Beaumont: a hidden gem with autism friendly activities 

beaumont autism friendly

Autism friendly activities in Texas?

We had been looking for autism friendly places to visit near Austin, TX, where Charlie and Jude could have a good time. 

Even though they’re both on the autism spectrum, their needs are vastly different. Charlie is 11 and diagnosed with Level 3, severe autism, as well as ADHD and intellectual disability. He’s nonverbal and communicates basic needs using an AAC device. 

Jude is eight years old, verbal, and gifted. His mind goes 100mph, and he needs constant stimulation. 

When the City of Beaumont reached out to let me know they had some sensory-friendly activities they’d like us to check out, we jumped in the car. 

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From Austin, TX, to Beaumont, TX

It took us a little over four hours to get to our destination because we got unlucky with traffic. Overall, it was a smooth ride. We made a mandatory stop by Buc Ees to buy fresh brisket tacos and Beaver Nuggets and were on our way. 

We had a few places on our bucket list when we arrived in Beaumont. The idea was to find places that were either outdoor and not crowded or places that had accommodation/ sensory activities. Jude likes learning, so we stopped by a few museums. 

5 Autism friendly activities in Beaumont, Texas

1- Gator Country

This place was such a fun part of the trip. Gator Country is part rescue facility and part animal theme park. Three hundred fifty alligators, reptiles, and snapping turtles call the park home. We were able to feed the gators hot dogs with a fishing line, which was honestly incredible. Jude loved feeding the goats, turtles, and chickens too. We adventured inside to see snakes and reptiles; Jude asked to pet one and was able to. But the main attractions there are Big Al and Big Texas—the two most giant alligators in captivity in Texas, each weighing 1,000 lbs.

The place is enormous and outdoor. It’s fenced in, so it’s quiet, and there’s a lot of space to spread out.

Pros: Fun, spacious, quiet, outdoor, interactive
Cons: Risk for elopement

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2- Rotary Centennial Playground 

We loved this playground. First of all, it’s fenced-in, which is a huge advantage when you have a child with autism like Charlie, who elopes. 

This playground was explicitly designed so that children with physical and developmental disabilities and younger children could play and interact without conventional equipment and landscaping limitations. 

It was a hit with both Charlie and Jude.

Pros: safe, fun, accessible 
Cons: none 

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3- Beaumont Children’s Museum

I was very impressed with the many sensory-friendly activities at the Beaumont Children’s Museum. 

Charlie had a blast. He especially loved the sensory area and sandbox. He was hyped the entire time. 

Jude loved the light peg wall and the microscope. There were many fun STEM activities.

Pros: fun, tons of sensory and STEM activities, safe, easy parking 
Cons: too much fun, hard to leave  🙂

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4- Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum

On January 10, 1901, the Lucas Gusher roared to life on Spindletop Hill outside Beaumont, Texas. This spectacle ushered in the petroleum age, changing the course of United States history. Spindletop Boomtown Museum takes visitors back in time to experience what life was like on the hill for the workers, dealmakers, and families who called this area home during the early 20th-century boom days.

Jude had a great time walking from building to building in this spacious and fun museum.

Pros: fun, interactive, quiet, outdoor, lots of space, not crowded
Cons: the museum is not fenced-in, but it’s in a quiet rural area 

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5- Fire Museum of Texas

Open since 1984, it’s a tribute to firefighters that houses a collection of antique engines and firefighting equipment dating back to the 1800s. We took a picture in front of the original World’s Largest Fire Hydrant.

Jude loved this one, too. He got to “drive” a fire truck and wear a fireman’s uniform. The museum is a two-story building with lots of fun activities for children. 

We told the owner about the boys’ diagnosis, and she asked if we wanted the lights turned down. 

The museum was informative for us parents, too. 

Pros: fun, lots of activities, friendly staff, informative 
Cons: certain items require gentle handling, which can be difficult for certain kids with autism

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6- Cattail Marsh

If you love nature and wildlife, this is the place for you. Being from Austin, we were amused and slightly frightened at the gator warning signs. 

Cattail Marsh is a gem in the city. It’s a reclaimed wastewater treatment plant turned wetlands boardwalk. It’s a wildlife refuge for various aquatic mammals and more than 250 species of birds annually, including pelicans, egrets, roseate spoonbills, ducks, ibis, doves, red-winged blackbirds, and gators. Free weekly yoga from 9:30-10:30, kid’s activities and crafts, van tours, nature screenings, binoculars, and disc golf to borrow.

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Where we ate in Beaumont, TX

JW’s Patio

The food was incredible. Charlie ate everything that was presented to him: steak fries, nachos with beef, chicken nuggets. The place is lovely. They have an outdoor patio and booths inside. It was a little too loud when we went because it was a rainy Friday night, and everyone was inside, but if you go on a night that isn’t as busy, it will be quieter. Just ask for a booth or an outdoor seat. The food is worth it, trust me. Charlie accidentally broke a glass of water, and the staff was friendly. No one complained about his loud stimming either. Even though the place doesn’t offer specific accommodations for autism, there was a quiet understanding and no judgment.

Pros: Incredible food, booths, patio, friendly staff
Cons: Loud when outdoor area isn’t open

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Rao’s Bakery on Dowlen

Rao’s Bakery is a little gem. Charlie started jumping up and down at the sight of a big pile of macarons in the vitrine. Jude asked for a cake for breakfast, and since we don’t go out of our comfort zone often, I agreed. The place is dark, so if you have an autistic child sensitive to light, you will enjoy this bakery. There are booths available and a little outdoor patio. It’s a little gem.

Pros: Dark, great food, large booths, patio
Cons: Small so that it can feel crowded

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Pine Tree Lodge

Before heading back to Austin, we had lunch at Tree Lodge Pine. 

The restaurant overlooks Taylor Bayou, home to wild alligators, birds, and native plants. It’s enormous and has a massive indoor and outdoor multi-purpose space.

They have great seafood and even gator bites. We were ready to try them but bailed out for some crab cakes and a Po-Boy sandwich at the last minute. 

That’s it, y’all! If you know of more autism friendly places in Beaumont, comment below.

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We had such a great tip, and I was pleasantly surprised by the sensory-friendly activities available in Beaumont. 

I am leaving you with more photos from our Autism-friendly trip to Beaumont. Enjoy!

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