Travel Writer: 15 Things to Do in Port Arthur
15 Things to Do in Port Arthur, TX
In Southeast Texas, right along the Louisiana line, you’ll find a group of small towns that have a lot to offer. There are so many fun things to do in Port Arthur, Texas, and the surrounding area!
Port Arthur is bordered by Port Neches, Nederland, and Groves with the larger city of Beaumont about 20 minutes north.
This town is a unique mix of cultures since it was a railroad town and a port town so you had people coming in by boat and train. This creates a really unique cultural mix in this area!
Stuck on the Go hits Port Arthur
My name is Anna Cook with @stuckonthego, and I visited in early June. Of course, it was hot, but there are plenty of ways to cool down. With tons of outdoor activities, you’ll want to spend time outside in the early morning or late evening and then find things to do inside for the afternoon.
From their Faith Trail to a distillery to the beach, here are some fun things to do in Port Arthur!
Eat Your Weight in Cajun Food
Cajun culture is alive and well in Port Arthur, TX and which means Cajun food is in abundant supply. While I was a little nervous because I don’t like spicy, hot foods I didn’t run into any dish that I couldn’t eat due to heat.
Instead of being too hot, the Cajun spices just made the dishes incredibly flavorful. A few restaurants that you shouldn’t miss are Reel Cajun and Rodair Bar & Grill.
At Reel Cajun, they’re known for their crawfish bowls which are absolutely massive. If you go to Rodair, make sure you get the Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer. I don’t even like fried green tomatoes and these were delicious.
Make a Stop on the Faith Trail
As I said, Port Arthur is made up of many blended cultures because of its past being a rail and port town.
This means that you also had all types of faiths entering the area as well. There are three impressive stops along the Faith Trail that are located in Port Arthur.
The first is the Buu Mon Buddhist Temple where you can walk the beautiful gardens and admire the statue of Buddha.
Next, the Shrine at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church is a beautiful 17-foot bronze sculpture of the Virgin Mary appearing to Juan Diego. The site incorporates rocks from the religious site in Mexico where the vision occurred.
Finally, the Queen of Peace Shrine and Gardens is another location of a statue of the Virgin Mary. This one was built by the Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church.
Visit the Museum of the Gulf Coast
One of the slogans for the museum is Jurassic to Joplin and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. I was really impressed with the variety of exhibits here.
On the bottom floor, you’ll find an exhibit about the Texas Navy as well as historical artifacts and displays about the Gulf Coast from prehistoric times up to present day.
Then on the second level, there are the Halls of Fame. The three different sections up here include the Music Hall of Fame, the Sports Legends Gallery, and the Notable People Gallery.
Every person included in these exhibits has ties to the Gulf Coast area so they either were born there or lived there for some time.
You do have to pay a small entrance fee to tour the museum but it is well worth the price as you can spend a couple of hours here easily.
Have a Cocktail or Tasting at Clifford Distilling
Clifford Distilling is truly a family business as it’s run by husband and wife duo, Sean and Wendy. Sean is retired military and their three kids have all served or are currently serving in the military.
Located close to the Museum of the Gulf Coast in downtown Port Arthur, you can stop in and have a tasting where the price of that tasting will go toward the purchase of a bottle.
They try to do events every other Saturday where they bring in food trucks and have live music. Follow their Facebook page so you can stay up to date!
There are a few things that truly make this place special. They are committed to helping the Port Arthur community and giving back to the area.
They also try to source everything they purchase from Texas companies unless it just isn’t possible. When you support Clifford Distilling you are truly putting money back into the local economy!
Watch the Sailing Races on Thursdays
Over on Pleasure Island, you’ll find the Port Arthur Yacht Club and on Thursdays they have sailing races.
You can watch these races from the jetty on the opposite side of the marina from the Yacht Club. The Lakefront Pier is what you can put into your GPS to get there.
Have a Beer at Neches Brewing Co.
Neches Brewing is a funky little spot right along the main drag in downtown Port Neches. They have a great selection of different types of beer so you can get a flight to try a few.
The owner, Tyler, started as a home brewer and decided to go all-in back in 2016. Now they have 20 different taps, canned beer from all over, and they also serve wine.
Almost every weekend they have live music and food trucks are often outside but you can also bring your own food in. It’s a great spot for a weekend date night!
Go Fishing With a Local Guide
Port Arthur offers some of the best fishing in southeast Texas! If you’re unfamiliar with the area then it’s best to go with a charter service.
Double-check whether they provide all the necessary licenses or not so you can purchase once you get there. There are options to fish in Sabine Lake or out in the Gulf!
Spend the Day at Sea Rim State Park
Sea Rim State Park is a must-visit while you’re in the area. They have three different beach areas sectioned off – the east and west beaches are ones you can drive on and central beach is pedestrian only.
If you’re looking for a more active way to spend your time, rent a kayak and get out on one of their paddling trails. I did the easy one which takes you out to a small lake and then back the way you came.
They also have moderate and advanced trails that are longer. The easy trail is only 1.8 miles though. It took me a couple of hours but a storm came through and the wind was pretty strong which slowed me down.
Bird watching and fishing are also popular here and you can borrow gear like fishing poles and binoculars at the park office.
