comScore

South Padre Island Travel Guide

USA

#1 in Best Beaches in Texas

Best Things To Do in South Padre Island

If you're not interested in getting wet, don't go to South Padre. The main reasons for visiting this tiny island town (besides the lively spring break parties) include boating, fishing, diving, surfing, kiteboarding and simply lounging on the beach. Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark is a great way to enjoy the warm weather while keeping the kids entertained. You also shouldn't miss your chance to hop on one of the many dolphin cruises or get up close and personal with the turtles at Sea Turtle, Inc.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in South Padre Island

Free
According to many, the best way to experience South Padre's wild side is to take a stroll along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, a boardwalk that meanders from the South Padre Island Convention Center out to the Laguna Madre wetlands. This is also a major spot for bird-watching: Throughout the year, more than 300 species of birds pass through the South Padre Island area and the Laguna Madre Nature Trail is a great place for you to see them in their natural habitat. The Laguna Madre Nature Trail is open 24 hours a day and access is free.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Laguna Madre Nature Trail
According to many, the best way to experience South Padre's wild side is to take a stroll along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, a boardwalk that meanders from the South Padre Island Convention Center out to the Laguna Madre wetlands. This is also a major spot for bird-watching: Throughout the year, more than 300 species of birds pass through the South Padre Island area and the Laguna Madre Nature Trail is a great place for you to see them in their natural habitat. The Laguna Madre Nature Trail is open 24 hours a day and access is free.
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#2

#2 in South Padre Island

Founded in 1977, Sea Turtle, Inc. was established to help protect all species of marine turtles. If you're looking to see these fascinating creatures up close, this is the place to go. Volunteers offer presentations about turtle conservation and kid-friendly activities teach your little ones how to identify different types of sea turtles. Your kids will also love the numerous craft sessions offered, including lessons on how to make their own sea turtles from household items. And don't miss your chance to see the littlest residents: every spring, visitors are invited to look on as baby sea turtles are released back into the wild. You also have the opportunity to "adopt" individual sea turtles and nests, the proceeds of which go to helping the center's conservation programs.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Sea Turtle, Inc.
Founded in 1977, Sea Turtle, Inc. was established to help protect all species of marine turtles. If you're looking to see these fascinating creatures up close, this is the place to go. Volunteers offer presentations about turtle conservation and kid-friendly activities teach your little ones how to identify different types of sea turtles. Your kids will also love the numerous craft sessions offered, including lessons on how to make their own sea turtles from household items. And don't miss your chance to see the littlest residents: every spring, visitors are invited to look on as baby sea turtles are released back into the wild. You also have the opportunity to "adopt" individual sea turtles and nests, the proceeds of which go to helping the center's conservation programs.
... more

#3

#3 in South Padre Island

Free
Sitting on the southern edge of South Padre Island, Isla Blanca Park is home to some of the area's best beaches, not to mention fishing spots, playgrounds and boating facilities. Plus, it's the site of one of the most highly visited South Padre attractions: a huge statue of El Cristo de los Pescadores (Christ of the Fishermen). This is also a great spot to leave land behind and explore the sea on a kiteboard or a snorkeling excursion. Isla Blanca Park also features several lodging and dining options.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Isla Blanca Park
Sitting on the southern edge of South Padre Island, Isla Blanca Park is home to some of the area's best beaches, not to mention fishing spots, playgrounds and boating facilities. Plus, it's the site of one of the most highly visited South Padre attractions: a huge statue of El Cristo de los Pescadores (Christ of the Fishermen). This is also a great spot to leave land behind and explore the sea on a kiteboard or a snorkeling excursion. Isla Blanca Park also features several lodging and dining options.
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#4

#4 in South Padre Island

While South Padre has earned a reputation as "Spring Break Central," history buffs won't be disappointed here. Visitors can choose to visit three popular historic sites, the Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Port Isabel Historical Museum and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, individually or for a discounted entry fee, travelers gain access to all three.
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Museums Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Museums of Port Isabel
While South Padre has earned a reputation as "Spring Break Central," history buffs won't be disappointed here. Visitors can choose to visit three popular historic sites, the Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Port Isabel Historical Museum and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, individually or for a discounted entry fee, travelers gain access to all three.
... more

#5

#5 in South Padre Island

After learning about turtles at Sea Turtle, Inc., take the kids to the Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center to come face to face with some of South Padre's other maritime friends. With kid-friendly touch tanks featuring native species like starfish and hermit crabs, plus daily nature presentations on dolphins and other marine life, this nonprofit attraction aims to educate visitors about wildlife protection along the Gulf Coast. For an extra fee you can hop on a boat for a Dolphin Tour and meet the animals firsthand. Many recent visitors say that this was their favorite experience in South Padre Island.
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Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center
After learning about turtles at Sea Turtle, Inc., take the kids to the Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center to come face to face with some of South Padre's other maritime friends. With kid-friendly touch tanks featuring native species like starfish and hermit crabs, plus daily nature presentations on dolphins and other marine life, this nonprofit attraction aims to educate visitors about wildlife protection along the Gulf Coast. For an extra fee you can hop on a boat for a Dolphin Tour and meet the animals firsthand. Many recent visitors say that this was their favorite experience in South Padre Island.
... more

#6

#6 in South Padre Island

Keeping your kids entertained at the beach can be difficult. So when the weather starts to swelter and the little ones are bored of the shore, head to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Here you'll find water rides, a surfing machine, a hot tub bar and a giant sandcastle play area that are sure to amuse. When it comes to keeping everyone's tummy from rumbling, the park is home to a variety of concession stands as well as the Shrimp Haus Restaurant. You're also welcome to bring your own picnic.
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Amusement Parks Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Schlitterbahn Waterpark
Keeping your kids entertained at the beach can be difficult. So when the weather starts to swelter and the little ones are bored of the shore, head to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Here you'll find water rides, a surfing machine, a hot tub bar and a giant sandcastle play area that are sure to amuse. When it comes to keeping everyone's tummy from rumbling, the park is home to a variety of concession stands as well as the Shrimp Haus Restaurant. You're also welcome to bring your own picnic.
... more
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