Warm, more accurately HOT, weather has hit South Central Texas. That means one thing to my family . . . it’s time to hit the water! We will spend much of our time this summer at Aunt Joyce’s River and then it will be time for our annual family beach vacation. Hallelujah!
How does a beach vacation to South Padre Island sound? Alrighty then, let’s get busy planning . . .
South Padre Island is located off the southernmost Gulf Coast of Texas. The wide, expansive beaches and the warm gulf water are the main attractions. The beach is FREE so grab a chair, sit back, relax and watch the kiddos play in the surf.
There are sea creatures to catch . . .
And hours of observation . . .
The kid’s fishing nets and large buckets are some of the best purchases we’ve ever made! Day after day, hours upon hours of fun!
There are trenches and damns and tide pools to engineer . . .
There are waves to ride . . .
And fish to catch!
Each relaxing day ends with the boys fishing right on the beach. But let it be known to all that MacGyver runs a strict catch-and-release operation!
More Budget Friendly Activities for Kids on South Padre Island
Resort towns often mean budget busting activities. What is nice about South Padre Island is there are amazing low-cost activities for families beyond the beach. (And don’t tell the kids, they’re also educational!)
- Up close interactions with rescued sea turtles!
Location: 6617 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597Phone: (956) 761-4511Hours: Open from 10 am-4 pm Tuesdays through Sundays (Closed Mondays). In the summer months, hours are extended from 10 am-5 pm.A donation of $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for children over the age of 4.
Sea Turtle Inc. is an operational rescue center. The $3.00 donation is well worth the educational value. Our kiddos did not want to leave. Miss Enigma continues to talk about returning to visit the sea turtles. I’ll do a more in-depth post on Sea Turtle Inc. in the next couple of weeks.
- Touch tanks allow children hands-on experiences with ocean life from local waters.
- Location: 110 N Garcia, South Padre Island, TX 78578
- Phone: 956-299-1957
- Open Daily : 10:00am to 4:00pm
- Donation – $3.00 per person
The Sealife Nature Center exhibits rescued sea creatures from the local waters and educates the public on how to be an eco-friendly tourist. We visited the center on our way out of town. Big mistake! While the center is small the children could have spent hours touching and observing the sea animals. The volunteers were very helpful in answering the children’s questions. I’ll do a more in-depth post on The Sealife Nature Center in the next couple of weeks.
I wish I had known about the Dolphin Research Tours. $25.00 a person and only 6 quests on a tour. Rave reviews about these educational dolphin tours on Trip Advisor. I usually shy away from these types of activities but this one sounds fabulous.
Andy Bowie Park to the North and Isla Blanca Park to the South
- If you want to get away from the hotels try one of the beach parks. The dunes are quite pretty (and very peaceful during the off season). Sadly, you may find a bit of trash washed-up at each location.
- To the north, Andy Bowie Park offers beach access to cars. Drive right along the ocean. Pick a spot by the waves and unpack your chairs. No hotels, just the natural coastline.
- There is a small fee per vehicle for both parks.
Planning all of the Details
Where to Stay
- VBRO (Vacation Rental By Owner) is always my first stop when planning an extended vacation!
- A condo rental is always your best bet for a budget friendly family vacation.
- Tips for finding the perfect condo rental for your family.
- Trip Advisor is my go to site when planning a short trip. I read reviews like crazy. Just because a hotel is popular doesn’t mean it is what I am looking for. The reviews help me find a clean, quiet, affordable hotel.
- Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island is located at the north end. If you want to get away from the crowds give this hotel a try. Rooms include mini-fridge and microwave. You can easily pick-up groceries for a quick lunch in the room.
Money Saving Tip: Vacation during the off-season! Rates drop dramatically after Labor Day.
Family Friendly Dinning
Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria: A restaurant serving absolutely fabulous Italian dishes would technically not be considered a kid’s restaurant. Here’s the great thing, grown-ups can enjoy delicious Italian plates such as Chicken Picatta or Shrimp fra Diava while the kiddos can order up a pizza. We shared an appetizer, ordered an extra house salad and actually shared our main dish. We had more than enough food and we loooooove to eat. The kiddos shared a pizza.
The pizza at Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria was so good we ordered one for take-out one night and had a casual dinner in our hotel room.
- Blanca Whites: Has a great casual, open air location right on the water. A new restaurant on South Padre Island brought to Texas from the original restaurant in Mexico. The Shrimp Tequila and Garlic Fish were plate-licking-good. One of the more inexpensive meals we enjoyed on the Island.
- You can also find Grocery Stores and Fast Food restaurants.
What are your Family Friendly Vacation plans? I’m definitely dreaming of a little surf and sand!
Life with Jeannine
Narvarre Beach, Florida
A few more Beach Getaways for You:
Planning an Affordable Family Beach Vacation (Florida / Alabama)
Planning an Affordable Family Beach Vacation: Part 2 (Florida / Alabama)
Come Win our Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: Sea Horse The Shyest Fish in the Sea by Chris Butterworth