Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Palacios, TX

  • Published 2023/03/18

The quaint small-town vibe of the coastal city of Palacios makes it a great stop while visiting Matagorda County in Texas.

This city of just 5.21 square miles is tucked in the Coastal Prairie region of Texas.

Its port, home to some 400 vessels, is the third-largest shrimping base on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

With this distinction, Palacios came to be known as the “Shrimp Capital of Texas.”

The bay of the city called “Tres Palacios” is steeped in legend besides lending Palacios its name.

It’s said that 16th-century Spanish sailors shipwrecked in the bay saw a mirage of three palaces, thus the Tres Palacios name.

Palacios, however, is more than a city by the sea, as it also has plenty of inland attractions to discover.

Learn more about what you can enjoy on a visit to this city from the list below of the best things to do in Palacios, Texas.

Visit the City by the Sea Museum

Exterior of the City by the Sea Museum

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The City by the Sea Museum, located on Commerce Street, dates back to 1910 and offers a detailed history of Palacios.

Its displays include artifacts and replicas of tools used by the Karankawas, the original native inhabitants of the Palacios area.

Three murals depicting how the Karankawas lived are also displayed in this museum.

As fascinating, the City by the Sea Museum shows videos of the landmark excavation of the French ship La Belle.

This ship was used by French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier, and Sieur de la Salle, and it sunk in local waters in 1686.

The Texas Historical Commission excavated the remains of the ship from 1996 to 1997 and its artifacts were temporarily housed in the museum.

These historical items are now conserved at the Texas A&M University in College Station.

A downsized replica of the ship, called La Petite Belle_,_ is now anchored at Palacios South Bay Marina, which is a short walking distance from the museum.

Relax at Palacios Bay Beach

Palacios Bay Beach offers a quiet stretch for a stroll parallel to the eastern corridor of South Bay Boulevard.

This uncrowded beach is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the view of the Tres Palacios Bay.

The beach, which extends for about half a mile, has a spacious parking lot, and its entrance is wheelchair-accessible.

The beach is also home to South Bay Park featuring a small children’s playground with swings and slides.

The west end of the beach is home to the Palacios Pavilion where community events are frequently held.

Pose for a Souvenir Photo at Fisherman’s Memorial

The Fisherman’s Memorial is a Palacios landmark on Margerum Boulevard erected in honor of fishermen lost at sea.

Some locals refer to the memorial as “King of God,” a granite, 15-foot tall statue of Jesus.

A visit to this impressive sculpture affords amazing views of the Palacios Harbor and vessels at anchor.

The 12-ton statue of the Fisherman’s Memorial was built in 2012 as a private initiative.

One of its prime advocates, Tuyen Vu, was a former shrimper himself.

In one of his trips at sea, Tuyen recovered a human skull in his net, thereby fueling his idea of a Fisherman’s Memorial in Palacios.

Go Fishing with Captain Experiences

Captain Experiences is a fishing charter on Jensen Point Drive along the coastline of Palacios.

A fishing trip with the guide Captain Reyes takes you to the flats and inshore bays around Palacios.

These destinations include not only Tres Palacios Bay but also the waters of Turtle Bay, Vaes Bay, and Matagorda Bay.

Captain Reyes provides a 22-foot Center Console boat for fishing on reefs, sand flats, and other areas this charter has mastered.

Submersible baits, soft paddle tails, and soaked live bait are provided in a Captain Experiences fishing adventure.

The potential catch during a trip includes the big 3 of Texas: Flounder, Redfish, and Speckled Trout.

With enough luck, you may also reel in Spanish mackerel and Sheepshead.

Try a Birdie at the Turtle Creek Golf Course

The Turtle Creek Golf Course is a public facility formerly known as the Palacios Golf Course.

Its layout, which opened in 1966, spreads off Airport Road and Highway 35 and features wide-open fairways.

It was developed as a 9-hole course, offering par 36 play over 3,178 yards from the longest tees.

Water is on play on a few of the holes in this course with a 33.9 rating and a 117 slope rating.

This course is open year-round, and like a typical small-town municipal link, you can play here all day for just one fee.

Golfers at Turtle Creek Golf Cours have access to a teaching pro, a driving range, and rentals for golf carts (club rentals aren’t available though).

Stay at Dolphin Cove RV Park

Take an RV and extend your stay in Palacios with a slot at Dolphin Cove RV Park on Farm to Market Road 2853 on the northeastern outskirts of the city.

This upscale, executive-style RV park spreads on elevated grounds next to Cash Creek.

It offers weekly and monthly rentals on its grounds with lots of shade from the lush Pecan trees of the campsites.

Dolphin Cove RV Park is horse-friendly, and its waterfront sites provide boat slips for easy access to the water.

The standard power, water, and septic hookups are provided in the RV park’s campsites.

Traverse the Palacios Seawall

The Palacios Seawall extends over three miles, mainly on the coastal flanks of East and South Bay Boulevard.

This scenic stretch is a local favorite spot for many bikers, runners, and walkers.

Various outdoor activities can be enjoyed in the public facilities built near the seawall.

These facilities include two miles of lighted sidewalk, three public boat ramps, several piers, and jetties for fishing.

Pocket parks are also accessible along the Palacios Seawall, offering playgrounds and green and open spaces.

See Snow Geese at Cash Creek

The stretch of Cash Creek in the northeastern outskirts of Palacios is part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.

The birdwatching grounds of the creek can be accessed via Farm to Market Road.

