South Padre Island Travel Guide

USA  #3 in Best Spring Break Destinations
Credit

Courtesy of DavieJones13/Getty Images/iStockphoto

South Padre Island Area Map

Neighborhoods

Because of its small size, South Padre Island is often grouped with other towns along the Gulf Coast of Texas, such as Port Isabel and Brownsville, both of which make great daytrips.

The town of South Padre Island is about 2 square miles and can easily be explored on foot in a day. The town's three main north-south boulevards – Laguna, Gulf and Padre – and the short cross-streets are littered with shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. Vacation rentals and beach homes are speckled north and south of town.

South of town on the tip of South Padre Island is Isla Blanca Park, a popular stop among outdoorsy travelers with numerous open campsites, an RV park, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, stunning white sand beaches and a paved bike trail. The park's southern end is a favorite place for dolphin-watching. Isla Blanca is also decorated with monuments, including El Cristo de los Pescadores, or Christ of the Fishermen.

If you're looking for a change of pace, Port Isabel – a small town perched opposite South Padre Island on Laguna Madre – is home to several small museums, shops and seafood restaurants. Port Isabel is a great alternative for a rainy day as well; it is easily accessible by car – via the Queen Isabella Causeway – or by South Padre's public shuttle bus, the Island Metro. For $2 to $9, travelers can access the Port Isabel Museums, which include the Port Isabel Historical Museum, the Port Isabel Lighthouse and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum (this museum showcases the riches found in three nearby Spanish shipwrecks). Kids will enjoy the Black Dragon Pirate Cruises where they can head to the high seas and learn what life was like as a pirate. Like South Padre, Port Isabel is small and can easily be explored on foot.

Approximately 30 miles southwest of South Padre Island, Brownsville is known as one of the most historic cities in Texas. Once the site of several battles during the Mexican-American and the American Civil wars, Brownsville – located on the border between Texas and Mexico – is currently home to several small museums, numerous chain restaurants, several parks and the Gladys Porter Zoo. Unlike Port Isabel, Brownsville is not linked to South Padre Island by public transportation and because it's a larger city, having a car will come in handy. If you're traveling as a family, Brownsville is a great destination for a daytrip as many of its attractions, including the Gladys Porter Zoo and the Children's Museum of Brownsville, cater to kids.

Explore More of South Padre Island

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

America's 15 Coolest Ghost Towns to Visit

From Kentucky to California, the U.S. is filled with eerie abandoned cities.

Lyn MettlerAugust 22, 2019

The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Learn about the Big Easy's history through one of these daytrips.

Holly JohnsonAugust 21, 2019

22 Top Sonoma Wineries to Visit

Sip world-class wines while enjoying vineyard and mountain views.

Gwen PratesiAugust 19, 2019

30 Beautiful Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019