Beaumont, a southeastern Texas town with deep roots in oil industry has things to do that will commemorate its role in Texas’ history during the oil boom. After a huge explosion at spindletop in 1901, Beaumont was established. The Gladys City Company dug into an uncapped oil well. This was the time Beaumont’s population exploded, and people moved in as fast as oil and wealth.
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Beaumont is located just 90 miles from Houston, and 25 miles from Louisiana. It is a fascinating exploration of the history and natural environment of Texas, as well as the origins and evolutions in oil discovery. Today, the Beaumont is surrounded with oil refineries. However, the city has a strong commitment for preserving its natural resources like the Cattail Marsh or the Big Thicket National Preserve.
The biodiversity of Southeast Texas is abundant in this city. You can walk through the marshes or take a boat tour to the swamps. Or, you can hold an alligator while learning about Texas’ wildlife.
Beaumont’s two most famous culinary landmarks are Rao’s Bakery (located at the same corner since 1941) and known for its King Cakes during Mardi Gras. Floyd’s Seafood Restaurant serves authentic Cajun cuisine. Beaumont is a great place to eat, especially if you’re on the Cajun Trail. You can find authentic Southern etouffee at many stops around the city, and delicious gumbo.
Gator Country Adventure Park
Gator Country Adventure Park is a top thing to do in Beaumont. You will find more than 600 alligators there, including Big Al, who is 86 years old, and Big Tex who is 13 feet, 11 inches in length and weighs more than 1,000 pounds.
It was once an alligator farm, but it was abandoned in mid-90s. The current owners made it a sanctuary for unwanted, hurt, and nuisance alligators, as well as an educational venue. You can enjoy some of the daily shows that showcase the lives and feeding habits Texas gators.
Gator Country Adventure Park offers a unique opportunity to learn about Texas’ fascinating wildlife from the ground. You can hold a snake in the reptile house; you can also feed and pet tortoises in the petting area.
If you want to go one step further, staff can arrange for you to feed and wade with alligators. You can add an extra dimension to your trip by taking a swamp tour down Taylor’s Bayou, where you will be able to see the wildlife and take in the beautiful views of the area’s Spanish Moss and Cypress trees.
Address: 21159 FM365 Road, Beaumont Texas
Official site: www.gatorrescue.com
Texas Energy Museum
The Texas Energy Museum is one of Beaumont’s most interesting stops. It examines Texas’ history of oil discovery. Two floors of interactive exhibits explain the history and process of oil drilling and refinery. Videos show how oil is responsible to so many everyday products, such as plastics and gasoline.
You can experience what it’s like to fly an oil tanker and see photos and relics from Spindletop’s 1901 oil blow. Also, you will gain an appreciation for Beaumont’s history. The museum has a large collection of maps and photographs, which can be accessed by those with permission.
Stop at Tacos La Bamba for a quick bite to eat on your way to the next destination. You will find authentic Mexican food, and a social event taking place in the lot.
Address: 600 Main Street Beaumont (Texas)
Official site: www.texasenergymuseum.org
Visit the Texas Fire Museum
The Texas Fire Museum offers education on the history of firefighting equipment and techniques. Take a look at fire equipment from the 1800s through today.
Make sure you take a photo in front one of the largest functioning fire hydrants in the museum’s front yard. The hydrant was donated by Disney after the remake of 101 Dalmatians. It stands tall at 24 feet and is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks.
For more information about the museum’s artifacts, you can either take a guided tour or just walk around the grounds on your own. Children will enjoy trying on firefighter uniforms, and driving the simulator firetruck.
Address: 400 Walnut Beaumont, Texas
The McFaddinWard Museum offers a step back in time
The McFaddinWard Museum is one the three Beaumont historic homes that are available for public tours. This home, built in 1906, gives visitors an insight into the lives of upper-middle-class families during Texas’s oil boom.
It has been meticulously restored with many of its original decorations and furniture. The home can be toured with a guide, as well as the outdoor gardens and carriage house. You can also take a self-guided tour. You can visit the McFaddenWard home in December to see holiday decorations, just as the family would have done in the early 20th-century.
Address: 725 Third Street in Beaumont, Texas
Official site: https://mcfaddin-ward.org
Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum
Beaumont’s rich history of oil discovery is something that will captivate you. The Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum is the best example. This area looks like a small village from the late 1800s. It chronicles the numerous unsuccessful attempts of the Gladys City Company at finding oil while drilling on Spindletop Hill.
The museum delved into the history of oil tapping in 1901. It resulted in an explosion that sent oil 100 feet high for nine days. Museum has replicas of the oil well that spray water to show what the gusher looked like.
Regular events are held on the museum grounds. These include jazz nights, picnics, and festivals. Be sure to check the upcoming listing prior to your visit.
Address: Beaumont, Texas 5550 Jimmy Simmons Blvd
Official site: www.spindletop.org
Beaumont Botanical Gardens & Warren Loose conservatory
The stunning Beaumont Botanical Gardens, which change their appearance every year, can be found at Tyrrell Park’s entrance. It is a 500-acre park. The gardens, which cover 23 acres of the landscape, were originally started in 1950 by local garden clubs. They are now open for public enjoyment.
