Things to Do in Port Isabel
101 THINGS TO DO IN PORT ISABEL
1. CLIMB THE PORT ISABEL LIGHTHOUSE. The Port Isabel Lighthouse is the only lighthouse open to the public on the Texas Gulf Coast.
2. LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S COTTAGE. Visit the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage for a free lighthouse memorabilia and artifact display and visitor’s information.
3. PORT ISABEL HISTORIC MUSEUM. The Champion building, built in 1899, sports a fish mural painted by a one-armed man in 1906. The museum features a timeline of the history of the Laguna Madre area.
4. TREASURES OF THE GULF MUSEUM. In 1554, a fleet of ships wrecked 30 miles north of Port Isabel. The Treasures Museum tells the tale of the survivors with a variety of displays. Gift shop.
5. TOUR PORT ISABEL'S REGISTERED HISTORIC MARKERS. The Port of Matamoros (located at Pirate's Landing); the Charles Champion Building; the Queen Isabella Causeway; Fort Polk located at the Point Isabel Lighthouse; Queen Isabel Inn; Alta Vista Apartments on Yturria St.; the Palangana Cemetery; Port Isabel Cemetery; and the Point Isabel Lighthouse.
6. PORT ISABEL CULTURAL & EVENT CENTER. Over 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space. 309 E. Railroad Ave.
7. ONE OF THE LONGEST LIGHTED FISHING PIERS IN TEXAS. Don't have a rod and reel? Rent one. Don't want to fish... spectators are welcomed.
8. PORT ISABEL YACHT CLUB. Constructed in 1927, when Port Isabel was just incorporated and just a few years before the area got a deep-water port.
9. BAY FISHING TRIP. Need a story to bring back home with you? Capable and local expert captains can find the fish. Skinny water, great big fish.
10. OFFSHORE FISHING TRIP. Skinny water not enough? Try an offshore fishing experience for a bigger fishing tale.
11. BUTTERFLY & BIRD WATCHING AT THE HISTORICAL MUSEUM. Specially selected foliage attracts birds and butterflies in public green areas all over town.
12. WATCHING PELICANS AT PELICAN STATION. Pelicans perch on the railroad pier pilings and boulders.
13. BUY FRESH SEAFOOD. If you don't want to catch your own, or just want to take home some succulent Gulf shrimp, shop Quik Stop, Los Tortugas Seafood, Joe's Seafood Market or Reyes Seafood for your own fresh Gulf catch.
14. EAT FRESH SEAFOOD. Many restaurants offer to cook your catch and add their side dishes. Or choose from menus full of expertly prepared seafood.
15. SHOP TILL YOU DROP. Whatever you want! Browse and leave with just a postcard or a new address!
16. VIEW THE SHRIMP BOAT FLEETS. Visible from both South Shore & Port District, or from the end of Champion St.
17. CROSS THE SWING BRIDGE. At the intersection of South Shore Drive and Garcia St., the original route to South Padre Island.
18. GO ON A DOLPHIN CRUISE. Take a few friends or your family with you on a dolphin cruise and experience marine life up close and personal.
19. CITY OF PORT ISABEL CEMETERY. The City Cemetery is home to some of the earliest settlers to the area. Grave markers with countries of origins connect us to lands across the waters.
20. OLDEST CEMETERY IN PORT ISABEL. Located on Island Ave., right hand side, 1/2 block north of Queen Isabella Blvd., known as Palangana Cemetery.
21. VISIT THE QUEEN ISABEL INN. Constructed sometime in 1908-1909, the Queen Isabel Inn has witnessed and the area's hurricanes.
22. BEULAH LEE PARK. Picnic or relax. Two gazebos, lots of outdoors.
23. DRIVE MODERN VENICE. Carved from earth and water during the 1930s, Modern Venice offers a waterfront view for every resident.
24. DRIVE THE PORT ISABEL/SAN BENITO NAVIGATION DISTRICT. The southernmost deep-water port in Texas is home to shrimping fleets, related industry and can facilitate large sea going vessels at its docks. Shrimp boats use the turning basin before heading back to dock. Barges, ships, fishing and pleasure craft pass through these waters.