There is an entrance fee and if you show up when the park office isn’t open, there is a self-pay kiosk. Make sure that you pay the fee and then attach the sticker to the inside of your windshield because the park officers do patrol the area.
Shopping in Nederland
Boston Avenue in Nederland is super cute with lots of murals and boutiques to stop in. The Welkom to Nederland sign is also very cool to see.
My favorite stores were Gaudie & Co. and Sassy Trendz Boutique – both sold super cute clothes, accessories, and some home goods.
Just walk down Boston Avenue and pop in any stores that look good to you.
Try Pizza & Beer from Buckstin Brewing Company
With delicious pizza and great beer, you can’t go wrong with a stop at Buckstin Brewing. It’s also located on Boston Avenue in Nederland so the perfect place to stop in after shopping.
The bar has a cozy feel and you’ll want to try multiple beers here because they have tons of good ones. My favorites were the Stroberry and Showcase Shutdown but the Lady Bartender was also great.
They talked me into trying the cauliflower crust and while I’m not usually a fan, it was incredible. I don’t even typically like thin crust pizza but this was so good! I had the Chicken, Bacon, Ranch and 10/10 would recommend.
Tour the Pompeiian Villa
If you love touring historic homes then a tour of the Pompeiian Villa is a must. The house was built in 1900 and the design was based on homes from ancient Pompeii.
After changing hands multiple times, the Port Arthur Historical Society purchased it in 1973 and completely renovated the home.
Tours must be arranged ahead of time as the house is not permanently staffed. The Museum of the Gulf Coast manages the home and there is a small fee to tour.
Check out Tex Ritter Park
Tex Ritter Park is also in Nederland and here you’ll find a small green space in town plus the Dutch Windmill Museum and the La Maison Acadienne Museum.
The Dutch Windmill Museum highlights the Dutch heritage of the people who settled in Nederland. You’ll find historic items and photographs here and it’s free to visit.
The Acadienne Museum highlights the French culture of the people who came from southern Louisiana to settle this area. This section of the museum is a replica of an early Acadian home.
Watch the Sunrise at Riverfront Park
Is there anything more peaceful than watching the sun come up over the river? I think not.
This park in Port Neches is – you guessed it – located right along the river. There is a boat ramp so when you come early you can watch the fisherman put in and take off on their boats.
The sunrise comes up right on the opposite side of the banks and is truly impressive on a clear morning.
Go Birding in Sabine Woods
Birding is huge in southeast Texas because they are located on the line for two different migration patterns.
Particular species use certain flyways so since southeast TX is on the line, they get species from both flyways instead of just one.
Sabine woods is just before you get out to Sea Rim State Park and you’ll see birds like hummingbirds, warblers, vireos and more.
The most popular time to visit is during the spring and fall migration times when bird populations are highest.
For GPS directions, enter the Texas Ornithological Society.
Visit McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge
Once you pass Sea Rim State Park, you run into the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge. On the left you pass the entrance to McFaddin Beach and then you can turn right to head out to Clam Lake.
McFaddin is a free beach, but the beaches at Sea Rim are better maintained so the small fee is worth it. I did enjoy driving out around the lake at McFaddin though.
You can drive around the lake at sunrise or sunset and see lots of birds and alligators. Bring a chair out and set it up on one of the many docks to enjoy some peaceful time with almost no one else around.
Things to Do in Porth Arthur, TX FAQs
Is Port Arthur, TX worth visiting?
As you can see, there are tons of fun things to do in the area so Port Arthur is definitely worth visiting! Whether you want to explore the outdoors or if you’re into history and culture there is something for you here.
What is Port Arthur known for?
- Port Arthur is known for a number of different industries – at the very beginning it was the railroad and then the oil industry took over from 1901 onward.
- These days it’s known as the hometown of Janis Joplin and popular destination for those who enjoy birding.
How do I spend a day in Port Arthur?
The perfect day in Port Arthur starts with breakfast at Kimmy’s Cafe. At 9 a.m. the Museum of the Gulf Coast opens and you’ll want to spend a couple of hours in there.
If you’re into historic homes then see if you can tour the Pompeiian Villa. Next head out to Buckstin Brewing for the perfect lunch of pizza and beer.
Take an hour and pop in a few of the boutiques to do some shopping. Check out Tex Ritter Park and the two small museums in Nederland.
Finally, make your way out to Sea Rim State Park where you can lounge on the beach for a few hours and wait until sunset. You’ll be hard pressed to find a prettier spot for sunset in southeast Texas!
Does Port Arthur have a beach?
There are beaches within 30 minutes of Port Arthur. The best one is at Sea Rim State Park where you have the option to drive out on the beach or park and carry your stuff out if you would rather.
Wrap Up: What to Do in Port Arthur, TX
There is such a wide range of things to do in Port Arthur and the surrounding communities and it truly makes for a great weekend trip.
Whether you like history, outdoors, or shopping in local boutiques, they have it here in Port Arthur. The multiple cultures also make this a special place from the Dutch influences to the Vietnamese.
So if you want a quiet destination close to the beach then consider Port Arthur for your next weekend destination!
Disclaimer: This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Port Arthur, TX. As always, all opinions are my own.