The Laguna Madre Nature Trail
this wheelchair accessible facility can be accessed through the circle driveway leading up to the South Padre Island Convention Centre at 7355 Padre Boulevard.
The boardwalk is open at all times and is free of charge.
Known locally as the birding boardwalk, it provides access to the Laguna Madre bay for birders and other outdoor enthusiasts. From the 1,500-foot boardwalk that extends across four acres of wetland, onlookers can see egrets, herons, oystercatchers, terns, and the White-Morph Redish Egret wading in the shallow water of the Laguna Madre.
The boardwalk also takes nature lovers over wetlands and around a freshwater pond, providing them with an excellent opportunity to view a variety of rails, soras, kingfishers, moorhens, and numerous other species.
There is also a dedicated "Warbler Rest Area" adjacent to the boardwalk frigatebirds, boobies, and other pelagic birds. Whether you tour South Padre Island by car, boat, or on foot, your birding experience will be a special one.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
The Visitor's Center is open October 1 through April 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. The Center is open only on weekends during the month of May from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is closed June 1 through September 30. The Center is also closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Entrance fee charged per car.
A short 20-minute drive from South Padre Island is Located east of Rio Hondo and bordering the Laguna Madre bay, this 45,000-acre federal preserve is one of the jewels of the refuge system and has a record number of 411 birds documented. It is also home to endangered species such as the ocelot and jaguarundi. Other animals found at the refuge are javelinas, deer, Texas tortoises, indigo snakes, bobcats, coyotes and occasionally, mountain lions.
Andy Bowie Park
Located on the northern end of South Padre Island, this park provides beachfront picnic pavilions, concessions, children's playground, shower facilities, Group rental facilities are also available with prior arrangement for beach parties.
Edwin K. Atwood Park
Located 1.5 miles north of Andy Bowie Park on Park Road 100, this park offers a beachfront picnic pavilion, a concession, and a beach access road, which provides twenty miles of beach driving. 761-3704
Isla Blanca Park
On the southernmost tip of South Padre Island, this park is the crown jewel of the Cameron County Park System. Over one mile of clean, white beach along the Gulf of Mexico offers abundant beachfront recreational facilities. Enjoy picnic and playground areas, the south fishing jetty, restaurants, clubs, University of Texas Pan American exhibits, and the Chapel By The Sea non-denominational church. There is also a full-marina with daily charters, a water park, retail shops and a boat ramp.
Laguna Madre Nature Trail
Cutting through the tall marsh grass are two boardwalks made of recycled material. Each boardwalk ends in a blind that allows people to become an unobtrusive observer of a host of birds, fish, turtles, dragonflies, lizards,and an alligator or two. Located just off to the side of the South Padre Island Convention Centre, the trail starts at the Warbler Rest Area, a plot of ground seeded with flowers designed to attract the winged creatures on a year-round basis. Located 4 miles north of the Queen Isabella Causeway. For more information call 800-SO-PADRE.
The Point Isabel Lighthouse
421 Queen Isabella Blvd.
Daily, 9:00 - 5:00
Home to the newly renovated Point Isabel Lighthouse and the Keeper's Cottage. In 1852, Congress approved the construction of a beacon in the Laguna Madre to support the growing ship industry of the South Texas Coast. The Point Isabel Lighthouse was built to protect and guide ships through Brazos Santiago and the barrier islands. During the Civil War, the light was closed and the tower was used as a lookout for both the Confederate and Union armies. The lighthouse was lit again after the war. In 1880, the lighthouse was renovated to accommodate a new light system. The lighthouse was officially closed in 1905. In 1952, the lighthouse was opened as a state park and is the only lighthouse on the Texas coast to be opened to the public. A replica of the Keeper's Cottage houses the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce, historic displays, and tourist information.
Port Isabel Historical Museum
317 E. Railroad Street
Port Isabel, TX
Tuesday -Saturday, 10:00-4:00
Housed in the historic Champion Building, built in 1899 as a dry goods store and residence, it is one of the oldest structures in Port Isabel. The Museum houses numerous hands on exhibits, audio presentations and videos that commemorate the colorful history of the Port Isabel area, the stage of some of the most important chapters of Texas, Mexican and American History. The museum has two exhibit levels, a theater, gift shop and one of the largest collections of Mexican artifacts from the U.S. Mexican War. On the south end of the building is the famous "fish mural" painted in 1906 by a local fisherman.
Sea Turtle, Inc.
6617 Padre Blvd.
Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 - 4:00
Small admission charge
Did you know that picking a turtle up by its shell without supporting the tummy is like being lifted by our finger, toe nails or hair? Founded by Illa Loetscher, affectionately known as the "Turtle Lady", this enviro-friendly organization is dedicated to caring for and educating the public about endangered sea turtles. If you see a sea turtle, call the Turtle Hotline (956) 380-9677.
South Padre Island Center
2 Wallace L. Reed Rd.
The Center occupies The Old Coast Guard Station, the only historic building on South Padre Island., With its New England style design and lookout tower, it is a popular local tourist attraction. It was built in 1923 and served as an active Coast Guard station until the 1970s.
It was renovated in 1987 to house the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College's first extension campus. The SPI Center is home to the University's South Padre Island Technical Education Center
South Padre Island Convention
and Visitors Center Whaling Wall #53
Built in 1992, this modern, airy, and colorful building located four miles north of the Queen Isabella causeway was created to host a wide variety of events.
The Convention Center is also
the site of the famous Whaling Wall #53 by acclaimed environmental artist
Wyland. Wyland wanted to show homage to whales and other creatures of the sea by
devoting his talent to painting 100 walls across the world. His "Whaling Walls"
capture the grandeur of his subjects. Spanning 153 feet in length, covering 3
walls and 23 feet in height, it took over 111 gallons of paint, 100 volunteers,
and nearly four days to complete. Wyland donated his time and artwork, while
local residents, private sponsors, and public organizations donated the paint,
scaffolding, air guns, and lighting.
The Treasures of the Gulf
317 E. Railroad Street
(956) 943-7602 for more information and current admission prices.
Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 - 4:00.
The museum tells the story of the three ill-fated Spanish ships wrecked off the northern end of South Padre Island in 1554 near present day Port Mansfield, 30 miles north of Port Isabel. The exhibit incorporates murals, artifacts and hands-on activities to interpret this event. Actual artifacts from the shipwreck include silver planchas, or disks, coins, and weapons.
The Children's Discovery lab features hands-on exhibits that teach visitors about marine archeology. Visitors are allowed to try on period clothing and map out a treasure site. The children's section has a small-scale ship in which children can imagine themselves sailing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The museum also has a "ship" theater and a nautical-inspired gift shop
University of Texas Pan American Coastal Studies Laboratory
Located in Isla Blanca Park, near the north pavilion
A satellite of the University of Texas Pan American,
Sunday -Friday, 1:30 - 4:30.
Charge per vehicle charge to
enter the park
The Coastal Studies Laboratory studies and exhibits marine life such as crustaceans and marine vertebrates, and plant life.
North Padre Island National Seashore, Said to be the longest barrier island in the world, North Padre Island extends 113 miles from Corpus Christi almost to the Mexican border, with much of that part of the national seashore. Accessible by charter boat from Port Isabel.