Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Port Arthur

By Chet Garner 2.3.21

Most people consider Southeast Texas a land of refineries, but at its heart, it’s a wonderful, swampy, delicious getaway. Nothing represents that description better than Port Arthur. It’s as far southeast as you can go — right on the Gulf where Louisiana meets Texas.

In fact, I’d say Port Arthur is equally as Louisianan as it is Texan, and in all the best ways. Cajun culture jumps the state border: There are folks down there who speak French Creole with a Texas drawl. And, of course, it’s the spot for the best Cajun grub in the Lone Star State.

Port Arthur

Cajun Eats

The first place to try in Port Arthur is Larry’s French Market, a market-restaurant hybrid that’s more than a mouthful. In addition to traditional Cajun cuisine like jambalaya, catfish, boudin, crawfish, and frog legs, Larry’s offers live music and a dance floor that’s always full of life. It’s well worth the stop.

The next joint to stop at is The Schooner Restaurant, a historic bistro that’s been running since 1947. It’s the spot to try true Texas-Louisiana fusion, specifically by getting an order of barbecue crabs. They’re deep-fried blue crabs that are dredged in a zesty flour seasoning that tastes like barbecue sauce. If you order the platter, make sure you have friends with you to help you dig in.

Lastly, if you’re in the mood for boudin, don’t leave Port Arthur without visiting the Boudain Hut. Boudin (or boudain) is a sausage link stuffed with dirty rice and seafood. It’s a classic Cajun treat that won’t last a minute on your plate but will last in your memory long after your day trip.

Port Arthur

Out on the Bayou

The outdoors of Port Arthur consists mostly of swamps and coastline, but there’s a lot to see. Go to Sea Rim State Park for a beachside view of the Gulf. Sea Rim is one of the most remote state parks in Texas, but it’s got coastal wetlands that are perfect for birdwatching — and gator-watching. Visit the boardwalk and you’ll be within a few feet of basking alligators.

For the brave of heart, Sea Rim offers a spot right on the water where you can camp. You have to kayak out to a little platform about 3 feet above the swamp where you can pitch your tent. (Don’t worry — it’s high enough to prevent gators from joining you.)

If you’re interested in fishing, I recommend swinging by Sabine Lake. The redfish and speckled trout are legendary here. If you head out on the water, the flounder fishing on Sabine Lake is the best in Texas.

Port Arthur

A Site for Musical Origins

The Cajun zeitgeist of Port Arthur isn’t limited to its food and its gators. It’s unexpectedly awesome how many famous musicians came from down here in the Creole basin. Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, and The Big Bopper, the Winter brothers, and the members of ZZ Top got their starts in the area. It’s no wonder, then, that Port Arthur is home to the Museum of the Gulf Coast, which is ground zero for learning about the musicians who come from this part of Texas.

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