Beaumont, Texas, is best known for the oil discovery that sparked the colossal Texas oil boom of the early 1900s. The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum pays tribute to that fascinating era, and is the perfect place to start an exploration of the city. Another standout attraction is the 1906 beaux arts, colonial McFaddin-Ward House. Due to the youngest McFaddin daughter’s copious documentation, docents can paint an accurate picture of what life was like for the wealthy of southeast Texas at the time. Beyond its captivating history, Beaumont, Texas offers visitors a variety of entertaining activities like a 15-acre alligator sanctuary, an interactive children’s museum, and a resilient botanical garden. These are 20 must-see attractions in Beaumont, TX.
1.Art Museum of Southeast Texas
© Art Museum of Southeast Texas
The Art Museum of Southeast Texas began as the Beaumont Art Museum, first housed in 1950 on the ground floor of a rented house. Today, it is located on a beautiful 5-acre estate in Beaumont’s Old Town historic district. Probably the best reason to visit this museum is the Somethin’ Out of Nothin’: The Works of Felix ‘Fox’ Harris exhibit in their eclectic permanent collection. The found art sculptures, built by local artist Felix Harris, were donated to the museum following his death. The museum is also home to a number of temporary exhibitions, including the works of Richard Stout, Sirena Laburn, Ellen Tanner, and John Gaston Fairey.
500 Main Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-832-3432
2.Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum
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The Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum is dedicated to the Beaumont native of the same name. The record-setting female athlete made her claim to fame by dominating numerous sports. During the 1932 Olympic tryouts, Babe won the national women’s tryouts by herself with second place going to the 22 contestants of the Illinois Women’s Athletic Club. An All-American basketball player, Olympic track and field gold and silver medal winner, and three-time Western Women’s Open golf champion, it seemed there was no sport she couldn’t dominate. The Associated Press voted her the World’s Greatest Woman Athlete of the First Half of the 20th Century. Visitors will learn all about her storied life at this museum.
1750 IH-10 E, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-833-4622
3.Beaumont Botanical Gardens
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“Nature heals and gardens grow.” That was the philosophy of the Beaumont Botanical Gardens after two devastating blows to the gardens by Hurricanes Rita (2005), and Ike (2008). The community members and organizations rallied to speed the healing of the gardens, and today they are as vibrant as ever. Guests will find the Friendship Walk, which winds among the themed gardens, a propagation house, the Garden Center building, a pond with a rock waterfall, and a large rose arbor in the Antique Rose Garden. Other highlights include the Bert & Jack Binks Horticultural Center, which houses botanical art, the Warren Loose Conservatory with tropical rainforest plants, a September 11th Memorial Garden, and a fountain plaza.
6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Tyrrell Park, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-840-6456
4.Beaumont Children’s Museum
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The Beaumont Children’s Museum is located inside the Beaumont Civic Center. The interactive museum strives to reinforce interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) among children, from toddlers to young inventors. With nearly 30 interactive exhibits, visitors are encouraged to come back again and again. Among the many fascinating exhibits are the Dinosaur Den, Making Music, Puppet Theater, Maker Space, and Lego City Model. The museum’s Ronald McDonald House Charities Village features a bank, store, medical clinic, and dental center to teach kids about food and trade, money and counting, finance and exchange, health and wellness, and oral hygiene. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.
701 Main Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-347-7919
5.Chambers House Museum
© Chambers House Museum
The Chambers House Museum is the former home of the Chambers family, who lived in the 1906 house from 1914 until the youngest daughter’s death in 2004. The Beaumont Heritage Society has preserved the home, and 100 years worth of original furniture, artifacts, and personal items since then. Visitors who are curious about what life was like for the upper middle class during that century of time, particularly the 1920s to the 1940s, will enjoy a unique experience touring this home. Exhibits have included the Chambers women’s hand-stitched quilts, lace and linen doilies and tablecloths, and the artwork of Florence Chambers. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.
2240 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-832-4010
6.Clifton Steamboat Museum
© Clifton Steamboat Museum
Hero history is on display at Clifton Steamboat Museum. This 24,000-square-foot museum is dedicated to honoring civilian and military heroes alike from a variety of armed conflicts. The lower level of the two-story museum showcases galleries featuring wars in Louisiana and Southeast Texas, both World Wars, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. The museum’s upper level is devoted to Native American, wildlife, and frontier artists, and bronze sculptors. There is even a gallery reserved especially for Boy Scout history. Outside the museum, visitors are treated to a 36-foot-high 1938 tugboat called Hercules. Guests wanting a guided tour will need to call ahead for reservations.
8727 Highway 124, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-842-3162
7.Dishman Art Museum
© Dishman Art Museum
Lamar University is host to the Dishman Art Museum in Beaumont. Not only is it dedicated to serving the needs of the Lamar University student and faculty artists, it also contributes to the cultural art of Southeast Texas. Visitors will find permanent collections of African and Pre-Colombian art, 18th and 19th century academic paintings, four Salvador Dali silkscreen prints, local folk art, and modern and contemporary art. Temporary exhibitions have included the works of university alumni, faculty, and graduate students. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the museum weekdays. There are often museum events on weekends that are open to the public. Admission to the museum is free.
