Matagorda County, Texas -- America's Best Kept Coastal
(But Not for Long)
By Cheri Sicard and Mitch Mandell
MATAGORDA COUNTY , TEXAS, USA -- Just when you thought all the best places had been discovered, you find it's still possible to be surprised. For instance, a short while ago scientists in Papua New Guinea discovered a variety of new species of animals along with others thought to be long extinct, in an area no one had previously visited.
OK, coastal Texas is a far cry from Papua, New Guinea, but there is an undiscovered gem of a beach region right here in the good old United States of America. And that's getting harder and harder to find in today's warp speed world.
Truly, Matagorda County has so much to offer travelers, I am shocked I had never heard of it before friends convinced me to go for a visit. Travel writer and photographer Virgil and Angela Fox, the aforementioned friends, discovered Matagorda County a year before. Virgil and Angela loved this gulf coast area of texas so much, they bought a couple of vacation rental cottages, as both investment property and as a way to have a home away from home in the place that captured their hearts. I knew it must be a special place to inspire this kind of action on the part of two well traveled writers, so Mitch and I went to check it out.
We found an as yet undiscovered (by the masses as least) coastal area with lots of warmth and home town charm, along with first class fishing, birding, hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities.
Matagorda County, Texas is one of those rarest of places in the United States - a region where one can still find beachfront property at low prices. Real estate developers are moving in, so it won't stay that way for long. But even if you have no inclination to buy beachfront property, Matagorda still represents a great bargain for travelers looking for a frugal way to spend fun quality time with family and friends.
Matagorda sits where the 900 mile long Colorado River connects with the Gulf of Mexico. The long stretches of undeveloped shoreline, surrounding river, bay and open ocean waters, as well as copious acres of public use lands make Matagorda County a nature lover's ideal destination.
The diverse land and seascapes make for an even more diverse number of activities and opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. World class fishing and birding await along with opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, hiking, hunting and more.
Drift and wade fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of redfish and speckled trout. Those who prefer deep sea fishing can go for grouper, red snapper, amberjack, wahoo, black drum and many more.
Matagorda County sits on the central flyway - a major migration route where four major bird groups converge. It's no wonder the area is one of, if the not the, premier US bird watching destination, consistently ranking number 1 in the National Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count.
Visitors can take advantage of all that nature has to offer at the newly opened 1600 acre Matagorda County Nature Park and Preserve, featuring an 85-room nature lodge, environmental learning center, wildlife viewing areas, boardwalks and trails. The Matagorda County Nature Park, like the nearby Matagorda County Birding and Nature Center, and the Texas Nature Conservancy's Mad Island Marsh Preserve, are all indicative of the deep respect and passion the people of this area have for not only enjoying nature, but protecting it for future generations.
One of Stephen F. Austin's original three Texas colonies, visitors will also find a lot of historical interest in Matagorda County. The Matagorda County Museum, housed in Bay City's original U.S. Post Office, is a great place to get an overview of the area's historical significance, from its days as home to the Karankawa Indians, to its roots with French Explorer Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle who founded nearby Fort St. Louis, to its founding as one the first counties established after the Texas revolution in 1836, to its time as a major seaport, all the way to the present day when agriculture (rice farming) and fishing are major industries.
The Matagorda County Historical Society offers both walking and driving tour information for those interested in heritage tourism. A host of 100+ year old buildings, churches and historical markers make interesting stops when traveling through the county.
The attractions of Matagorda County are far too varied to go into in
one article, so click the links below to learn much more about the area.
For information about planning a visit to Matagorda County, Texas, click on www.visitmatagorda.com or contact the Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation at 979-245-8913.
Matagorda driving distances:
The two closest airports serving Matagorda County:
William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) is about 78 miles from Matagorda County and is served by Air Tran, American, American Eagle, Southeast Comair, Delta, and Southwest airlines. Rental car agencies at HOU include Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, national and Thrifty.
George Bush International Airport (IAH) is about 98 miles from Matagorda County and is served by 23 passenger airlines including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways. Car rental agencies serving IAH include Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.
Find the Matagorda County Museum at 2100 Avenue F in Bay City. Call 979-245-7502 or visit www.matagordacountymuseum.org.
Learn more about the Texas Nature Conservancy and their activities by clicking to www.nature.org.