Nestled between Houston and Beaumont, the small town of Winnie, Texas offers visitors a taste of classic Southeast Texas culture. From exploring natural attractions to diving into local history and cuisine, Winnie provides a window into life in this unique region where Texas meets Louisiana. Though a small town, Winnie overflows with natural beauty, family-friendly attractions, and hidden gems just waiting to be uncovered. Read on for some of the top things to do in Winnie, Texas during your visit.
What to Do in Winnie
Tour the Big Thicket National Preserve
One of Winnie’s top attractions is the nearby Big Thicket National Preserve, which protects over 100,000 acres of ecologically diverse landscape. The preserve features nine different ecosystems in one area, ranging from swamps and forests to sand hills and savannas. Outdoor enthusiasts will find over 40 miles of hiking trails winding through landscapes teeming with native wildlife and carnivorous plants. Popular hikes include the Sundew Trail guiding you past insect-eating sundew plants and the Kirby Nature Trail traversing mixed pine and hardwood forests. Go paddling or boating through the cypress-lined waterways and lakes. Try spotting alligators, turtles, deer and hundreds of bird species that call the Big Thicket home. With so many ecosystems to explore, the Big Thicket offers limitless outdoor recreation right on Winnie’s doorstep.
Relax at Village Creek State Park
Just north of Winnie lies another nature lover’s paradise – Village Creek State Park. Here you’ll find the largest tract of undeveloped coastal prairie remaining in Texas, with 7,000 acres of natural splendor. Paddle the cypress-lined water trail in a canoe or kayak, watching for herons, egrets and jumping fish. Wander the sanity walking trails through tallgrass prairies filled with colorful wildflowers in spring. Cast a line for catfish, perch and bass in the stocked Lake Rayburn. You can even book an overnight stay in one of the park’s screened shelters for an immersive backcountry camping trip surrounded by the sounds of nature. With so many ways to unwind amid pristine natural scenery, Village Creek State Park is a must-visit during any Winnie getaway.
Winnie’s location along the Gulf Coast migratory route makes it a prime bird watching destination. In spring and fall, keep an eye out for passing neotropical songbirds like colorful painted buntings, indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, and more. Year-round residents include great blue herons, ibis, pine warblers, barred owls, six varieties of woodpecker, and the iconic northern mockingbird. Grab a spotting scope and binoculars to identify the many species inhabiting these coastal wetlands. The Big Thicket National Preserve and Village Creek State Park both offer fantastic bird watching opportunities, or stop by the Smith Oaks Sanctuary just outside Winnie. Here you can observe frenzied activity as thousands of egrets, roseate spoonbills, herons and cormorants gather to nest. With so many migrating species and native birds, Winnie provides a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Bike the Historic Structures of Downtown
Winnie’s quaint downtown centers around its main street filled with well-preserved historic structures. Take a relaxing bike ride past architectural gems like the Romanesque-style First Baptist Church built in 1909. Stop by the Trinity Episcopal Church, constructed in 1896 with ornate gothic revival details. Snap photos of the antique Winnie City Hall, the Victorian-style Chambers House, and the Queen Anne-style Dahman Home dating back to 1909. Many buildings now house local shops, cafes and businesses where you can grab a bite to eat or find some unique small-town treasures. Riding past these beautifully preserved landmarks offers a glimpse into Winnie’s rich heritage and simpler past eras.
What to See in Winnie
- Gator Country Adventure Park
For family fun, pay a visit to Gator Country Adventure Park just west of Winnie in Beaumont. This exciting animal park lets visitors get up-close views of over 450 alligators and crocodiles in natural enclosures. Watch them feed at different life stages from hatchlings to 13-foot long adults leaping from the water. Check out rescued exotic wildlife like zebras, monkeys, lemurs and exotic birds, or pose with snakes and gators at photo ops. Gator Country also offers bayous boat tours, ziplining, and engaging wildlife encounters that kids and adults alike will love. Don’t miss the chance for an only-in-Texas experience meeting these prehistoric creatures.
- Big Thicket National Preserve
To learn more about the ecosystems surrounding Winnie, stop by the Big Thicket Museum located right in Kountze. Interactive natural history exhibits let you identify native plants and animals and understand the unique biodiversity of the Big Thicket region. Other exhibits chronicle the area’s history from settlement through the lumber boom era and oil discovery. Be sure to ask about the rare ivory-billed woodpecker – this elusive bird was last spotted in the Big Thicket in the 1940s and sparked massive but unsuccessful searches to find it again. The Big Thicket Museum provides helpful context exploring the natural landscapes around Winnie.
