15 Best Things to Do in Brownsville, TX

Brownsville, TX
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What does Texas’ southernmost tip have to offer?

Established in the mid-1800s, the city of Brownsville lies in Cameron County near the Mexican border.

This means that while in the city, you can experience the melting pot of culture and influence.

Brownsville has a lot to offer visitors, and with a community of over 175,000 people, there are attractions and varied events to satisfy all interests.

It's one of the few sites globally where you can do birdwatching, learn about wildlife refuges, and get a glimpse into Mexican and American history all in the same day.

It has zoos and parks for nature lovers, and this area is recognized as one of the finest locations in Texas to cycle, with an abundance of dedicated cycling routes.

So, if you're looking to go out and about on a bike, you know where to go.

Brownsville has a plethora of museums, art galleries, as well as a museum honoring lesser-known arts such as fabrics and costumes.

The city's central center is densely packed with historical structures, and youngsters will be entertained by a variety of informative yet enjoyable activities built particularly for younger guests.

Thinking of the best things to do in Brownsville, Texas?

We got your back! Here are 15 of them:

Experience South Padre Island’s Water Activities

Sunset in South Padre Island
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South Padre Island, a tropical coastal resort region in Texas, is a must-see when in Brownsville.

Paddling, beachcombing, sandcastle competitions, and festivals abound on South Padre Island. Don't miss its sand dunes and rescue center dedicated to sea turtles.

Sand dunes and rescue center dedicated to sea turtles.

View of South Padre Island
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The nearest sand dunes lie at the winding road's end. Grab a wide-brimmed cap and apply sunscreen before venturing out into the sun.

There's plenty of free parking on the streets around here.

As you travel over a few sand dunes on your approach to a practically deserted beach, you'll feel like you're in the setting of Aladdin.

View of South Padre Island
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The beach is ideal for strolling and beachcombing.

A word of warning: Beachgoers do drive at the beach, and it might be difficult to hear them due to the sound of the ocean waves.

Additionally, you can also visit the sea turtle rehabilitation and education center, called Sea Turtle, Inc., where you may learn about the significance of sea turtles and ways in which you can help.

Discover the City’s Past at the Historic Brownsville Museum

Brownsville's first museum, the Historic Brownsville Museum, opened in 1986 in an abandoned Spanish Colonial Revival passenger terminal.

As a result, the museum is decorated with charming Spanish architectural elements, such as fountains, courtyards, and engine houses in the Spanish style.

The sole surviving narrow-gauge Baldwin steam locomotive is on display as part of the museum's permanent collection.

Museum exhibits include information about Brownsville's foundation, border conflicts, and Texas' development as a state.

There are informative exhibits to address any queries you may have about Brownsville's history, from its founding to the present, and the museum will treat you with some of that history.

Visit Old City Cemetery

The Old City Cemetery, which dates to 1853, serves as a historical archive for Brownsville.

Many explorers came to Brownsville in search of a new life, as shown by the many markers scattered around the cemetery.

The magnificent marble graves and headstones, as well as the decorative iron fence, show Brownsville's European heritage.

View of Old City Cemetery
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He uses Hispanic traditional art such as paper cut-outs, silk flowers, and handmade nichos in several storylines throughout the novel.

Explore the cemetery in silence and reverence for the dead.

The main gate is shut; however, Brownsville Heritage Museum's curator can give you the entrance code, or you may walk to the foot of the hill to the walkway.

Learn About the History of Aviation in the Airforce Museum

If you want to honor those who served in World War II and learn about all elements of the conflict's history, visit Brownville’s Commemorative Air Force Museum.

Galleries at the museum take visitors on a journey through the most significant historical events of this period, from pre-war Europe through the Third Reich's end.

In addition to Asian and European history, the museum features displays about the fall of the Japanese Empire.

The area of the museum dedicated to the 201st Squadron's Mexican fighter pilots and World War II-era aircraft is among the most poignant exhibitions there.

Meet and Greet Animals at Gladys Porter Zoo

View of Gladys Porter Zoo
Jc161991, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Gladys Porter Zoo, located in the center of Brownsville, Texas, is committed to preserving all that Mother Nature has to offer via education and conservation.

The Gladys Porter Zoo is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

View of Gladys Porter Zoo
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The 31-acre zoo, established in 1971, is home to approximately 400 species of animals, including 47 endangered species and over 250 tropical species and their subspecies.

It is also home to the world's largest collection of tigers.

View of Gladys Porter Zoo
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The Gladys Porter Zoo took its name from Gladys Porter, the child of J.C. Penney's former president.

It is well-known for its achievement in raising critically endangered animal species.

The zoo was the first in the world to conduct successful breeding of the Jentink's duiker.

If you take an afternoon trip to the zoo, you will spot giraffes, orangutans, and bird displays that you can walk through, as well as a herpetarium, to name a few of its extensive exhibits.

ThelmaElaine / Shutterstock.com
ThelmaElaine / Shutterstock.com

Appreciate Brownville’s Textiles at the Costumes of the Americas Museum

Brownsville visitors shouldn't miss this exciting experience.

This museum houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of authentic native clothes from America's Northern, Central, and Southern portions.

Each exhibition aims to provide a clear picture of the colorful motifs and patterns woven into traditional garments to represent the natives' cultural and religious beliefs.

To conserve and document cultural heritage and history, Florence Griswold, the brainchild of the museum, started this as a personal passion project.

Around the past 70 years, this diverse museum has developed its enormous collection that includes vibrant costumes, headpieces, and accessories from all over America.

Meet Brownsville’s Founder at the Stillman House Museum

View of Stillman House Museum
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Brownsville's Stillman House is among the city's most historic structures.

