South Padre Island and spring breakers are inextricably linked. However, the Texas hot spot has plenty of must-see attractions that lure travelers year-round to its picture-perfect beaches, ecological sites and water-centric establishments.

Hit the Beach

Beaches in South Padre Island are among the best in the United States. Stretching 34 miles, they’re rimmed by the Gulf of Mexico on the east and Laguna Madre Bay on the west. Amidst the sand, sun-seekers work on tans as well as check out waterfront restaurants and shops. On the north end, the beachfront remains largely undeveloped, making it a great locale for anyone looking to escape the mayhem. Wherever you settle in, expect to be tempted by activities such as surfing, dolphin watching, scuba diving and windsurfing.

Things to Do in South Padre Island

Gladys Porter Zoo

This area zoo is a relaxing oasis set amidst 26 tropical plant-laden acres where 225 species of flora flourish. Showcasing more than 1,600 animals (and 377 species), the zoo has seen success breeding endangered wildlife. Among the most popular attractions is its Tropical America exhibition where Galapagos tortoises, Caribbean flamingos, spider monkeys and Cuban crocodiles elicit amazement from visitors. The Africa exhibit, which is loaded with zebras, lions, chimps and white rhinos, is a crowd-pleaser as well.

Gladys Porter Zoo
500 Ringgold St.
Brownsville, TX
(956) 546-7187

Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark

Although it’s unlikely you’ll get sick of the sand, this action-packed water park makes a good case for a detour. Interconnected waterways, rides and slides—not to mention a 5-story “sandcastle,” uphill water coaster and surf waves—give families loads to do. The park also has direct beach access to the Gulf of Mexico. Upping the ante further, there’s a swim-up bar, hot tub and wading pool. On-site dining means you can make a day of it.

33261 State Park Road 100
South Padre Island, TX
(956) 772-7873

Things to Do in South Padre Island

Tip Some Back

It’s practically a crime to come to South Padre Island without sipping a cocktail or two or three. Coconuts Bar & Grill is the quintessential place to hit the sauce, just be prepared for a raucous scene. Belly up and dive into fried grouper, jerk chicken and peel and eat shrimp. Wave runner and parasailing rentals are offered on-site.

2301 Laguna Dr.
South Padre Island, TX
(956) 761-4218

Learn About Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle Rescue is an enjoyable (and educational) destination where visitors can learn about marine conservation, sea turtle rehabilitation and marine turtle life worldwide. A range of species is on display, from flatback to Pacific black and loggerhead species. Experts give talks and guests can view feedings. Those who get attached to the creatures can consider adopting a resident sea turtle.

6617 South Padre Island Blvd.
South Padre Island, TX
(956) 761-4511

Things to Do in South Padre Island