There is no shortage of things to do in Matagorda County. From refined dining establishments to watering holes, coffee bars, a wine lounge, and more! There are plenty of waterfront restaurants where you can enjoy a meal, have a drink, and listen to some live music, all while taking in the sights and sounds of the water.
For those who are just looking to relax and get away to a homey, coastal environment, Matagorda County has a variety of places to stay. Book a room at our historic hotel, a bed and breakfast, a popular chain hotel, or choose from our beach rentals, vacation homes, and peaceful waterfront RV and camping parks.
There is much to be found for kids entertainment as well, including a bowling alley and arcade with activities suitable for young children and teens alike. There are two public swimming facilities, municipal parks, a skate park, a sports complex, a well-supported and thriving Boys and Girls Club, and a plethora of youth sports leagues offering everything from soccer to swimming, football, baseball, and basketball.
Matagorda County is a great place to live and work. With three communities located directly on the coast and the mighty Colorado River, Tres Palacios River, and Caney Creek running through the county, it is known for its appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. Boating, fishing, skiing, sailing, surfing, and just enjoying the sand and sun is often what you’ll find residents and visitors alike doing during the majority of the year. Matagorda County offers three golf courses, tennis courts, and plenty of boat launches for kayaking and canoeing.
For detailed information on entertainment, shopping, restaurants, outdoor activities and sporting, visit the Matagorda County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s Visitor’s Guide.
Wildlife in Matagorda County
Our coastal prairie land attracts hundreds of bird species, which in turn draws birdwatchers from around the world to visit Matagorda County. For many years, Matagorda County has ranked number 1 in North America for the greatest number of bird species documented during Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count. The Matagorda County Birding and Nature Center is a must-see for birding enthusiasts.
Waterfowl and all manner of game hunting is another popular pastime in Matagorda County. From guided hunts on private property to public land hunts and chartered helicopter hog hunts, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast here.
Matagorda County’s history is deeply rooted in agriculture. To this day, much of our land is farmed and ranched, a tradition that has endured since it was settled as a Mexican Colony by members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred almost two centuries ago. Each spring and winter you can witness a horseback cattle drive over county roads, across the mouth of the Colorado River, and on to Matagorda Island where the cattle are left to graze on Saltgrass throughout the winter.
The ag industry is celebrated every March with the Matagorda County Livestock Show and Rodeo. This two-week event has something for everyone including a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, ranch rodeo, youth livestock shows, arts and crafts competitions, a large midway, and plenty of old-fashioned fun.
Matagorda County is also known for its rice farming. Although it has been affected by drought in recent years, it is an $80 million industry in the county that has become somewhat of an agricultural identity. Each year around harvest time, the Bay City Lions Club holds a two-week event called the Rice Festival, which consists of pageantry, parades, a carnival, awards luncheon, and a rice dish cooking competition.
Local Arts and Culture
There are plenty of opportunities to cultivate an appreciation of and participate in fine arts. The Community Actors of South Texas is a thriving community theatre group that puts on at least three productions each year. The Dungeoneers, a high school speech, debate, and theatre club, is known for its award-winning program and also provides excellent opportunities to enjoy musical, dramatic, classic, and comedic theatre experiences. The Art League of Bay City and Matagorda County hosts a local and regional art show each year that features very accomplished artists showing a wide array of media. We also have a local men’s choir and Barber Shop Quartet that entertains the community regularly, as well as a community chorale that features classically trained vocalists performing such musical treasures as Handel’s Messiah at Christmas time.
History buffs will enjoy the Matagorda County Museum in Bay City and the City by the Sea Museum in Palacios. We also have an impressive 11 landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as many more listed as state historical landmarks.
The county has five public libraries – The Bay City Public Library and its Sargent Branch, the Palacios Library Inc. and its branch the Blessing Library, and the Matagorda Public Library – strategically located throughout the county to offer citizens and visitors access to great literature and information in all forms.