Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Lake Jackson

By Chet Garner 11.24.21

Catty-corner from Houston and Galveston is Lake Jackson, the proverbial City of Enchantment. If you’re not familiar with it, you may think that’s a grandiose label for such a small town. But once you learn the history attached to the name — or, better yet, once you’ve made a day trip there yourself — you’ll agree that Lake Jackson deserves such recognition.

Lake Jackson History

An Enchanted History

When you head into the middle of town, you’re hit with midcentury architecture that doesn’t look quite like anything you’ve seen in Texas. And there are other quirks — streets named This Way and That Way, and none of them going in a straight line. It sounds a bit like something out of the “Wizard of Oz,” but (unfortunately) the town wasn’t designed by munchkins.

The town’s architect was, in fact, Alden B. Dow, the son of the Dow Chemical Company founder. In 1941, Dow’s father needed living space for his company’s workers, so he turned to his son, who had both knowledge of city planning and architecture and artistic vision. The goal was to create a miniature utopia, one without grid lines (hence the winding roads) or the hustle and bustle of modern cities. In other words, the goal was to build the City of Enchantment.

Lake Jackson Food

Worldly Eateries

When it comes to food in Lake Jackson, first thing’s wurst: You’ve got to stop at Wurst Haus. They’ve got all the German classics, from sausage and schnitzel to pretzels and goulash — but the best is the wurst.

Next stop: Poly Pop. This tiki bar serves not only the best crawfish in the county but also tremendous Polynesian-Cajun fusion dishes. My favorite is their ramen, but they’ve also got great Buddha bowls, spam, and sandwiches.

Lastly, it’s dinner. If you’re in the mood for something more traditionally Texan, swing by The Fill Station for some barbecue that rivals some of the best in Texas. But, if you’ve got a hankering for even more worldly cuisine, head over to Bodega and order a wagyu meatball sub. Both spots are seriously delicious.

Lake Jackson

Sites and Sights

There’s plenty to do around Lake Jackson between your German lunch and Polynesian-Cajun dinner. If the weather is nice, head over to Mammoth Lake Texas for a really cool scuba diving experience. Beneath the lake is a C-130 cargo plane and a couple of amusement park rides from the old Six Flags AstroWorld. They were intentionally sunk to give scuba divers the opportunity to explore them underwater.

Another must-see in the area is Sea Center Texas, a marine aquarium and education center run by Texas Parks & Wildlife. As the largest redfish hatchery in Texas, it raises millions of fish that go on to populate the state’s many lakes. You can take an incredible tour of the aquarium and see trout and flounder firsthand.

Before leaving Lake Jackson, visit the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, home to some of the foremost bird researchers in the U.S. With 34 acres of birdwatching territory to explore, you can also watch over the shoulders of bird experts as they research the migration paths of birds traveling through Texas on their way from Alaska to South America and back.

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