They say the best things in life are free, right? I don’t know about the best things, but summer fun can get expensive and keeping the kids entertained around the house can start to feel like a chore. In case you’re like me and you don’t have a Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of money handy, here’s a list of 55 free things to do in Beaumont and the surrounding areas of Southeast Texas this summer!
Did you know we’re considered the Museum Capital of Texas?
Beaumont alone has more than 15! Add in surrounding areas and there’s no shortage of culture to absorb. The cherry on top: many of them are FREE or have a very small admission fee (but always appreciate donations.)
- See the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant at the Fire Museum of Texas. Fun fact: the spotted behemoth was a gift from Disney in 1999 to celebrate the re-release of it’s animated classic 101 Dalmatians. You can also venture inside the museum, which was once an operating fire station, and take in all the firefighter history, vintage fire engines, and take a ride in their fire engine simulator. It’s a must-visit for locals and visitors alike!
- The only museum of its kind West of the Mississippi, the Edison Museum is part science museum, part history museum dedicated to the life and inventions of Thomas Edison. Featured exhibits include the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and some of Edison’s earliest motion pictures.
- In addition to a permanent collection that consists of over 1,000 works of art, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas also hosts eight to ten exhibitions a year to keep local art enthusiasts always coming back for more. They also regularly host interactive, family-friendly experiences, like a quarterly Family Arts Day.
- If AMSET leaves you craving more art and culture, hop over to the Lamar University campus and visit the Dishman Art Museum. The museum serves as a teaching facility and offers students an opportunity to exhibit their work, as well as housing an impressive permanent collection.
- And if you still can’t get enough, take the short, scenic drive to Orange and visit the Stark Museum of Art. Housing one of the most significant collections of American Western art, this museum features work from renowned artists such as John James Audubon, Charles Marion Russell, and Georgia O’Keefe. The museum also offers numerous Museum At Home experiences, like Meditation Moments, Lunch & Look at Home, and Make Art Mondays.
- Did you know the greatest female athlete of all time was a Beaumont girl? Get to know our gal at the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum and Visitors Center, where you can learn about her life, see her many awards including her multiple Olympic medals, and even see footage of her in action.
- Did you know that the Downtown Beaumont Commercial District is considered a U.S. Historic District on the National Register – one of the few like it in the entire country? See and explore all the local, historic architecture downtown on a walking tour using this guide!
- Have you ever wanted to see a real windmill? See the next best thing at the Dutch Windmill Museum in Nederland. The museum is a love letter to the heritage of the area and was built using the real specs and designs of working windmills in Holland. The 40-feet tall windmill replica also houses a collection honoring hometown legend Tex Ritter.
- While you’re visiting odes to local heritage, swing by La Maison Beausoleil in Port Neches Park. The “House of Beautiful Sunshine” is an authentic Cajun settlement originally built in 1810 in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana and was barged down the Vermillion River to the Intercoastal Canal, then up the Neches River to its current home in Port Neches Park. It is dedicated to the preservation of the culture of the Acadian/Cajun people.
- Immerse yourself in history at the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site. It is the location of a significant Civil War battle – that lasted less than an hour and is responsible for the Civil War not reaching its devastating arm into the Texas interior. The site features outdoor educational exhibits and a scale model of the fort and battle.
- While not technically a museum, visitors always love swinging by the Port of Beaumont to see the largest freestanding propeller in the U.S., and a restored BNSF caboose. The Port is also home to the largest harbor mobile crane in the Gulf of Mexico, and is recognized by the U.S. Military as the busiest military port in the world.
- They say there’s a church on every corner around here. Our area is home to a wide variety of cultures, and with that comes a wide variety of faiths and beliefs. Hit the Faith Trail and experience Beaumont’s beautiful places of worship, from St. Anthony’s Cathedral Basilica to Buu Mon Buddhist Temple.
Have some fun in the sun…
13. Spend a day at the beach! We are surrounded by gorgeous shoreline. For the best way to enjoy the beach near Beaumont (besides the obvious), use this guide!
14. While you’re already in beach mode, check out one of the Crabbing 101 seminars or Shore Fishing clinics hosted by Sea Rim State Park! Park admission is required, but the classes and clinics are free! Check their Facebook page for upcoming events.
15. Beaumont is showing up lately for its residents and visitors with unique, exciting events such as the Summer Sundown Concert Series. Completely free to attend, spectators are encouraged to picnic around the lake at the Event Centre, enjoy the playground, feed the ducks, and listen to live music while enjoying the summer evenings. There will be food trucks on site for a variety of options, but attendees can also bring their own coolers. Outside alcohol is prohibited. Check the Facebook page for updates on date/times.
16. Remember ArTaco and how it was fun, unique to Beaumont, and arrived at exactly the right time when people were craving normalcy and community? The team that brought you ArTaco is back to bring you BEAULYMPICS – the Summer Games for All! A “one-day extravaganza of games, music, and entertainment with a Cajun twist,” all games will be completely free! Food, drinks, and some higher tier activities (like a dunk tank) will be paid, but don’t let empty pockets keep you from coming out on July 10 from 11-5 on the Great Lawn of the Event Centre.
17. Go for a swim in one of Beaumont’s two city pools (completely free for residents) ….
18. …. or make a splash at one of the local splash pads! For a full list of area water play options (Beaumont and beyond), check out the list Dani from Blessed in SETX compiled here.
19. Did you know there are over 30 city parks and playgrounds in Beaumont? Go play!
20. Hit up one of Beaumont’s Hike & Bike Trails for a family bike ride.
21. Port Neches recently installed a brand new riverwalk at Port Neches Park, with plans to expand in the future into a full, one-stop entertainment complex. Go for a stroll on the river!
