Prepare for the beaches of South Padre Island
Found on the Gulf of Mexico, at the tip of the world's largest barrier island, is the inviting South Padre Island. This coastal community welcomes over a million visitors each year. Relaxing in such surroundings is pretty much mandatory, but there is an array of adrenaline-pumping activities for when you've had enough sunbathing. Whether you're to-do list features fishing for tuna, visiting the Historic Brownsville Museum, or trying out kiteboarding during the Kite Roundup, you'll find plenty to keep you going in this Texan strip of good times.
Things to see and do
Beaches and water sports
With more than 30 miles of pristine sand, guests can relax to the alluring rhythm of the waves, or test their prowess in this kiteboarding and wind surfing capital of the Lone Star State. Speckled trout and big game fish like amberjack and tuna await anglers in the Lower Laguna Madre, and further offshore. The 26-acre Schlitterbahn Waterpark is the festive backdrop of thrilling rides and attractions for adrenaline junkies of all ages. You can also experience panoramic vistas while parasailing 700 feet over the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to fantastic dolphin-watching opportunities, visitors can explore the natural habitats of the Birding and Nature Center along with the award-winning Sea Turtle Rescue Center. The scenic trails of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge are home to distinct and varied indigenous species of birds and other animals like deer and rabbits. Take a guided tour or explore this premier birding destination, to observe migratory birds, butterflies, sea turtles and other wildlife from the boardwalk, or from the impressive five-story observation tower.
Nearby museums include the Historic Brownsville Museum and Hidalgo County Historical Museum, both of which house exhibits chronicling the area's farming, ranching and cultural heritage, as well as artifacts from the first fort and the appearance of French teaching nuns. The 26-acre Gladys Porter Zoo and Botanical Garden is home to 1,600 animals. Located at the foot of the causeway, the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse runs tours that provide unparalleled views from its catwalk 50 feet above the ground.
In addition to its awe-inspiring fireworks displays, South Padre hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year. These include the Kite Roundup in spring, and the annual Texas International Fishing Tournament, Beachcombers Art Show and Cine Sol Latino Film Festival during the summer. The autumn and winter seasons are time for the Bayfest music concert, Sand Castle Days sand sculpturing and the Harbor Lights Festival. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, watch a colorful sunset before enjoying a stunning fireworks display every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
South Padre Island is served by three nearby airports, which are approximately 35 miles away. McAllen Miller International (MFE), Valley International (HRL) and Brownsville/South Padre Airport (BRO) have daily service to Dallas and Houston that provide connecting service to locations around the world. Visitors arriving by car can access the resort by taking State Route 100 and the Queen Isabella Causeway, which joins the barrier island and the mainland.
Best time to visit
The island resort has a relaxed atmosphere eleven months out of the year. While young adults are drawn to the rowdy excitement of spring break each March, most travelers visit from September through February to enjoy the warm winter weather.
Where to stay
A whole host of accommodations are lined up along the island for those traveling for either work or leisure.
The Hilton Garden Inn is perfect for the business traveler with its conference center, meeting facilities and fast Wi-Fi. It's not all work and no play though, as guests are free to make use of the swimming pool, gym and on-site restaurant.
The Ramada Limited is a great option for lower rates, positioned on West Gardenia St. Enjoy spacious rooms that are available with a hot tub, and provide Wi-Fi and a TV. Take a dip in the enclosed pool, then take a stroll around the block to find a tasty eatery.
* Prices reflect the lowest "base rate" found over the next 30 days. Rates are subject to change and may not include taxes and fees, hotel service charges, extra person charges, or incidentals, such as room service. All rates are displayed in USD unless otherwise noted. Converted rates are provided for your convenience. They are based on today's exchange rate, but the hotel will charge you in the local currency.