South Padre Island Attractions
What to See & Do in South Padre
There is so much to do, see, and learn in South Padre on your next visit! The long and rich history of South Padre Island provides for fun and interesting exploring. We are excited to share with you a little bit about what makes Padre such a great destination, and what South Padre Island Attractions are worth the trip!
South Padre Island gets its name from Padre Ballí (ca. 1770–1829), also known as José Nicolás Ballí, who was a rancher, a priest, and an original grantee of Padre Island. See the statue of Padre Ballí located at the island end of the causeway.
When driving across the bridge to the island, know that you are on the longest bridge in the state of Texas. Built in 1974, the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway serves as the only link, besides boats, to South Padre Island.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is a 3,000-mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States. While much of the Laguna Madre is not more 6 to 8 feet deep the Intracoastal Waterway is dredged to depths of 40 feet or more. Good Fishing!
While at Isla Blanca Park check out the University of Texas – Pan America Marine Biology Lab. You will be amazed at the species and varieties of marine life that call Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico home. Check exhibit schedules and activities.
Before heading too far north stop at the South Padre Island Visitors Center (610 Padre Blvd). If you every thought of yourself as a sandcastle builder extraordinaire, think again. It will be hard to miss the Worlds’ Largest Sandcastle. Be sure to go into the Visitors Center and get a map to see all the sandcastles around the island.
No trip to the island is complete until you see the great work being done for all species of sea turtles at the Sea Turtle Inc. Get up close and personal with these incredible creatures. Located north on the Padre Blvd, near the South Padre Island Nature and Birding Center.
The South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center, covering nearly 50 acres, presents a microcosm of the rich habitats that contribute to this very special place. Dune meadows, salt marsh, and intertidal flats are all represented here, along with thickets of native shrubs and trees that are irresistible to migrating birds in their season.
Just north of The Nature & Birding Center is the South Padre Island Convention Center. On the exterior walls are paintings by the artist Wyland. Life size sea creatures come to life in the magnificent style of Wyland.