How to spend a perfect day in Port Arthur, TX, year-round.
Port Arthur, Texas, in Jefferson County, lies deep in southeast Texas and is 90 miles from Houston and only a twenty-minute drive from Beaumont. And, with its proximity to Sabine-Neches River, Sabine Lake, and Sea Rim State Park, you can have a great time on a fishing trip with your buddies or a bird-watching excursion with the family. There is always something going on in this metropolitan area to spend a perfect day in Port Arthur, TX.
Its long history in the petrochemical industry is still ongoing. The city of Port Arthur is known for its cajun flavors, birding, fishing, and family fun.
Texas Travel Talk partnered with Visit Port Arthur on a destination activation. This trip included accommodations, meals, attractions, and compensation. All opinions are mine alone.
How To Have A Perfect Day In Port Arthur, TX
Just a short drive from Beaumont is a world of adventure in Port Arthur, Texas. Whether you’re coming here for outdoor fun on Pleasure Island, good cajun food, the faith trail, or one of the best museums in the southwest featuring Janis Joplin and many songwriters and football players, you’re in for a great day. And, don’t forget about Sea Rim State Park, where the birds love to play …and the alligators do too …so I hear.
The Texas Gulf Coast can provide a great day trip in many areas, and Port Arthur is the perfect place. I’ve got all the scoop here for fun things to do for the whole family.
Visiting Port Arthur, Texas
Being a native Texan, this was my first time visiting the city. Its rich history and the natural beauty I experienced while there make me wonder why we didn’t come here as kids when visiting my great-aunt in Houston. The Gulf of Mexico provides so much along the coast, so don’t limit yourself to those other Texas Coast cities down the way.
Have you ever driven over the expansion bridge, aka the Rainbow Bridge? That was a cool experience in itself. I was told to keep two hands on the wheel, which I did. But when Paul was driving (my personal tour guide!) I filmed us driving on it. It’s cool as you travel over the bridge and look down at the Neches River.
Below are a few ways to spend a perfect day in Port Arthur, TX.
1. Sea Rim State Park
The Sea Rim State Park is a popular spot for wildlife and many other outdoor activities, including great hiking trails, and best of all, its location has beach access. The 20-mile McFaddin Beach is part of McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and extends from Sea Rim State Park to High Island. The Refuge is great for crabbing, fishing, and alligators. Always check for closures before you head out. And, no, I didn’t see an alligator.
With average warm temperatures most of the year, Sea Rim State Park is a great place to plan your visit around it. Since purchasing the Texas State Park pass, I want to visit as many parks as possible. I was excited to add another park visit to my list and to put my feet in the water. There are not too many Texas State Parks with beach access, and that’s a double win for the family!
If you didn’t get enough bird watching at the park, there’s more birding at Sabine Woods. Just be sure to have a bottle of mosquito repellent on you!
2. Pleasure Island In Port Arthur
Fun things to do in Port Author, TX, include going to Pleasure Island. This is a great place for public access to the water, boat ramps, a marina, crabbing, and fishing. Plus, there are friendly RV parks. Take a leisure walk on the boardwalk for scenic views of miles of gulf shoreline and to watch the boats come in. You may see dolphins coming in with the boats if you’re lucky. I saw a dolphin fin, but it was too fast to get a video of it.
Pleasure Island Pier
The 275-foot pier and gazebo overlook Sabine Lake, where many anglers go fishing and families have picnics. Birders love this area, too.
Port Arthur Yacht Club
I had so much fun on a personal guided tour of Pleasure Island with one of the yacht club members and also a Port Arthur native. It’s not something he does for the public, but when asked a favor, he is all in. Thanks, Paul – you’re the best! It’s island time at the Port Arthur Yacht Club with something for everyone!
Check out all the fun on Pleasure Island Port Arthur.
3. Port Arthur Faith Trail
Three notable areas to worship for various faiths exist in Port Arthur and the St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Beaumont.
BUU Mon Buddhist Temple
A very colorful building of deep yellow with red trim (you can’t miss it), a zen garden, and a four-tier pagoda temple symbolizing the Buddhist faith. See beautiful lotuses and water lilies. Tours are available by appointment.
