These cool things to do in Beaumont are perfect whether on a southeast Texas vacation for several days or making a quick stop on an I-10 road trip. Beaumont is a Texas town with a Cajun twist and a little bit of the old south. There is no other town quite like Beaumont and no one thing defines it.
Sure, Beaumont has oil refineries but also great green spaces—like Cattail Marsh in Tyrrell Park and Riverfront Park along the Neches River (although currently closed from Hurricane Harvey damage). Culture follows instant fortunes (like from oil) and Beaumont has some nice museums and great food. Beaumont is the 5th largest US port and the top military cargo port; 37% of all jet fuel is produced here.
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15 Cool Things to Do in Beaumont Texas
Boomtown is Beaumont’s nickname, from when the major oil field was discovered at Spindletop. Beaumont Texas is only 75 minutes from Houston and there are convenient shuttles if you do not want to drive. Please enjoy my list of things to do in Beaumont and let me know some of your favorites.
Where is Beaumont TX?
Here is a map of Beaumont Texas with markers for places mentioned in this article.
Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum
In 1901, oil was first discovered at Spindletop and, in fact, it gushed 100,000 barrels a day for nine days until someone figured out how to capture the liquid gold. Instant fortunes occurred and Beaumont became a boomtown as thousands of people showed up within a few days and weeks. Check the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum schedule and try to attend when they do a reenactment of the first gusher (using water instead of oil) or a blacksmith session.
The town of Gladys City was mapped and formed around the Spindletop area in 1892 and the re-created old west downtown center of Gladys City is the basis of the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum on the Lamar University property. It is about one mile away from the actual Spindletop discovery site. People said that in the 1900s, you could walk a mile on top of oil wells without touching the ground. Yikes!
McCool Travel sidenote: A possible distant a ancestor—likely a second cousin or uncle to a 3rd great-grandfather)—Pelham Humphries, owned a tract of land on Spindletop Hill starting in 1835. He had no known heirs so I did not inherit a few hundred billion dollars and instead uncover cool, happy, and fun things to do all over the world for you. You are welcome!
Texas Energy Museum
An appropriate stop after Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum is the Texas Energy Museum in downtown Beaumont. Learn about origins of the petroleum industry and the people associated with the oil prominence in this area. The newest exhibit, opening soon, is focused on wind energy.
I was impressed that Beaumont grouped many museums in the same area. Adjacent to the Texas Energy Museum are the Beaumont Children’s Museum, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, and Tyrrell Historical Library. Fire Museum of Texas and Edison Museum are a block away. Less than a block from the museums is the restored and historic Jefferson Theatre.
World’s Largest Fire Hydrant Statue
Take a selfie with the world’s largest working fire hydrant, located in Shelton Plaza next to the Fire Museum of Texas. Coming up later in this article are more cool Beaumont TX public art spots and my choice for the best Instagram location in Beaumont.
McFaddin-Ward House Museum
Unlike other historic homes, the McFaddin-Ward House is decorated exactly as it was in its heyday with the actual pieces. This grand residence was actually built for Colonel Averill and his wife, who was the sister of WPH McFaddin (who owned the Spindletop land in 1901). The McFaddin family was already wealthy though, with a fortune made through lumber, cattle, rice, and muskrat trapping prior to 1901. After only a few months, in 1907, Colonel Averill and WPH McFaddin traded houses.
In 1919, Mamie McFaddin—daughter of WPH and Ida Caldwell McFaddin—married Carroll Ward, heir to family’s ice fortune. The McFaddins (and Wards) lavishly decorated the house with objects from around the world, showing off their wealth and preferences. They also kept meticulous records and did not throw away anything—for instance, there are 37 complete sets of china.
“Quick hands or no hands” is the slogan at Gator Country. The owners are featured on the Gator 911 television show and they are professional rescuers of nuisance gators. Arlie is a pure entertainer and character, as you can see in this video below. In fact, make sure you do stay for the demonstration, as it is funny, entertaining, and educational.
