Top 10 Reasons to Visit South Padre Island

7 Jul

There are a lot of places to travel in the great state of Texas.  Every year, my family and I go to the coast for one week in May.  We stay on South Padre island and absolutely love it!  Here are my top ten reasons why I think it makes a great family destination:

10.  The Pirate Cruise (

Kids and their land lubbing parents will love this cruise, even if they are not that “into” pirates!  The cruise sails around the bay (several times a day- the afternoon one is cheaper than the evening one).  Kids will enjoy pirate games, story telling, drawn-on mustaches, sword fights, and more!

9.  Paragraphs Books Bookstore (

My family and I started this tradition of a week in Padre even before I had children.  I can remember floating around in the condo pool, discussing how great it would be if they would put a bookstore on the island!  In those days, I would finish whatever book and magazines I brought within the first few days, and always wished I could find something else to read.  Now, Paragraphs has brought that dream to fruition!  They sell new as well as used books.  They also have a quaint little children’s area furnished with pint sized furniture complete with toys.  It’s a great place to spend a cloudy day or pick up something to read while on the beach or poolside!

8.  Friday Night Fireworks

All summer long (beginning Memorial Day weekend), the island celebrates Friday nights with an awesome fireworks display at 9pm.  If the kids can make it up that late or out that long, we enjoy getting a table at a bayside restaurant and watching the show.  Our family’s condo has an open landing that faces the bay, so we’ve also watched from there, if the kids are too tired to be out.

7.  Live Music and Louie’s Backyard (

Their website says it all, “For a good time call…”  Louie’s is a bayside bar and grill.  They have live music and when the party really gets started, dancing!  They have a live webcam on their website, which looks pretty fun!  It’s a great place to see the sunset, listen to music, drink to your hearts content, eat some decent sea food, and watch the fireworks!  In the parking lot outside, they also have a multilevel go cart track and several bungee jumping contraptions.  So if the kids are brave, they will love it!

6.  Sunset Dinner Cruise (

There are a few different choices when it comes to sunset dinner cruises.  This one happens to be the one we always choose.  It’s $35.00 per person and includes a 2 hour sunset ride through the bay.  Dinner includes three different courses.  I’ve been twice now, and the food has been wonderful both times.  The service is impeccable as well.  There is live music too, which is always fun.  These cruises can be kid friendly, it just depends on how rowdy the other people on the boat get.  There are covered areas as well as open areas, and you get to choose where you want to sit.  They offer pillows and blankets too, which is nice after the sun sets and the wind kicks up a chill.  It’s BYOB.

5.  Sunset Dinner at Bayside Bar & Grill (202 West Whiting Street, South Padre Island, TX 78597, 956/761-8481)

We are forever looking for the restaurant to have an enjoyable dinner and watch the sunset.  This restaurant was the talk of the trip this year.  It’s relatively new, just having been built in the fall of 2010.  Having dinner outside there reminded me of being on a lanai.  It’s covered, but still very open.  They have a really big deck which is uncovered as well, and a handful of locals like to come and fish after dark.  The food was great and the music eclectic.  I would highly recommend it.  It was also very kid friendly. One of the staff mentioned there is a dolphin who frequents the bay and will swim up pretty close to the deck!

4. Fishing on the Danny B. (

Each year, we love to take the Danny B. out and fish in the bay.  Some years we have had so many family members attend, we’ve had to charter the entire boat!  It’s hit or miss with the actual fishing.  Some years we’ve caught a ton, and some years we’ve caught next to none.  On some trips, we’ve caught some really interesting sea life and the crew has given the kids a brief educational lesson about the catch.  This year, for example, we caught some sting rays, an eel, a crab, and some puffer fish.  No matter what, we always have a good time.  It’s also a great place to watch dolphins!  The crew is extremely knowledgeable and helpful though and it’s definitely kid friendly.  On at least one trip, my kids have gotten bored, so the captain took them with him and let them steer the boat and mess around.  You can rent poles or bring your own.  For a small fee, they will clean and fillet all of the fish you catch.

3.  Cook your catch (

That brings me to the next reason why I love SPI!  A lot of the restaurants will cook whatever you catch.  You simply bring in the fillets, and they will cook it.  Sides are usually included in the price, which is $7.95 per person at Parrot Eyes.  This year, we had a plethora of fish, which amounted to four platters full.  They will cook it/flavor it any way you like it.  We tried it “buffalo” style this year, which was really interesting!  Parrot Eyes is a great place for sitting outside on the patio.  They have live music at sunset as well.  The girls and I enjoyed at least one afternoon of relaxing in a hammock on the patio while waiting for some of our family members to return from a fishing excursion!  Because we’ve been doing this trip for 8 years, we’ve tried out a number of different places.  So far, Parrot Eyes is my favorite for the cook your catch.

2.  SPI loves Sea Turtles (

Sea turtles are an endangered species and the people of SPI are doing what they can to save the sea turtles.  Sea Turtles Inc. is an organization that rescues sea turtles and releases them back to sea whenever possible.  Our trip this year fell within nesting season, when thousands of mamma sea turtles come ashore, dig holes on the beach, and lay their eggs.  Sea Turtles Inc. has a facility on the island, open to the public.  They offer an educational experience in which you can learn how to protect sea turtles and sea life in general.  They charge a small fee (or donation) for entering and the kids can view different types of sea turtles in tanks.  Although no one is permitted to touch any of the sea turtles, the kids can feed them a leaf of lettuce (I’ve found that the mornings offer the best odds for being able to feed the turtles and avoiding bus loads of school kids).

Because it was nesting season, this year there were a bunch of turtle related activities, including a turtle “tea” at Paragraphs, a turtle luau in which a turtle king and queen were crowned after arriving at Parrot Eyes via kayak.  There were hula dancers, drummers, and fire throwers.  I took my oldest and it was really entertaining.  They also have an annual turtle masquerade ball for adults, which raises money for the cause.

1. Yoga on the Beach (

For the first time, my mom did some research prior to our trip and hired a yogi to come to us and treat us to yoga on the beach.  I highly recommend it; in fact of all of the things we did, it was by far my favorite!  We had three different teachers (by choice) come, for a slightly different experience each time.  I really enjoyed how they incorporated meditation into the experience.  It was a very relaxing way to start the day and was definitely rejuvenating.  For me, it will definitely be difficult to go back to doing yoga inside again!  It doesn’t get much better than feeling the sand on your toes, the wind blowing through your hair, the sun on your face, and the sound of the waves crashing in the background!  I felt more connected on the beach doing yoga than I ever have, doing anything else!

This is just a really small portrait of the activities available on the island.  They also have parasailing, kite surfing, surfing, horseback riding, dolphin watching, snorkeling, shelling, sand castle building, beach volleyball, shopping, and more!  It’s a great place to take the whole family!


One Response to “Top 10 Reasons to Visit South Padre Island”

  1. Lisa July 8, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    I’m ready to go!!

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