Address: 2701 Procter St. Free admission.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church & Shrine
A beautiful dedication of a 17-foot-high bronze statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that offers Sunday Masses and a Saturday Vigil.
Address: 3648 S Sgt. Lucian Adams
Queen of Peace Shrine And Garden
See a larger-than-life-size statue of the Virgin Mary and the beautiful garden as you come for peace and solidarity.
Address: 801 9th Ave.
4. Enjoy A Tasting At Clifford Distilling LLC
Located downtown on Procter Street is a relatively new veteran-owned distillery that offers handcrafted spirits in small batches of Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rum. I had the opportunity to experience a tasting and tour of the facility. Its rustic, manly decor and the large flags showing the dedication of people who served in the military took my breath away. I got to write my dad’s Navy rank on the US flag. Clifford Distilling offers tastings, tours, live music, and fun events.
5. Explore The Museum Of The Gulf Coast
Port Arthur’s only museum, the Museum of The Gulf Coast, displays notable people galleries such as Janis Joplin, including a replica of her Porsche.
I saw a sports legends gallery and many stars like Clay Walker, Tracy Byrd, George Jones, Jimmy Johnson, Edger & Johnny Winters, which I had no idea were from Texas, let alone Port Arthur. I also recognized a few actors by their faces but not by name. A lot of information and history is in the museum, so expect a couple of hours or more here while marveling over memorabilia you know or remember from your childhood.
6. Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site
Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site is Texas history! This notable Civil War battlefield tells the story of Confederate Lt. Richard “Dick” Dowling and his 46 men who prevented a Union attack on Sabine Pass. It’s a great history lesson about Texas’ involvement in the Civil War. An interpretive pavilion walks you through the story, and then you can enjoy a beautiful walk along the water.
You will explore an interpretive pavilion at the site that walks you through the story, a statue of Lt. Richard “Dick” Dowling, a World War II ammunition magazine, and beautiful walkways along the water. We enjoyed a fun little hike through history.
7. McFadden Wildlife Refuge
While you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss McFadden Wildlife Refuge, especially if you’re a city folk like many of us! The refuge is over 58,000 acres of coastal marshlands bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Take a slow drive and watch for unique birds in the sky – not alligators – you won’t find them – because they’re hiding. But it is their natural habitat, so it would be neat if you saw one.
8. Tex Ritter Park
If you find more time in your day, consider a 15-minute drive to Nederland to visit “Tex” Ritter Park and to see a tribute to Dutch settlers at the Dutch Windmill Museum. The small park and gazebo are behind the windmill.
Restaurants In Port Arthur, TX
Port Arthur is home to a healthy dose of Cajun flavor. Whether you’re looking for crawfish, seafood boils, boudain, or international cuisine, and all others, you’ll find it in Port Arthur. Below are some favorite places to dine.
Reel Cajun Seafood Restaurant & Bar
Reel Cajun is a seafood restaurant and a popular local place for good food and entertainment. Of all things, when I was there, a wrestling tournament was going on at the restaurant. That drew a large crowd. I ordered coconut shrimp and gumbo, and it was super, and I walked out of there with a full belly.
Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp
For good food and live music on the weekends, head to Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp. When I was there on a Sunday afternoon before heading back home, singer Hunter Courts was about to play. The day before, I drove by, and the parking lot was full of cars. I believe he was there then, too. I ordered a delicious meal of three different kinds of fish tacos.
It is an excellent burger joint in town with happy decor that serves Nolan Ryan’s beef. I ordered a no-bun hamburger, and it was delish!
A few other restaurants in Port Arthur to note are Rodiar Bar & Grill, Seoul Food, Walk On’s Sports Bistreaux, and in Groves is Larry’s French Market – a cajun restaurant – voted ‘best lunch’ in the past.
As you can see, you can do plenty of things to spend a perfect day in Port Arthur. I didn’t even touch on everything here. So, when you visit, check out dog-friendly parks, wetlands, gardens, golf, and more. And, also read about Fun Things To Do In Beaumont With Kids since it’s just around the corner!