RGV Visitors Guide

Page 48 Rio Grande Valley Visitors Guide 2023-2024 SPI Convention Center Boasting 45,000 square feet of meeting space and 22,500 square feet of exhibit hall space for presentations and performances, the South Padre Island Convention Center hosts many special, cultural and sporting events, conferences, conventions and trade shows. The convention center is located at 7355 Padre Blvd., 4.1 miles north of the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge. Call (956) 761-3000 for upcoming events or visit www.sopadre.com. Andy Bowie Park Those wishing to spend a day enjoying the waterfront on South Padre Island will want to visit Andy Bowie Park. The park features nature trails, BBQ pits, a pavilion and picnic area along the beach, and is a must for bird watchers because of the many water birds that live in the area. Located at 7300 N. Padre Blvd, about 5 ½ miles from the Queen Isabella Causeway, the park is open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance fee is $12 per car. For information call (956) 761-3704. Sea Turtle Inc. Sea Turtle, Inc. was founded in 1977 by Ila Loetscher, affectionately known as the Turtle Lady of South Padre Island. STI is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered sea turtles living in the Gulf of Mexico. They also rehabilitate injured sea turtles for release to the wild, and aid in conservation efforts for all marine turtle species. Visitors can see injured turtles being treated for return to the wild, as well as non-releasable turtles that serve as ambassadors for their species. The center’s Education Facility has an additional 5,000 square feet of museum area, huge tanks for resident turtles, and a nature walk over to the hospital/rehab section. The center, located at 6617 Padre Blvd., is open Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays. Standard hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and military, $4 for children ages 5-17, and children 4 and under are free. Call (956) 761-4511 for more information or visit the website www.seaturtleinc.org. Sandcastle Village The Holiday Sandcastle Village can be found on South Padre Island on W. Ling St., right under the Ferris Wheel and across from Louie’s Backyard. The Village was first erected to be a holiday village for Christmas but has evolved to feature sand exhibits of other holidays including Valentine’s Day, graduation, Fourth of July, and more. The rotating exhibit is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (more or less.). Live-stream webcams can also be viewed so visitors can see the progress of their most recent exhibits. The founder of the Village, and other sandcastle artists, hold yearly contests, weekly lessons, and more. For more information on the Sandcastle Village, visit www.sandcastlevillage.com. They can also be found on Facebook where they give daily updates of who is working and what they are working on. Beach Waterpark Texas’ most innovative waterpark is nestled along the beach on beautiful South Padre Island. Splash into more than two dozen water attractions, including slides, tube chutes, four uphill water coasters, the SandCastle water funhouse, and the Surf Rider inland surf attraction. An award-winning river links the tube chutes and water coasters with the park’s beaches, so guests float between rides without having to get out of their tube. There are also multiple banquet facilities for weddings, receptions, meetings and quinceneras. The park is located at 33261 State Park Rd, Hwy 100. Discount Waterpark Passes are $55.99 for adults 12 and older, $45.99 for children 3 - 11 and Seniors 55 and over, online at www.beachparktx.com. Children under 3 are free. The park is typically closed from mid-September through late April. Call (956) 772-SURF (7873) or visit www. beachparktx.com for more information and full hours. Isla Blanca County Park A favorite destination among island lovers, this park located at the southern tip of South Padre Island has picnic facilities, a full-service marina, a fishing jetty, and sites for RV hookups. The University of Texas-RGV Coastal Studies Laboratory, with examples of marine life from the Laguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico, is located inside the park. The lab is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information on the lab call (956) 7612644. The park is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The admission charge is $12 per vehicle or $5 for veterans and $30 for buses. For more information call (956) 761-5494.