1030 East Lavaca Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-880-8959
© Edison Museum
Thomas Edison fans will be happy to discover the Edison Museum in Beaumont. Dedicated to the famous inventor, the museum offers interactive exhibits to display over 60 historical objects. This small, but specific, museum is located in the Travis Street Substation, and is the only museum of this kind in the West. They have over 1,400 artifacts in their collection, and a reference library that is always growing. Tours are self-guided. Because the museum is a mere 1,100 square feet, no more than 40 visitors can attend at a time. The Edison Museum is conveniently located downtown near other desirable attractions for those who want to make a day of it.
350 Pine Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-981-3089
9.Fire Museum of Texas
© Fire Museum of Texas
This Renaissance revival style museum is actually an authentic former fire station and Texas Historic Landmark. The Fire Museum of Texas is easily recognizable by a giant fire hydrant, painted in a Dalmatian black and white design, which sits out front. It is billed as the world’s largest working fire hydrant. Inside the museum, visitors will be delighted by an array of 19th and early 20th century firefighting equipment, like a 1901 hand-cranked aerial ladder and an 1856 hand-drawn tub pumper. Besides the collections, the curious can learn how Texas fire disasters set the stage for how fires are fought today. There is a fascinating Fire Departments of the World exhibit that is also a must-see.
400 Walnut Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-880-3927
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Gator Country is not only the largest alligator adventure park in Southeast Texas, it also doubles as a 15-acre alligator sanctuary where alligator and crocodile rescues have a safe place to live out their lives. Two of their alligators are the largest in captivity at over 13 feet long. The park offers three educational shows and opportunities for guests to have their pictures taken holding an alligator. Visitors can learn about the ecology of the Taylor Bayou on a swamp tour, where they’ll also see cypress trees draped in Spanish moss and an abundance of swamp wildlife.
21159 FM 365 Road, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-794-9453
11.John Jay French House
© John Jay French House
The John Jay French House is the consummate Texas pioneer home. Built in 1845, it was a model of construction firsts – first two-story building, first made with milled lumber, and first painted house. Restored to its glory days of 1845 to 1865, it displays all the fine furnishings, clothing, and household goods typical of the upper middle class of that era. Visitors can also tour the grounds and see the blacksmith shop and tannery that Mr. French used to run as well as the family’s smokehouse. Self-guided tours are free for children 4 years old and younger, with a nominal charge for guests aged 5 and above. The John Jay French House hosts a variety of events all year round, including a Christmas candlelight tour.
2240 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-832-4010
12.The McFaddin-Ward House
© The McFaddin-Ward House
The 1906 beaux arts colonial McFaddin-Ward House is the epitome of tasteful design in early 20th century architecture. It is one of several gracious homes for the wealthy built by New York trained architect Henry Mauer. Because the McFaddin daughter, who lived her entire life in the home, kept copious documentation of family and social events, daily routines and consumer habits, and news and happenings of Beaumont and the world, docents are able to provide visitors with an accurate picture of what life was like for the wealthy in Southeast Texas. Guided tours are available to visitors 8 years old and older, in groups of eight or fewer, and must be reserved in advance.
1906 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-832-2134
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13.Dutch Windmill Museum
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In honor of their Dutch heritage, the citizens of Nederland, Texas, built this 40-foot exact replica of a Dutch windmill in 1970. It houses a museum that displays Western and Dutch artifacts on three floors. On the ground floor, visitors will see artifacts from the town’s celebrity, Tex Ritter, who was a popular country western singer. Dutch artifacts in the museum include a steamer trunk that made the voyage from the Netherlands, wooden shoes, and the Olympic gold medal in the high jump from Walt “Buddy” Davis in the 1952 Summer Olympics. The museum includes a small gift shop with items from the Netherlands for sale.
1515 Boston Avenue, Nederland, TX, Phone: 409-722-0615
© Rao’s Bakery
Rao’s Bakery has been a staple in Beaumont since 1941, known for its Italian baked goods. Current owner, Jake Tortorice, grew up eating bakery items from Rao’s and bought it as an adult. After making a trip to Italy and catching the vision he wanted for the bakery, he remodeled it and subsequently added three more locations. Today, Rao’s serves everything from paninis and gorgeous signature cakes to gelatos and cappuccinos. It’s a morning gathering place for locals and a popular hangout for tourists, too. During summer, Rao’s hosts a summer bakery camp for kids to learn cake baking and decorating basics.
