The San Jacinto Monument is basically the Washington Monument of Texas.
When I first heard about it, I laughed because I thought, “How petty is Texas that they need their own giant Washington Monument, but a Texas version?” You always hear that everything is bigger in Texas, and it’s totally true… and, Texans have the personality to match. They’re very strong in their convictions and way of life. I’m not saying it to bash on Texans or say it’s a bad thing; in fact, I moved back here because I fell in love with my city, Houston, Texas. It’s all just something that is very unique to Texas.
But back to the monument. I actually think that it’s kind of a hidden gem in Houston. Locals know about it but it took me a few months to learn about it as a newcomer, and I’m not sure if many tourists visit. It’s really interesting and I do recommend visiting.
San Jacinto Monument resides in La Porte, Texas, about 30 minutes west of downtown Houston and a little south. It’s a part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and is open from 9am-6pm daily. It’s free to go inside and see the Museum of History at the base of the monument, but it’s only $6 to ride to the top of the column, or another $6 to visit their seasonal exhibit (it’s currently about the oil industry in Houston). Parking is free and it never seems to be very busy.
The museum is really cool and has lots of artifacts from Texas’s history. It’s quite small so it only took about 20 minutes to see and read everything. In fact, my visit to the monument only took around 1-2 hours total.
Inside the museum.
The San Jacinto Monument itself is a dizzying ~567-foot-high column with a giant 220-ton star on the top. It commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, a battle of the Texas Revolution in the 1800’s. It was built in 1936-39 and was dedicated as a state monument in 1939. It’s the world’s tallest column – it technically beats the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.! The Washington Monument, by comparison, has a column that is ~554 feet tall. However, the Washington Monument is still the tallest stone monument in the world due to it’s location on the hill, it’s base and how it was constructed. (It’s kind of challenging to find information comparing the two monuments). When looking at them both, they’re both dizzyingly tall and make you feel vertigo looking up at their tops when standing at their bases. After all, ~10 feet really isn’t that much taller when you’re 500 feet up. (But it matters to the Texans, trust me.)
It’s the little details that matter.
If you decide to visit the top, it’s a quick 30(-ish) second ride to the top of the monument via elevator and there is a very small landing spot on the top where you can look at the surrounding areas. I’d say that it’s worth it to visit the top at least once, but I’m not sure if I’d pay to go again. It’s pretty, but not necessarily gorgeous. You see, the monument is located near a bunch of oil mills and refineries and shipyards. To get to the monument, you have to drive through a not-so-pretty part of Houston filled with oil mills, refineries, etc. Seeing stuff like that always makes me a little sad.
Looking at views from the top of the monument.
Next to the monument is a long reflecting pool (just like in DC) and picnic areas. Once you get passed all of the oil refineries, it’s actually kind of pretty because there’s a bunch of nature that surrounds the monument.
On the other side of the reflecting pool, a quick 5 minute drive from the San Jacinto Monument, is the Brigham Monument and Battleship Texas. It’s free to visit and park at the Brigham Monument, and I highly recommend a visit. There are beautiful old trees in the park and random patches of headstones that date back to the 1800’s.
There is the Brigham Monument, of course, and a few other monument and historical pieces scattered throughout the park. It’s quite beautiful and peaceful, and there were a few people there taking photos. Unfortunately, across the bay is a shipping marina and more oil refineries, so just don’t look over there (it’s not a pretty view). There is, however, a pretty view of the San Jacinto Monument and the reflecting pool.
It’s a quick and easy walk to the Battleship Texas. Unfortunately, the Battleship Texas is undergoing renovations and was not open to the public during my visit. Visit the battleship’s website to check-in and see if the ship is open during your visit.
There were bathrooms at both the monument and battle site, and they were actually pretty nice and well-kept. I think that this would be a fun trip for families and adults who love history. It’s fairly cheap and you could bring a picnic lunch and eat it at the monument. In total, the entire trip took around 3 hours, and that was me stretching it out (but not including going inside the battleship).
Like I said before, I really enjoyed the San Jacinto Monument and Battle Site. I will be taking my family there whenever they visit next, and I’m excited to see the Battleship Texas when it opens again from renovations.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever visited San Jacinto Monument or have I convinced you to visit? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!