spaces in the downtown historic districts. This social event is a highlight for many during the summer.
The Rosenberg Library is a large public library, close to UTMB that features literary works ranging from important historical and reference collections to today's best sellers and periodicals.
The Houston metropolis is an exciting contrast to the more relaxed pace of Galveston, offering the goods, services and entertainment distinctive to the nation's fourth largest city. Most attractions are within an hour's drive of the island.
Shopping centers include extensive malls and a variety of specialty shops. There are four major malls, numerous shopping centers, an outlet mall and numerous cinemas all within a 40-minute drive along Interstate 45 (I-45), which connects Houston and Galveston. The Galleria is just a little farther away. The Johnson Space Center is located in nearby Clear Lake.
Professional teams in baseball (The Astros), basketball (The Rockets), football (The Houston Texans) and hockey (Houston Aeros) are based in Houston. Rodeos, circuses and other special events are also frequent attractions here. Jones Hall, the Music Hall, Wortham Center, the Alley Theater and many smaller theaters host the Houston Symphony and Pops orchestras, Grand Opera and Ballet companies, and numerous local and touring Broadway theater companies. Houston is a stop on the tours of most popular rock, country and jazz artists. Houston also plays host to numerous specialty festivals. The George R. Brown Convention Center hosts large meetings and exhibits, including those of major scientific societies. Houston's Hermann Park includes a zoo and outside concert theater. There are museums of natural history, science and art, and numerous art galleries.
The proximity of Houston allows the collaboration between UTMB faculty and students and their colleagues at several universities in Houston, including Rice, Baylor, University of Houston, and the Texas Medical Center.
Houston has two major commercial airports, both linked to Galveston by 24-hour limousine service. The closer of the two, Hobby Airport, is about an hour's drive up I-45.