Because of its location in Southeast Texas near the Louisiana border, Beaumont is a city with an interesting mixture of Texas culture and Cajun heritage. That’s one of the reasons that visitors, whether here for work or pleasure, leave Beaumont feeling a little more cultured and entertained. Beaumont is a destination unlike anywhere else, and if the company or organization you belong to happens to plan an event or meeting in Beaumont, you have to try and hit some of the best hot spots in the city during free time. Here are the top things you can do with a group—big or small—when in Beaumont, Texas.
Explore Downtown Beaumont
If your event or meeting is taking place at the Beaumont Civic Center, there’s plenty to explore in an around the center in downtown Beaumont. It’s within walking distance to restaurants, bars, museums and live entertainment. The best place to start is Main Street. Stop in and visit one or all of the state-of-the-art museums on Main Street like the Texas Energy Museum, where guests can learn about the state’s rich history in the oil industry. Adjacent to the Texas Energy Museum is the highly praised Art Museum of Southeast Texas, where contemporary art pieces and sculptures are available to view. For lunch, Two Magnolias is a great little restaurant located inside the art museum, where you can order a meatloaf or Hawaiian chicken—something a little different than you’ll usually find at a museum cafe.
Five minutes north is Walnut Street, where can you tour the Fire Museum of Texas, one of the best museums in the country detailing the history of fire safety. There, you will see vintage fire trucks and uniforms and learn the chronological evolution of firefighters and their equipment. A three minute walk south will take you to a museum that highlights one of the world’s most famous inventors and scientist: the Thomas Alva Edison Museum. At the Edison Museum, groups can view more than 1,400 original artifacts used in the inventor’s laboratory and visit its impressive library filled with vintage science books.
Downtown Beaumont has plenty of restaurants to choose from that can accommodate groups, including Bayou Cafe (delicious Cajun food), Green Light Kitchen (urban farm-to-table fare), and Chuck’s Sandwich Shop (a laid back bohemian joint). On Bowie Street is Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar, where guests can cozy up on white-tablecloth tables surrounded by Harlem Renaissance-inspired paintings. Talented jazz musicians and bands perform nightly on a small stage that overlooks the restaurant while you dine on delicious Southern comfort food.
Speaking of entertainment, what about nightlife in downtown Beaumont? You can find plenty of it on Crockett Street. If your group is into dancing, head to Dixie Dance Hall, a saloon-like bar with a massive dance floor that mostly plays country music. Pool tables and video games are also inside the bar. Dixie Dance Hall also has a designated concert and performance venue called The Gig where well-known bands and musicians frequently perform.
If you’re looking for more classical entertainment, consider checking out the lineups at some of Beaumont’s most popular performing arts theaters like Julie Rogers Theatre or Jefferson Theater. At Julie Rogers, one of the state’s most prestigious orchestras, the Symphony of Southeast Texas performs regularly, staging revivals of Beethoven and. Jefferson Theater features classic movie nights for groups inside the 1927 theater adorned with Old Spanish architecture and gorgeous sculptures.
Hit the Town
There’s plenty to do in downtown Beaumont, but there’s also a lot to explore around the city by rental car or Uber. A 13-minute drive southwest from the city center will take you to Gator Country, a wildlife and reptile theme park with indoor and outdoor displays and educational sessions about alligators, snakes and other creatures. Gator County’s “Gator Boys” also put on a show where they handle gators and snakes, which is pretty cool if you’re feeling brave.
On the outskirts of town you can also visit the Beaumont Botanical Gardens & Warren Loose Conservatory, where hundreds of native plants like orchids, roses and palm trees can be found in the garden depending on the season. Also located in Tyrrell Park is Cattail Marsh, a 900-acre natural destination that features gorgeous marshes and wildlife including colorful birds, alligators and turtles. Tyrrell Park is also home to a golf course, equestrian center, and several hiking trails. Another uniquely Beaumont stop is the Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum on Jimmy Simmons Blvd. Groups can watch the re-enactment of the famous Lucas Gusher at Spindletop to experience what actual gushers look like.
Popular restaurants beyond downtown Beaumont include Floyd’s Seafood & Steakhouse that specializes in upscale delicious Cajun cuisine and Jerry Nelson’s Hill Country that's outfitted with its own Wood Fired Grill restaurant and Backyard Music Hall. On weekends, the music hall is a popular spot for dancing to country music and live bands. The grill’s baked salmon, barbecue ribs and sandwiches have earned it a reputation as one of the best in Beaumont.
Take Home Something Special
It would be a missed opportunity to return home without nabbing some Texan souvenirs in some of Beaumont’s best shopping districts. Dowlen Road and Parkdale Mall are home to some of the best stores in the region. For boutique shops and stores off the beaten path, Dowlen, Phelan and Calder roads all have several one-of-a-kind shops like Pink Chandelier, Jackie’s Boutique, YaYa Clothing Co, and Luxe Boutique for clothing, jewelry, home decor and gifts. Lovers of all things antique will want to jump at the chance to shop at some of the best in the state at Burns Antik Haus, Finders Fayre and McManus Company. Urban Habitat, Grandma’s Basement and Jan's Antiques is where you'll find vintage typewriters, old photographs, and 60s dresses in mint condition.