The Kemah Boardwalk offers beautiful views, unique events, amusement and dining of all flavors.
Located approximately 30 miles South of Houston and 25 miles North of Galveston, the Kemah Boardwalkis a 60 acre development on Galveston Bay.
Offering beautiful views from sunrises to sunsets, a stroll down the boardwalk is the place to watch the busy boat traffic along Clear Creek Channel. You can admire sailboats, yachts and the local working shrimp boats which once flourished in this area.
On the weekends, a wide range of events and festivals happen throughout the year. The amusement park is a kids favorite destination and (of course) the variety of waterfront dining options is one of the biggest attractions.
A little History of the City of Kemah
Since 1824 the Boardwalk property has seen its days as a farmer/stock raisers heaven and originally the the town was known as “Evergreen,” which had to be changed once they learned there was already another town by that name.
The established post office was opened in 1907 under the newly named town Kemah, Texas. Kemah is a Karankawa Indian word meaning “Wind in my face” very fitting for this bayside boardwalk.
In the 1920’s -1950s Kemah was a tourist destination due to the Maceo crime syndicate bringing in a Casio District. When the government shut down the casinos, Kemah primarily was known as a shrimping village.
The 1990’s changed the landscape once again, becoming a tourist destination with one restaurant on the water.
The Kemah Boardwalk
Since 1990’s Landry’s Restaurants expanded and opened up a seafood restaurant on the shores of Galveston Bay in Kemah.
In 1998, Landry’s opened the family friendly boardwalk with their specialty owned eateries, hotel, marina and amusement park for all ages. In 2007 they added their signature wooden roller coaster and various rides have been added over the years.
Boardwalk Inn Hotel
The Boardwalk Inn offers rooms with spectacular views and location for you to stay right in the action of the Kemah Boardwalk.
The Plaza in front of the hotel offers dancing water fountains shooting up from the middle of the open space. There are various benches and tables around this peaceful area where you can relax to the tranquil water displays. On the weekends, the ambiance is completely different around the fountains. It becomes a playground for kids in their bathing suits trying to predict where the next fountain will shoot up. Just like the olden days when kids played in the sprinkler on the front lawn.
In the evenings, The Plaza comes to life with live entertainment and outdoor vendors serving up cool ice cream or tangy bar-b-que sandwiches from the adorable train smoker pit.
Holidays here are celebrated with elaborate decorations, fireworks and yacht parades full of music as the boats glide by the boardwalk railing that hugs the Clear Creek Channel into West Galveston Bay.
Kemah Boardwalk Restaurants
The most enjoyable outdoor restaurant seating can be found here. Every full service restaurant looks out over the water, most are along the channel offering waterfront views of the boat traffic.
Each of the Landry’s affiliated restaurants have their own theme and interesting menus (our top picks are highlighted in bold text)
- Landry’s Seafood House – Seafood, steak, pasta and Cajun inspired dishes.
- The Aquarium Restaurant – Eclectic seafood dishes and a unique dinning experience among giant aquariums.
- Flying Dutchman – Seafood, burgers, sandwiches.
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – Casual seafood, burgers, sandwiches, fried fish.
- Saltgrass Steak House – Texas BBQ, Steaks, Seafood, Chicken Fried Steak.
- Bill’s Bar and Burger – Unique craft burgers.
- Lighthouse Buffet – Standard buffet fare.
- BaySide Grille – Breakfast sandwiches, coffee and lunch sandwiches.
- The Pizza Oven – Pizza and sandwiches.
- Sweet Scoops – Ice Cream Parlor.
The Kemah Boardwalk is versatile, offering the most in romantic evenings, friendly gatherings or family dinning.
A neat adventure is to dine at several restaurants in one visit. Choose one restaurant to eat an appetizer and a different restaurant for dinner. Next, pick a third restaurant to enjoy desert or an after dinner cocktail. There are no limits to mixing and matching your dining experiences.
