Chet Garner stands in front of the Gulf of Mexico in a small sombrero and floral shirt

© Todd White Stills and Motion

It takes tenacity to live on the Texas coast, and perhaps nobody knows that more than the people of Palacios (pronounced Puh-lash-iss). This bay front town, halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi, has weathered many storms in its day. It’s not a town of crowds and kitschy souvenir shops. Instead, it’s all sun, serenity, and bay side treasures.

City by the Sea Museum

At this museum located on historic Commerce Street, visitors can learn about local history from the native Karankawa tribe to Camp Hulen Army base, which brought 14,000 soldiers to town during World War II. Most impressive is the story of the French ship La Belle and how a team of experts excavated the 17th-century shipwreck from the depths of Matagorda Bay. If you pick the right day, you can even take a voyage on the museum’s La Petite Belle, a half-size sailboat modeled after the famous ship.

Mike’s on Main

Every town needs a tasty diner, and Mike’s fits the bill. This quaint café serves up fresh omelets and baked goods for breakfast, incredible burgers and sandwiches for lunch, and a selection of house-made coffees and teas. When you’re finished, grab a cone of Blue Bell ice cream for the road and visit the neighboring shops on Main Street.

Luther Hotel

There’s no better place to unplug than in a rocking chair on what used to be known as the “Longest Front Porch in Texas.” (A hurricane wiped out the original years ago.) This hotel has been a stop for weary travelers since 1903. During its 117 years of service, it’s seen devastating hurricanes and raging fires. While famous guests including Lyndon B. Johnson and Shirley Temple stayed there, you don’t need to be a guest to step into the lobby and feel the years of history rush over you like waves in the bay.

The Point

One of the best restaurants in Texas is inside a convenience store. Not only can you grab snacks and fishing gear from the shop, but you can fill up on the Tran family’s Vietnamese food. Their versions of classic dishes like banh mi and pho are out of this world, and the fried shrimp wraps are the best you could ever hope to find in the “Shrimp Capital of Texas.”

Pier Fishing at South Bay Park

Palacios has the reputation of being one of the best fishing destinations in Texas, so you’ve got to try your hand at reeling in a whopper. My favorite spot to fish is the public pier of South Bay Park in front of the Luther Hotel. At night, the hotel turns on bright lights that draw in fish from all over the bay, which is home to record­-setting black drum and trout. On one night, I caught dozens of fish; it’s just too bad none of them were larger than my hand.


So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path,
I hope to see you on the road.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS. To view the Taylor episode visit Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

From the November 2020 issue
The March 2024 cover of Texas Highways Magazine

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