Baytown Parks and Recreation
A huge nature center, water parks and many athletics and recreational areas are available to enjoy in the Baytown area. The Baytown Nature Center, at 6213 Bayway Dr., is a 500-acre peninsula that is part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. The park includes freshwater wetlands as well as a tidal marsh, providing a habitat for more than 300 migrant birds. There are many other animals in the center as well, and it serves as a nursery area for shrimp, fish, crab and other aquatic life.
The city offers two water parks, and Pirates Bay is the largest, covering more than 3 acres. Features include a lazy river that’s more than 650 feet long, large slide towers and a wave pool. Baytown Parks and Recreation also offers 20 miles of trails and over 1,300 acres of park land. The department oversees Town Square in Baytown’s Downtown Arts District; events and amenities at Town Square include the monthly farmers market, ice rink and annual
Christmas Parade. Visit www.baytown.org/city-hall/departments/parks-recreation
Baytown Little Theater
The best in community theater performances – whether a comedy, drama or musical – can be found at the Baytown Little Theater. The all-volunteer group has a considerable pool of talent in the area to draw from for its variety of performances throughout the year. The theater group has been going strong since 1961 and also offers a summer youth camp. Visit http://baytownlittletheater.org
Sterling Municipal Library
Baytown’s local library has almost 175,000 items in its collection that can be checked out, in a facility that covers more than 50,000 square feet. In addition to traditional library items, there is a wide selection of ebooks and digital magazines. With a library card, there are many resource materials in the library and online, as well as special offerings for K-12 students, college students, job seekers and hobbyists. The library building is home to many pieces of art, including murals and sculptures.
Houston Raceway Park
Cars run fast and furious at the raceway, which is a quarter-mile dragstrip in Baytown. The feature of the year is the National Hot Rod Association Racing Series event known as the NHRA Spring Nationals in April. There is plenty of seating – capacity is 30,000 – and there are concession areas available, as well as adequate parking. Other events include the TX2K Roll and Lucas Oil Divisional in March and Import Faceoff featuring exotic and domestic street cars facing each other in a variety of competitions over four days.
Also, every Friday night anyone with a valid driver’s license and a certified race vehicle or street legal car can take unlimited rides down the strip for $20. If you aren’t the straight-line type, then don’t miss the “Greatest Show on Dirt” during the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series” Texas Shoot Out at the dirt track. Something for everyone to enjoy. Visit houstonraceway.com
Baytown Symphony Orchestra
For more than 50 years, the Baytown Symphony Orchestra has showcased the musical talent of local residents, students and selected professional musicians from the area. The symphony is part of the Lee College Visual and Performing Arts department and is conducted by Pierre-Alain Chevalier. The orchestra is supported by the community in the form of ad sales, donations and grants, and offers about four performances per season at Lee College.
Baytown Historical Preservation Association
Step into historical Baytown when you visit the Baytown Historical Preservation Association living history museum at the Republic of Texas Plaza, 5117 N. Main St. The historical preservation association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of structures, artifacts and documents that reflect and represent the history and culture of Baytown, and helps preserve historic homes that are in the park.
These homes include the 1894 one-room Wooster School and 1910 Brown-McKay House. The homes show what rural life was like in the rice farming area that predates the industrialization of the Baytown area. The homes are open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month, with free admission. The historical preservation association also can arrange group tours.
Yepez Vineyard is an adobe-style winery that is surrounded by vineyards, creating a true Southwestern experience. Yepez premium wines are all made with Texas-grown grapes. In addition to public and private winery events, Yepez can also be the home to family and company events, corporate meetings and other special occasions. Visit www.yepezvineyard.com/home
Art Center of Baytown
The fine arts have a home at the Art Center of Baytown, which has been at 110 W. Texas Ave. for more than 10 years. The center is a destination for visual arts and offers classes for all ages. For example, ongoing oil painting and watercolor classes are offered, as well as classes for jewelry making, weaving, photography and mixed media.
On Fridays, people can work on their projects on their own schedule. Exhibits rotate at the center, and workshops are often available to the community.
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
Texan troops surprised Mexican army soldiers in this historic battle, which helped seal Texas’ bid for independence in 1836. This site in LaPorte, a short drive from Baytown over the Lynchburg Ferry or the Fred Hartman Bridge, includes the San Jacinto Monument, San Jacinto Battleground, Battleship Texas Historic Site and a marsh trail and picnic areas. The base of the monument features the San Jacinto Museum of History, which showcases more than 400 years of the state’s past. There is an elevator available to take visitors almost 500 feet to the observation floor of the monument. The monument also includes a gift shop and area to watch films.
Admission is free, but there is a charge for some extra features. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the monument observation floor and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the battleground and monument and museum
of history. Visit twpd.texas.gov
Battleship Texas State Historic Site
With action in both World War I and World War II, Battleship Texas has quite a storied history. You can explore it at the historic site in the Houston Ship Channel in LaPorte, where it is docked in the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site area.
Visitors can get a guided tour of the battleship or view on their own. Views include the Flag Bridge, which is 60 feet above the water, or below-water sights such as the engine room, sleeping quarters and medical facilities. It is open 10 am. To 5 p.m. daily.
Space Center Houston
You can see the largest collection of spacesuits and moon rocks on public display in the world at Space Center Houston, an immersive learning center for science and space exploration. There are more than 400 things to see and do at the space and science exploration learning center. Educational programs are scheduled throughout the year, as well as simulation experiences via virtual reality and motion simulators. The center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.