Thursday, July 17, 2014

5 Ways to Enjoy South Padre Island

I grew up going to South Padre Island, Texas. It's like a second home that I carry with me in my heart. It holds memories of sunshine, family, laughter, and lots of love. So, you can imagine how happy I get every time I get to return to, what I call, my happy place.

Seeing how I've spent many a day at this beautiful treasure we have in the great state of Texas I thought I'd share a few favorites that always make the happy days of yesterday continue to bring joy into my now.


1. All things before the Queen Isabella Causeway!
As wonderful as South Padre Island is, and as many wonderful things it has to offer, please consider Port Isabel. The bay side. There are amazing restaurants (*Ahem* Isabel's Cafe), my favorite little Catholic church, and so many other touristy fun things to do.
The Sea Life Center is great for kiddos. I shared more photos of this fun place in a post last year. Most everything is eye level for our littles and they have a hands on tank. It's small enough to keep their attention and jam packed with Island souvenir favorites.

It's also located right across the way from the Port Isabel Lighthouse and other wonderful shops and restaurants (within walking distance).
The Port Isabel Lighthouse is an amazing landmark with lots of history. They also started Friday Night Movie at the Lighthouse. They get a projector and play movies on the base of the Lighthouse. There is a great grassy knoll surrounding that is perfect for a blanket picnic.

Pirates Landing Pier was great for us this year for a number of reasons. First off, every Friday night they have an awesome Firework display over on the Island side. We went last year and my oldest was not a fan. This year we decided we would watch it across the way and his remarks were constant about how, "I like fie-works now" or, "look mama, sprinkles. It does not soun like tunder. I like fie-works, mama."

Haha, we were so far away there was not a sound to be heard other than the gulf. The fireworks did look like sprinkles in the sky and all were happy. The salty breeze was perfect and seeing all the people out fishing on the pier was fun. At the start of the pier there are a couple yummy restaurants and music in the evenings. Good stuff people!
So, before you cross the amazing Queen Isabella's Causeway, make sure you enjoy the fruits of Port Isabel. 
There are lots and they are fun!


 1. Sea Turtle Inc. & The Birding Center
Now getting to the Island side of life there are two places that are great. First is Sea Turtle Inc., home of the first functioning prosthetic fin for a sea turtle named Allison.
I remember growing up going to this place when it was in its smaller location. I loved it. I would look forward to seeing "The Turtle Lady". Do click to find out more about her! She was a phenomenal woman with such path! 
She founded this wonderful place that has helped so many of these beautiful endangered species.
Haha, Love that they have a turtle named J.F. WH05P!
The boys absolutely loved this place. Linus kept pointing and grunting at all the sea turtles. And, Bigfoot, despite being sleepy, really enjoyed the over 200lb sea turtle named Fred.
The great thing about Sea Turtle Inc. new location is that it's right next door to the beautiful South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. You could easily walk if you wanted but we drove because of kids in tow and all. 
As much as we saw some beautiful birds, the grounds were gorgeous.
The path was a bit of a workout (Disclaimer: I'm very out of shape.) and scenic, which is always a plus.
So, when the weather is beach perfect or when you want something different to do, go enjoy these two local places!


 4. Seafood and Nighttime fun
The seafood! It's delicious at most every restaurant you go to. But, my very very very very veryyyyyy favorite is Dirty Al's. Their seafood dishes and prices can't be beat. I wrote about how I love them so much last summer too!
Without a doubt, I make sure we get to Dirty Al's at least once when at SPI.

Nighttime fun comes in all forms too. I mentioned Pirate's Pier earlier. There is great nighttime fishing along the pier complete with lots of space and a snackbar.
The nighttime views are incredible. Both on Port Isabel and on South Padre Island.
Firework displays are everywhere to be found both on the Port Isabel side and SPI. The SPI one has always been the one I've seen and it is pretty grand.

One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the beach at night. Grab a flashlight and a bucket or two to go collect random shells and to go crab-hunting. Go when it's dark and just have fun. It's great for all ages (if your kids can tolerate a random late bedtime). 


Who doesn't love dolphins and pirate ships?? There are dolphin watches on both the Port Isabel and SPI side. Meaning there is easy access on non-beach days regardless if you so happen to be staying on the Island or Port Isabel.
This last time we saw a big family of dolphins that just played and played nearby. It was so great!
The kids loved it!
Just be sure to snag a coupon at any local shop or to-do on the island. Coupons are everywhere and help curb the cost.


 5. The beach.
I know. It's a no-brainer. But, seriously, this beach. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Filled with so many opportunities for memories, love, and fun!
Mud castles, body surfing, floating the waves, relaxing, sand castles, sunshine and awesomeness!
Whenever at South Padre Island the key thing to remember is to get thyself to the beach as often as possible. Enjoy the water. Enjoy the clear skies. And, just soak up His Majesty!
I promise you won't be disappointed!


South Padre Island is one of the many treasures that Texas holds. I'm so very grateful for all the memories that I had there growing up and am so excited my little heart could burst for all the memories that will be made in the years to come with our little family!

Have you been to South Padre? I know this is only the tip of the iceberg. There's para-sailing, horseback riding, jet skies, and so much more! What would you add to the list?

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