Cattail Marsh Wetlands & Boardwalk
One of my Beaumont CVB hostesses told me that avid birdwatchers recently counted as astounding 268 different bird species in Cattail Marsh. Makes sense since it is located at the intersection of a couple of different bird migration paths. Cattail Marsh is a beautiful place for a walk, you will likely also see a gator or two. Cattail Marsh contains constructed and natural wetlands performing final stages of water treatment before water heads into Hillebrandt Bayou.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum & Beaumont Visitor Center
Called The Texas Marvel (given name Mildred) and buried in Beaumont, Babe Didrikson played 20 sports, held countless world records, and was voted the most important woman athlete of first half of 20th century. The Babe Didrikson Zaharias museum also houses the Beaumont TX visitor center.
Beaumont Public Art
From the egg beater sculpture in front at Rao’s to the world’s largest working fire hydrant to the Beaumont street murals to decorated water towers, Boomtown is rocking the public art scene.
Surely this is the most Instagrammable spot in Beaumont TX. Right?
These and other Beaumont street murals are by local artist Kimberly Brown.
Places to Eat in Beaumont TX
Amelia Farm and Market
The place for Sunday brunch in southeast Texas in Amelia Farm and Market. The weather was nice enough to sit outside and the setting was ideal to enjoy some carnitas tacos.
Boomtown BBQ Company
When judging BBQ places, I like to sample their ribs and peach cobbler. Both are excellent at Boomtown BBQ in Beaumont. I also ate too much of their pulled pork nachos and a few other menu items. Boomtown BBQ is opening a new location in College Station Texas later this year.
The pork Belly (called Man Candy, ha!) and oyster nachos appetizers are magnificent at J. Wilson’s in Beaumont. Entrees includes pastas, steaks, fish—I selected the shrimp and grits. Two bread puddings and a half dozen other desserts will further entice you.
The Mardi Gras King Cakes at Rao’s Bakery are amazing. McCool Travel tip: try all flavors and sizes! But stop at Rao’s any day of the year for amazing breakfast sandwiches, kolaches, and so many sweet thangs. Bet you did not know— Rao’s Bakery is owned by Jake Tortorice (for over 20 years) and his family started Jason’s Deli (now over 275 locations).
Tacos La Bamba
The one thing I have to do when I return to Beaumont is visit more taco places. Tacos La Bamba, across the street from McFaddin-Ward House, serves amazing Tex-Mex specialties in a no-frills setting. Just simply amazing tacos and comfort food.
On a pleasant southeast Texas evening, might be no place better than sitting outside on the porch at The Grill. Nearby is The West Bar & Grill, which is a fun dive bar.
Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp
Come to Tia Juanita’s for the margaritas, stay for the seafood. I enjoyed shrimp and grits, with a Tex-Mex twist.
Where to Stay in Beaumont: MCM Elegante
With a convenient location off I-10, relaxing pool, and other amenities MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center is a nice place to stay in Beaumont TX. The hotel was activity central during my stay, hosting two proms and a wedding on the same night, but my third floor room was quiet.
See my video tour of a MCM Elegante Beaumont room.
See also the Beaumont CVB complete list of places to stay in Beaumont TX, including hotels, B&Bs, and campgrounds.
Other Things to Do in Beaumont
There are many other amazing and cool things to do in Beaumont Texas and I just scratched the surface here. Hopefully it provides you an idea of the variety of funness to experience there. On future trips, I hope to explore some of the following Beaumont attractions and discover even more.
If your favorite Beaumont restaurant, museum, or secret place is not listed, please leave a comment and let me know.
Other places on my wish list of places to visit in Beaumont include:
- St. Anthony Catheral Basilica (one of 4 minor basilicas in Texas)
- Art Museum of Southeast Texas
- Dishman Art Museum (at Lamar University)
- Beaumont Botanical Gardens
- Seeing a show or movie at the Jefferson Theatre
- Fairgrounds (I just missed the Southeast Texas State Fair)
- Clifton Steamboat Museum
- Festivals: Tacos and Tapas, Craft Brew Fest
- Big Thicket National Preserve (for kayaking)
- Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Stark Museum of Art (in Orange Texas)
Many Beaumont Restaurants
Some Beaumont TX restaurants I want to try include Monica’s, Jadalaya’s House of Soul, Jamaican Cajun Food Truck, Sertino’s Cafe, and Willy Burger. I know there are many others so list your favorite places to eat in Beaumont in the comments. Please!
For more Beaumont Texas information, see these resources: US Gulf Coast Travel