25. PICNIC AT THE PORT ISABEL LIGHTHOUSE STATE HISTORIC SITE. Enjoy an afternoon in the sea breezes, just steps from the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse.
26. READ AN ADVENTURE AT THE PORT ISABEL PUBLIC LIBRARY. Take a break from all the action and settle in with a good book. Or check up on news from home on one of the library's computers. 213 Yturria St.
27. TAKE THE WALK OF GENERALS. Strategically placed in the Lighthouse District, the walk of Generals pays homage to the military giants that spent time in Port Isabel or on Brazos Santiago (Boca Chica beach).
28. PACHANGA IN THE PARK. Held the first Saturday in October in Washington Park and features local specialty cuisine, live music, contests, game and rides.
29. PORT ISABEL, THE ISLAND. Cross the bridge over the Port Isabel Side Channel and you are on the Island of Port Isabel.
30. SEE THE WETLANDS BEHIND H.E.B. The intersection of Highways 48 & 100 is a perfect example of the terrain of the Laguna Madre area before its settlement in the early years.
31. WINDSURF THE LAGUNA MADRE. No shortage of fuel here! Navigate the bay from the flats on South Padre Island to the Port Isabel Side Channel in Port Isabel.
32. VISIT THE HISTORIC FORT POLK ON THE LIGHTHOUSE GROUNDS. In 1852, the Port Isabel Lighthouse was constructed at the cost of $15,000. Zachary Taylor built Fort Polk the site of the Lighthouse in 1846 which served troops until 1850.
33. TRY TO FINISH TEXAS' LARGEST FLOUR TORTILLAS. So big, they dwarf a dinner plate. Filled with anything you want. Not a challenge for the faint hearted. Isabel's Cafe and Manuel's Restaurant both boast of Texas Monthly's best tortilla ratings!
34. PARK AND SHOP. Enjoy the pedestrian friendly
35. WATCH A MOVIE AT THE LIGHTHOUSE ESTABLISHMENT CINEMA. Free to the public. Friday's, June and July at 9:30 p.m.
36. SEND A POSTCARD HOME FROM THE PORT ISABEL POST OFFICE. Share a memory. Don't just email home, buy and send an authentic postcard from Port Isabel.
37. SEND AN EMAIL FROM THE PORT ISABEL PUBLIC LIBRARY. Ok, sometimes the mail just isn't fast enough. Use the library's computers to let folks back home know what a great time you are having.
38. FLYFISH THE LAGUNA MADRE. Some of the best fly-fishing on the Gulf coast will test your technique.
39. WADE FISH THE LAGUNA MADRE. Strap on the bait bucket and hit the Laguna Madre 'mano a mano'.
40. VISIT THE OLD PORT ISABEL FIRE HALL. Located southeast of the Port Isabel City Cemetery, the 1950's Port Isabel Fire Hall is still used for community activities.
41. VISIT LAFITTE'S WELL. He had to get fresh water somewhere, why not dig a hole in Laguna Vista.
42. PLAY GOLF. On the shores of the Intracoastal Waterway at Long Island Village or on the banks of the Laguna Madre at SPI Golf Club.
43. LAUNCH YOUR BOAT AT THE POMPANO CITY DOCKS. You're not going to catch any fish if it stays on the trailer!
44. STORE YOUR BOAT AT SOUTHPOINT MARINA. Don't want to trailer your boat all the way from home? Might not be here for a while? Dry dock your boat in Port Isabel.
45. BUY FINE ART. Take an original created by a local artist home with you. Many specialty shops feature local artist's wares or shop the Laguna Madre Art Gallery downtown.
46. WATERFRONT DINING. Dirty Al's @ Pelican Station, Pirate's Landing or White Sands, pick one, or try them all.
47. SAIL THE BAY. Challenge your skills, or drop anchor and enjoy the breeze and the peace and quiet.
48. STAY IN PORT ISABEL. Nostalgic to waterfront to modern to a waterfront RV experience. Moderately priced Port Isabel accommodations offer what you need.
49. DOCK YOUR BOAT AT THE POMPANO CITY DOCKS. Check at City Hall for information on the City Docks' accommodations. Call 956/943-2682.
