15 Best Things to Do in South Padre Island, TX

South Padre Island, TX
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At the far ends of Texas, you’ll find the lush tropical haven more commonly known as South Padre Island.

It’s the ultimate refuge for solace-seekers.

With miles of clear skies, pristine beaches, and sparkling waters, the small town of South Padre Island offers a tranquil escape from the noise of the cities.

Citizens named this place posthumously after Padre Jose, the town’s founder who guided the first settlers to the island.

Decades later, South Padre Island thrives as one of the top destinations for travelers who relish outdoor trips.

While most of the attractions in South Padre Island focus on providing peace to its guests, the town still has its fair share of thrilling pursuits, such as its amusement park.

Discover the 15 best things to do in South Padre Island, Texas.

Watch the Sunset in Andy Bowie County Park

Flowers on the Andy Bowie County Park's sand dunes trail
Valerie Johnson / Shutterstock.com

The best thing about Andy Bowie County Park is that it’s close to the beach, giving guests easy access with just a couple of minutes of walking from the RV campsites.

A stroll on the beach is one to remember—from a view of calm, azure seas, the smell of crisp, fresh air, and the feel of soft, finely-grained sand at the soles of your feet.

Add the sight of clear, open skies while the sun sets or rises, and you’ll have a picture-perfect scene to remember.

Besides the beach, there are pavilions, BBQ areas, and fishing spots to check out.

Whether you bring your loved ones or go there alone, the Andy Bowie County Park promises to see serene sights.

Go Birdwatching at the Laguna Madre Nature Trail

Suppose you're looking for wildlife on South Padre Island. In that case, the Laguna Madre Nature Trail may satisfy your curiosity, featuring a diverse collection of coastal and migratory birds passing through their natural habitat.

More than 300 birds pass through this trail annually as part of their migratory route.

You may also see some native flora and fauna along this trail's delicately carved wooden paths.

This boardwalk stretches up to 1,500 feet, and it's open to the public 24 hours a day.

Guests who want to explore this environment can head towards Padre Boulevard in South Padre Island.

Learn about Turtles in Sea Turtle, Inc.

Have a passion for adorable-looking animals?

The Sea Turtle, Inc. can give you a glimpse of what South Padre Island offers regarding one of the cutest wildlife—sea turtles!

Ila Loetscher founded this conservation group in 1977.

Since then, it has worked to create a safe place for sea turtles, protecting them from the dangers of the outside world.

They also aim to spread education and awareness of everything about marine turtles through museum exhibits and events.

If you end up here, you can also check out their gift shop for souvenirs that help them fund their non-profit organization.

Head towards this conservation agency and help save the turtles!

Feed the Alligators at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

An alligator on the waters of South Padre Island Birding and Nature
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In the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, you can choose whether to have a calm experience with birds or an exciting venture with alligators.

If you prefer a relaxing learning experience, you might enjoy a guided bird walk or a visit to their 5-story viewing tower.

Otherwise, you can meet a couple of their alligators—Big Padre and Lady Laguna—and even feed them at the Gator Pond.

Roseate Spoonhill at South Padre Island Birding and Nature
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

There are plenty of interactive activities in this animal sanctuary, including feeding tortoises, holding either a small gator or a non-venomous snake, and taking pictures.

Rest assured that highly trained staff strictly oversees these activities.

You can find this exciting conservatory along Park Boulevard.

It continues to be one of the top attractions on South Padre Island.

Don’t forget to stop by!

Redhead ducks flying at South Padre Island Birding and Nature
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

Feel the Thrill at the Gravity Park

To some, a getaway trip is incomplete without a thrilling adventure.

Fortunately, South Padre Island is home to Gravity Park, an amusement park built in 1993, which contains enough extreme rides to satisfy those who need speed.

They have the Skycoaster, a giant swing that gives you a broad view of the island, separate adult and children’s Go-Kart tracks, a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a trampoline ride, and many others.

But the most famous ride of this amusement park is also their most extreme.

The Rocket is infamous for being the world's tallest reverse-bungee ride.

If you have a penchant for extreme rides, don't miss Gravity Park, located along the streets of W Marlin, near Padre Boulevard.

Meet the Dolphins at the Original Dolphin Watch

With help from the Original Dolphin Watch, you can finally get the chance to meet real-life dolphins in their natural homes—the beautiful seas!

Since 1988, the boat tour agency has brought travelers out to sea to see the cutest of dolphins and teach guests some information about marine life on South Padre Island.

There are several tours to choose from.

The two most popular ones are an introductory dolphin-watch tour and an introductory tour with the added flair of catching small marine animals through their net.

They also offer snorkeling trips into the Laguna Madre marine estuary, with guidance from licensed professionals.

Head to State Park Road, where you’ll find their agency and meet some of those cheerful mammals!

Unwind at the Seabreeze Beach Resort

One thing to consider on trips is your safety and comfort.

In the Seabreeze Beach Resort, you can laze around in the comfort of fully furnished rooms with the bonus of a breathtaking view of the beachfront from a high vantage point.

Besides its full furnishings, each condo has a full kitchen, washer, and dryer to complete a relaxing staycation.

