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The History of Moody Gardens

How We Became The Premier Getaway in Galveston

Moody Gardens is a public, nonprofit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research. Moody Gardens’ history begins back in 1986, when it first opened as a horse barn and riding area, facilitating a hippotherapy riding program for people with head injuries. Today, Moody Gardens is one of the premier educational and recreational facilities in the South.

Learn more about the rich history of Moody Gardens and our Galveston hotel below.

The 1980s

1986: The Moody Gardens convention center, originally title the Hope Arena, opens its doors as a horse barn.

1988: Florida sand is barged in from across the Gulf of Mexico to create an exotic family beach and featured an ADA accessible yellow submarine for kids.

The 1990s

1990: The Production Area is built and includes two greenhouses used to propagate most of the plants seen on our grounds and for our Medicinal Plant Program.

1993: The Rainforest Pyramid, one of the most authentic rainforest recreations in the world, opens and features more than 1,000 species of exotic plants and animals.

1994: Moody Gardens introduces an authentic replica of an 1800s-style Paddlewheeler, known as the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. The 800-passenger boat takes guests on year-round cruises in the Offatts Bayou.

1997: The Discovery Pyramid opens with its debut NASA-inspired exhibit, “Living in the Stars.”

1998: Moody Gardens Hotel and Spa opens, featuring 418 guest rooms, 23 suites, and 23,000 feet of flexible meeting space.

1999: The Aquarium Pyramid opens, featuring, 1.5 million gallons of aquatic attractions and 10,000 marine animals.


2004: The newly renovated Moody Gardens Convention Center reopens, showcasing an expanded 60,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, and quickly became Galveston’s premier meeting and event venue.

2008: The Moody Gardens Golf Course—formerly known as the Galveston Municipal Golf Course—reopens after a substantial redesign.

2010s - Today

2011: The Rainforest Pyramid and Palm Beach reopen after extensive enhancement projects. Palm Beach welcomes a family-friendly water park, which features a lazy river, water slides, wave pool, and splash pad.

2015:  Moody Garden Hotel and Spa undergoes a full renovation.

Today, Moody Gardens remains an important facet of Galveston culture, and our Moody Gardens Hotel and Spa allows visitors from near and far to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience on the Gulf. Reserve your stay with us today!