An old city steeped in Texas oil history, Beaumont, Texas, is where the oil boom started and Janis Joplin belted out her first tune. But, what you may not know is that Beaumont has many fun attractions to show off, including Gator Country, where Big Al and Big Tex — two of the largest alligators in captivity — live.
Beaumont is in Southeast Texas, 86 miles east of Houston and minutes from the Louisiana border, and depending on the traffic, you can get to Beaumont from Dallas by car in about 5 hours. So, if you’re going to the Louisiana casinos via Beaumont, be sure to stop for a weekend for a lesson or two in the Texas oil boom.
Things To Do In Beaumont
There are quite a plethora of things to do in the city and many historical tales to hear, but I hope the hands-on alligator attraction is on your to-do list! But, if you don’t like touching scaly creatures, you still have tons of options, from outdoor attractions to historic home tours and eating some of the best food in the Southeast.
Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum
One of Beaumont’s biggest attractions is the oil-gushing Spindletop. It’s where the Texas oil industry got its start. Though it doesn’t really gush out oil, it is an attraction that was integral to the Texas oil rush and home to much history about the oil boom back in the 1900s. See building after building showing what it was like to live back in the day. Be sure to stop by the Texas Energy Museum to hear the full story of the Texas oil days.
Tour Historic Homes In Beaumont
Another major attraction in Beaumont is touring these three Historic Homes in Beaumont. The Colonial-style McFaddin-Ward House is a mansion that reflects the lifestyle of the prominent family who lived in the home in the 1900s. The John Jay French House reflects what it was like to live in the 1800s, and the Chambers House represents a middle-class family who lived there back in the oil boom.
Get Photos Of Texas-Sized Landmarks
Snap a photo in front of the 24-foot fire hydrant at 400 Walnut Street, the giant muffler man at 830 South 11th Street, and that photo-worthy shot in front of Big Beau — the 135-foot alligator located at Gator Country just off Interstate 10 between Houston and Beaumont Exit 838. Stir up your Instagram feed with these big Texas-sized landmarks.
Spend A Day At Tyrrell Park
Beaumont prides itself on its largest city park, Tyrrell Park, which includes Cattail Marsh Wetlands and Boardwalk and the Beaumont Botanical Gardens. It’s a huge outdoor playground for the entire family to spend time looking at birds, having a picnic, and touring the grounds. You’ll be able to see and read about many birds that fly in to play in the water.
Play a game and try to guess the many birds you’ll see before actually looking at the signs to read about them. A group of people was doing just that when I arrived on the boardwalk. Don’t spoil the fun by looking at the signs first!
Pro Tip: There’s a small Education Center up the stairs that has a few books, brochures, souvenirs, and restrooms.
Take An Architectural Walking Tour Of Downtown
The Architectural Walking Tour will leave you breathless and your head spinning with all the beautiful buildings and history behind them. Also, don’t miss the downtown murals — there are three at 660 Fannin Street, including one of my favorites — the Frida Kahlo mural that depicts one of the leading feminist icons in Mexican culture. My other favorite is the You Are The Best Thing About Me mural located at 701 Main Street. These will give you plenty of Instagram-worthy shots to post.
Big Thicket National Preserve
About an hour from town, there are over 40 miles of trails to hike or bike. Or you may want to take in the river scene on a kayak. Any way you choose to view the Big Thicket, it’s nature in a whole new way if you’ve never been. Another option if you choose is to take a tour with Big Thicket Outfitters to get the most from your visit. With over three decades of experience, they know a thing or two about the area. They offer swamp and pontoon boat tours as well as evening tours.
Gator Country Adventure Park
Gator Country Adventure Park is home to over 450 reptiles including snakes, lizards, tortoises, caimans, and Big Al and Big Tex, two of the largest gators in captivity. During your visit, you will have the opportunity to hold and wade with the gators and interact with them if that’s your thing.
Best Restaurants In Beaumont
It’s almost a must to eat Cajun food when in Beaumont. But of course, the town is full of Tex-Mex, sushi, and everything in between, Beaumont offers an electric menu for everyone’s tastebuds.
