A man in a cowboy hat holds a large fish on the end of a dock under bright blue sky

© Todd White Stills & Motion

About an hour south of Houston and 10 miles inland from the coast, Lake Jackson brands itself the “City of Enchantment.” As you view its midcentury architecture, try its food, and explore its historical and natural sites, you’ll soon be tangled up in its spell.

Lake Jackson Historical Museum

This museum covers local history from the Karankawa tribe to the U.S.’s first FAA-certified composite aircraft, the Windecker Eagle. But the highlight is the work of 1940s architect Alden Dow, the son of the founder of Dow Chemical Company. Alden was given a blank slate to create a modern city for Dow employees, and he designed midcentury architecture and winding streets with silly names like “This Way” and “That Way.” This museum lays out his vision and how it came to fruition.

 

Bodega

While you’re downtown, meandering through the intersections of “Circle Way” and “Center Way,” you may stop by this old gas station for directions—and then stay for lunch. This joint specializes in creative sandwiches like the “Lt. Dan” with pickled shrimp, apple, and bacon; and the “Betty White” with roasted tomatoes, havarti cheese, and pesto. My pick is the “Ryan” meatball sub with homemade wagyu meatballs and sauce. If you’re thirsty, choose one of the 250 craft beers in stock.

Sea Center Texas

This complex comprises an education center, aquariums, a fishing pond open for private events, and the fish hatchery where the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department raises millions of saltwater fish to stock our bays and wetlands. Inside you’ll find a display of record-setting fish and sharks, aquariums that vary in depth and species, and a touch tank. Tours allow a firsthand view of how Texas scientists hatch juvenile red drum, spotted sea trout, and southern flounder to keep coastal fisheries strong.

 

Mammoth Lake Texas

If you’re SCUBA-certified and want to view fish in their natural habitat, dive into this freshwater lake and join perch, bass, and paddlefish. The lake floods a site where archeologists uncovered a prehistoric mammoth in 2003. More recently, the staff sunk vintage airplanes, sculptures, and even rides from Houston’s AstroWorld to the bottom of the lake for an even more entertaining dive.

 

Poly Pop Tiki Kitchen and Cocktails

This downtown eatery transports patrons to an island in the South Pacific. Poly Pop celebrates Polynesian culture with a laidback environment of palm fronds, island-inspired cocktails, and Asian fusion cuisine. The restaurant’s crawfish continually wins local awards, and its ramen bowls incorporate ingredients like smoked rib meat and Cajun boiled shrimp.

 

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 Lake Jackson episode visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

From the July 2022 issue

The August 2022 issue of Texas Highways Magazine


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The August 2022 cover of Texas Highways Magazine, the River Issue


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