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Texas: Tour the tantalizing Texas Tropics

Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley offers up singular outdoors adventures, natural beauty and more than its fair share of fun. Bird and butterfly sightings, rugged wilderness regions and long stretches of shoreline guarantee that you can see it all on a visit to the border.

Drive 98.3 miles, 1 hour, 42 minutes


1. Mission

Starting Point

Known as the nation’s “butterfly capital,” a visit to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in October means a trip to the annual Texas Butterfly Festival, when the hundreds of species that call the region home are on full display. Special viewing stations, private garden tours and educational hikes are available through the National Butterfly Center, and a photo contest offers up cash prizes for the best shot.


Casa Del Valle RV Resort
Alamo, TX
(877) 828-9945
Snow To Sun RV Resort
Weslaco, TX
(888) 799-5895
Kenwood RV Resort
La Feria, TX
(888) 904-3459

2. Harlingen

Getty Images

Getty Images

42.3 miles, 39 minutes

In this charming town, a host of boutiques and art galleries line Jackson Street, as do larger-than-life murals that have brought acclaim to the local art scene. Birders will delight at the opportunity to see rare avians like the green jay and Altamira oriole from viewing stations in the Hugh Ramsey Nature Park or Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. These spots also offer hikes and river trips through moss-covered woodlands.

3. Brownsville

27.9 miles, 27 minutes

Tropical and green, the Texas coast is a magnet for outdoors adventurers. The Historic Battlefield Trail, Monte Bella Mountain Bike Trail and Belden Trail make for excellent hiking and biking opportunities within minutes of downtown Brownsville. For an off-the-beaten-path approach, try the Resaca de la Palma State Park, where miles of trails wind through native scrub brush, grasslands and pine.

4. South Padre Island

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

28.1 miles, 36 minutes

Home to the ultimate Texas beach scene, 34-miles of white sand await visitors in South Padre Island. You could spend your whole visit lounging on one of the most pristine beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, but since the island is only a half-mile wide, many attractions, restaurants and bars are just a quick walk from where you planted your beach umbrella. Try and hook the big one on a deep-sea charter.