50. BUY SOMETHING OLD. Like antiquing? Area shops offer collectibles to fill every nook and cranny of your luggage or your wish list.
51. BUY SOMETHING NAUTICAL. Need a seashell? A port hole? A whole boat? Bay Quest Outfitters, Harris Sea Castle, Anglers Marine Center, Quik Stop or Twenty Four Ten Net Works Hardware will fill the bill.
52. KAYAK THE CHANNELS. For an off-road view of Port Isabel, take a kayak ride through all the channels or out on the Laguna Madre Bay.
53. JET SKI THE LAGUNA MADRE. Kayaking too slow? Jet ski the Laguna Madre Bay!
54. FISH IN TEXAS' OLDEST FISHING TOURNAMENT. Port Isabel is home to the historical Texas International Fishing Tournament. Held annually the first weekend in August.
55. RUN ACROSS TEXAS' LONGEST CAUSEWAY. Held annually in January and June, Longest Causeway Run & Fitness walk is a 10k run across the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge.
56. EAT THE WORLD'S BEST SHRIMP. Many local restaurants serve fresh caught Gulf shrimp, expertly prepared. You can sample the finest at the Chamber’s World's Championship Shrimp Cook-Off, annually, the first Sunday in November.
57. VISIT THE VALLEY'S SPORTS HALL OF FAME & ONE OF THE LARGEST SPORTS MEMORABILIA COLLECTIONS IN THE RGV. Drop in at Doubleday's Sports Bar.
58. VISIT THE PIRATES AT PIRATES LANDING. And enjoy a meal overlooking the Laguna Madre.
59. SHOP MARKET DAY. Held twice a year in April and October, at the Port Isabel Lighthouse.
60. VALLEY'S OLDEST DAY OF THE DEAD CELEBRATION. Held the Saturday before Halloween, Port Isabel's Day of the Dead Celebration is a daylong event with lots of family friendly entertainment and displays at the Treasures of the Gulf Museum and the Historic Museum.
61. SEE THE BROWNSVILLE SHIP CHANNEL. From the intersection of Garcia Street and South Shore Drive or in the Port District, you can see large ocean going vessels, oil rigs heading out to the Gulf and barges turn in from the Intracoastal Waterway or the Gulf of Mexico on their way to the Brownsville Ship Channel.
62. SEE THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY FROM THE TOP OF THE CAUSEWAY. The darker deeper water seen from the top of the Causeway is the Intracoastal Waterway.
63. SEE THE ORIGINAL QUEEN ISABELLA CAUSEWAY. Look to your right as you cross the Causeway to South Padre Island.
64. WATCH THE FIREWORKS OVER THE BAY. Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the City of South Padre Island creates a breathtaking firework display on the north side of the causeway over the Laguna Madre Bay.
65. GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH LOCAL MARINE LIFE. Visit the South Padre Island Sea Life Center and explore the touch tanks.
66. TRICK OR TREAT THE LIGHTHOUSE SQUARE. Every Halloween, local businesses pass out treats.
67. CROSS THE LONGEST BRIDGE IN TEXAS. Going to South Padre Island? You've got to cross the longest bridge in Texas at 2.6 miles over the Laguna Madre Bay.
68. CAMP IN PORT ISABEL. Enjoy the sounds of seagulls and the fresh sea breezes.
69. SPRING BREAK IN PORT ISABEL. From February to April, south Texas sees the migration of college students taking a little 'R & R'.
70. WATCH THE LIGHTED BOAT PARADE. The Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce hosts their Annual Lighted Boat Parade the first Saturday in December.
71. VISIT ONE OF THE TOP THREE BEACHES IN AMERICA. Cross the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge to South Padre Island.
72. WI-FI. Need to make it a working vacation? Catch the free Wi-Fi at various locations around town.
73. CANNON FIRE OVER THE BAY. Daily, at the Cannon Bar, watch the crew of the Black Dragon fire a 6 pounder!
74. BLACK DRAGON CRUISE. Be a part of the pirate crew and sail the Laguna Madre Bay.
75. FLOWERING PLANTS & TREES. Varying with the seasons, look for Cactus, Yuccas (Spanish Dagger), Royal Poinciana, Century Plant, Aloe Vera, Anaucua (sandpaper plant), Sea Grape, Palm Trees, Mesquite, Ebony and much more.