22. Or visit the nautical themed Port Arthur Boardwalk and relax while you watch international cargo navigating the ship channel.
23. Try out disc golf! Klein Park in Beaumont is a favorite with players. The Cattail Marsh will loan out discs for play around Tyrrell Park.
24. Archery, anyone? Give the archery range at Tyrrell Park a shot!
25. Fly a kite in the wide open space at the Dishman soccer fields.
26. Challenge your friends and family to a volleyball game at Moore Park in Pinewood.
27. Smoke everyone in Ultimate Tennis at the Beaumont Tennis Courts.
Reconnect with nature
28. Feed the ducks at the Event Centre, or at Doornbos Park in Nederland.
29. Reset and recharge with Yoga at the Cattail Marsh.
30. See the private gardens and nature preserve started by Lutcher Stark in 1942 at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. The 250+ acre space includes a children’s garden, a heronry blind, frog ponds, and one of Lutcher’s original greenhouses dating back 100 years.
31. Then take time to stop and smell the flowers at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, which features a paved Friendship Walk to make navigating the gardens accessible and stroller friendly.
32. While you’re in the neighborhood, see local wildlife up close and personal at the Cattail Marsh, with over 900 acres of wetlands and over 8 miles of gravel roads along the levees that are perfect for jogging, biking, hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, and more. To cool off, visit the Education Center to meet Toto, the new three-toed box turtle mascot!
33. Explore all the biodiversity of the Big Thicket, which boasts 10 distinct ecosystems, with a hike along the Kirby Nature Trail. Perfect for beginners (and little legs) as well as experienced hikers.
34. Go for a picnic! Need new ideas for locations? Use my list of Best Picnic Spots in Beaumont to help plan your outing!
35. Many locally-owned farms offer free farm tours and visitors, and even the opportunity to pick your own crops (for a fee, of course). Here’s a nearly-complete list of all the agritourism options in the area.
36. If you don’t have room in your schedule or the desire to get muddy but still want that downhome, farm fresh touch, swing by the Beaumont Farmers Market Saturday mornings from 8am-11a at the Beaumont Athletic Complex! Free to attend, you won’t regret rubbing elbows with all the local vendors who are so proud of their yields.
37. Beaumont is an amazing area for Geocaching! If you’ve never heard of it, Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity that is basically a GPS-guided treasure hunt. Download the app and go exploring!
38. Whether you’re accidental birders like us or you take it more seriously, anyone who enjoys the array of birds and wildlife in the area shouldn’t skip Smith Oaks Rookery in High Island. The area is a favorite among thousands of waterbirds, and the Houston Audubon Society has constructed several viewing platforms to accommodate spectators.
39. Spend some time in our local state parks and let the kids become Junior Rangers. Although regular park admission is required, the Junior Ranger program is free.
40. Go pet the horses at the Tyrrell Park Stables. (You can also go horseback riding, for a fee.)
41. Cast a line and try your hand at fishing at Claiborne West Park.
42. There are reports of frequent shark sightings at the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. See if you can spot a few, or go hunting for shark teeth.
43. Turn back time with a stroll through the Rose Garden at the McFaddin-Ward Historic House Museum – and make sure to stop and say hello to Rachel and William, the pair of historic live oaks along the driveway.
44. Make new four-legged friends when you visit a dog park!
A little something different
45. Check out the vibrant street and mural art with a mural crawl through Beaumont. There’s a new mural by local favorite Ines Alvidres in the parking lot of the Visitors Center and Convention Bureau located at 505 Willow St.
46. Then head over to the Ben J. Rogers Visitors Center (located on IH-10 next to Ford Park) and selfie it up with the colorful, interactive “BEAUMONT” out front. Be sure to check in inside – the place has information on almost any location in Texas as well as local guides, a picnic area, and more.
47. And when you’re done living your best selfie life with the Beaumont visual arts, head over to Port Neches and check out all of their amazing artwork along the Avenue!
48. Complete the circle by visiting the Orange Travel Information Center. Our local Visitors Centers always bring the photo ops, and visitors can also enjoy an interactive self-guided tour of Blue Elbow Swamp along a scenic boardwalk.
49. Soak up the sun and good vibes when you visit Boomtown Market. A large collection of local artists, crafters, bakers, and more come together once a month to show just a fraction of what small businesses have to offer in Beaumont, all against the backdrop of live local music, delicious food trucks, and craft brews. Held at Pour Brothers Brewery on the Second Sunday of the month.
50. Sign your kiddo up for 2 free games of bowling per day this summer through the Kids Bowl Free program! Crossroads Bowling Center and MaxBowl are both participating. Family passes as low as $30 for the entire summer can also be purchased if adults want to join in.
51. Dive deeper into local history and art with a family selfie Scavenger Hunt!
52. Challenge friends and family to a board game tournament with complimentary board games courtesy of Sertino’s, Pour Brothers Brewery and/or Hard Bean in Lumberton.
53. Stop the summer slide by visiting the library. Summer reading registration in Beaumont begins June 11! For a full list of area summer reading programs, go here.
54. You know what they say about two birds and one stone – make sure you’ve got your Beaumont Birdies Passport and collect stamps as you adventure around town.
55. I’m trying hard to instill an automatic mindset of “see a need, meet a need” in my kiddos. Spend some time modeling love in action this summer by volunteering with your favorite charity or organization.
I’d love to make this list even better, so let me know if you think of things to add. Let’s all have the best summer ever!