Looking to kill two birds with one stone? If you’re looking for something to do this weekend or a unique way to entertain the kiddos and take home an adorable souvenir in the process, why not play tourist in your own backyard?
The Birdie Passport Program is a free, fun introduction to the area’s birding scene while sending you on a scavenger hunt around town. To get started, simply download the PDF passport and map out your route as you fly around town chasing tail feathers. Each birdie ambassador has its own unique story, poem and sound. Think of them as town tour guides, leading you around the area’s star attractions while introducing you to the local wildlife. Beaumont designed the program as a way to educate locals and visitors on the importance of birding in the area (we’re located on two migratory flyways), while giving multi-generational families a hobby to bond over.
Collect a stamp from at least 10 stops and you’ll be gifted with one of the signature stuffed birdies that call the area home. Eight of the stops are free so you could spend less than $10 for a whole day of exploring. If you want to visit all 16 stops, it’ll set you back just $51, which is a pretty affordable day out on the town if you think about it. There’s no age limit to participate so if you just want to act like a kid for the weekend or bring your pet home a present (cats and dogs love ‘em) there’s no judgement here.
You can also snag a passport booklet from any of the locations or the Beaumont Visitor’s Center or download the app to track your progress right your phone via the Visit Houston experiences page. As they say in the world of Pokémon – gotta catch ‘em all.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll see:
Cattail Marsh Wetlands & Boardwalk
Notes: The place to try birding in Beaumont, Cattail Marsh is a special place to take in the local wildlife and sounds of nature. Beau the pileated woodpecker is the representative of the area, but on any given day you can see more than 250 species.
Don’t Miss: The sunrise or sunset (and keep your eyes peeled for gators!)
Lamar University Honors College
Notes: Relieve those old college co-ed days on campus.
Spindletop Gladys City
Notes: A replica boomtown educating travelers on Beaumont’s black gold rush, peruse everything from the old-timey soda shop to the printing press. The barbershop is one of the more interesting spots as they would rent the chairs out to sleep in thanks to the massive housing shortage.
Fire Museum of Texas
Notes: A great place for kids to sit behind the wheel and get hands-on with gadgets, the Fire Museum is interactive, entertaining and more than just a historical look at vintage rigs.
Don’t miss: Snapping a selfie with the largest working fire hydrant in the world. The design matches the resident bird, Spot, which was donated by Disney in celebration of 101 Dalmatians.
Notes: One of the most architecturally significant buildings in Beaumont, the McFaddin-Ward House is a fascinating look into the lives of one of the society families of the Spindletop period. Offering insight into life of a Southeast Texas oil family in the early-20thcentury, docent-led tours are offered by appointment Tuesday-Sunday a few times a day.
Don’t Miss: The man cave / billiard’s room and opulent Tiffany lamps and accoutrements.
Babe Zaharias Museum
Notes: Beaumont’s leading lady, Babe was unequivocally the world’s greatest female athlete, called “Wonder Girl” after her performance in the 1932 Olympics. Nicknamed for Babe Ruth, she participated in almost every sport imaginable from bowling to diving but really gained notoriety in the golf world. The museum memorializes her awards and achievements along with a bird of the same name.
Don’t Miss: Her many trophies and three Gold Medals.
Clifton Steamboat Museum
Notes: Dedicated to local heroes of past, present and future, the Clifton Steamboat Museum is an eclectic personal collection of wartime memorabilia, scouting, frontier art, and a vintage tugboat. They are open Monday-Thursday or by appointment.
Don’t Miss: The collection of wildlife prints and sculptures – you may even be able to find a piece that matches their resident birdie.
Pro Tip: You can save $1 by liking their Facebook page.
Ben J Rogers Visitor’s Center
Notes: The spot to learn about Southeast Texas area attractions, Ben J is a resource to all nine counties in the surrounding area. They have brochures and travel guide for any possible attraction you may want to visit.
Don’t Miss: Snapping a photo with the LOVE statue outside.
John Jay French Museum
Notes: The oldest house in Beaumont that’s been restored to its original state, the John Jay home was built in 1845. The interior is full of antiques and documents the life of a prosperous 19th-century pioneering family.
Don’t Miss: Outbuildings on the property include a blacksmith shop, tannery, privy, and smokehouse.
Beaumont Children’s Museum
Notes: Designed to ignite creativity and imagination through interactive STEM exhibits, kids love learning motor skills, practicing paleontology, playing with augmented reality, and becoming artists.
Don’t Miss: Located inside the Beaumont Civic Center, there’s another great mural on the exterior wall proclaiming, “You are the best thing about me.”
Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET)
Notes: Home to approximately 1,000 pieces of art, the exhibits are always changing to keep it fresh. The bird of the hour, the painted bunting, looks like a psychedelic rainbow work itself.
Don’t Miss: The permanent folk piece made out of recycled materials from Felix “Fox” Harris. What looks like a giant yard-sale explosion was once housed in a yard, to which he says God told him to “make somethin’ out of nothin,” giving him the idea to give old junk new life.
Beaumont Botanical Gardens
Notes: In sprawling Tyrrell Park, the Beaumont Botanic Gardens are the oldest public gardens in Southeast Texas and one of the largest in the state. A paved Friendship Walk takes you through various themed gardens in the part indoor, part outdoor exhibit.
Don’t miss: Feeding the giant koi in the pond out back and the antique roses.
Notes: Owned by a quirky middle-class family who had the property in their lineage for 90 years, very little has changed since 1924. It’s worth comparing the Chamber’s abode to the McFaddin-Ward House to see how differently the two socioeconomic classes lived.
Don’t Miss: They go all out for the holidays. Halloween is an especially eerie time to visit when they lead haunted tours and tell local ghost stories.
Notes: Part animal sanctuary, part animal show, Gator Country is home to dozens of “nuisance” alligators varying in size from palm-sized babies to massive 1,000-pound beasts. You can hold them, feed them, and even swim with them along with visiting other animals like baby goats, reptiles, and giant turtles. They also offer swamp boat tours (by reservation).
Don’t Miss: Big Al and Big Tex, both record holders for being the biggest alligator in captivity and biggest alligator captured alive.
Notes: A tiny museum dedicated to Thomas Alva Edison, America’s greatest inventor, the hands-on museum is an eclectic collection of his innovations. It’s the kind of place where you just may have your lightbulb moment.
Don’t Miss: His more famous inventions like the phonograph and cylindrical records.
Texas Energy Museum
Notes: The story of oil through engineering, learn how black gold is turned from geological formation to modern chemical refinery.
Don’t Miss: The robotic figures in the exhibits who do the storytelling.