On the Road
Seek out history, food, and art in one of America's original boomtowns, Beaumont
A little bit Cajun, a lot Texan, and 100 percent unique, Beaumont is on the border between Louisiana and the Lone Star State, just 90 miles east of Houston.
As one of America’s original boomtowns, it’s known for its historic past with incredible preserved buildings, a treasure trove of antique shops, bayous and birding, and an impressive food scene.
Here are a few more things to add to your local itinerary:
Snap a selfie at the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant
Naturally, the Dalmatian fire hydrant is right outside the Fire Museum of Texas, which is the hottest spot in town — literally. It’s home to an extensive collection of vintage fire prevention devices and gadgets ranging from ladders to trucks and more, dating back to the 1800s.
Fireflies, mermaids, Frida, and more — they’re all on the walls of Beaumont, where local street artists have made their mark. You can see many of the town’s murals right downtown.
For more art, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas has 1,000 permanent pieces and a rotating collection of whimsical and thought-provoking works — and admission is always free.
Peruse the farmers market
Every Saturday morning, February through December, the farmers market brings in fresh produce, small-batch jams and jellies, baked goods, and more. Plus, there’s usually live music and entertainment to be enjoyed while you browse.
From the grand mansions built by captains of industry to the utilitarian dwellings that reflect the aspirations of pioneers trying to harness the American dream, Beaumont’s historic homes tell the stories of those who started it all. Some of these dwellings are now museums.
The John Jay French Museum is a Greek revival-style home and the oldest in town, originally built in 1845 by a local merchant and tanner.
The stately McFaddin-Ward Home is an architectural marvel in the Beaux-Arts Colonial style, surrounded by century-old live oaks and enchanting gardens, with exhibits of original furnishings and antiques.
And a tour of the 1907 Chambers House provides a fascinating glimpse into 20th-century middle-class life.
A quirky one-room museum hidden in plain sight, the Edison Museum is dedicated solely to Thomas Edison and his inventions and features interactive, hands-on science exhibits.
And if you want to learn the history of Beaumont's oil industry, the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown on the Lamar University campus is a recreation of an early 20th-century "boomtown" that sprang up after the Lucas Gusher on Spindletop Hill was tapped in 1901.
Explore the great outdoors
A popular spot with biking trails and boardwalks is Cattail Marsh, which includes 900 acres of scenic wetlands. It’s also a wildlife refuge for a variety of aquatic mammals and more than 250 species of birds annually, including pelicans, egrets, roseate spoonbills, ducks, ibis, doves and red-winged blackbirds.
Big Thicket has plenty of space to roam, too, with nine different ecosystems — from pine forests to cypress-lined bayous — 40 miles of hiking trails, canoeing, and kayaking.
Within Tyrrell Park, Beaumont Botanical Gardens is another beautiful place for nature. Its 23 acres include themed gardens of camellias, modern and antique roses, bromeliads and many native plants.
Follow the sound of music
The 1928 Julie Rogers Theatre is currently home to the Symphony of Southeast Texas. But the theater itself is a sight to behold, with its classical revival architecture outfitted with pillars along with a lavishly adorned stage — think Rococo-style painted cherubs floating in the clouds, chandeliers, vaulted windows, twin grand staircases, and more.
Also in town, 7 Oaks Event Garden is a unique concert experience that invites singers and songwriters to perform original pieces in a Texas listening room. With seating limited to 30 to 40, it feels like an intimate personal concert or jam session in a friend’s home. And there’s also a great outdoor patio and garden area, too.
See a classic in a classic
The historic 1927 Jefferson Theatre is home to weekly classic movie nights every Friday along with a regular season of shows and performances.
Savor the local scene
Rao’s Bakery has been the town’s go-to breakfast spot since the '40s for their signature sausage-stuffed kolaches along with muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, and more, plus all the hot and frozen coffees you can imagine.
J. Wilson’s brunch game is a solid 10, with both sweet and savory down-home dishes like French toast, chicken and waffles, and oyster nachos; be sure to get the Man Candy, too (slow-smoked pork belly with habanero jelly).
Another popular hangout is the Logon Cafe & Pub where they regularly feature live music, karaoke, blues jams, standup comedy, open mic nights, and more to go with their food and drink menu.
Beaumont also happens to home to the original Jason’s Deli, and the eatery there still has a small-town vibe.
It’s always Taco Tuesday at Tacos La Bamba with authentic al pastor, carnitas, barbacoa, and more, and the best burgers around are at Daddio’s, where you should have one with a nostalgic root beer float or malt.
For more epic frozen desserts, La Real Michoacana has fresh homemade ice cream, fruit bars, agua fresca, and more.
Learn more and choose your own adventure in Beaumont here.