South Padre Island is a beautiful Gulf Coast resort town on the southern tip of Texas, located on Texas’ only tropical island! A South Padre weekend getaway is popular for couples, friends, college students, and families–this island truly has something for everyone.
There are many exciting and incredibly fun things to do on a South Padre weekend getaway. Visitors spend their days fishing, surfing, dolphin watching, taking boat tours, stand up paddleboarding, hanging out on the beach, soaking up sun rays, and playing in the sand.
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Planning a romantic getaway or fun weekend trip to South Padre Island?
Here’s what to know before you go!
Editor’s Note: this South Padre blog post was contributed by Ashlee Fechino of The Happiness Function. Now based in Oklahoma, she covers topics on her site like visiting Tulsa, bird-watching, weekend getaways, and more.
The Perfect 3 Day South Padre Weekend Itinerary
Day 1 in South Padre Island: Brunch, Beach Time + Explore
Have brunch at Yummies Bistro.
You’re on vacation! Get started by treating yourself to an amazing patio brunch at Yummies Bistro.
They have delicious coffee, specialty drinks, and Tex-Mex brunch options. The covered patio is spacious so you can enjoy coffee and a Gulf Coast breeze. You won’t be disappointed.
Hit the beach!
South Padre Island boasts some of the best beaches in Texas. Rightfully so, with beautiful, soft sand set against a turquoise blue Gulf of Mexico (though note that the clarity of the water can vary depending on the time of year).
There are beach access points all over the island. The beaches are public meaning everyone is free to access and experience them.
Be sure to check out surf conditions and know the flag advisory system before jumping in.
Soak up some rays, enjoy, relax… you deserve it.
Explore the island.
There is one main road on the island, Padre Boulevard, which runs north and south along South Padre Island. Further north, the road turns into State Park Rd 100.
You can drive the paved road with views of the Gulf and miles and miles of beaches on both sides. Together with brunch, and hitting the beaches, exploring the island makes for a fun day on South Padre Island.
Go bird watching.
Ocean birds are everywhere. While relaxing, take time to enjoy and watch the sea birds. You can also check out the South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary.
This nature center has 3300+ feet of boardwalk to watch the wildlife including alligators.
Day 2 South Padre Itinerary: Active Coastal Adventures on SPI
Hit the water with board activities.
Have fun with board activities during the second morning of your South Padre weekend trip! Take surf or stand-up paddle (SUP) board lessons during your South Padre weekend getaway. There are lots of places to rent surf and paddleboard gear as well as take lessons on South Padre Island.
Alternatively, the Gulf Coast is famous for fishing. Check out a list of guide services here.
You can also rent jet skis, go parasailing, and try out kite surfing as part of your South Padre itinerary.
Go horseback riding along the beach.
Island Adventure Park offers horseback riding along the beach, including sunset rides, and it is one of the most popular ways to spend an evening on South Padre.
What a dreamy and relaxing way to enjoy the coast!
Day 3 in South Padre Island: Dolphin Watching + Visiting the Pier
Go dolphin watching.
Going on a dolphin watching tour is one of the most memorable parts of visiting South Padre this weekend.
You are almost guaranteed to see dolphins. There are quite a few tour outfits to choose from, including The Original Dolphin Watch.
You might be lucky enough for the dolphins to swim right next to the boat allowing up close and personal photo opportunities.
Eat lunch at Pier 19 during your South Padre weekend getaway.
After you are finished with a dolphin watching tour, head over to Pier 19 for amazing Gulf Coast food, including fresh seafood from the Gulf. Enjoy lunch, dinner, or happy hour.
If you go on a dolphin-watching tour, heading to Pier 19 afterward is a fantastic way to enjoy more views of Laguna Madre after you’re finished.
Enjoy more beach time!
Whether it’s before your dolphin-watching tour and meal at Pier 19 or after, be sure to soak in all the beach time South Padre Island has to offer on the last day of your long weekend in South Padre.
As said in the beginning, the beaches are the best part of visiting South Padre Island and all of them are public.
Where to Stay During a South Padre Weekend Getaway
There is a range of options regarding accommodations in South Padre Island. Keep reading for ideas on budget-friendly, mid-range, and luxury accommodations on or close to the beach.
Since South Padre is less than two miles wide–even thinner in some places–there’s no such thing as a hotel far from the water!
We stayed at The Pearl South Padre Resort when we visited, and it was amazing. The room had a balcony, gulf coast view, a path straight to the beach, pool, swim-up pool bar, hot tub, restaurant, and delicious room service food.
We visited during mid-October. The atmosphere was quiet and simply fabulous with no crowds. Plus, we got an amazing deal on the room rate since October is the off-season.
Beyond that, the Hilton Garden Inn is the best-rated beachfront hotel on South Padre Island, featuring excellent reviews, a beautiful pool, and direct access to a quieter part of the beach–this is one of the last hotels you’ll reach when driving onto the island, which is perfect for travelers looking to have a bit more space to spread out on the beach.
The hotel is also practically right across the street from Sea Turtle, Inc. and from the Laguna Madre Nature trail, making those sights easy to access (though honestly, nothing is ever hard to access on South Padre).
Prefer to stick to a bit more of a budget? The Best Western Beachside Inn gets great reviews, and while it isn’t a beachfront property, it’s only a 5-minute walk away.
Getting Around During a South Padre Island Weekend Getaway
Getting around South Padre Island is easy. First of all, it is not a big place since it is a barrier island off the coast of Texas. It is definitely worth having a car on your trip unless you plan to just hang out at your hotel, resort, or condo.
If you are flying in to visit South Padre Island, we definitely recommend renting a car at the Brownsville Airport. When flying to get to South Padre Island, the Brownsville Airport is the closest. Having a rental car will allow you to adventure all over the island.
Brownsville Airport is small. We recommend planning ahead to make sure a rental car is available. Any economy car will do, the roads are paved to get around the main areas. They have a handful of rental car agencies to choose from.
South Padre Island Weekend Itinerary Map
Below is a Google map of all the things to do in South Padre mentioned in this post.
The Best Time to Visit South Padre Island
South Padre’s subtropical climate makes it a year-round destination–but each season offers different benefits and challenges to your South Padre weekend getaway.
Summer is an excellent time to visit especially if you’re going for beach action and playing in the water. The Gulf will be perfectly warm for swimming, boating, jet skiing, surfing, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Also, if where you are staying has a pool, it will be delightful to hang at the pool with the summer heat. Summer is high season so be sure to plan ahead.
Also, keep in mind that the heat and especially humidity are extreme during the summer in South Padre!
To us, fall is the best time to visit South Padre Island. The weather is still beautiful, but there are fewer crowds.
Cruise the paved road along the beaches for miles and be the only ones out there (that was our experience).
Watch for blown sand over the roads in case you have an economy car rental. Don’t get stuck! We visited in October. It was still in the 80s.
Keep in mind that fall is the end of hurricane season, and while it’s unlikely that a hurricane could derail your South Padre vacation, it is a possibility.
Still warmer than most of the USA, wintertime makes for a fun escape from the cold on South Padre. Bring a light layer or two for walking the beaches, birdwatching, collecting seashells, and soaking up the sun.
South Padre Island is also known for being a spring breaker’s paradise, but not necessarily just for college students anymore. South Padre Island is family-friendly.
Temperatures will be in the 70s and the water will start to warm from winter. It will be the perfect escape and break from a cold winter.
Editor’s Note: Thanks again to Ashlee of The Happiness Function for sharing her ideal South Padre itinerary with us!