Sitting at the southern tip of Texas, South Padre Island is a tropical oasis bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay. With 34 miles of white sand beaches, bustling streets and a throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude, South Padre Island is truly a place to unwind and take it easy. This isn’t the place for a suit and tie – South Padre is a flip-flop and tank top type of place. Whether you’re traveling with the whole family, a group of friends or just your sweetie, this pristine oasis is sure to have something special in store for you.
As you drive across the 2.5-mile Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge and onto the barrier island, you’ll find yourself in what some might call heaven on earth. With an average of 253 days of sunshine per year and temperatures that teeter between 65 and 82 degrees, South Padre Island will make all your worries wash away in the sand.
South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center:
Whether you’re just in the mood for a stroll, or you are an avid birder, the South Padre Island Nature Center is a beautiful place to visit. With more than 4,800 feet of linear boardwalk and a five-story tower ideal for spotting birds in flight and other local wildlife, this attraction is great for both kids and adults. You can head out on a scheduled bird walk at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, offered by the center, if you want a guide to point things out, or you can venture out on your own.
Schlitterbahn Beach Resort:
If you’re traveling with the entire family, the Schlitterbahn Beach Resort and waterpark is a must-visit. Kids will love the surfing ops, tube chute, tubing adventure and much more, while parents can enjoy Bob’s Float-In Bar or Palapa Swim-Up Bar for a refreshing beverage. Since the weather is so beautiful here year round, some attractions stay open for 12 months, while others are just seasonal. Soak up the sun at this massive water park and let the kids splash around.
While you might not be able to swim with Orca whales or sea turtles, the Whaling Wall is the next best thing! This cute stretch of wall features a mural of aquatic creatures that kids will love taking pictures next to. This attraction is free, so stroll on by and see what it’s like under the sea.
Things to Do
Andy Bowie Park:
South Padre Island can get crowded during peak seasons, so if you want to escape the mass beach-goers, head over to Andy Bowie Park. This small beach has a few concessions, but it is more of a place to really escape from it all. It features barbecue pavilions to cook up a meal, public restrooms, showers and beach rentals.
Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier:
Ready to cast a line? The one-acre park and fishing pier was once the site of the Queen Isabella Causeway, but it now serves as a great place to reel in a big one. This spot is notorious for dolphin sightings, so bring along the camera to snap a few shots of Flipper. The pier allows both day and night fishing, and it is a great place to teach the young ones how to be avid anglers. You may even be able to catch some fireworks from this site, depending on when you’re planning your visit.
Top Restaurants and Shopping
When you’re ready to grab a bite to eat, you’ll find there are plenty of dining options in South Padre, whether you want seafood, cheap grub or anything in between. Head over to Gabriella’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria, known as one of the best spots in town. For those who want to enjoy the fresh fruits of the sea, Cap ‘n Roy’s has shrimp tacos that are to die for.
Head over to Padre Boulevard, which is lined with locally owned stores and boutiques where you can open up your wallet and get some retail therapy. Get some beach attire at Island Native Surf Shop or Ocean Motion, or pick up some new décor at Treasure Trove Consignments. Whatever you’re in the market to buy, Padre Boulevard is the place to go.
South Padre may be a small island, but it is one of the Lone Star State’s most beloved destinations. Whether you want to experience a wildlife adventure with the unique flora and fauna, or simply soak up the rays in this paradise, you’ll be sure to enjoy your stay here. Come with a laid-back attitude, some sunscreen and camera, and you will experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip.