Bay City is a city in Matagorda County, Texas, United States. The population was 18,667 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Matagorda County. The current mayor is Mark Bricker. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.5 square miles (22.0 km2), of which, 8.5 square miles (22.0 km2) of it is land and 0.12% is water. It used to be named "Bay Prairie", as the natural ecosystems that surround the town are prairies criscrossed by creeks that lead into the bay.
Bay City is served by the Bay City Independent School District, a district of schools consisting of elementary, intermediate, junior high, and high school (Bay City High School). The district previously operated seven schools until they condensed grade levels. It is now operating five schools and is led by superintendent Keith Brown. Wharton County Junior College has a campus in Bay City.
Bay City is home to the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center, a 35-acre (140,000 m2) expanse of gardens and wildlife along the Colorado River of Texas. Other attractions include the Matagorda County Museum, Market Days every 3rd Saturday, and a variety of small shops and boutiques downtown. The Bay City Art League is also located here which has recently undergone major renovations and is currently working to revitalize the art scene in Matagorda County.