Hotel at a Glance: Schlitterbahn Beach Resort and Waterpark
You can splash around at Schlitterbahn Beach Resort and Waterpark no matter what the weather’s like. In addition to an outdoor water park, the hotel has an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park that contains a tidal-wave river, a heated pool, and two 70-foot tube slides. Two water-park passes per day are included with select options of this getaway.
- Family-friendly amenities include a 1950s carousel in the lobby and a three-story gaming zone.
- Spacious guest rooms have refrigerators, microwaves, and flat-screen TVs.
- Three seafood restaurants serve up Gulf of Mexico shrimp and red snapper in a beachfront setting.
- Grab a cocktail at the swim-up palapa bar made from loblolly pines.
- Eco-friendly design: The lobby’s furniture is made from salvaged forest-fire timber.
- Concierge team: Contact the front desk for help planning a fishing, boating, or horseback-riding excursion.
South Padre Island, Texas: Vibrant Marine Life and Educational Centers
South Padre Island isn’t actually an independent island—it’s the name given to the resort town on the southernmost point of Texas’s much larger Padre Island, which stretches nearly 130 miles along the Gulf of Mexico. The town is linked to mainland Texas by a single bridge, the Queen Isabella Causeway. Because it occupies such a narrow stretch of land—at its broadest point, South Padre Island is only a few blocks wide—getting from the Gulf on the east side to Laguna Madre on the other takes only about 10 minutes on foot. Many visitors spend their vacations laying out on the area’s sandy beaches, which are home to more than 300 types of waterfowl, lofty sand dunes, and the occasional kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Others set sail on fishing charters to seek out swordfish, redfish, and spotted seatrout.
For a better understanding of the area’s history and culture, head across the causeway to the Museums of Port Isabel. The complex encompasses three facilities, including one that showcases the artifacts found in three 1554 Spanish ships that sunk about 30 miles north of Port Isabel. Another, the Port Isabel Lighthouse, was built in 1852 when the low-lying Texas coast presented visibility problems to incoming ships. Today, you can climb a spiral staircase to the top for views of the causeway, Laguna Madre, and Port Isabel’s historic downtown.
On the northern end of South Padre Island at Sea Turtle, Inc., you can observe endangered kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which the organization rescues, rehabilitates, and releases at nearby beaches. Ila Fox Loetscher, affectionately known as “The Turtle Lady,” founded the nonprofit organization in 1977 after spending more than 10 years rehabilitating sea turtles in her South Padre Island home.