Charles Stillman, the man who founded Brownsville, lived at the Stillman House Museum, which is now a museum.

Stillman was not the only notable occupant of this mansion; the likes of Henry Miller and Mexico's former President Porfirio Diaz also called it home.

Originally built in 1850, the home was converted into a museum in 1960.

It was designed in the architectural style called Greek Revival and completed in 1851.

It features beautiful original period architecture and historical artifacts from the 1800s.

The building has maintained its original elements, such as its windows, floors, furniture, doorways, culinary herbs, and courting seats in the courtyards.

Discover the City’s Vibrant Artistry at Brownsville Museum of Fine Art

The goal of the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is to introduce local artists to the community and therefore enhance Brownsville's cultural landscape.

You'll see a wide spectrum of artwork on display, and the museum also offers specific activities for kids to help foster an appreciation for art among the next generation of museum visitors.

The 17,000-square-foot Brownsville Museum of Fine Art lies at the Mitte Cultural District and features more than 350 works of art by local and international artists.

Other options include visiting temporary displays, including historical relics or works by famous artists.

Cultural activities, including talks and musical concerts, are also held here.

Except on Sundays, the museum is available year-round.

Check Out Elon’s SpaceX at Boca Chica State Park

View of Boca Chica State Park
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Boca Chica State Park lies in Brownsville's southeast corner along Texas Route 4.

SpaceX has relocated its launch site as well as a control center to Boca Chica, California.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, is considering renaming this village in Brownsville to Starbase after his company's space station.

Sadly, it does not offer tours for now, but you can expect it very soon based on Musk’s plan to rename the village.

View of Boca Chica State Park
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However, you may park far enough away to see a launch from your car.

Meanwhile, you can comfort yourself at Boca Chica Beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand where you may fish, sunbathe, and surf while you wait.

The Park is a haven for birdwatchers, with opportunities to see horned larks, swarms of brown pelicans, and Harris's hawks.

Enjoy Children’s Museum of Brownsville’s Fun Attractions for Kids

If you're on holiday with your kids, then the children's museum is a must-see attraction for you.

In this museum, you will discover a comprehensive collection of exhibits designed to educate kids about the world where they live through a variety of exciting exhibits.

Also, there are hands-on workshops and a variety of activities and events that children may participate in.

Additionally, all the collections are appropriate for kids of any age.

Furthermore, collaborative play and active learning are emphasized to push young brains in a pleasant and engaging manner.

Cool Off at Dean Porter Park

View of Dean Porter Park
Michael Martin from Cypress, Texas, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located across Resaca waterway on 25 acres of beautifully landscaped area, this park is one of Brownsville's major parks and is considered one of the city's greatest green spaces.

There are several attractions in the park, including sections such as Sam's Memorial Pool and a splash playground, which are ideal for cooling down during the warmer months.

If you feel like eating, there are picnic cabanas available, and there are paved pathways that traverse the entire park if you wish to go for a trek or a stroll.

Additionally, it has a Butterfly Garden and magnificent open space meadows where you may rest and take in the view.

Watch Local Performances at Camille Lightner Playhouse

Brownsville, Texas's Camille Lightner Playhouse has been a community theater since 1964.

The City of Brownsville donated a site for the facility, while the Sams Foundation helped fund its development.

Thus, the theater has run for more than 50 seasons and is well-liked and well-known among theatergoers in the region of South Texas.

There are Broadway plays and musicals performed here as well as local productions aimed at entertaining Brownsville residents.

Additionally, there is a bar at Camille Playhouse that offers non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic ones; both are available during performances.

It also sells a variety of sweets and snacks.

Come early since, unlike concerts or sporting events, you may be unable to enter once the show has begun.

There is a strict limit on late arrivals in the room, so it's possible that some latecomers won't be seated until after the interval.

Look Back at War History Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

View of Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
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This historical park is a unique site where you can get an insight into the first major combat of the 1846 Mexican-American War, a struggle that would impact the fate of both countries.

It lies barely 6 miles from the international border between the US and Mexico.

One of the only national parks in the country is devoted entirely to recounting the narrative of the Mexican-American War.

You can read about what happened on the battlefield 160 years ago as you explore the battlefield overlook's half-mile trail.

Battlefield hosts also offer guided tours, and you may catch a historical reenactment every first Saturday of September till May.

Cycle at Monte Bella Bike Trail

There's no better place in Brownsville to get some mild exercise while still getting to enjoy the best of the area's beauty than this bike trail.

The 6.2-mile track winds through lush vegetation and is great for first-time bikers because it's mostly flat with a few tiny hill parts.

Riders of all levels will appreciate the trail's views, and it's a great location to learn about the local flora and wildlife, especially if you love bird watching.

You can expect to see many different types of birds along the trail's path.

Walking and jogging are other options if cycling isn't your thing.

Go Birdwatching at Resaca De La Palma State Park World Birding Center

View of Resaca De La Palma State Park World Birding Center
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This 1,200-acres native habitat in Resaca de la Palma State Park is the largest birding centers' network.

Aside from that, it was the scene of the Mexican–American War’s second battle.

Since the park has such a diverse ecosystem, it's a great place to go wildlife photography.

Don't forget your camera and be ready to be amazed by a variety of wildlife, including herons, alligators, and horned lizards.

Even though this state park is part of Brownsville, it feels like a completely different planet as you enter its premises.

Final Thoughts

You can never go wrong with Texas’ southernmost tip, where history meets nature.

Make sure to bring sunscreen and wear comfortable clothes.

You’ll surely be outdoors most of the time.

Go out and make memories in Brownsville!

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