Things to do: South Padre
Here are a few of our favorite things to see and do in South Padre.
Have a look around as we have included photos, videos, information and links.
They are in no particular order.
1. Louie's backyard
Laguna Madre Bay location, bayside dining, fireworks, nightclub/dancing
From their website: Louie’s Backyard on South Padre Island has been an island favorite for a fine dining destination for years. Each night we strive to pamper our guests with great service and to satisfy their demanding palates with scrumptious menu items cooked by our gourmet chefs. Are you looking for steak? Louie’s serves hand-cut steaks. Prefer seafood? Louie’s will tempt you with our peel and eat shrimp and fresh fish. To top it all off, you may want to leave room for our famous “Death by Chocolate” cake. Enjoy your Louie’s fine dining experience as you relax in either air-conditioned comfort or with a beautiful sunset view on our bay-front patio. Offering several dining options, everyone is sure to be satisfied at Louie’s Backyard.
2. Beach Bars
Wanna-Wanna Beach Bar is the local “dive bar” enjoyed by tourists visiting the area, and is one of two beach bars still in existence on the island. The other beach bar is called Boomerang Billys.
Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill is the latest addition to the Gulf side hot spots. Live music almost every day and night as well as a huge concert venue that accommodates headliners numerous times each year! It also hosts special events, such as the nationally recognized sand sculpting competitions (Sand Castle Days).
3. Schlitterbahn Waterpark (new name: Beach Park at Isla Blanca)
Waterpark rides, entertainment, food, and beaches.
From the Schlitterbahn website: Surf manmade waves, move from ride to ride without ever leaving the water, blast uphill and down on thrilling water coasters or float peacefully on passive rides at this tropical water park along the beaches of South Padre Island. Over two dozens attractions for all ages, park has both outdoor and indoor attractions. Indoor attractions are open year-round in an heated, covered environment. Waterpark also has a beachfront resort hotel, multiple restaurants, 100′ tall zipline ride and underwater Sea Trek attraction (open seasonally). Outside food and beverages are allowed (no glass or alcohol), free parking, free use of inner tubes and free use of life vests. Private cabanas with table side wait staff are also available for rental.
4. Sea Turtle, Inc.
Sea Turtle, Inc. on South Padre Island serves as an island rescue, conservation, and education resource. They have tours of their facility, and have opportunities for volunteering and observing their rescue and conservation activities. Visit the center or their website for a calendar of events, including scheduled releases of turtle hatchlings or rescued rehabilitated adult turtles. Occasionally there are dolphin tours on local charters which include a turtle release.
5. Restaurants Galore
Restaurants are one of our favorite things on Padre Island, and we have lots of favorites to choose from. Try these out yourself or ask for recommendations from others you meet around town. The beach vibes seem to relax folks and promote conversation. There are always new delights to try out, and many restaurants I have not mentioned. The scene changes season to season.
- Joe’s Oyster Bar (Port Isabel, nothing fancy here, but a favorite of locals and tourists alike for fried fish)
- Pier 19 (South of the causeway located on a huge fishing pier)
- Sea Ranch (South of the causeway; a shade fancier than some others)
- Pirate’s Landing (Port Isabel north of the causeway)
- The Palms (Three doors north of Beach House, on the beach side of the Palms hotel. Great food, drinks, and ambiance.)
- Dirty Al’s (Grunge picnic style dining with big as your thumb very fresh shrimp)
- Liam’s Steak House (More on the elegant and pricey side)
- Daddy’s (Cajun style)
- Russo’s New York Pizzeria (Across from the causeway on the east side of the island; their hot out-of-the-oven toasted focaccia bread makes my day)
- The Meatball Cafe
Also, see our Destination Guide, where we will take a more in-depth look at these and more of Padre Island’s great restaurants and attractions.
6. South Padre Island Visitor's Center
Just as you enter Padre from the Queen Isabella Causeway, there is the South Padre Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. As you turn left onto the island, it will be on your right. You will find an avalanche of brochures, bureau personnel to talk to, and an elaborate sand sculpture. From the South Padre Island Visitor’s bureau website there are links for shopping, restaurants, and in general, what to see and do.
7. Dolphin Tours
There are many opportunities to explore the beautiful Laguna Madre Bay, searching for the many pods of our local dolphins or the changing array of migratory birds which overfly South Padre Island. Day, sunset, and fireworks tours are offered by many island charters, including:
- The Original Dolphin Watch
- Breakaway Cruises
8. The South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center, and Alligator Sanctuary
South Padre Island is a major stopping point and over-fly area for a huge number species on north-south migration routes. Padre Island National Seashore, located on 130,000 acres of undeveloped land, is an exceptional place for birdwatching. The best time to bird Padre Island National Seashore is either during early spring or during fall and winter, when thousands of birds either migrate through the park or spend the winter here. The Center offers:
- Over 3300 linear feet of boardwalk. View schools of fish, reptiles (and yes, alligators), and a changing array of migrating birds that shelter in the mangroves.
- 5 Bird Blinds
- A five (5) story tower with spectacular views of Laguna Madre, Beaches & dunes of South Padre Island, the Gulf of Mexico, & the South Padre Island Skyline
- Auditorium showing a short Richard Moore documentary movie about the wildlife of South Padre Island
- Nature Gift Shop
9. (More to come)
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