What to do in South Padre Island, TX

Activities, attractions and tours
South Padre Island featuring a sandy beach, fishing and a sunset

South Padre Island Attractions

Just off the coast of the southernmost tip of Texas lies the tropical paradise of South Padre Island. With miles of immaculate white sand and clear emerald water, the barrier island grants locals and visitors alike year-round respite from the daily grind. The coastal community offers something for everyone—fun-filled beach activities for the family, romantic getaways for couples, exhilarating sports for adrenaline junkies, and plenty of dolphins and sea turtles for those looking to get close to wildlife. Getting to South Padre takes just about 45 minutes from the nearest metropolitan area of Brownsville-Harlingen, making it an easy and relaxing option for a quick day trip or an extended weekend.

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What to do in South Padre Island

Free Things to Do in South Padre Island

They say the best things in life are free. Discover the following around South Padre Island:

Whaling Wall - Feed your artistic and cultural cravings here and observe creativity at work.

Sea Turtle Inc - Attention animal lovers — here's your opportunity to spend time with some amazing new friends.

Andy Bowie Park - If you're hoping to ramp up the fun factor on your break, this is a great place to do it.

University of Texas Pan American Coastal Studies Laboratory - Architecture lovers will certainly enjoy marveling at the modern design of this landmark.

South Padre Island Convention Centre - Well known among those who live here, this site is worth taking a look at.

South Padre Island Beach - Read the latest bestseller or listen to a popular playlist while you're soaking up the sun.

Laguna Madre Nature Trail - You'll be treated to views that'll leave you amazed at this natural marvel.

Brazos Island State Park - Nurture your green thumb and be wowed by the wide variety of plants on show.

Areas & Neighborhoods in South Padre Island

Though the island of South Padre is roughly 30 miles (48 km) long, the developed and inhabited region runs only 6 miles (9.7 km) from north to south. This area is primarily made up of the resort district, which booms with hotels, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. To the north and south, you can also find the Andy Bowie and Isla Blanca parks, both of which offer RV sites and an abundance of waterfront recreational facilities.

The resort district is broken up into 3 areas, Beachside to the east, Bayside to the west, and Inner Island in between. All 3 offer a wide range of lodging and dining options, with everything from high-end hotels and 4-star eateries to modest motels and grab-and-go cafes. If shopping is your thing, you can find tons of boutiques selling everything you need for a day on the beach, from bathing suits and surfboards to sunglasses. And of course, with the widest point of the island being only a half-mile (.8 km), you’re always just steps away from the sand. Work on your tan, or choose from an awesome array of watersports and the other beach activities, including windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.

Come nightfall, the city is just alive as it is during the day. Hit the town to uncover any number of beachside bars or bustling nightclubs. If you’re visiting from April through September, make sure not to miss the fireworks shows that are held every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at various locations on the island.

What to See on South Padre Island

Gaze out upon the sparkling expanse of the Gulf of Mexico from a spot on the beach on the east side of the island. For adventure-seekers, you can also take in the views from two other perspectives—high in the sky and deep below the surface of the water. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you skydive above the island, freefalling at up to 150 miles per hour (241 km/h), or get close to dolphins, sea turtles, and shipwrecks on a scuba-diving excursion in the “Texas Riviera.”

Sightseeing in South Padre Island

For Outdoor Adventurers

With its white sand, warm water, and tropical landscape, South Padre Island boasts a wide variety of activities for lovers of the outdoors. Take a surfing lesson, rent a jet ski, or soar like Superman on a thrilling Flyboard. Fisherman will particularly enjoy chartering a boat for an afternoon trip into the deep sea of the Gulf. You can catch popular fish like red snapper and tuna, which local restaurants are happy to fry up for a small fee.

For Couples

South Padre’s dreamy atmosphere provides plenty in the way of activities for couples. Pamper yourselves with side-by-side massages at any of the spas that can found across the island, or set off on horseback for a romantic ride as the sun sets below the horizon.

For Kids

Beaches, wildlife, and adventure parks turn South Padre Island into a child’s playground. Kids will love learning how to build sandcastles like a pro or making friends with the furry creatures at the Island Adventure Park petting barn. Wilder fun awaits on the 13 slides at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, while mini-golf and go-karts are just a few of the offerings at Gravity Park.

Things to Do in South Padre Island with Kids

There are plenty of sensational experiences in South Padre Island that the entire gang will enjoy. Here are a few of the top family friendly experiences in the area.


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Frequently asked questions

What to do in South Padre Island on a sunny day?
A Private Sunset Cruise South Padre Island is the perfect way to see the sights and make the most of the weather.
What should I not miss in South Padre Island?
Impress friends and family back home by taking a selfie at Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark.
Are there cheap things to do in South Padre Island?
What can you do in South Padre Island for free?
You’ll barely have time to fetch your wallet out of your backpack with so many terrific free things to do:

  • South Padre Island Beach
  • South Padre Island Convention Centre
  • Sea Turtle Rescue Center
  • Sea Turtle Inc

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