14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Beaumont, TX
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The southeastern Texas city of Beaumont has deep roots in the oil industry, with things to do that commemorate its place in history during the oil boom. Beaumont made its mark in 1901 after a massive explosion at Spindletop, when the Gladys City Company drilled into an oil well that could not be capped. That's when the population boomed, as people poured into Beaumont as fast as the oil and wealth.
Beaumont is just 90 miles from Houston and 25 miles from the Louisiana border. The city is an exploration into the origins of oil discovery, southern history, the natural environment, and delicious Texas eats. The Beaumont of today is surrounded by oil refineries, but the city maintains a strong commitment to also preserving its natural resources, like the Cattail Marsh and the Big Thicket National Preserve.
Beaumont has a reputation of being the museum capital of Texas, with more than a dozen to enjoy, like the Texas Fire Museum, where you can take a selfie in front of the world's largest working fire hydrant. You can spend an entire day or two of your visit just going to the unique museums in Beaumont. It is a walkable city, where you can make small detours into the antique and boutique shops and small eateries as you make your way from one museum to the next.
This Southeast Texas city is rich in biodiversity, which you can experience by walking on trails through marshes, taking a swamp tour by boat, or safely holding an alligator as you learn about the state's wildlife.
Two of the culinary staples of Beaumont are Rao's Bakery, located at the same downtown corner since 1941, and famous for its King Cakes during Mardi Gras, and Floyd's Seafood Restaurant, which serves up authentic Cajun cuisine and seafood. You will not go hungry in Beaumont, especially along the Cajun Trail, where you can get your fill of authentic Southern étouffée and gumbo at stops throughout the city.
Discover the best places to visit in the city with our list of the top things to do in Beaumont, Texas.
1. Feed the Alligators at Gator Country Adventure Park
Gator Country Adventure Park is one of the top things to do in Beaumont. It is home to more than 600 alligators including Big Al, the oldest alligator in Texas at 86, and Big Tex, the biggest alligator ever caught in captivity at 13 foot, 11 inches long and weighing more than 1,000 pounds.
The park was once an alligator farm that was abandoned in the mid-90s before the current owners turned it into a sanctuary for unwanted, injured, and nuisance alligators and an educational venue for visitors. Enjoy some of the daily shows at the park that demonstrate the life and feeding habits of Texas gators.
One of the nice features of Gator Country Adventure Park is the opportunity to get hands-on with the learning experience about some of Texas' most fascinating wildlife. Hold one of the park's snakes in the reptile building; feed tortoises or pet goats and rabbits in the petting zoo.
For those who want to take things to another level, you can work with staff to arrange to feed or wade with the alligators. To add to your visit, plan a swamp tour down Taylor's Bayou to enjoy the local wildlife and surround yourself with the beauty of the area's Spanish moss and cypress trees.
Address: 21159 FM 365 Road, Beaumont, Texas
Official site: www.gatorrescue.com
2. Texas Energy Museum
One of the most fascinating stops in Beaumont is the Texas Energy Museum, which examines the history of oil discovery in Texas. There are two floors of interactive exhibits, which explain the process and history of drilling for oil and the refinery process, and videos show how oil is responsible for so many everyday products like plastics and gasoline.
Experience what it is like to pilot an oil tanker, see photographs and relics from the 1901 oil blow at Spindletop, and gain an appreciation of Beaumont's history. For those who have a special interest in researching oil history, the museum houses an extensive collection of archives with maps and photographs that can be accessed with prior permission.
For a local snack on the way to your next location, plan a stop at Tacos La Bamba, where you can find authentic Mexican food and probably a spontaneous social event in the parking lot, so you can hang out like a local.
Address: 600 Main Street Beaumont, Texas
Official site: www.texasenergymuseum.org
3. Explore the Fire Museum of Texas
The Fire Museum of Texas comes with an education about the history of firefighting techniques and equipment. Explore fire equipment through the decades dating back to the early 1800s.
Be sure to take a selfie in front of one of the world's largest working fire hydrants on the front lawn of the museum. Donated by the Disney company after the remake of the movie 101 Dalmatians, the hydrant is one of the most recognized landmarks in the city, standing tall and spotted at 24 feet high.
You can take a guided tour for detailed information on the artifacts in the museum or walk around on your own. Kids who visit the museum will love trying on firefighter uniforms and test driving the fire truck simulator.