This is a neighborhood favorite with a full bar and a killer menu of Cajun corned beef, flank steak, and Gulf Coast shrimp to name a few options … and everything is fresh and made from scratch. On the weekend, you may want to try their brunch. From what I’ve been told, a visit to J Wilson’s is a must. And another must is to order the Man Candy (yeah, I know — you just have to trust me on this one) or the oyster nachos — that’s if you like oysters.
Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp
Another local favorite is Tia Juanita’s. This is where I went for lunch, and I asked the waitress what she recommended and she spoke so fast I couldn’t really understand her, so I ordered the last thing she said. I know — I took a chance on that one. But, I loved it and it was plenty. I had to get a to-go box for the rest. So, now I’m recommending the dish, Blackened Redfish Pontchart.
Pro Tip: I was told by locals that ordering the shrimp and crab dip is a must … and you’ll want a second helping if you do.
For the best burgers in town, head to Daddios. They pride themselves on their fresh ingredients, fresh buns, and homemade sauces. They’re so popular in Beaumont that they’ve added another location.
Eating at Crazy Cajun is a must for Cajun lovers. A Louisiana-style seafood restaurant, a full bar, and outdoor seating are what you’ll find here. Some local favorites are the etouffee, crawfish, and gumbo.
Pro Tip: If you like dining outside, they have one of the largest patios in town.
Best Hotels In Beaumont
Beaumont offers accommodations for every budget. You’ll find five-star hotels, budget-friendly hotels, and nice homes on Vrbo.
Hilton Garden Inn
Located conveniently off I-10 near the Historic Crockett Street entertainment district, hotel perks include an outdoor pool, fitness center, and full-service restaurant. Plus, the Hilton Garden Inn is within walking distance of many other eateries and has the bonus of a movie theater next door. This would be a great option if the kids are traveling with you.
Holiday Inn Express And Suites Beaumont NW Parkdale Mall
Many travelers take their pets with them on road trips, and I’ve noticed more and more hotels are pet-friendly. The Holiday Inn Express Beaumont is just one of many hotels in town that are pet-friendly. And this one has an outdoor pool for the kids, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. That’s hard to beat when you have tagalongs traveling with you.
Courtyard By Marriott
This beautifully recently renovated and modern Courtyard by Marriott is still a Category 2 that’s for the businessperson as well as for families. Marriott Courtyard is always my preferred brand to stay at, and this one offers extended stays as well. The hotel’s bistro is open for breakfast and dinner. All rooms come with free high-speed Wi-Fi.
Rent A Cabin On The Farm
You may want to opt to stay in a private cabin on the farm in the Piney Woods with all the amenities and your pet only 30 minutes from Beaumont and surrounded by forests. The Big Thicket National Preserve is 10 minutes away.
Some fun activities included on the farm are bird watching, fishing in the pond, and hiking in the woods. And after a long day playing in Beaumont, soak in the hot tub. Sounds like a wonderful place to get away from it all. There are three cabins for rent on Vrbo.
Beaumont Rental Home
Recently remodeled and located in a quiet rural neighborhood, this rental is close to town but still far enough away for some quiet relaxation. No matter which way you come into Beaumont, this nice mobile home listed on Vrbo is conveniently located and welcomes well-behaved pets.
While in Beaumont, my favorite thing to do — and what I strongly recommend — is spending some time in Tyrrell Park. Take a picnic and plan on at least a half-day there — it’s really pretty and you might even see an alligator or two. And, if you’ve managed to see it all in town, there’s more to see in the neighboring towns of Port Auther, Port Neches, Groves, and Nederland. Be sure to pick up the gorgeous visitors guide for Southeast Texas at the Beaumont Convention and Visitor Bureau!
Editor’s Note: Want more area inspiration? Consider Kim’s picks for the 11 Best Campgrounds In The Piney Woods Of East Texas. And if you love Cajun flavors, don’t miss Jill Dutton’s 15 Best Stops On The Cajun Boudin Trail.