Area Attractions

The area is best known for its beautiful natural landscaping, its proximity to South Padre Island, and some of the best birding in the country. Shopping and dining in Mexico are a short drive away and the shores of South Padre Island are about an hour’s drive east. Day-trippers can find dozens of points of interest in the area and have plenty of options when choosing a trip out of the resort.

The resort is well known for its proximity to the Don-Wes flea market. This 25 acre Mecca of flea markets is very popular stop for both locals and visitors. Only a few minutes west lays McAllen, TX, a city full of shops, markets, and all the conveniences of a large city. To the east lie both Harlingen and Brownsville, each offering many things to do and several sights to see.

VP Landscape 2Boca Chica Wetlands and Beach
South across the ship channel from South Padre Island lies Brownsville’s Boca Chica beach at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Sit atop the tall white dunes and watch migratory birds like falcons and pelicans that frequent trees on the "lomas" or elevated islands.

Brownsville Battlefields
The last battle of the Civil War was fought at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville several weeks after the Confederacy’s surrender. Brownsville also got caught in the crossfire of the Mexican-American War, that time at Palo Alto. Both battlefields have been preserved as National Historical Sites.

Coastal Studies Lab
This satellite of The University of Texas-Pan American studies and exhibits marine life like mollusks, crustaceans and marine vertebrates along with plant life. Open Sun.-Fri. 1:30-4:30

Confederate Air Force-Rio Grande Valley Wing
This local wing of the CAF currently houses 15 airplanes in flying condition. Other exhibits are antique military vehicles, weapons and uniforms. An air show is hosted in March. Open Mon.-Sat. 9-4.

Delta Lake
A man-made lake formed as a reservoir to supply northern mid-Valley farms with irrigation, one can almost always find fishermen wetting a line along its banks. A park offers a pavilion and large picnic areas.

There are currently two sites in the Valley that make for excellent scuba diving. One is an artificial reef built by Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife seven miles off South Padre Island from Port Isabel. The other is Port Mansfield Liberty Ship Reef, located 15 miles off Port Mansfield. These artificial reefs have become encrusted with invertebrates, such as barnacles, corals, and sponges, which are the beginning of the marine food chain. They attract grouper, snapper, amberjack, triggerfish, tarpon and shark, making them ideal sites for scuba diving.

Falcon Dam, Lake and State Park
Low rolling hills and the rustic beauty of western Starr County surrounds this huge 115,600-acre reservoir on the Rio Grande. The international boundary between the United States and Mexico meanders through the middle of the lake. Bath houses are available to wash off some of the great outdoors. Skiing and freshwater fishing is great. Open to daytime visitors daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

gpz2Gladys Porter Zoo
Opened in 1971, Gladys Porter Zoo continues to be one of the premier zoos of the world. With more than 1,700 animal specimens, the zoo specializes in collecting and breeding endangered species. This 31-acre park has all zoo favorites like gorillas, giraffes, lions and rhinos, as well as other exotic animals. Virtually all animals live in open exhibits where visitors are able to view them in their natural surroundings. Open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended weekend and summer hours.

Historic Brownsville Museum
Housed in the historic Southern Pacific railroad passenger depot, this museum chronicles Brownsville’s history with photo exhibits and other permanent and rotating exhibits. The Brownsville Heritage Education Center within the museum also presents slide shows, lectures and other special events. Group tours are available with advance notice. Open Mon.-Fri. 10-4:30 and Sat. 10-1.

The first two weeks of September brings an influx of migratory, billed and greenjacketed creatures - white wing hunters. The Valley is the only region in the United States where whitewing dove can be taken. Hunting leases are also available for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, javelina and wild pig.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
East of Rio Hondo and bordering the Laguna Madre, this 45,000-acre tract is the Valley’s biggest wildlife refuge and sports hundreds of bird species plus ocelots, deer, javelina, squirrels, long-tailed weasels, alligators and mountain lions that are admittedly very rare but have been spotted. After checking in at the Visitors’ Center, see the Laguna Madre’s harsh, but beautiful ecosystem by driving or walking on the mapped roads. Open year-round, daily sunrise to sunset. Visitors’ Center open Oct.-April, daily 10-4; May-July, weekends 10-4. Closed July 5-Sept. 30 and holidays.

McAllen Nature Center
McAllen’s city-operated Botanical Gardens have areas to picnic in and hiking trails that show visitors some of the diverse plant life of the region.

nbcNational Butterfly Center

Did you know nearly 150 species of North American butterflies can be seen only in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of Texas, or by traveling to Mexico? In fact, more than 300 species of butterflies may be found in the LRGV, and more than 200 species have been seen at the National Butterfly Center, including a number of rarities and U.S. Records!

Port Isabel
Hit the high seas for daylong excursions aboard deep sea fishing boats or wade-fish in the bay, known as Laguna Madre, off the banks of the mainland or the island. The bay is nationally renowned for its red drum, speckled trout and flounder populations that flourish in its seagrass meadows and shallow water. The fish population has rebounded nicely from a severe freeze in 1989. Just north of the Queen Isabella Causeway in Port Isabel is a long, lighted pier parallel to the causeway. A shop there sells food for you and the fish. Shrimp is the live bait of choice for bay fishing, but lures, especially "worms," produce great results too.

Port Mansfield
Once a small commercial fishing village and servicing port for oil companies bordered by the King Ranch, Port Mansfield is now primarily a sport fishing hot-spot. Wading and pier-fishing both produce spectacular results. There is also an annual tournament in mid-July. Lodging, restaurants, clubs, marinas, RV parks and hunting and fishing guides all make Port Mansfield what hunters and fishermen are trying to keep a secret.

Sabal Palm Grove Wildlife Sanctuary
This 172-acre wildlife sanctuary near Brownsville, owned by the National Audubon Society, is the largest and best-preserved Texas Sabal Palm forest in the country. An excellent destination for walking, photography, and observation of native plants and animals. Oct.1-May30, Tue.-Sun., 9-5. Closed Mon. & holidays. June 1-Sept. 30 Sat. & Sun. only, closed holidays.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
The final destination for birders from all over the world, this 2,080-acre refuge boasts more species of birds than any other spot in the United States. Its mascot is the rare chachalaca, a sort of wild chicken found only in the Rio Grande delta. Visitors can get within feet of these and other docile birds. Walk on three trails of different lengths totaling 12 miles underneath hanging moss. Stop at three man-made lakes and bird-watching blinds. Open daily dawn to dusk. Tram tours are available on seasonal schedules. Visitors’ Center open 9-4:30.

vncSouth Padre Island
Isla Blanca County Park is reached by turning south off the causeway. It has two beachfront pavilions that often have live music during busy seasons, a 1,000-foot sea walk, a marina, restaurants, gift shops, volleyball nets and showers. Stroll or fish off the huge granite jetties. Open daily 8-7.

Andy Bowie County Park north of the city limits on South Padre Island Drive/Highway 100 has many recent improvements including two beachfront pavilions, picnic tables, showers and restrooms, plus a large parking area. Open daily 7:30-5; summer, 7:30-7. Horseback riders take romantic trots through the surf for a very affordable hourly rate.

Valley Nature Center
A half-mile, self-guided nature trail brings visitors through a six-acre urban forest where native plants are on view. Exhibits and programs are offered during the winter and children’s workshops are featured in the summer. Presentations can be arranged for community groups. Open Tue.-Sat. 9-1.




About Victoria Palms

602 N. Victoria Rd.
Donna, TX 78537

Toll-free: 1-800-551-5303
Local: 1-956-464-7801
Fax: 1-956-782-3232

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