Address: 400 Walnut Beaumont, Texas
4. Step Back in Time at the McFaddin-Ward Museum
The McFaddin-Ward Museum is one of three historic homes in Beaumont that are open for public tours. The home was built in 1906 and gives visitors a glimpse into how upper middle-class families lived in the 1900s during the Texas oil boom.
The home is impeccably restored, with much of the original furniture and decorations. You can take a guided tour through the home, outdoor gardens, and the carriage house, or you can do a self-guided tour. If you visit during the month of December, you will experience the McFadden-Ward home decorated in holiday decor, much the way the influential family would have impressed the locals in the early 20th century.
Address: 725 Third Street, Beaumont, Texas
Official site: https://mcfaddin-ward.org
5. Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum
Once you visit Beaumont, you cannot help but be intrigued by its history of oil discovery, and no attraction demonstrates that more than the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum. The area is set up like a small village in the late 1800s and chronicles the many unsuccessful attempts by the Gladys City Company to find oil while drilling on Spindletop Hill.
The museum dives deep into what happened when oil was finally tapped in 1901, resulting in an explosion that sprayed oil 100 feet into the air for nine days. The museum has a replica of the oil well, which actually sprays water to demonstrate what the gusher was like.
There are regular events happening on the museum grounds, from jazz nights and picnics to festivals, so be sure to check the upcoming listing before your visit.
Address: 5550 Jimmy Simmons Blvd Beaumont, Texas
Official site: www.spindletop.org
6. Walk the Beaumont Botanical Gardens & Warren Loose Conservatory
At the entrance of Tyrrell Park, a 500-acre city park, are the stunning Beaumont Botanical Gardens that change in appearance throughout the year. Originally started by local garden clubs in the 1950s, the gardens make up over 23 acres of the landscape and are preserved today for the public to enjoy.
Take a morning stroll in the park and discover the artistic collection of themed gardens, water features, and benches for quiet reflection. The paved paths throughout the park and gardens are suitable for strollers and wheelchairs and perfect for a tranquil, fragrant escape from the city.
Take some time to visit the Loose Conservatory, featuring tropical plants, waterfalls, and koi fish ponds. The park is located on a migratory bird flyway, so it is a popular spot for bird-watching year-round.
Address: 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Tyrrell Park, Beaumont, Texas
Official site: http://www.beaumontbotanicalgardens.org
7. Get Back to Nature at the Cattail Marsh Wetlands
Also within Tyrrell Park is another natural must-see during your visit to Beaumont. The Cattail Marsh Wetlands is a 900-acre preserved wetlands with more than 350 species of birds, as well as alligators, and other native animals.
The wetlands are located on two migration paths, so there are ample opportunities to see rare species and photograph the birds as they pass through. Catch a glimpse of the wood duck, king rail, and barred owl. Van tours of the Cattail Marsh wetlands are available, as are rentals for binoculars and disc golf equipment.
Take a walk along the boardwalk over the marsh or along the trail around the wetlands for exercise. There are many free activities, including yoga classes and kids crafts, offered at the Wetlands Education Center, which overlooks the natural scenery.
Address: 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Beaumont, Texas
8. Art Museum of Southeast Texas
The Art Museum of Southeast Texas features exhibits that rotate every three months, so no two visits are ever the same. The museum's permanent collection includes various mediums that concentrate on the southeast Texas region with contemporary and modern artwork and folk art.
The collection started in the 1950s with a few pieces of art from local donors, and the curators still place an emphasis on showcasing work from local artists. The museum is the backdrop for many public events throughout the year.
Address: 500 Main Street Beaumont, Texas
Official site: www.amset.org
9. Stroll the Antique Stores on Calder Avenue
Beaumont is a walkable city, so it is easy to park in a public lot and stroll to the stores and museums on foot. You can spend a full day antiquing and shopping in Beaumont's Old Town Antique District along Calder Avenue. The antique shops range from tiny independent stores with eclectic finds to extensive antique malls.
One of the nice areas for antique stores is near the historic Mildred Building in downtown Beaumont, where you can visit several in one spot and then stop for lunch at the corner café of Katharine & Company.
First Thursdays on Calder is a great time to visit the Mildred Building, when the once-a-month event brings sidewalk vendors, store promotions, and live music to the area.
10. John Jay French Museum
The John Jay French Museum is the oldest-known home in Beaumont and was built in 1845. The two-story home was built by a local merchant and tanner named John Jay French, a pioneer who settled with his family in Beaumont in the mid-1800s.