- Cultural and Historical Sites
As one of the oldest towns in Southeast Texas, Winnie is brimming with cultural and historical landmarks. The Winnie Community Building served as the original two-room schoolhouse dating to the 1920s. The 1943 Sinclair Service Station on Hwy 124 harkens back to the early days of American motoring. The 105-year-old Winnie Opera House still hosts occasional performances today. And you can pay respects at the historic Winnie Cemetery dating to the late 1800s. These preserved vestiges of the past reveal the enduring spirit of this small railroad town.
Where to Eat and Drink in Winnie
- Big Daddy’s Eatery – This local favorite overlooking Pine Ave serves up mouthwatering Cajun cuisine like gumbo, crawfish etouffee and fried catfish alongside gorgeous views. Enjoy live music on the patio.
- Mi Casa Taqueria – Authentic Mexican food like fajitas, flautas and chile relleno that’s affordably priced and family friendly. Great spot for hearty Tex-Mex.
- Charlie’s Bar and Grill – Charming comfort food and scratch baked goods dished up cafeteria-style in cozy digs. Don’t miss their famous cinnamon rolls.
- Tony’s BBQ – Lively sports bar with pub grub like burgers and nachos plus a great beer selection with SA craft brews on tap. Relax after a day on the water.
Where to Shop in Winnie
- Winnie Trade Days – Every 2nd weekend of the month, this lively flea market sets up with vendors selling antiques, crafts, plants, homemade food and more. Find treasures and mingle with the locals.
- Texas Outback Antiques – Browse the sprawling collection of antiques and knick-knacks at this warehouse-sized shop. Vintage furniture, dishes, signs, toys and much more.
- Alligator Records – This quirky record store carries vinyl, CDs, cassettes, music memorabilia and clothing. The owner DJs live Radio Gator broadcasts in-store.
- Farm & Home Supply – Find Texas-made foodstuffs like rubs, jerky, honey and salsa alongside home decor, jewelry, candles and gifts at this eclectic boutique.
- Laugh it Up! Gifts & Novelties – Shop coastal-inspired clothing, accessories, home goods and gifts reflecting Winnie’s laidback lifestyle.
Where to Stay in Winnie
Monterey Historic Inn B&B – For a charming getaway, book a room in this beautifully restored 1906 inn furnished with antiques and modern amenities. Includes breakfast.
Winnie Inn & Suites – Convenient hotel near downtown Winnie with clean, affordable rooms featuring microwaves, mini-fridges, and free continental breakfast.
Tropical Hideaway RV Park – Relaxing campground with full hook-up RV sites and tidy cabins, plus a pool, dog park, cafe and activity center.
Piney Shores Resort – Idyllic waterfront cabins nestled on the banks of the Pine Island Bayou, with a fishing pier and boat launch on-site.
The Big Thicket Lodge – This peaceful adults-only lodge set within the Big Thicket forest offers scenic cabins with fire pits and a central clubhouse.
How to Get to Winnie
- By car: Winnie sits right along Highway 124, just 15 minutes north of Interstate 10 between Houston and Beaumont. Simply take Exit 817 from I-10 to access downtown Winnie a short drive away.
- From Houston: Winnie lies about 60 miles east of Houston. Take I-10 East from Houston, then Exit 817 onto Highway 124 into Winnie.
- From Beaumont: Winnie is approximately 18 miles west of Beaumont. Take I-10 west from Beaumont, exiting onto Highway 124 into town.
- By air: The nearest major airport is George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, about 70 miles west of Winnie. Rent a car or take a shuttle service from Houston.
The small town charm and many attractions around Winnie are conveniently accessed along Highway 124 just a short drive from Houston or Beaumont. With its scenic wetlands, forests and wildlife nearby, Winnie offers the perfect nature getaway or stopover while exploring Southeast Texas.
Though often overlooked, the small railroad town of Winnie, Texas overflows with natural beauty, heritage, and welcoming local character. Outdoor enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the biodiverse Big Thicket National Preserve’s trails and waterways or unwind at Village Creek State Park surrounded by coastal prairie. Learn about the region’s ecosystems at the Big Thicket Museum or go gator spotting at Gator Country Adventure Park. Historic downtown landmarks provide glimpses into Winnie’s past, while shops and eateries like Butch’s Landing reflect its blend of Texas and Louisiana influences. Whether you crave nature, history, culture or family fun, Winnie serves it all up with generous Southern hospitality. With convenient access right off I-10 and plenty to see and do, Winnie makes the perfect base for any Southeast Texas escape.