The Cash Creek area is a great place to observe the winter migration of flocks of snow geese.

These birds, however, are just a sampling of the birdlife to watch in the Palacios region.

As many as 250 species of birds have been sighted in this Texas coastal area, including hundreds of thousands of waterfowl, like cranes and ducks.

Join the Pedal Palacios Annual Bike Ride

The Pedal Palacios Annual Bike Ride is an annual cycling extravaganza of the Palacios Chamber of Commerce.

Novice and expert bikers can join this event which features three routes of 12, 36, and 60 miles.

Its participants go on a scenic ride across Matagorda County and its astonishing views of water, birds, and landscape.

The quiet country roads along this ride are ideal for team and individual training.

Pedal Palacios Annual Bike Ride was launched in 2008 and is traditionally held toward the end of October, with its start and finish at the corner of 4th Street and South Bay Boulevard.

The ride provides six rest stops, with refreshments and homemade treats for the participants.

A post-ride shrimp boil in Palacios’ City Park also awaits the finishers of this event.

Join the Annual Shrimporee Festivities

Palacios bolsters its claim as the Shrimp Capital of Texas with its Annual Shrimporee traditionally held in October.

The city’s parish, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, launched this festival in 1964 following its parish priest’s blessing of the Palacios shrimping fleet.

Now held for over 50 years, this event features more than shrimp barbecues.

The festival, which is held at the Palacios Recreation Center on Perryman Avenue, also includes music, dances, raffle draws, and children’s games.

A golf tournament at the Turtle Creek Golf Course is an added attraction of the Annual Shrimporee.

Drop by for Eats and More at The Point

The Point is a family-owned convenience store with a country kitchen famed for serving pho, the national dish of Vietnam.

This slow-simmered broth with rice and toppings reportedly drew a thumbs-up from famed chef Anthony Bourdain.

He dropped by The Point while filming an episode of a segment of his program “Parts Unknown.”

The kitchen of The Point is also known for its Mexican servings of tacos and menudo.

The Point is also a great stop to shop for fishing tackle and bait, as well as to obtain hunting and fishing licenses.

Browse Antique Wares at Furniture At The Weekender

Antique furniture and other pre-loved items bring in a queue of shoppers at Furniture At The Weekender.

Located on Main Street, this antique shop is open only on Fridays and Saturdays, hence its name.

Waiting for this shop to open can be rewarding, as its inventory changes weekly, and the prized finds are worth the wait.

Besides furniture, Furniture At The Weekender also fills its shelves with dishes, glassware, pictures, and paintings.

The periodic sale it holds throughout the year offers discounts of up to 50% for shoppers.

Mingle with the Locals at Watering Hole on 2853

Visitors of Palacios will feel at home at once at Watering Hole on 2853 which operates in tandem with Graizer’s Grill.

Established in 2018, this pub is located on Farm to Market Road 2853 on the northeastern outskirts of Palacios.

Camaraderie rules among its patrons who can enjoy not only drinking and dining in this pub.

It promotes socials among its patrons through fun activities like karaoke nights and billiard tournaments.

Bands also play regularly at Watering Hole on 2853 where seasonal events like Halloween costume parties and adult Easter egg hunts are likewise held.

Check Out Pirate Queen Designs

Pirate Queen Designs is a unique shop located on Main Street, featuring an eclectic collection of chic coastal couture.

Its garments selection ranges from granny chic to space geeks, while its shelves brim with coastal décor rarely found elsewhere.

This store also features consignment booths with a wide offering of vintage booty.

A farmers market is another attraction at Pirate Queen Designs, with local cheese, beef, and coffee among the shoppers’ choices.

In addition, the shop holds art classes both fun and educational for its participants.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy a Buffet Feast at The Hotel Blessing

Exterior of The Hotel Blessing

Nicolas Henderson from Coppell, Texas, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit The Hotel Blessing on North 10th Street at its eponymous census-designated place about 12 miles north of Palacios.

This hotel opened in 1907, and its restaurant and coffee shop have gained worldwide popularity over the years.

The hotel’s restaurant is famed for its enticing buffet-style lunch laid out on a set of antique stoves.

The vintage furnishings and pictures that adorn the main hall leading to the restaurant provide The Hotel Blessing with a cozy dining ambiance.

Its restaurant’s menu rotates every day, with homemade rolls, cornbread, chicken fried steak, and fried catfish among the choices.

Hunt Feral Hogs at the Mad Island WMA

The Mad Island Wildlife Management Area spreads over 7,200 acres in the unincorporated community of Collegeport.

It is located 25 miles southeast of Palacios via Farm to Market Road 521E.

Special hunts are scheduled here for hunting feral hogs, considered a nuisance in Texas and thus with no limit for hunters.

Season hunts in this area also include alligators and waterfowl, including wild geese and ducks.

The marshlands and prairies here are likewise the habitats of sandhill cranes, bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, and white-tailed deer.

Besides alligators, the area is also home to reptiles like rattlesnakes and amphibians like turtles and frogs.

Hunters and visitors of this area have to be prepared to rough it out and procure provisions like food and water from Palacios.

The Mad Island Wildlife Management Area has no restroom facilities, and camping and open fires are prohibited.

Final Thoughts

A rich mix of activities awaits visitors of Palacios, fittingly described as a city by the sea.

Its coastal domain in Texas is a destination that’s exciting to explore at any time of the year.

The outdoor activities in the lineup of the best things to do in Palacios, Texas alone are more than enough to create a memorable visit to this city.

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