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10 must-see area attractions

The Golden Triangle is filled with must-see attractions that may sometimes go unnoticed because they are right here in our own backyard.

We pass them en route to work or the grocery store and promise we’ll visit one day; sometimes, that day never comes.

We asked area tourism experts to think outside the box when talking about “must-see sites” and they chimed in with a list of some favorites. We whittled down the list to 10 attractions you must see in 2018:

Birding is a popular activity at Sea Rim State Park.
Courtesy photo

  • Sea Rim State Park, 19335 S. Gulfway Drive, Sabine Pass.

The state park, in the far southeastern corner of Texas, has 5.2 miles of Gulf shoreline and includes 4,000 acres of marshlands. Patrons can camp, go birding or beach combing, paddle in a canoe or kayak, swim, fish, hunt in season or walk the Gambusia Nature Trail and peek at alligators or stroll the beach.

“A lot of people don’t really know what’s all out there,” Tammy Kotzur, executive director of the Port Arthur Convention and Visitors Bureau, said.

Hurricane Ike’s storm surge in 2008 changed the face of the park, taking with it the multistory main headquarters that featured a museum of nature exhibits. Repairs have been made to the park and there are now restrooms, 15 campsites with utilities and a cabin to rent as well as primitive camping along the beach.

And since Sea Rim is a state park, patrons don’t need a fishing license to fish there. In addition, the park offers classes such in fishing, crabbing and more.

Daily entrance fees cost $3 daily with children 12 and under free. The park number is 409-971-2559.

A scene from the Buu Mon Buddhist Temple gardens in Port Arthur.
Mary Meaux/The News

  • Buu Mon Buddhist Temple Gardens, 2701 Procter St., Port Arthur.

The temple grounds feature four garden areas filled with lotuses and water lilies, tranquil places to stop and rest, watch koi swim in ponds, different varieties of bamboo and citrus trees.

The gardens are the focus of the annual Lotus Garden Tour.

“The gardens are incredible,” Kotzur said.

Nederland’s Dutch Windmill Museum pays homage to the city’s Dutch heritage.
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  • Dutch Windmill Museum, 1500 Boston Ave., Nederland.

The Dutch Windmill Museum is hard to miss — a 40-foot tall, windmill-shaped structure houses a three-story museum paying homage to the city’s Dutch settlers.

Inside you’ll find Western singer Tex Ritter’s suit, boots and other items — Ritter once called Nederland home. You’ll also find Dutch wooden shoes, a trunk brought from Holland more than 100 years ago, a gift shop and more.

Admission is free. For information, call 722-0279.

La Maison Beausoleil in Port Neches.
Mary Meaux/The News

  • La Maison Beausoleil, or house of beautiful sunshine, is located in the Port Neches Riverfront Park.

The house was built around 1810 in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana and is an authentic Cajun architectural style home. It was donated to the ground and barged to its current location.

The Cajun house features many artifacts used by Cajun families more than a century ago.

Les Acadiens Du Texas, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Cajun culture and language, oversees the house. Many of the organization’s members are senior citizens and the house is only open on special occasions such as during Port Neches Riverfest. Tours may be arraigned by calling or 722-1688, 722-9554. Admission is free.

Larry’s French Market and Cajun Restaurant is a place to kick up your hells and grab some good food.
Mary Meaux/The News

Readers may wonder how an eatery got on the list of must-see attractions but there’s good reason. “Larry’s” as it is known locally, is known as the principal place for a Cajun experience.

There’s the crawfish, live music and Cajun dancing, old photos and scenic murals of marshes and typical Cajun scenes.

  • Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown, 5500 Jimmy Simmons Blvd., Beaumont.

“There are a lot of people who have never gone to Spindletop,” Kotzur said. “It’s educational. It’s a way for kids to see how people lived in that time period. Kids today may find it hard to fathom how their great-grandparents may have lived.”

The museum was built to commemorate the discovery of oil at the Spindletop Hill salt dome, which eventually led to the area’s main industry.

Step back in time, watch the gusher blow or tour the town with a wild west feel.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Last admission time is 4:20 p.m. and the gift shop closes at 4:30 p.m., according to the website. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Information: 409-880-1750 or 409-880-1762 or gladyscityinfo@gmail.com

Admission: adults, $5; seniors 60 and over, $3; children 6-12, $2; 5 and under, free. Discounts available for certain groups.

The museum consists of a 24,000-square-foot, two-story museum featuring exhibits on wars fought in Texas, steamboats, artifacts and art.

Outside the museum is the star attraction — of sorts — the 1938 tugboat, “Hercules,” standing 36-foot high, 22-feet wide and 92-feet long, the website says.

The museum is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by appointment. Admission: adults, $7; senior citizens, students and veterans, $5; children 5 and under, free. For more information, call 409-842-3126.

You can check out a Broadway show at the Lutcher Theater.
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  • Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts, 707 Main Ave., Orange.

Jenny Kaiser, marketing manager with the Stark Cultural Venues as well as Kotzur suggested this gem.

Looking to see a Broadway play, look no further than the Lutcher. The theater just recently hosted the Rogers and Hammerstein, Tony-award-wining Broadway musical Cinderella, and on Thursday will host “A Night with Janis Joplin,” written and directed by Randy Johnson.

Other upcoming shows include “On Golden Pond” and “Chicago The Musical.”

For more information, call 409-886-5535.

The museum features American Western art, American Indian art, rare books and manuscripts and decorative arts.

Or drop by and check out the exhibits, one of which is the Long Shadow Exhibition and book signing set for 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 27. The exhibit tells the history of the Lutcher and Stark families alongside the business they operated, the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Co., according to the museum’s Facebook page.

The Stark Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday and major holidays. Entry to the museum is free.

The W.H. Stark historical home in Orange is well worth the visit.
Courtesy photo

  • The W.H. Stark House, 610 Main Ave., Orange.

The W.H. Stark House Tour is a walking tour through a 14,000-square-foot, three-story home that stands much as it did at the turn of the 20th century, with 15 rooms of original family furnishings, personal effects and decorative arts, including antique rugs, original textiles, silver, cut glass, and antique porcelain, according to the website.

Built in 1894, The W.H. Stark House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission. All tours start at the Carriage House at 610 W. Main Avenue (just behind The W.H. Stark House) and parking is available in the Lutcher Theater parking lot. Stairs are an essential part of the tour. Admission is limited to individuals 6 years and older. This tour takes about 45 minutes. The W.H. Stark House Carriage House is open Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours occur regularly Tuesday – Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. The last tour starts at 4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday, New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day.

For admission, pricing and more information call, 409-833-0871.