While most simply fly past Baytown on I-10, those that know better stop and explore this incredible town where oil and water really do seem to mix quite well. To download this episode or purchase it on DVD – CLICK HERE.
Your first stop to experience the real Baytown should be the historic downtown district. And while it’s quite obvious this area has seen better days, there are a number of businesses inhabiting these old buildings that are worth a stop. To kick start your day, or to wind down your day, try Cork Grinders, a coffee and wine bar with great sandwiches and local brew (both the coffee and the beer). After that, head down to Portrait of a Warrior Art Gallery where local artist Ken “The Dauber” Pridgeon is using his paintbrush to memorialize every fallen soldier from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then if you need a haircut, shoeshine, or just to brush up on your animal taxonomy, head to the Trophy Barber Shop where old-school barbers are cutting hair surrounded by the heads of exotic animals. This place is kind of hard to describe. Just go check it out. Finally, when your stomach starts growling, head over to Sav-Fer Da Flavor, a local seafood and soul food restaurant. If it’s on special, you MUST order the oxtail.
While it may seem like this place is dominated by the oil industry without a single breath of nature anywhere to be found, but that’s not true at all. The Baytown Nature Center is a huge outdoor park where folks can play on the playscapes, do some fishing and crabbing, or hike on its amazing trails. Then to have a hands-on experience, stop by the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center to learn about all the amazing animals (birds, mammals, gators, snakes…) that call this part of Texas home. If you’re less about nature, and more about speed, check out the Royal Purple Raceway.
Last but not least, every trip to Baytown should include hopping the Lynchburg Ferry across the Houston ship channel to nearby La Porte, Texas to see the San Jacinto Battleground and Battleship Texas. San Jacinto is the place where the Texian Army, out-numbered and exhausted, beat the powerful Mexican Army in only 19 minutes to claim Texas independence. Walk the area where Sam Houston and his men planned their final attack and claimed independence for Texas. You take an elevator to the top of the monument peer out over battlefield and then explore the amazing museum housed on the ground floor.
While unconnected to Texas Independence, Battleship Texas is an amazing site to behold. This dreadnought ship found in both WWI and WWII and is now in its permanent home here in Texas. With all the guns on deck, it definitely qualifies and Texas’s largest gun show.
After your head is full of history, you’ll want to fill your belly as well, so head to the Monument Inn to eat some of the best seafood in Texas while looking out over the Houston Ship Channel. You can go with the all-you-can-eat fried extravaganza, or try a nice fillet of blackened red fish covered in one of their signature sauces. The “monumental” sauce will make your eyes roll back in your head.