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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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The American Summer Driving Season Kicks Off This Weekend

Discover the Hidden Gems of the Rio Grande Valley

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This weekend marks the official kickoff, signaling the start of countless road trips, family vacations, and outdoor adventures. (AI) Image for illustration purposes
This weekend marks the official kickoff, signaling the start of countless road trips, family vacations, and outdoor adventures. (AI) Image for illustration purposes
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Texas Border Business

As the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, millions of Americans are gearing up for one of the most cherished traditions of the year—the summer driving season. This weekend marks the official kickoff, signaling the start of countless road trips, family vacations, and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re planning a cross-country expedition or a weekend getaway, the open road beckons with the promise of new experiences and cherished memories.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), road travel is expected to surge significantly this summer. After years of pandemic-related restrictions and uncertainties, many are eager to hit the road.

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The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in Texas is a vibrant region rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. As the summer driving season kicks off, the RGV offers a variety of attractions that are perfect for road trippers seeking adventure and relaxation. Here’s a guide to some must-see destinations in this unique part of Texas.

South Padre Island

South Padre Island. Image Source Spheroidite, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

South Padre Island is a premier destination in the RGV, known for its stunning beaches, water sports, and lively atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, and dolphin watching. The island is also home to the Sea Turtle, Inc., a rescue and rehabilitation center dedicated to sea turtle conservation. For families, the Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark offers fun with its thrilling water rides and relaxing pools.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Image Source: Santa Ana Facebook

For nature enthusiasts, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit. This 2,088-acre refuge is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 400 species of birds recorded. Visitors can explore the scenic trails, observation towers, and butterfly gardens. The refuge also offers guided tours and educational programs to enhance your understanding of the local wildlife and ecosystem.

Gladys Porter Zoo

Image Source: Jc161991, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Located in Brownsville, the Gladys Porter Zoo is one of the top zoos in Texas, housing over 1,600 animals from around the world. The zoo features a variety of exhibits, including tropical rainforests, African savannahs, and an aquatic center. It’s a great place for families to spend the day learning about different species and enjoying interactive experiences.

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Quinta Mazatlan

Image source;Quinta Mazatlan Facebook.com

Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen is a historic Spanish Revival mansion surrounded by lush gardens and nature trails. This urban sanctuary offers visitors a chance to explore native plants and wildlife and learn about the region’s history and culture. The site hosts regular events, including birding tours, educational programs, and cultural celebrations.

Museum of South Texas History

Image Source MOSTHistory Facebook

In Edinburg, the Museum of South Texas History provides a fascinating look into the region’s past. The museum’s exhibits cover everything from prehistoric times to the present day, highlighting the diverse cultures and historical events that have shaped the RGV. Visitors can explore artifacts, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations that bring the history of South Texas to life.

Estero Llano Grande State Park

Image Source; tpwd.texas.gov

Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco is another gem for nature lovers. This state park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and photography. The park’s wetlands, woodlands, and grasslands create a diverse habitat for wildlife, making it a popular spot for observing birds, butterflies, and other creatures.

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Image Source: tpwd.texas.gov

Part of the World Birding Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission is renowned for its birding opportunities. The park features numerous trails, observation areas, and a tram that takes visitors through different habitats. It’s an ideal destination for novice and experienced birders to spot a wide range of species, including some that are rare and endemic to the area.

Historic Brownsville Museum

Image Source: Brownsville Historic Museum: Facebook

Housed in a restored Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, the Historic Brownsville Museum offers insight into the city’s rich history. The museum features exhibits on the railroad, local industry, and Brownsville’s cultural heritage. Visitors can also see historic artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of the city’s development.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Image Source: tpwd.texas.gov

The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is the largest protected area of natural habitat in the RGV. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, including ocelots, alligators, and numerous bird species. The refuge offers driving tours, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife photography, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

McAllen Nature Center

Image source: McAllen Nature Center Facebook

The McAllen Nature Center is a 33-acre urban oasis dedicated to preserving and educating native plants and wildlife. Visitors can enjoy walking trails, birdwatching, and educational programs promoting environmental awareness. The center is great for families and individuals to connect with nature and learn about the local ecosystem.

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