Enjoy a peaceful morning stroll through the park to discover the diverse collection of water features and gardens. You can take a stroll through the gardens and park on paved paths. It is a peaceful, tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Loose Conservatory is a place you should visit. It has tropical plants, waterfalls and koi fish tanks. It is an ideal spot to bird-watch year round as it is on a migratory bird flyway.
Address: 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Tyrrell Park, Beaumont, Texas
Official site: http://www.beaumontbotanicalgardens.org
Cattail Marsh Wetlands: Get back to nature
Another natural wonder to see in Beaumont is Tyrrell Park. Cattail Marsh Wetlands, a protected wetlands covering 900 acres, is home to more than 350 species, including alligators and other native animals.
Two migration routes lead to the wetlands, giving you ample opportunity to photograph rare species and capture them as they pass by. You can see the wood duck, kingrail, and barred Owl. You can also rent binoculars or disc golf equipment and take a van tour of Cattail Marsh.
Walk along the boardwalk that crosses the marsh, or the trail that circles the wetlands to get some exercise. The Wetlands Education Center overlooks the natural landscape and offers many activities for free, such as yoga classes or kids crafts.
Address: 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Beaumont, Texas
Art Museum of Southeast Texas
The Art Museum of Southeast Texas has exhibits that change every three months so there is never a dull moment. The permanent collection of the museum includes a variety of mediums that focus on the southeast Texas region, including contemporary and modern art and folk art.
The collection was started in 1950 with just a few pieces from local donors. Today, curators place a strong emphasis on local artists. Many public events are held in the museum’s backdrop.
Address: 500 Main Street Beaumont (Texas)
Official website: www.amset.org
Browse the Antique Stores along Calder Avenue
Beaumont is a walkable town. You can park in a parking lot and then stroll to the shops and museums by foot. Beaumont’s Old Town Antique District, located along Calder Avenue, is a great place to spend the day shopping and antiquing. There are many antique shops, from small independent shops with unique finds to large antique malls.
Beaumont’s historic Mildred Building is a great spot for antique shops. You can find many in one spot, then stop by Katharine & Company for lunch.
The Mildred Building hosts a once-a month event that brings in sidewalk vendors, promotions and live music to Calder. First Thursdays on Calder are a great opportunity to visit.
John Jay French Museum
The John Jay French Museum, Beaumont’s oldest home, was built in 1845. John Jay French, a local merchant/tanner who settled in Beaumont with his family in the middle of 1800s, built this two-story home.
This unique two-story home was built using milled wood, and is the first of its kind in the region. You will find authentic items from pioneer times, antiques and period clothing inside the home.
To see the blacksmith and smokehouse buildings, take a stroll outside. You can either take a tour or go on your own.
Address: 3025 French Road Beaumont, Texas
St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica
Beaumont’s St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica is a stunning place to see. Visitors are permitted to enter the 1907 cathedral when there are no services.
The cathedral is well-known for its intricate religious symbolism throughout the buildings’ artwork. To see more than 3,000 pipes from the pipe organ, take a look at what is behind the cathedral.
The Faith Trail takes you to many historic and beautiful places of worship in Southeast Texas, including the Basilica of St. Anthony Cathedral.
Address: 700 Jefferson Street Beaumont, Texas
Bayou on Neches River Adventures
Take a ride down the Neches River on the Ivory Bill. You will learn about the ecology and the abundance of nature in the Big Thicket and bayous. You can see one of 47 mammal species that live along the river. Take a guided tour and cruise along the Neches channels in a pontoonboat.
As you learn more about the natural history and the habitat, get a close-up view of 300 species of reptiles and amphibians found in this swampy habitat. From March to November, the Big Thicket Association offers tours.
Address: 5390 Pine Street Beaumont, Texas
Official site: http://www.nechesriveradventures.org
Kayak and hike at Big Thicket National Preserve
To fully appreciate and experience the natural diversity of Southeast Texas, a visit to Big Thicket National Preserve should be a part of your Beaumont trip. You can enjoy Big Thicket by hiking along its 40-miles of trails. Trails vary in length, with some loops or paths going for several miles.
Kayaking through the Cypress trees and the thousands of plants that line the waterways is another way to see the diversity at Big Thicket. You can paddle all year round from any point on the Village Creek Texas State Paddling Trail along the Neches River.
Many access points allow kayakers to plan for a day or a few hours. The Big Thickett National Preserve offers excellent bird-watching opportunities. It is situated on two migratory bird flyways, which are active with many species, especially between mid-April and mid-May.
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/bith/index.htm
Beaumont Cajun Food Trail
Beaumont’s culinary delights are a great way to discover it. You can explore the trail at your own pace with a free mobile passport. You can try Cajun dishes like etouffee and gumbo from a variety local restaurants.
For each restaurant you check-in, you can win prizes. It’s a great way to enjoy some of Beaumont’s best food.