One of my favorite activities is “Happy Hour Hopping” along the Kemah Boardwalk. Each restaurant offers a Happy Hour of signature appetizers and cocktails reflecting the theme of the restaurant.
Plus, the convenience to choose among different experiences in one trip is extremely easy since the restaurants are located so close to each other on the property.
Landry’s Seafood House
Landry’s Seafood House is the top pick for consistent quality seafood plus the best views of all the Kemah Boardwalk restaurants. Laundry’s is located at the mouth of the channel where it opens into the bay, creating views on two sides of the restaurant.
The actual boardwalk is larger here which leaves plenty of room for tables along the railing, my favorite place to enjoy happy hour.
On my latest visit to Landry’s, I asked for something sweet to sip on and something spicy and tangy to enjoy with my cocktail. Excellent “pairing” suggestions from the waitress, I enjoyed a Mango Mojito and Stuffed Shrimp Enbrochette. Both were delicious.
The stuffed shrimp is wrapped in bacon with a mornay sauce adding a slight spicy kick.
For my second Happy Hour Hop, I chose the Aquarium restaurant.
The underwater vibe is mesmerizing with large saltwater tanks displaying live eels, stingrays and a goliath grouper.
The Happy Hour menu is small, but excellent. I chose the shrimp tacos which were deliciously paired with a specialty martini. After indulging, I stepped out on to their balcony to watch the warm glow of the sunset.
I was too full to hop to another happy hour spot on this visit, but I strongly suggest you add The Flying Dutchman to your “Happy Hour Hop.”
Family Fun Activities
The amusement park at the Kemah Boardwalk has its own combined traveling carnival or state fair charm from the rides to the side show games like tossing a ball to knock the bottles down, ring toss and Boardwalk Bullet the wooden roller coaster.
A two story merry-go-round of swings that fly and a rocking ship that takes you higher with each sway of back and forth motion.
A high spinning look-out ride lets you enjoy a 360 degree view of Galveston Bay to Clear lake and all the surrounding towns.
If you’re looking for more high adventure rides, you’ll enjoy the likes of Flare, the looping coaster. Or try the Zip Line at 30mph and a ride called Drop Zone which takes you up 140 feet in the air and releases you for a free fall.
If you want to get out on the water, enjoy a leisure cruise aboard the Boardwalk FantaSea or go for a 25 minute thrill ride on the high speed Boardwalk Beast.
There are enough rides and entertainment offerings to keep everyone at the boardwalk thrilled.
Kemah Boardwalk Events
Through out the year a variety of events and festivals take place on the grounds.
In February it’s the Yachti Gras Boat Parade in December it’s the Christmas Boat Parade. Always a lot of fun to watch all the decorated boats traverse up and down the channel.
During the summer months of June and July, Friday nights feature a spectacular fireworks show out over the water.
Throughout the year there are various car shows, music festivals and a ton of themed events. From a craft beer festivals to a crawfish festival, plus every major holiday (and not so major holidays) features an exciting event.
Kemah Boardwalk Shopping
Shopping is a breeze with collectables, shirts, art and things you would want to normally purchase as souvenirs.
There are several great shops for the kids. The Treasure Chest gift shop is located inside the Aquarium and it’s full of stuffed sea creatures and Aquarium themed t-shirts. The Build-a-Bear Workshop will keep your children entertained as they create their uniquely themed bear. The Candy Box is full of unique and the traditional favorite sweets to take home.
Kemah Outfitters is my favorite store because it speaks to my beach soul. This shop offers all the big brand favorites for coastal wear such as Maui Jim sunglasses and Salt Life t-shirts.
The Daq Shack was my kind of souvenir shop serving up a margarita and a strawberry margarita swirled together like Christmas in a long plastic funnel glass you get to keep.
The Kemah Boardwalk continuously changes with the flowing times. Restaurants and activities change, keeping it a fresh destination. It’s all in what you do with your time on the boardwalk. It can be one of the most relaxing days along the bay or a thrilling weekend adventure. It’s all about “location, location” on the waterfront for a memorable getaway at the Kemah Boardwalk.