76. PLAY IN ALL THE PARKS. Berrell Mock, Washington Park, Veterans Park, Episcopal Church Park, Beulah Lee Park, the Laguna Madre Park, Veteran's Park, Triangle Park and the Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site.
77. HISTORY BY THE MURALS. From contemporary to historic, see the murals at the Port Isabel Museums, the fish mural on the Champion building, inside Our Lady of the Sea Catholic Church, Pirate's Landing Restaurant interior and Doubleday Sports Bar.
78. CHECK OUT THE UT/ROBERT RUNYON PHOTO DISPLAY. The 50 photos that decorate the walls of Dirty Als @ Pelican Station Restaurant illustrate Port Isabel's ties to the railroad.
79. COMMUNITY GALLERY. On the Highway 100 side of the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, displays illustrate our past, present and future.
80. SEE A REAL SHRIMP BOAT. The Lady Bea II is on display at the north end of Garcia St.
81. TROPICAL LANDSCAPING. Everywhere... medians, corners, Triangle Park, Beulah Lee Park, Plains Capital Bank, Treasures of the Gulf Museum and Port Isabel Historic Museum.
82. ANCHORS & NAUTICAL ARTIFACTS. Drive, hike or bike and keep an eye out for all the anchors and floats that adorn both private and public properties.
83. ARCHITECTURE. The Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Keeper's Cottage, the Yacht Club, Alta Vista Apartments, Isla Vista Apartments, Wireless Station buildings, Champion building, Queen Isabel Inn, the Thompkins building, Old Port Isabel Fire Hall, shops on Maxan Street... discover Port Isabel's uniqueness.
84. TAKE A RIDE ON THE THRILLER. For an exciting and exhilarating trip on the Laguna Madre Bay.
85. ZACHARY TAYLOR'S WELL. Legend places the location between the Port Isabel Historic Museum and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum.
86. SITE OF THE MILITARY HOSPITAL. Used from 1846 - 1865, this military hospital saw more discomfort caused by disease than injuries caused by both the US/Mexican and the US Civil Wars it was in use for. It’s located at the Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier parking lot.
87. CATCH UP ON THE LOCAL NEWS. Pick up a Port Isabel/South Padre Press, Coastal Current, or the Parade for all the local information.
88. STAY IN SHAPE. Local gyms and fitness centers offer a full range of services.
89. TAKE A BOATER'S SAFETY COURSE. Check with the Laguna Madre Yacht Club for their next scheduled classes.
90. ATTEND THE CHURCH OF YOUR CHOICE. Churches are located from Laguna Vista to South Padre Island.
91. WANT TO MAKE IT PERMANENT? If you are considering a move to the area, check out the real estate agents that could make your dream come true.
92. GET A NEW DO. Treat yourself to a new look or get help finding a creative way to live with the humidity.
93. GET ALL THE AREA INFORMATION YOU WILL NEED. Stop in at the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce or the Visitors Center at the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage.
94. LEARN A LITTLE ABOUT OUR LOCAL HISTORY. Like our page at facebook.com/portisabeltx for #TBT.
95. WATCH A SUNSET. Sunsets over the Laguna Madre are spectacular and free!
96. WATCH A SUNRISE. If you didn't stay out too late, take in a sunrise before heading to breakfast. They cost the same as a sunset.
97. TRY ALL THE 'ALL YOU CAN EAT FISH' SPECIALS. Pirate's Landing, White Sands, Mexiquito Restaurant, Marcello's Italian Restaurant... How hard could that be?
98. TAKE A NIGHT TIME FISHING TRIP. The Isabella leaves the Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier for a night fishing trip on the Laguna Madre Bay!
99. VISIT THE BAHIA GRANDE ON HWY. 48. The world’s largest wetlands restoration project is home to a variety of wildlife species.
100. PORT ISABEL’S ANTIQUE & FLEA MARKET. First Sunday, 1st & 3rd Sunday during winter months.
101. PLAN. To come back again!