Plenty of outdoor recreation? Check. Thousands of acres of pristine natural areas to explore? Check. One of the quirkiest festivals in the United States? Check. There’s only one place this could describe: Clute, Texas. The city of Clute sits in the heart of the greater Brazosport Area, which includes Lake Jackson, Angleton, and the coastal communities of Surfside Beach and Quintana. Clute’s central location puts it just minutes away from all the fun things to do in the region. Relax on a beach, gaze at flocks of seabirds as they soar over salt marshes, or explore sunken boats and planes on the bottom of a lake, and much more. Of course, Clute is also the home of The Great Texas Mosquito Festival, an annual event TripAdvisor named as America’s wackiest summer festival.
Clute’s history dates back to the earliest days of the American colonization of Texas. The area the town occupies today was first settled in 1824 by Alexander Calvit, one of the 300 people who received a land grant from Stephen F. Austin. Together with Jared E. Groce, the wealthiest man in Austin’s new colony, he established one of the first plantations in Texas. After the Civil War, Soloman J. Clute and several relatives founded a community near the plantation. Only a handful of people called Clute home until 1940, when the town became part of the Brazosport industrial area.
You can get a look at the overall history of the area, from its earliest days until the development of the oil industry, at the Lake Jackson Historical Museum. If you want to see what life was like in the earliest days of Texas, head to the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site, a more than 130-year-old plantation located about 25 miles from Clute in West Columbia. The Abner Jackson Plantation Site, in Lake Jackson, is another great place to explore. This site was once a bustling 6,400-acre sugar plantation, but it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900. This area is also home to the first burial site of Stephen F. Austin.
Although Clute’s history is extensive, it’s not the only thing to enjoy while you’re in town. Explore a vast underwater area at the 55-acre Mammoth Lake Waterpark, the largest scuba diving-specific lake in the country. More than 70 sunken vessels, including various boats and a C-130 cargo plane, can be explored at Mammoth Lake, which is also a popular swimming and paddling spot. In 2003, when they were digging the property for the lake, they came across the tusks of two mammoths and other artifacts. A replica of these can be found in the restaurant adjacent to the Dive Park.
Clute sits between two incredibly biodiverse national wildlife refuges: Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Both of these vast natural areas offer nature and wildlife enthusiasts much to enjoy. Miles of hiking and driving trails wind through the fresh and saltwater marshes, coastal prairies, and dense woodlands of both parks, an environment that is an important nesting area to hundreds of migratory bird species. Meanwhile, more than 27 miles of soft-sand beaches are just a few miles away from Clute, offering plenty of space to soak up the sun, surf, swim, and fish.
If you’re wanting a bit more culture in your travels, Clute has you covered. Attend a concert at The Clarion, a 600-seat auditorium that hosts performances by world-class musicians. There’s also The Center for Arts & Sciences, an all-in-one facility that includes a natural science museum, an art gallery, planetarium, and two performing arts theaters. The Clarion and The Center for Arts & Sciences are located on the campus of the Brazosport College.
Clute’s ideal location means that its many things to do are always just a few minutes away. Whether you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, browsing an art gallery, or relaxing on the beach, you’ll find something to love in Clute.
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