The two-story home is unique because it was one of the first such homes to be built in the area using milled lumber. The inside of the home features authentic pioneer household items, antiques, and period clothing.
Take a walk outside on the grounds of the home to see the tannery, smokehouse, and blacksmith buildings. Tours are available, or you can do a self-guided visit.
Address: 3025 French Road, Beaumont, Texas
11. St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica
The St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica is one of the most visually stunning places to visit in Beaumont. When there are no church services, guests are allowed to step inside the 1907 cathedral and see the stained-glass windows, mosaic floor tiles, and gilded interior.
The cathedral is known for its detailed religious symbolism in the artwork throughout the building. Take a look at the back of the cathedral to see the more than 3,000 pipes of the working pipe organ stretching across the wall.
The St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica is one of the stops on the Faith Trail, which takes visitors to many stunning and historical places of worship throughout Southeast Texas.
Address: 700 Jefferson Street, Beaumont, Texas
12. Visit the Bayou on Neches River Adventures
Climb aboard the Ivory Bill for a trip down the Neches River. Learn about the ecosystem and the abundant nature preserved in the bayous and Big Thicket area. Catch a glimpse of one of the 47 mammals that live along the river system during a guided tour as you cruise in a pontoon boat along the Neches channels lined with cypress trees.
Get a close-up glimpse of some of the 300 species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians that live in the backwater channels of this swampy habitat as you learn about the natural history of the area. The Big Thicket Association runs tours throughout the week from March through November.
Address: 5390 Pine Street, Beaumont, Texas
Official site: http://www.nechesriveradventures.org
13. Hike and Kayak at the Big Thicket National Preserve
A visit to the Big Thicket National Preserve is a must-see during your trip to Beaumont to understand and experience the biological diversity that surrounds this Southeast Texas region. One way to enjoy Big Thicket is by hiking on some of its 40 miles of trails throughout the preserve. There are trails of varying lengths, from a quarter-mile to several miles in paths or loops.
Another way to experience the biodiversity on full display at Big Thicket is by kayaking through the cypress trees and thousands of plants along the waterways. Put in your kayak at any point along the Village Creek Texas State Paddling Trail on the Neches River where you can paddle year-round.
There are numerous access points that enable kayakers to plan a few hours on the water, a full day, or even plan overnight trips. Big Thickett National Preserve is excellent for bird-watching, too. It is located on two migratory bird flyways that are active with many types of species, especially from mid-April to mid-May.
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/bith/index.htm
14. Eat on the Beaumont Cajun Food Trail
A delicious way to explore Beaumont is through its culinary delights on the Cajun Food Trail. It is a self-guided experience that you can do at your own pace through a free mobile passport program. You will be able to try regional Cajun cuisine, like étouffée, gumbo, and BBQ dishes from a variety of local restaurants.
You can earn prizes for the number of restaurant check-ins that you do along the trail. This is a fun way to experience some of the best eats that Beaumont has to offer, which is a combination of Creole influences from neighboring Louisiana to Gulf Coast flavor.
Where to Stay in Beaumont for Sightseeing
- For a Beaumont base with all the conveniences beyond just a comfortable room, the MCM Elegante Hotel has a complex full of amenities, like a spa, Starbucks, and VIP floor with its own lounge and snacks available in the morning and afternoon.
- If location is important, the Residence Inn is right off the I-10 highway and only a few minutes away from all the downtown tourist attractions. It's also close to U.S. 69, which takes you to the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum.
- The Homewood Suites hotel is near the beautiful Cattail Marsh and the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, where you can enjoy a morning stroll before a busy day of exploring the area.
- The EconoLodge Inn & Suites is close to shopping, restaurants, and both the I-10 and Highway 69, so you can get to attractions easily.
- Located in Beaumont's business district is the Hilton Garden Inn Beaumont, with a full-service restaurant, so you can have dinner at the hotel after a long day of sightseeing.
- The centrally located WoodSpring Suites Beaumont is just across the highway from Floyd's Cajun Seafood and Texas Steakhouse, one of the must-try locally recommended restaurants in Beaumont.
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Places to Visit & Things to Do near Beaumont: Just an hour away is the beautiful city of Houston and nearby Space Center Houston, one of the state's most famous attractions. For a little time at the beach, head to Galveston, less than two hours away from Beaumont. If you are looking to explore further afield, have a look at our article on the top attractions in Texas.