Island Insider: 72 Hours on South Padre Island
Make the most of a three-day trip to the pristine shorelines of South Padre Island, the only tropical island in Texas. Whether you’ve come to relax, explore the outdoors, or maybe come just for the fresh Texas Gulf Coast seafood, we’ve put together an itinerary that will help you make those 72 hours count!
— by Fran Stephenson
Morning: You came to the Island to relax and you’re probably itching to hit the beach, right? Well before you start slathering on sunscreen, treat yourself to a decadent breakfast at Yummies Bistro. This long-standing local favorite has everything from breakfast sandwiches to fluffy pancakes to dishes with a Mexican flair, such as their Yummie Burrito and their Huevos Colima. If that weren’t enough, their impressive coffee list, filled with a wide variety of unique concoctions, is sure perk you up!
Late Morning: Head to the sandy shores of South Padre Island and soak up the sounds of the Gulf from your beach chair or beach blanket. There are plenty of beach access points along Gulf Blvd. and most hotels have access as well. If you didn’t bring a beach “setup” with you, you can always rent chairs and umbrellas from Jim’s Beach Service. If you know that you’ll want lunch or a snack between breakfast and dinner, post up near one of our beachfront restaurants, such as Boomerang Billy’s, Cafe on the Beach, Wanna Wanna Inn Beach Bar & Grill, Clayton’s Beach Bar & Grill, or Barry’s Tacos & Margaritas.
Island Insider Tip: Several food trucks have made their way to South Padre Island, both beach and bayside. Barry’s Tacos & Margaritas is usually located on the beach front deck at the Hilton Garden Inn, while the Entertainment District on the bayside has rotating food trucks.
Afternoon: If you need a little break from the sun but still want to see what the Island has to offer, explore the many shops all along Padre Blvd. Walk, ride a bike, or rent one of the Island’s favorite vehicles: mini-cars and golf carts.
Early Evening: You came for the seafood, right? Got it covered! Painted Marlin Grille offers amazing views, freshly caught seafood and an outdoor atmosphere that can’t be beat.
Evening: After enjoying the fresh seafood and gorgeous sunset on the bayside of the Island, stroll down the Entertainment District and stop by one of the local hangouts, Laguna BOB, for drinks and live music. There’s always something going on at this local dive and the variety of live music can’t be beat. If you happen to be in town between Memorial Day and Labor Day, every Thursday and Friday at 9:15 p.m. there are Fireworks Over the Bay at Louie’s Backyard!
Morning: Head to Grapevine Cafe for their special house coffees, omelettes, breakfast tacos, or even their cheesy shrimp and grits. This quaint cafe is the perfect way to start the day.
Late Morning: Try something new and go paddle boarding or parasailing at Parrot Eyes. Both activities will give you a view of the Island you can’t see from just walking around — it just depends on whether you want to go by sea or by air! If you’re feeling really adventurous, do both!!! Parrot Eyes also has a restaurant with a great selection of food if you need a snack afterwards.
Island Insider Tip: Parrot Eyes offers a variety of other watersports and excursions, including kayaking, snorkeling, jet skiing, dolphin cruises, fishing charters, and a banana boat.
Afternoon: Maybe you’ve been horseback riding before, but have you ever been horseback riding on the beach? Island Adventure Park offers horseback riding tours that allow you to experience the thrill of exploring the dunes of South Padre Island and splash through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Early Evening: After a long day of fun in the sun you may not feel like dining al fresco, so head to Gabriella’s Italian Grill. Gabriella’s is a casual restaurant with family-style offerings of homemade Italian and pizza classics for food enthusiasts of all ages. Don’t forget to try their delicious limoncello — made in house!
Evening: Feel like dancing? Head to the Quarterdeck Lounge at Isla Grand Beach Resort and dance the night away! (Dancing starts at 9 p.m. every night)
Morning: Did someone say champagne brunch? Head to the Pearl South Padre for their Sunday Champagne Brunch, including everything from traditional breakfast to a raw bar to lunch dishes. You can get omelettes, pasta dishes, Cherries Jubilee, or Strawberry Flambe — all made fresh to order in front of you — as well as many other food items. Complimentary champagne and Mimosas are included in this decadent brunch.
Late Morning: Take a leisurely walk through the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Their wooden boardwalks are nestled in the Laguna Madre wetlands and include spectacular Island views from their five-story tower. Bring your binoculars or rent a pair from the gift shop.
Afternoon: Stop for a cold one at the South Padre Island Brewing Company (SPIBC). The second oldest brewpub in the state, SPIBC brews all of their beer in-house and offers flights so you can try them all. If you’re feeling a little peckish, they also have a wide variety of delicious food, including a great happy hour menu.
Late Afternoon: Treat yourself to a luxurious spa experience at the Sapphire Spa. Indulge in the couples package (Two If By Sea), which includes 50 or 80 minute side by side massages followed by a private infinity tub infused with your favorite aromatherapy scent.
Island Insider Tip: Arrive early so you can enjoy complimentary wine or mimosas on the balcony before your massage.
Evening: Enjoy a relaxing dinner, beachside, at The Palms Cafe on the Beach. Nestled in the dunes, this hidden gem is a beautiful spot where you can enjoy the view of the Gulf while you dine. Try the Redsnapper or Mahi Mahi, and don’t forget their Creamy Seafood Bisque. With great food, a bountiful wine list, tropical cocktails, and that signature South Padre Island sunset, this is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. After dinner take a stroll down the beach and let the sounds of the waves wash over you as you enjoy your last evening on the Island.