Southeast Texas is a true melting pot of people, culture, and landscape. You’ve got Houston – the largest city in the south – on the left, the beach on the right, and everything in between – piney woods, countryside, hurricanes, Louisiana influence, old southern customs, chemical plants & refineries, a growing art scene, and so much more!
The Golden Triangle, as the local residents call it, consists of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange. The “golden” refers to the wealth that came from the Spindletop oil strike near Beaumont in 1901. Not too much further is the beach town of Galveston, which was first settled by Europeans in 1816 and is famous for the devastating hurricane of 1900.
There’s so much to do and see in this often overlooked part of Texas, and what follows are some of my favorite adventures…
Despite the booming oil and agriculture industries, Beaumont has it’s fair share of creative outlets, including a variety of museums, live music venues, community events, parks, and even the annual Boomtown Film & Music festival.
- Spindletop Rollergirls – I did some novice roller derby while I lived abroad in Beijing but I had never actually seen a derby bout in person, so I was beyond excited to find out that Beaumont had a team! Their home bouts are at the Beaumont Civic Center. Check out their website for details!
- Jefferson Theatre – They do regular screenings and events at this historic theatre. I went to see a Halloween screening of Silence of the Lambs and it was awesome 🎃🎭
- Tyrrell Historical Library – I spent several hours in this beautiful library, which was originally the First Baptist Church, and now houses an extensive collection of genealogical archives. It was in this library that I discovered I’m a distant relative of Mark Twain!
- Art Museum of Southeast Texas – This free museum sits right next to the library, and not only do they display exhibitions of talented artists, they also provide several art programs geared towards children 🎨
- Fire Museum of Texas – Home to one of the largest fire hydrants! I’ve been here twice to see this black & white spectacle, and there’s also an indoor museum dedicated to the history of firefighting in Texas.
- The Beaumont Botanical Gardens – Located in Tyrrell Park, I visited the gardens on a dreary Tuesday afternoon and immediately felt so peaceful surrounded by the beautiful landscape and water fountains 🌹
Here a few more suggestions of places to visit:
- Julie Rogers Theater
- Texas Energy Musuem
- Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum
- John Jay French House
- McFaddin-Ward House
- Crockett Street Entertainment District
Of course, being the animal lover I am, I would recommend taking treats and toys to the Beaumont Animal Shelter, located on Pine Street. They often do events and fundraisers where you can meet some of the beautiful cats & dogs they have in their care. To get the full scoop on my experience volunteering for them, check out my story about The Shelter Dogs of Beaumont, Texas.
And being the vegan that I am, I also have a few food recommendations. There isn’t a lot of vegan fare in Beaumont, which is a gumbo and craw fish kind of city. However, you can find great black bean burgers at Luke’s Ice House as well as Chili’s, salad at Jason’s Deli, Thai food at Chaba, tofu dishes at Pei Wei, and portobello mushroom burgers & fries at Willy Burger. Plus, the HEB grocery store on Dowlen Road has a vegan aisle 😍
About 30 minutes east of Beaumont, on the border of Louisiana, is the town of Orange 🍊 It’s the easternmost city in Texas, located on the Sabine River. My favorite thing to do there is visit the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center.
Click the link above to see the full story I did on the gardens a few months back 🌺🌿🌼
Also check out the Stark Museum of Art and the W.H. Stark House. While you’re close by, I would recommend going to the Texas/Louisiana state line and stopping at the welcome center. Head out back to the boardwalk on the bayou and maybe you’ll see some interesting critters 🐊🐢
While you’re at it, why not drive a little further into Lake Charles, Louisiana and try your luck at the multitude of casinos there? Could be your lucky day 🎲🎰
I’m terrible at the slot machines, but it’s fun to hang out for a little bit and walk the massive grounds of the fancy casinos.
Completing the Golden Triangle, the humid city of Port Arthur sits south of Beaumont and Orange, along Sabine Lake. It’s known for it’s oil refineries, hurricanes, and being the birthplace of several athletes and musicians, most notably Janis Joplin. You can learn more about Joplin and other performers from the region at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.
I enjoyed hanging out at the lake and walking the grounds of the historic Port Arthur College.
I think my favorite place to visit in Port Arthur was the Buu Mon Buddhist Temple 🙏 🏯 Beyond the gates of the bright orange building are beautifully kept gardens full of flowers, statues, grapes, citrus trees, and a koi pond.
On the way out of Port Arthur, my friend and I made a quick stop at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to see the shrine ⛪
About an hour and a half south of Beaumont is the beach town of Galveston, Texas. I remember spending a cold Christmas there with my family when I was fourteen and the beaches were deserted. This last time I went, it was warm and sunny and the people were out in full force ⚓👙
My friend and I drove through Crystal Beach and then took the ferry across. Just be aware that the line for the ferry can get pretty backed up. We went on a Sunday afternoon and waited about 45 minutes.
We drove to the main oceanfront area of town known as The Strand and ate lunch, then crossed the street to check out some shops, stroll around the the beach, and drink pina coladas 🍹🎡
Other sights in Galveston to check out:
- Galveston Arts Center
- Grand 1894 Opera House
- The Bishop’s Palace
- The Galvez Hotel
- Ashton Villa
I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to southeast Texas, and I hope to explore more now that the cloudy winter days are numbered. Can’t wait for the sweltering heat of summer to mix with the never ending humidity. But like, for real. I’m crazy like that 😎
Happy travels! 🚗