2596 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-832-4342
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Sertino’s Café is a popular deli-style restaurant in Beaumont that’s open 24 hours. As the flagship restaurant in a growing chain, Sertino’s combines its all-American deli, all-American ice cream and frozen yogurt, and signature Sertino’s coffee to please Beaumont diners. The casual café serves deli sandwiches, soups, paninis, salads, smoothies, coffees, teas, and frozen yogurts in a relaxed setting. The contemporary ambiance with bold patterns, abstract art, warm woods, and an earth tone color palette adds to the casual, friendly feel of the café. Sertino’s café has also partnered with HEB stores and provides in-store coffee kiosks.
5657 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-892-0602
16.Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar
© Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar
Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar is located in the historic Coale Building in downtown Beaumont. The 1914 building with a colorful past is on the National Register of Historic Places and sets the perfect stage for Suga’s Southern food and live jazz venue. Guests will experience a feel-good vibe from Saturday night live jazz performances to Wednesday’s all-day happy hour to Sunday morning brunches. Menus offer Southern classics with a twist, like soft shell crab eggs Benedict or Suga’s shrimp and grits for brunch, and sweet tea brined chicken or grilled Texas quail for dinner. This is the place for authentic Southern cuisine.
461 Bowie Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-813-1808
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17.Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown
© Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown
For those on a short trip who can only visit one attraction in Beaumont, this is the one. Spindletop has the distinction of being home to the Lucas Gusher, which began the Texas petroleum age and elevated the state’s economy. Visitors get to see a free, 2-minute re-enactment of the Lucas Gusher, which was originally 9 days long. Gladys City museum is a recreation of the original town where Spindletop oil field workers and their families lived. Guests will see 15 replica buildings with objects from that time period. From a saloon to a general store, there’s lots to experience. The museum charges a nominal entrance fee to Gladys City, where guests can take fully guided, or self-guided tours.
5550 Jimmy Simmons Boulevard, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-880-1750
18.Texas Energy Museum
© Texas Energy Museum
The Texas Energy Museum is another popular Beaumont venue telling the story of the Texas oil boom. This is high-tech history at its finest, with robotic characters sharing the historic 1901 Spindletop oil discovery. Visitors can follow the oil industry from discovery to modern refining. The evolution of petroleum science and technology is a fascinating one. There is also a collection of maps, photos, and other historical documents related to the Texas oil fields for those wishing to dig deeper, although research arrangements must be made in advance. Group tours must also be reserved in advance.
600 Main Street, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-833-5100
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19.Village Creek State Park
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Located 20 minutes outside Beaumont, Texas, Village Creek State Park offers a nearby outdoor experience for the whole family. The park sits along the banks of Village Creek, and visitors are encouraged to come out and view wildlife, swim, fish, camp, mountain bike, and picnic. Those wishing to camp can bring their own tent or RV or rent an eight-person cabin. There is also sponsored youth group camping in the park. Groups not wanting to stay over can still enjoy a meal together in the park’s covered picnic pavilion. Although visitors are able to kayak and canoe the Village Creek Paddling Trail, there is no launch/takeout in the park at this time.
8854 Park Road 74, Lumberton, TX, Phone: 409-755-7322
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© Willy Burger
Willy Burger is an award-winning (Best Burger in Texas) classic diner-style burger joint. Visitors will love the throwback décor of this restaurant, from the classic neon sign out front to the counter barstools facing the open kitchen, plus a cool Airstream event rental out back. Beyond its classic ambience, what separates it from every other burger joint is the freshness of its ingredients. They use only USDA certified Angus beef that is ground fresh every morning and made into hand-formed burgers that are cooked to perfection on a traditional flat-top grill. Vegetarians will find their satisfaction in portobello mushroom/veggie burgers on gluten-free buns. Diners won’t want to skip the “Cadillac” onion rings.
5535 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, TX, Phone: 409-892-3400
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20 Best Things to Do in Beaumont, Texas
- Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Photo: Art Museum of Southeast Texas
- Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Pink Badger - Fotolia.com
- Beaumont Botanical Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia.com
- Beaumont Children’s Museum, Photo: Courtesy of tigera - Fotolia.com
- Chambers House Museum, Photo: Chambers House Museum
- Clifton Steamboat Museum, Photo: Clifton Steamboat Museum
- Dishman Art Museum, Photo: Dishman Art Museum
- Edison Museum, Photo: Edison Museum
- Fire Museum of Texas, Photo: Fire Museum of Texas
- Gator Country, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- John Jay French House, Photo: John Jay French House
- The McFaddin-Ward House, Photo: The McFaddin-Ward House
- Dutch Windmill Museum, Photo: Courtesy of anon - Fotolia.com
- Rao’s Bakery, Photo: Rao’s Bakery
- Sertino’s Café , Photo: Courtesy of radeboj11 - Fotolia.com
- Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar, Photo: Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar
- Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown, Photo: Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown
- Texas Energy Museum, Photo: Texas Energy Museum
- Village Creek State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Laura Lee Cobb - Fotolia.com
- Willy Burger, Photo: Willy Burger
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of ptoscano - Fotolia.com