Several years ago, our family visited South Padre in the middle of summer. We did it several more times over a few different years. We had our boys, who were young at the time, and so were we! I guess that’s the reason the over-crowded beaches and loud, busy restaurants didn’t seem to bother us… our family helped contribute to the madness!
As my husband and I started taking vacations without the kids, we discovered a better time to visit South Padre. We went the day after Labor Day weekend and found that everyone else had gone home after the last long weekend of the summer. Yet the excursions, restaurants, and gift shops were all still open. Even the fireworks were still going on. It has become a tradition for us.
We always rent a condo by the beach, which usually have nice kitchen facilities, that make cooking a pleasure. I can even make a Pear Pie by using the pie filling I canned from our pear trees. It’s so easy, just pouring it into a frozen pie crust, making a crumb topping for it, then popping it into the oven!
There are so many things to do while we are there. Of course, the typical things like swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach, and taking mid-day naps are always nice, there are other activities to enjoy.
Some of the more unique things to do are take a Sunset/Dolphin Watch boat ride on the bay, climb to the top of the Port Isabel Lighthouse, take a Sandcastle lesson, visit the Whaling Wall, ride horses on the beach, or visit the Sea Turtle Rescue Center.
Fishing is another great activity and is a big part of what tourists do on South Padre. My husband grew up on the Texas gulf coast, so this brings back many memories for him. We like to go to Pirates Landing Pier late at night and fish under the lights. I enjoy going with my chair and book. Occasionally I look up and see dolphins swimming around the pier, fishing too!
Eating is also a large part of our vacation. Most of the year we are trying to lose weight and be healthy, but during vacation, all bets are off! There are so many different places to enjoy besides the big touristy restaurants.
The best place to have breakfast is Manuel’s. They have Texas-size homemade breakfast burritos that are, hands down, the best we’ve ever had! Plus you can donate $5 to write on a brick in the restaurant. They donate all the money they collect to local charities. They sell so many bricks they have to repaint and start all over again every few years. Which gives us a good reason to go back!
The last time we went to South Padre, we decided to forgo the condo and stay at the Hilton Garden Inn on the beach.The decor is very tropical and definitely makes you aware that you’re on vacation. It has private beach access and the staff was really nice and went out of their way to accommodate us at every turn. They have an onsite restaurant and bar. The pool and jacuzzi were amazing; they even had a swim up bar. The front desk told us to sit in the jacuzzi on Friday night so we could relax and watch the fireworks; it was beautiful! They also had a live band that played a variety of music on the outside patio at night.
One of my favorite things to do is drive on the beach at night… yes, in Texas, you can literally drive on the beach. We park and look at all the stars and watch the waves light up with the moonlight. We also love to see a few crabs at night on the beach and laugh at the way they run sideways!
If you ever get a chance to visit South Padre, don’t pass it up. You will see some beautiful sunsets and make a lifetime’s worth of memories, like we have. I can hardly wait to go back!