Spanish colonists originally settled the Rio Grande Valley in the 1700’s. The RGV as we know it today has vastly changed, while still retaining much of its Spanish heritage. The RGV has been known as one of the least financially sound areas of the United States. However, over the past 10+ years due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) southern Texas has begun to flourish.
Bordering the Gulf Coast, South Padre Island is one of the top 10 vacation destinations for spring break. South Padre Island is known for their annual Polar Bear Dip, Golf Classic, bustling night life, and even one of Schlitterbahn’s Water parks (named USA’s #1 water park, as featured on the Travel Channel). With sandy beaches stretching as far eye can see, and endless activities for people of all ages, it’s no wonder South Padre Island has become a vacation hot spot.
While visiting Southern Texas, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alamo, can’t be missed. The wildlife refuge sits along the edge of the Rio Grande. Currently at just over 90,000 acres, the refuge is growing strong, and is estimated to reach over 132,000 acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services are in the process of an acquisition movement to purchase additional surrounding lands. The Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge is home to several species of birds indigenous only to this region. As quoted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Website, The refuge is “Considered one of the most biologically diverse National Wildlife Refuges in the continental United States. LRGV represents 11 distinct biotic communities that are host or home to 1,100 types of plants, 700 vertebrate species (including 484 bird species) and over 300 species of butterflies.” This is great place for both families and individuals to spend a day, and experience the Texas wilderness, untouched.
McAllen is a city within the Rio Grande Valley that offers many cultural attractions, and has been noted as being the “Square Dance Capital of the World”. McAllen has boasted this nickname for years. Since 1987 they have been hosting the annual Texas Square Dance Jamboree. Other cultural events that call McAllen home include the Texas Citrus Fiesta, Fourth of July Fajita Cook-off, and Borderfest. A visit to McAllen is not to be overlooked if you want to experience Texas culture and authentic “Tex Mex” cowboy grub.
Visitors tend to flock to the Rio Grande Valley in the winter. Travel peaks are January through March. Many individuals consider themselves to be “Winter Texans” as they reside in Texas during the winter months, and spend the remainder of the year elsewhere. For those who reside in Texas for only several months at a time, many have found that trailer and RV parks (such as Victoria Palms) have been the way to go. During peak seasons monthly fees at these parks range from $300-$475, as opposed to only $200 in the quieter summer months. These parks offer amenities ranging from free cable TV and high speed internet, to free phone access with unlimited long distance calling. For those who are short-term visitors to the Valley, hotels offer a range of activities and tours. Most area beaches have umbrella service and equipment rentals for reasonable fees. Banana boats and rafts are popular for South Padre Island visitors. From breathtaking beaches and unique wildlife, to the hearty culture of square dancing and authentic Tex Mex grub, the Rio Grande Valley in Southern Texas is a region of the south that can’t be overlooked.