While it’s around an eight-hour trek from DFW, you can enjoy a leisurely drive past a myriad of great towns perfect for pit stops as you go south on I-35 to San Marcos. Once there, you should change onto TX-123/US-181 before traveling onto US-77 into Brownsville.
1008 E. Elizabeth St
Brownsville, TX 78521
Vendors from across the border bring a little bit of Mexico to Brownsville where they sell a variety of artisan goods including clothes, pottery and jewelry. Make a stop to get some of the most authentic arts and crafts you can find.
Gladys Porter Zoo
500 Ringgold St.
Brownsville, TX 78520
Right in the heart of the city is this world-renowned zoo known for endangered wildlife breeding. This tropical oasis spreads out over 31 acres and features wildlife from Australia, Asia, Africa and the American tropics. Every member of the family, no matter the age, will enjoy a day at Gladys Porter Zoo.
Resaca de la Palma State Park
1000 New Carmen Ave. (off Hwy-281)
Brownsville, TX 78521
The Lower Rio Grande Valley is a major bird migration corridor for more than 500 species, as well as home to many tropical birds found only in this part of the United States. Part of the World Birding Center network, Resaca de la Palma rests inside this 1,200-acre nature preserve. View a large variety of birds along with plenty of other wildlife either by a tram, hiking or with bikes, tandems and children’s trikes from the visitor’s center.
South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center
110 N. Garcia St.
Port Isabel, Texas 78578
Visit historic Port Isabel, just 22 miles away from Brownsville, and join Scarlett, the dolphin whisperer, for an intimate pontoon boat ride to visit a dolphin family at their home in the Laguna Madre Bay. Along with amazing dolphins, there are a variety of creatures throughout the voyage including birds, sharks and eagle rays. The center is filled with aquariums and interactive exhibits including starfish that you can hold. After you’re finished at the center, take a drive across the causeway to Padre Island.
3101 Pablo Kisel Blvd
Brownsville, TX 78526
Me Pueblito Restaurant has the best and most authentic Mexican cuisine in the Valley. Don’t be alarmed when you see fajitas for $150, because prices on the website are in Mexican pesos. Be sure to try the tasty mollejas (sweetbreads) and the fajitas Guadalajara with cactus. There’s also a nice selection of cigars and libations to cleanse the palate.
110 S. Garcia St.
Port Isabel, TX 78578
Be transported to another time and place when you visit this pirate-themed destination featuring entertainment and some of the best seafood on the coast. Located in the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse Square, the boardwalk offers a plethora of activities including real pirate ship cruises, speed boat tours, fishing boat excursions and fishing off the pier.
Rancho Viejo Resort & Country Club
1 Rancho Viejo Drive
Rancho Viejo, TX 78575
Located 12 miles north of Brownsville, Rancho Viejo offers deluxe accommodations in one- to three-bedroom villas. Recently renovated, the 1,400-acre resort features golf, tennis, restaurants and a waterfall pool with a beach landing.
The Inn at Chachalaca Bend
20 Chachalaca Bend Drive
Los Fresnos, TX 78566
This beautiful bed and breakfast, located on the Resaca de las Antonias waterfront, is the premier spot to stay in the Rio Grande Valley. This true birder’s paradise resting on a 27-acre prairie savanna with 14 acres of hiking trails comes complete with birding stations that attract many species including Green Jays, Kingfishers and Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds. Los Fresnos is 12 miles north of Brownsville and is situated near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Another interesting attraction in the area is the Little Graceland Museum in the home of Simon Vega, an old army buddy of Elvis.