RGV Visitors Guide

Page 46 Rio Grande Valley Visitors Guide 2023-2024 Commemorative Air Force Museum The Rio Grande Valley Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF-RGV Wing) is located close to Bayview, within the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport and can be accessed by entering Veterans Airport Dr. from Buena Vista Blvd. (SH 106). The museum has a unique collection of World War Two era aircraft trainers as well as an extraordinary collection of World War Two artifacts, memorabilia, and photos. The hangar houses an assortment of flying military aircraft dating back to 1935 as well as military transportation vehicles. The Rio Grande Valley Wing hosts its annual CAF AIRSHOW! in October. It is the largest staged air show in South Texas. The event provides a flying exhibition of WWII era aircraft trainers, fighters, and bombers as well as various world-famous aerobatic performers. Modern military jet teams also participate and exhibit their aerial maneuvers and tactics. Recreations of famous WWII battles provide a spectacular educational aspect to the show. The museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday. General admission is free, but donations are accepted. The rate for group tours of 10 or more will be $7 per attendant. Group tours, weather permitting, will include an exhibition by one of the pilots as he pre-flights, starts, and flies one of the museum’s vintage aircraft. School and group tours are encouraged. For more information visit the website at www.rgvcaf.org or call (956) 479-8585. South Texas Ecotourism Center The South Texas Ecotourism Center (STEC) is one of the newest nature centers in the Valley. STEC gives visitors the opportunity to experience the Valley’s native landscapes through displays and mini habitats on its property. The center has living models of six different ecosystems that can be found in the Rio Grande Valley. Visitors can view wildlife from their 25-foottall outlook ramp with views into the coastal prairie behind the center. There have been sightings of Nilgai, the Aplomado falcon, and more. There are also hundreds of native plants as well as a butterfly garden to enjoy. The center hosts weekly and monthly events. They often hold lecture series about the native habitat, view documentaries about restoration projects, and other events. The center is open every day, with free admission. The hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with staff and volunteers to greet and show you around. For more information, visit their website at stec.lv.org, Facebook (STECLV), or call them at (956) 772-0212. The center is located at 501 W. State Highway 100 in Laguna Vista. Port Isabel Lighthouse To get a great view of the Laguna Madre, climb to the top of the Point Isabel Lighthouse which was constructed in 1852 to guide ships through the Brazos Santiago Pass and into the Laguna Madre. Opened as a State Park in 1952, it is the only lighthouse open to the public on the Texas Gulf coast. Also on the grounds of the Lighthouse is the Keeper’s Cottage Visitor Center. The Port Isabel Lighthouse is a Texas Historical Commission State Historic Site. For hours of operation, call (956) 943-0735. Admission prices are adults $5, seniors $4, and students $3. For more info visit www.portisabellighthouse.com or call (956) 943-0735. Black Dragon Pirate Cruise This popular tourist attraction is located in the Laguna Madre, headquartered at Pirate’s Landing, 501 Maxan St. in Port Isabel. The two-hour cruise features water gun fights, sword battles, canon firings, tales of pirates, face painting, area history, and lots of fun. In addition to the two-hour cruise, a half-hour pre-show features events such as magic or knife show, or a fire manipulator. There are shows throughout the year. For information or to make reservations, call (956) 943-MATE (6283) or go online to http://www.ospreycruises.com/the-black-dragon-pirate-ship. Port Isabel Historical Museum Located in the historic Champion Building on Railroad Ave., the 1899 building was once a dry goods store and residence and later served as a post office and railroad depot. The facade features a fish mural painted in 1906 by a local fisherman. The museum features information about the U.S. Mexican War and houses one of the largest collections of relics from that war. The museum also tells the story of Port Isabel’s