Thursday, 7 July 2016

Families looking for a laid-back vacation destination with an array of activities, green spaces, and tasty restaurants may want to head to Beaumont, Texas.

The town of 117,000 residents was formed in 1838 and was transformed during the oil boom of the early 1900s. Today, Beaumont is a thriving city and a perfect place for a holiday. Headed to Beaumont but don't want to break the bank? Take note of these 25 things you and your family can do for less than $25 each.

1. Learn about Texas firefighters

Is your child interested in being a firefighter someday? If so, you're in luck. Head over to the  Fire Museum of Texas—check out the larger-than-life fire hydrant as you walk in—and enjoy a day of admiring firefighting equipment from the 19th and 20th  centuries. Admission is free, and check online  before you go for special events like festivals and family days.

2. Bite into a burger at Daddio's

Daddio's Burger  is a local spot with a huge following ever since it opened in 2013. The kid's menu is crazy cheap—just $3.99 for chicken strips, fries, and a drink, and $3.69 for six mini corn dogs, fries, and a beverage. Adult meals aren't bad either. Make sure to get a shake ($4.69) or a root beer float ($4.49) while you're there.

3. Walk through a beautiful mansion

The McFaddin-Ward House Museum is a fascinating place to visit if you're interested in the history of Southeast Texas and seeing how the wealthy lived back then. The architecture alone—a Beaux-Arts Colonial style built in 1905—is worth the trip. Tours are available and cost $5 per person.

4. See where the oil boom started

spindletop

Texas is well-known for its oil and thankfully for interested visitors, there's a perfect place to go in Beaumont: the  Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum. This place commemorates the discovery of oil here—which changed the Texas economy—and performs re-enactments of the famous Lucas Gusher. Be sure to check the schedule online. Admission is $5 for adults, and $2 for kids ages 6 to 12.

5. Visit the botanical gardens

Beautiful weather calls for a trip to the 23.5-acre Beaumont Botanical Gardens. Free to the public, the gardens feature a variety of flora and fauna, including art sculptures and fountains. It's also a great place for bird-watching, and the paved pathways are perfect for strolling on a nice day. Check the  online calendar  for upcoming events.

6. Watch a classic movie

In the mood to see an older film in the theater? If so, head over to the  Jefferson Theatre. It opened in 1927 and entertained Beaumont for decades, before closing in 1972 and eventually being restored in 2003. The theater shows contemporary classics like "Home Alone" for just $5 per person—perfect for a night out with the family.

7. Play putt-putt

If your family enjoys arcade games and miniature golf, you can't go wrong with a visit to  Colorado Canyon Family Fun Center. For $22 per person, you get two rounds of golf and 40 arcade tokens. In case you get hungry, there's an on-site snack bar that offers flatbreads and other tasty goodies.

8. Visit a historical house

If history is your thing, you're in luck with a visit to  the Chambers House. Built in 1906, the Beaumont Heritage Society took over after the death of Florence Chambers in 2004, and soon learned that everything—furniture, clothes, and art—had been preserved. Visitors can now take a step back in time; $3 for adults, $1 for students.

9. Savor Texas gumbo

Tia Juanita's Fish Camp, a local favorite in Beaumont, is famous for their seafood and worth a try when you're in the area. The boudain quesadillas are to die for ($11.99), and the gumbo is also delicious ($4.99). After your meal, stay and mingle with the friendly residents.

10. Spend a day at the AMSET

The Art Museum of Southeast Texas—or AMSET for those in the know—is a treasured cultural touchstone of the community, and features more than a thousand works of art in the form of photos, sculptures, paintings, and more. Check the  online calendar  for public events. Admission is free.

11. Become a petroleum science expert

If petroleum science is your thing—or even if it isn't—you would be wise to head over to the  Texas Energy Museum  during your time in Beaumont. This place offers plenty of exhibits that cover the area's oil history, starting with the Spindletop Gusher of 1901. Tickets to the energy museum will run just $5 for adults, and $3 for kids ages 6 to 12.

12. Fill up on delicious Italian food

Frankie's Italian Grill  is a great place to stop for delicious food with prices that won't break the bank. Start with the fried pickles ($5.99), and then move on to a house salad ($2.99). Finish off your meal with some vegetarian spaghetti ($9.99) and a cannoli for dessert ($3.99). All that for less than $23 per person!

13. Celebrate female athletics

A museum  dedicated to Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the incredible female athlete who found success in basketball, golf, and track and field, is worth a look when in Beaumont. Didrikson Zaharias was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1911 and competed in the 1932 Olympics before playing in the LPGA Tour. Admission is free.

14. See the oldest house in Beaumont

Learn what it was like to be a pioneer in Texas during the mid-1800s with a tour of the John Jay French Museum, the oldest restored house in town. Built in 1845, the home showcases the furnishings of the old days. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for students.

15. Pay homage to America's Inventor

Thomas Alva Edison, known as "America's Inventor," is memorialized at the  Edison Museum, located in downtown Beaumont. The museum is free to the public and open Mondays through Fridays, and showcases more than 60 historic artifacts from Edison's life.

16. Go bird-watching

cattail

Cattail Marsh  is an exciting place to walk around and check out different species of birds. The park is free to the public. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera—but be on the lookout for alligators, too!

17. Groove to jazz at Suga's

Suga's Deep South Cuisine and Jazz Bar  is a hip place to spend an evening listening to jazz. Live music is regularly offered and food prices aren't bad. Don't leave without trying the crab cake salad for $18, or the Bayou Stuffed Chicken for $22.

18. Take in a show

The Julia Rogers Theatre for the Performing Arts  was built in 1928 as a massive, columned building downtown on Pearl Street. Baryshnikov has danced here, and the theater is also home to the Symphony of Southeast Texas. Check online for the latest show times; most events here are very affordable at around $5 per ticket.

19. Eat some fancy grits

You can't go to the south without having grits, and there's no place better in Beaumont than  Katharine & Company, a high-end restaurant with reasonable prices. Order the three-cheese grits with roasted asparagus for just $19 per person and enjoy!

20. Learn Texas military history

Did you know there were wars fought in Louisiana and Southeast Texas? Explore more of this military history at  The Clifton Steamboat Museum. The 24,000-square foot facility, featuring works of art from the past, offers tours at $5 for adults and $4 for students and seniors.

21. Picnic at Rogers Park

Grab some food from a nearby deli and relax in the shade at  Rogers Park. There's a great play area for the kids—including a splash pad and water fountain—and they frequently host public events. Check the online calendar before you go.

If you're in the mood for bread pudding while you're on vacation, there's no place better in Beaumont than  Two Magnolias  on Main Street. After an $8 chicken salad sandwich, dive into an order of $5 bread pudding (covered in caramel), made fresh daily.

23. Take in a Cardinals game

Not the St. Louis Cardinals—the  Lamar University Cardinals! Lamar University is located in Beaumont and the school fields competitive teams in football, baseball, and basketball. As long as you're in town during the season, you can head over to the stadium to get single-game tickets for less than $25. Check the schedule online before you go.

24. Get bowled over

Bowling is the perfect activity for downtime, so head over to  Crossroads Bowling Center for some quality family time. Games cost just $14 per lane per hour before 6 p.m., and $22.95 per lane in the evening.

25. Enjoy community theater

The Beaumont Community Players  is a local theater company that's always putting on fresh productions of well-known plays and musicals. Tickets are usually no more than $20 per person. Check the  online schedule  for locations, times, and dates.

 

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