The place is also pet-friendly, so bring your furry friend on your trip!

They also have a well-maintained swimming pool that faces the gorgeous beach and tiny hut umbrellas and chairs to get summer vibes all year round.

This resort condominium can be located along Padre Boulevard, so check it out!

Catch Some Fish at the Jetties South Padre Island Tower

Its proximity to water creates an array of fishing spots on South Padre Island.

One of its most known locations is the Jetties South Padre Island Tower, a fishing spot located in the southernmost part of the town on Padre Boulevard.

The jetties are long, rocky paths constructed from granite with cemented blocks of chairs scattered around the area.

Guests can sit on these chairs while waiting for the fish to take the bait.

All year long, you’ll have a variety of salt-water fishes to catch, often changing as the seasons pass by.

Test your luck and patience for catching fish at the Jetties South Padre Tower!

Have a Splash in the Beach Park at Isla Blanca

Beach Park at Isla Blanca's ocean waves
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This water park in Isla Blanca is a premium destination for fun under the sun.

The area is riddled with over two dozen vibrant water attractions—from dramatic water coasters to twirly water slides and long pools you can leisurely float in while you sit on a tube.

There are restaurants within the premises, including a float-on bar where guests can enjoy a drink while relaxing in a heated pool.

Aside from that, this park even has a non-water-based activity—a zip line that will let you bask in the views of the waterpark and some parts of South Padre Island.

This beach park, situated along State Park Road, has attractions that guests of all ages can enjoy.

Check out the Beach Park at Isla Blanca for those looking into thrilling adventures.

Learn History at Queen Isabella Memorial Park

Because it’s close to the South Padre Island Welcome Sign, this memorial park serves as a welcoming entrance to the town of South Padre.

Locals and travelers often pass this place as a prelude to their planned activities in South Padre Island.

Built in 1974, the statue of Queen Isabella stands tall and regal in the middle of the lush park.

Queen Isabella of Castille supported and financed Columbus’ trip into the area of South Padre before its discovery.

There’s also a gorgeous backdrop of tropical trees that locals and travelers often take pictures in.

This park may not have many activities to do, but its historical significance makes it a great start to your trip to South Padre Island!

Try the Local Goods at South Padre Island Farmers’ Market

If you drop by the town on a Sunday, you shouldn’t miss out on the South Padre Island Farmers’ Market!

It’s your opportunity to try out local flavors and tastes since their vendors only sell products from around the area.

From fresh fruits and vegetables to locally made butter, jams, and coffee, this farmers’ market offers plenty of affordable products compared to supermarkets and malls.

You could also buy some of their seafood caught from the waterscapes around the area.

Stop by Padre Boulevard and support the locals of South Padre Island!

Exhaust Your Stamina at Parrot Eyes Watersports

A fun day of outdoor watersports surrounded by the beauty of nature—that’s what Parrot Eyes Watersports can offer you.

Available activities include parasailing, individual or guided jet ski tours, kayak, paddleboard rentals, and banana boat rides.

Enjoy all these activities with remarkable views of the lush island, glimmering seas, and serene skies.

The place also features a restaurant with delicious food and refreshing drinks.

Head towards Padre Boulevard if you’re the type of person who enjoys watersports!

Party at the Longboard Bar and Grill

If you’ve had enough relaxation and want some spice on your trip, head to Longboard Bar and Grill and join their festive nightlife.

The venue itself is an open-air space with the premises reaching up to an estimated 9,000 square feet, so there are plenty of seats to accommodate big groups of friends and families.

This bar/restaurant is a hotspot for plain fun and enjoyment with bright, animated lights and an unrestricted sky view.

Visit this place during sunrise or sunset for gorgeous island views.

Live bands play there almost every day, so there’s never a dull moment.

You can find this place on the streets of W Palm, so check it out!

Ride a Horse at the South Padre Island Adventure Park

Level up your beach trip with the South Padre Island Adventure Park.

They offer horseback rides on the beach so guests can truly experience the dream-like fantasy of riding off into the sunset on a beautiful beach.

You can have a nice horseback trip alone or go with your family because they offer packages for both.

A veteran guide will help you if you’re a beginner at riding horses for safety.

Ride a horse as you immerse in the sound of calming waves, the smell of the sea, and the view of South Padre’s tropical beach.

Dissect Marine Life in UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab

At Marine Lab Drive, you’ll find this bright, blue-tinted coastal lab operating since 1973.

Besides a coastal lab, this place doubles as a museum for visitors interested in learning about the marine life of South Padre Island.

But get this: learning doesn’t have to be boring!

The UTRGV offers exciting interactive sessions such as beach ecology walks, seaweed press, fish printing, and hands-on dissections of marine life such as squids, sharks, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley aims to make learning a fun experience through guided tours and sessions.

Book one of their affordable sessions and give yourself a learning experience while you’re in South Padre Island!

Final Thoughts

The remote town of South Padre Island in Texas might be the haven you’ve been searching for.

There are many ways to reach inner peace with local nature and wildlife while also feeling the thrill and excitement through extreme rides and water sports.

In South Padre Island, it’s possible to get a little bit of everything.